Not long before Aviva Margolis’s April 19 wedding, she started having doubts. Not about her fiancé Josh — the happy couple of two years had planned their nuptials in six weeks flat. However, when Illinois issued a “stay at home” order in March during the coronavirus pandemic, the nurse practitioner realized that her wedding was in jeopardy.
“Mid-month, my parents asked if we should postpone,” Aviva, 35, who lives in Atlanta but planned a Chicago wedding to accommodate local guests, tells Yahoo Life. “At that point, Georgia was still [operational].” (The state issued its first stay-at-home order on April 3.) Between wedding prep and caring for transplant patients who wind up on the COVID-19 unit of Emory University Hospital, Margolis didn’t realize the extent of Illinois’s pandemic (the state has almost 37,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date).
But the temporary closures of the hotel where guests had reserved rooms and the Michelin-starred Sepia restaurant (the ceremony-and-reception site) forced Plan B: broadcasting the wedding over Zoom, a video conferencing tool which a spokesperson tells Yahoo Life has topped 300 million daily users (up from 200 million in late March) as companies adopt indefinite work-from-home policies.
The technology, designed for large meetings and offering muting capabilities, can host streamed wedding ceremonies that otherwise would have been canceled or postponed, spurring the hashtag #ZoomWedding.
“Delivering happiness to our customers is one of Zoom’s core values and we are thrilled that people are getting creative and using Zoom to say 'I do' in a time when they are not able to be in-person surrounded by the people they love. We are proud that we can play a role in helping people safely celebrate weddings, birthdays, holidays and all types of occasions together during this unprecedented health crisis,” Zoom chief marketing officer Janine Pelosi, tells Yahoo Life.
Aviva and Josh paid $40 for a webinar link to a 3 p.m. ceremony conducted on their front steps surrounded by their parents. “My aunt played the piano from Connecticut and my niece officiated from 30 feet away,” says Aviva. Her two siblings watched the nuptials from their cars.
After the traditional Jewish ceremony, the couple ate Taco Bell on a china set and toasted champagne over store-bought marble cake with buttercream frosting. They posed for pictures wearing face masks amid packages of toilet paper, Clorox wipes and canned food.
“I wouldn’t have [my wedding] any other way,” Aviva tells Yahoo Life. “This is the world we live [in]. Why pretend it’s not here? I want those memories passed down to our children.”
Stacy Simpson Frizzle and Jonathan Edgerton, who met at the grocery store 10 years ago, planned a July wedding on their Maine property, but they “worried what would happen if we got COVID-19,” Frizzle tells Yahoo Life. “We would have no legal rights to each other.” Using Frizzle’s Zoom business account, the couple wed while 130 guests tuned in.
Frizzle’s brother and sister-in-law witnessed and Edgerton’s sister officiated from 10 feet away, wearing a face mask. Afterward, she sat in her car while the couple signed their marriage license. Three of the couple’s six children (from previous relationships) attended the wedding at their shared home.
Another 30 guests watched from Boston, Philadelphia and Oregon — although one accidentally logged on a day early, dressed to the nines with champagne. “We have a four-minute recording of her waiting for the wedding to start,” jokes Frizzle.
The couple will celebrate again in July or in 2021, as deposits have been paid on a wedding cake, a tent and the caterer. However, their September honeymoon to London is uncertain. Given the “over-the-top” price tag on weddings (the national average cost of a wedding is $33,900, per the wedding website The Knot), Frizzle says she appreciates the convenience of her wedding.
After Jason Parsley proposed to his partner Aydin Koymen, via a 2014 newspaper announcement in South Florida Gay News (of which Parsley is the editor), the couple started planning.
Neither wanted a big wedding, but ahead of their 20-year anniversary, the timing was symbolic. Koymen’s family lives in Turkey and Parsley’s in Kentucky, which complicated travel, so the couple decided on a courthouse wedding, quickly obtaining a marriage license by appointment-only in a nearby county.
Marrying via Zoom was “all the rage,” Parsley tells Yahoo Life, and satisfied the couple’s desire for a small ceremony without excluding anyone. A friend’s sister officiated the April 21 nuptials (from six feet away), and a photographer and the couple’s teenage nephew, who shares their home, attended.
The officiant invited guests to write messages through their computers and unmuted the sound for applause. “It was mass chaos,” says Parsley. After the couple said goodbye, they took photos, cut their homemade two-tier cake and picked up dinner at Chili’s restaurant.
Carolyn DeRosa Crisafulli, who met her Italian husband Francesco in January, had planned an intimate ceremony on April 8 in Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park. Unfortunately her future in-laws, who live in Italy, where the coronavirus has sickened more than 187,000 people, could not attend.
Two weeks after the couple obtained a marriage license, their wedding planning company Simply Eloped postponed services for March and April following shelter-in-place orders. So, a friend offered her Bedford Hills, N.Y. home as the venue. “At first, the idea of a Zoom wedding was a joke,” DeRosa Crisafulli, 42, tells Yahoo Life. However, the simplicity appealed and on April 19, the couple wed among 20 virtual guests.
“Our moms were crying,” says DeRosa Crisafulli, who wore white combat boots with her dress. “It was nice to have Italy represented.” She adds, “People loved the Zoom aspect, even my mom who joked that I was on trend.”
Later, a friend wearing gloves and mask dropped by the couple’s home with an Italian feast. “[The coronavirus] put the wedding into perspective,” says DeRosa Crisafulli. “It just came down to love and family.”
Kate and James D’Imperio of Indiana were excited for their Las Vegas wedding bash on May 1, but when the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa temporarily closed on March 19, they rescheduled for April 16 at an event space under James’s office.
“I felt terrible, mostly because we had no control,” Kate, 31, tells Yahoo Life. “It was a huge pivot but once we [changed plans], we saw a silver lining.”
The couple settled on Zoom because “if my mom can use it, I could too,” says Kate. Aside from an in-person photographer, the wedding DJ oversaw tech logistics and played live music from Las Vegas. A wedding cake was provided via a no-contact pick-up order.
Two separate Zoom links were used for 100 guests — one for a private ceremony officiated remotely by Kate’s brother in Utah and the other for friends to cheer toward the end. The couple danced to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray Lamontagne.
The actual wedding has been pushed to 2021, close to the couple’s one-year anniversary, which gives them two reasons to celebrate. Their honeymoon to England, Greece and Italy (for which flights are partially paid), however, is up in the air.
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