COVID Backyard Wedding: Jennifer + Dustin

Like so many couples Jennifer and Dustin’s wedding plans were turned upside down during the Coronavirus shutdowns. They quickly went to Plan B and decided that committing to each other was more important than a big party!

Here are some words from their photographer Kat:

“This Elopement was unique because it was originally planned to be a big wedding. Amongst growing concerns for public safety in the Covid-19 pandemic, Jennifer and Dustin decided to elope instead. The date they chose to be married on, March 21st, held an important place in their heart because it was their original long time anniversary date. It was more important to them to keep that meaningful anniversary date then to have the huge celebration they dreamed of. They had to work with what they had, which was not much considering they only decided to elope one day before their date to be married! The feeling at their elopement was high energy and pure delight as they smiled the entire time and enjoyed basking in each other’s company. It was a beautiful ceremony on a sunny spring day. They tied the knot under a white gazebo in the backyard of their parents Toronto suburb. Their friends and family were invited to tune in and celebrate with them through a video app, which meant so much to the couple. Jennifer and Dustin got to say a huge thank you to all their friends that tuned in. They ended the ceremony with a small cake cutting celebration. Their positivity and grace in the face of drastic change in wedding plans were inspiring and they were excited to share their story.”

Scroll down for photos and some Q&A with the couple about how they switched gears so quickly!

Photography : Kat Arndt Photography

Rabbi: Rabbi Denise Handlarski

How did you meet?

We met on a dating app (Bumble) about 3 years ago

Tell us about the wedding day and the decision to elope.

We have been planning our wedding for a year now. The week before our big day (Friday to be exact) and the start of the frenzy of the Corona Virus and social distancing, we got a call from his Best Man who lives in Israel. He told us he might not be able to fly. Italy just issued their travel ban. He was afraid Israel would too. My matron of honour lives in Texas facetimed me crying, saying they might not be able to fly too. We got some sad call from my family in the states couldn’t come anymore. We were really upset but of course understood. We spoke to all our vendors and they were all wondering what was happening but all said they were all good to go. Our wedding was on. That weekend the news and scariness of the situation became real. By Monday, we called our vendor (2nd Floor Events in downtown Toronto) and we all agreed it was best to postpone our wedding. I cried everyday. We talked and thought well we have our marriage license and our rings, why don’t we just get married. We couldn’t imagine both of us staying at home on our big day. We also really wanted to keep our anniversary date on March 21st as it was the day we first met, our first date.

How did you decide on the location?

We didn’t know where to start. We had 5 days to figure it out.
With all these mixed emotions at the time, sad of not having our friends and family, scared of what was happening with this global pandemic, stressed for planning an unexpected wedding, excited of getting to marry the man if my dreams… I definitely needed help.
First we had booked an appointment at city hall (the Tuesday) the next day they said we can only have 4 people in the room (2 witnesses), the day after that they called to tell us they will be shutting down city hall and can send a justice of the peace to our home. This was Thursday.
We thought ok, lets call our officiant and see if she’d marry us somewhere, anywhere… she was happy to come and suggested somewhere outside. My mother in law was amazing and sent a picture of her condo out door amenity where they had a gazebo. She asked her property management to see if we can use it. They said they had a cancellation and gave us the ok. We had a venue by the Thursday for the Saturday! We also asked Kat, our photographer if she’d come the Friday. We were so thankful she was more than happy to come.

How did you break the news to everyone?

We told our 170 guests by email and facebook group chat. And at the very last minute we decided we’d use Zoom for our guests to attend and watch. And they did. My bridesmaid all wore their dresses. They even sent me a video montage of each of them wishing us advice.

What was your favorite part of the day and why?

Seeing our friends on zoom.
Being it about just us two. Reading our vows.
It being intimate and small ended up being amazing. We slowed danced to our song in out living room. Just us two. It was perfect.

Do you have any advice for couples planning their elopements or switching plans with COVID19?

Make it all about you two. No distractions. Just remember the most important thing is about being together and getting married to the love of your life!