This Toronto couple got married on their porch after cancelling their wedding due to COVID-19
Kristie Gunter and Rockland Pickard never imagined their wedding would include just two guests, makeshift decorations and their front porch. But when the COVID-19 pandemic completely upended their wedding plans, they decided to make do with what they had.
The Toronto-based couple was set to get married in June and had spent months planning and looking forward to their big day. But due to the developing outbreak, it soon became overwhelmingly clear that a traditional wedding simply wasn't in the cards for them anytime soon and they would have to cancel.
"It was a mix of emotions. Sadness first, mostly about all of the moments we were looking forward to with family and friends, like getting ready together, family photos and dancing to our favourite songs on the dance floor," Gunter said.
"Obviously there are more important and pressing things to be sad about during a global pandemic, and we know that. But we think it's natural to have a period of sadness for something we'd been planning and looking forward to for months."
But Gunter said they quickly overcame the disappointment after deciding they wanted to look back on this time fondly rather than as the week they had to cancel their wedding.
"For us, postponing didn't feel right. Mostly because of the uncertainty over how long the pandemic will last, plus the difficulties related to travel for our guests, and the unknown economic climate of the rest of the year," she said.
"Also — we love each other and we just wanted to be married already! We knew that would bring us and our families the most joy during this difficult time. We talked it over and decided that if we were able to pull it off in four days, we should absolutely do it."
So on April 5, that's exactly what they did.
In just a few days, Gunter and Pickard pulled off a porch wedding equipped with all the essentials, and they managed to make it into a day they'll never forget.
While they weren't able to have their guests in attendance, they did have two friends help out with officiating, being the best man and the photography. And of course, they diligently sanitized every surface on their porch, wore masks and practised social distancing.
Unfortunately, one of their guests was unable to attend, meaning they didn't have two witnesses and were therefore unable to get legally married.
"Despite our best efforts to get the legal stuff done once we decided to have our ceremony on the weekend, we ran into some blocks. One is that our other witness couldn't make it on the day of. Rather than cancel our second attempt, we went forward with it and had a wonderful day," Pickard said.
"It will always be our wedding day, but once city services reopens we will need to go down and sign our marriage license there. "
Still, they went about the day as if it was official.
They decorated their porch with things they found in their home, including items from around the house that represented family members who couldn't be there. Gunter also just happened to have her grandmother's wedding dress from 1965 stashed away in her closet.
"Our helpers arrived in masks, they sanitized and put on gloves and then set up the cameras outside. Kristie snuck past and walked around the sidewalk, which doubled as an aisle. She came up the stairs and we had our small ceremony," Pickard said.
"After the ceremony, our first dance was on the grass in the front yard. We each opened our own bottle of champagne to have a physical distancing cheers and said goodbye to our wonderful helpers and friends," he continued.
"The rest of the day was just as lovely. After we took our decorations back in the house, we had mimosas and put on some tropical outfits for a living room honeymoon! We ate pizza, watched a bunch of sitcom 'wedding' episodes and Facetimed with our families to tell them about our day."
The couple said some of their neighbours even came out on their balconies and porches and cheered when they were pronounced married, which really added to the magic of the moment.
Friends and neighbours also dropped off a bouquet, boutonnières and a veil in advance, so they truly felt they had everything they needed.
And luckily, their friends and family were more supportive than they could have ever imagined. Gunter said the people in their lives sent little supportive videos and encouraging messages throughout the week, and now they can't wait to share the video of their porch wedding with everyone they love.
"It wasn't the wedding we had planned, but it was the wedding we'll remember forever," she said.
Gunter also has a message for anyone out there whose had to cancel an important event because of the pandemic.
"It's okay to be sad that you have to cancel something you've poured your heart, hard work and many hours into planning. And it's okay to be sad that some moments you've been looking forward to now will have to be delayed for a long time or not happen at all," she said.
"But the only thing you really need for a wedding is two people who truly love each other. And no matter how you do it, or how long you have to wait, it will be a wonderful and magical day because you're celebrating the best thing you could — love!"
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