I Had A Virtual Wedding In Quarantine — & Here’s How It Went

Photo: courtesy of James Isbell.
Ashley Yuki, 31, and Tim Alexander, 38, met in 2017 after being set up by a friend via Facebook Messenger. Their relationship started with 10 months of long-distance courtship before Alexander made the move from L.A. to San Francisco to be with Yuki. Then, after two years together, he popped the question in Yosemite National Park. Last month, with nearly a year of planning under their belts, the couple were weeks away from tying the knot in front of 125 loved ones in Palm Springs, California, when they decided to postpone their big day to 2021 to help slow the spread of COVID-19 — but what happened next was even more unexpected. The following interview was told to Thatiana Diaz and edited for length and clarity.

We started planning a little under a year ago. It was going to be a full-blown wedding with all of our friends and family in Palm Springs on April 4th, but around the first week of March, we began to realize we might not be able to have the wedding the way that we had been planning. That's when we made the call to postpone our wedding to next year. It was the right thing to do for the health and safety of everyone, especially with travel.
Not knowing what the financial implications might be of rescheduling was stressful at first, but our planner, Laurie Lund of The Events Department, was extremely heroic in helping us coordinate and confirm a 2021 date that would work for all of our many vendors. We were lucky that almost everyone was very understanding given the unprecedented circumstances and so grateful for how kind and supportive they were to us during a time that is also stressful for their businesses.
We postponed the wedding a year, but we still wanted to start our marriage now, so we started thinking of ways we could have a ceremony. The idea of a virtual wedding came to me pretty quickly because we've been conducting a lot of meetings over video conference at my work, but the pandemic was spreading so quickly that we weren't sure if we should be celebrating anything right now. It came down to remembering that our friends and family want moments of happiness for each other, for themselves, and for the world.
It wasn't until a week before our original date — with our family and friends encouraging us — that we decided we could pull it off on Zoom. The great thing about a virtual wedding during a shelter-in-place mandate is that almost everyone could come, so we had no trouble scheduling it a week out.
Photo: Courtesy of James Isbell
Many brides spend a year or more to plan one day, but then something like a pandemic happens and you realize what really matters. It felt like we distilled a traditional wedding to just the most important and meaningful part: Committing to your person in front of your closest friends and family. In a weird way, the circumstances put things into perspective.
Obviously, a bunch of things couldn't go on as planned, but our loved ones rallied around us. One of my friends sent me flowers so that I could still have a bouquet on the wedding day, others sent Champagne for our toast, and my friend Melanie delivered a homemade wedding cake it to our door (without coming within six feet of us) the morning of the ceremony. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude.

In a weird way, the circumstances put things into perspective.

Ashley yuki
We had a virtual dress rehearsal on Zoom a few days in advance and did a couple test runs with the parents to make sure they were set up. My sister dedicated a lot of time coaching my parents and it paid off. They successfully figured out the 'virtual background' feature and picked one of Palm Springs.

Our photographer arrived wearing a mask and gloves and took some amazing photos from a six-feet distance, but since that's not possible for a glam squad, I had to do my own hair and makeup. Luckily, someone from the hair-care brand Nioxin saw our officiant Jessica Sherrets tag a rehearsal Instagram post with #virtualwedding and reached out a few days before to see if I needed help. They set me up with hairstylist Diane Stevens, who sent me products and taught me styling tips in a virtual demo the day before.
Photo: Courtesy of Tim Alexander.
Diane gave me a whole plan for the big day, which included how to make my curls stay put. I ended up using Nioxin's System Kit 3 the night before the wedding, the Styling Therm Activ Heat Protector Spray before curling my hair, and the Niospray Regular Hold Hairspray to finish. The whole thing was a calming force to make me feel my best.
Diane helped me figure out how to get the original hair look that I wanted, but I decided to rent a dress on Rent the Runway to save my original gown for the in-person affair next year. We didn't plan an official first look, but as I was walking down the stairs barefoot, holding two veils to decide which one to wear, Tim saw me and started crying.
The wedding turned out more intimate and special than I had ever imagined. We wanted to keep it to our closest friends and family, so it was about 40 people, including the bridal party, and we put our officiant on the screen in-between us. Luckily, we had gone to SF City Hall the week before shelter-in-place began, so we had our license already.
Photo: Courtesy of James Isbell
Photo: Courtesy of James Isbell
The whole thing went off without a hitch, except when our speaker connection failed during our first dance on our patio, so a friend quickly improvised by playing music on his phone. Our guests still got the idea and thought it was funny.
If you had told me a year ago that we could feel all the feelings — and have a connection to the people that matter most — in a virtual wedding, I would have laughed. I would never have thought that it was possible, but having lived through it, now I can honestly say to any bride going through this same decision not to give up hope! Doing the right thing for our communities doesn't mean that we can't also have little bright spots and moments of normalcy to help get us all through this situation together. We all need some good news to hold onto during this time.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.

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