Married on Zoom: What event planners can learn from a bride's switch to digital

Coronavirus has meant personal and business events being cancelled worldwide, but one bride-to-be wasn't going to let it stop her.

Hera Khan is digital project manager at digital agency Dare

It hasn’t sunk in that I’m married because I’m at home by myself.

Six weeks ago, my fiancé (now husband) Ebrahim and I were readying ourselves for a dream wedding: 70 of our friends and family from around the world gathering for a two-week celebration in the beautiful mountains of Cape Town.

Then COVID-19 hit.

Everything from flights to catering started looking shaky. Adding to the stress, Ebrahim and I were in self-isolation – separately. Him in Bromley; me in Surrey. Like most 2020 events so far, we hoped that the pandemic would pass quickly. But, when our flights were eventually cancelled, we called for our own crisis talks.

Heartbroken, Ebrahim and I had two options: cancel or postpone. Neither felt right. We had sacrificed so much to COVID-19 already, as had our families. Now it was going to crush our dreams of being married? Having worked in digital my whole career advising brands daily on how to use technology to solve challenges, I felt more determined than ever to find my own solution. Whether conscious or not, I asked myself: what would I advise a client to do?

Take it all online, of course.

A blushing digibride

Zoom has helped thousands of people around the world keep their businesses running. Surely it could handle a wedding?

"But what about our guests?" I asked Ebrahim. "Won’t it be weird?"

We will make it a small gathering of immediate family. That’s that solved.

"And what about an Imam? Who will marry us?"

We have friends who know Muslim priests. Solved.

"And what about not being in the same room together? How will we feel?"

Good point. This would certainly be a leap of faith.

But somehow it felt worth it. Wedding or not, we would be apart anyway. We concluded that we’d rather be apart and married than apart and not.

In the two days that followed, we:

  • Found an imam – a lovely man from Norway, currently unable to fly home
  • Told our immediate family – a tight guest list of 50 (who were perplexed, to say the least)
  • Found a wedding dress – my amazing mother made sure that I felt every inch a bride, giving me the dress she wore on her own wedding day
  • Recruited two self-isolating witnesses
  • Ordered two wedding cakes (bonus)
  • Tested Zoom

On Sunday 5 April, the link found its way to distant friends and family all over the world. By the time the Zoom call opened at 1pm, it had brought together our friends and family from across four continents – many of whom wouldn’t have made it to Cape Town, including my own sister. One by one, their faces appeared on screen. Then the imam arrived. Then Ebrahim. And it all felt perfect.

Standing separate but side by side on screen, we laughed our way through the two-hour ceremony. Everyone on the call was given the chance to say a few words. Those words will stay with me forever (not least because Zoom let us record the whole thing!), reassuring us that we’d done right by following our hearts.

Apart but never more connected

If you’d have asked people at the start of this year about mobile technology, they may have argued that it was stopping us from connecting to one another.

Today, however, I think the majority of people see it as our only source of true connection. During the service, both Ebrahim and I felt every bit connected, despite being in different places and even though we hadn’t expected to. The power of technology to connect us is entirely in our hands and therefore down to our perception.

The world changed with COVID-19. Our perspectives around what technology is capable of as a human experience must also. We’re just beginning a new journey with it. I’ve been a wife now for nearly a week, yet I have been isolated from my husband since we tied the knot. To most, that’s upsetting. For me, however, I’m thankful to have had the resources to create something good from a bad situation.

I hope my digibride tale helps us all to see what’s possible when we push ourselves to take a new view. We’re certainly all being pushed to the limits of what’s possible today. Most of all, I hope we all do something to reconnect with our loved ones during this time – even if that does mean sitting behind screens.

Hera Khan is digital project manager at digital agency Dare

This article was first published by Campaign.

For more features and breaking news sign up to C&IT Magazine's daily Newstracker.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Register now
Already registered?
Sign in

Why Prague should top your post-pandemic Czech-list

This fairytale-like capital offers the perfect blend of city style, sophisticated hotels and a wealth of green spaces to enjoy

RSVP podcast Ep2: Afterparties, swarms of bats and a masked vigilante

RSVP podcast Ep2: Afterparties, swarms of bats and a masked vigilante

This week's special guest is Elena Clowes, co-founder of Event First Steps.

New commercial director for Production Bureau

New commercial director for Production Bureau

Norfolk-based agency adds to its leadership team in preparation for a business rebuild after COVID-19.

Working hours have increased by 22% for those still at work

Working hours have increased by 22% for those still at work

Majority of event professionals say their employer has 'not taken an active role' in improving their wellbeing, finds Stress Matters survey.

LIVE UPDATES: IBTM Americas goes digital

LIVE UPDATES: IBTM Americas goes digital

Find out which countries are on partial or national lockdown, what travel restrictions are in place and what size gatherings are allowed.

Will IMEX America go ahead in September?

Will IMEX America go ahead in September?

The annual event industry trade show takes place in Las Vegas, which is reopening its casinos today.

#BlackLivesMatter: The event industry needs to wake up

#BlackLivesMatter: The event industry needs to wake up

C&IT’s editor calls for the industry to respond to the issues raised by George Floyd’s death.

Bright lights, big city: A three-day immersive event in Shanghai

Bright lights, big city: A three-day immersive event in Shanghai

BCD Meetings & Events organised a conference for the APAC leadership team of a lighting manufacturer.

How to prevent video-conference fatigue

How to prevent video-conference fatigue

All Zoomed-out and WebEx-hausted? Here's some advice from the president of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus.

'Being bold involves risk and that’s OK'

'Being bold involves risk and that’s OK'

Creative director Robert Dunsmore says drive-in cinemas are a great example of repurposing old ideas to meet new challenges.