Meet the pair who hosted a virtual wedding
The wedding industry is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus given weddings entail mass gatherings and travel. Couples have postponed “the big day” after months of planning. What happens when a global health crisis completely upturns one of life’s biggest milestones?
Individuals sure have become resourceful with their relationships—sans the dating app—while others have turned to the virtual landscape to have some semblance of normalcy. Virtual weddings via video conferencing service Zoom have become a means to cope with the new normal.
Spotlight’s on Mara Yee and Evan Van Dam from San Francisco who tied the knot in the time of quarantine. The Filipina bride shares her once in lifetime experience in an exclusive interview. Love does win, after all.
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W: Could you tell us more about your relationship? How did you meet Evan?
Mara: We met in 2017 here in San Francisco. Evan was still living in Connecticut at the time but was in town for a conference. We actually met on OkCupid and met up for drinks. We stayed in touch after and were in a long-distance relationship for a few years before Evan moved here last year. We love to cook together and play board games (a lot of Catan and Scrabble!). Before Shelter in Place, we would host friends for dinners and game nights. We also really like to go out to see plays and live music—the last show we saw before Shelter in Place happened was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!
W: Have you been planning the wedding for a while now? What made you push through with it given the pandemic?
Mara: Evan and I talked about getting married closer to the end of 2020 or even 2021 since I was still living in Canada at the time he proposed. In March of this year, I traveled to San Francisco for a work-related event and shortly after, the Shelter in Place happened. During that short period of time, a lot of things changed in my life and I was extremely happy and grateful to have Evan by my side. Evan and I both took the time to really think about us, our relationship and our plans to start a family. We had done long-distance for so long and we had already been through so much, but we knew that we wanted to be together. We, ultimately, decided to get married sooner and begin this new chapter in our lives.
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W: How did you cope with a completely different approach from what you originally envisioned? Was it easy to let go of your plans?
The hardest part was not having our families physically here with us. In our original plan, Evan’s mom and brother and my parents and siblings were supposed to fly to San Francisco so that they could be here but we didn’t want anyone to risk their health. Everyone was understanding of the circumstances, and we were all in agreement that we could still celebrate in person once the pandemic is over.
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W: What was your wedding during quarantine like? From your posts, I saw that a stranger passed by to take your photos while still, of course, social distancing. That’s so heartwarming!
Mara: I think we gave everyone a heads up maybe less than a week in advance! One of my best friends, Joseph, is ordained and was originally supposed to marry us at our wedding. I had texted asking if he was free one Saturday to marry us and he said yes! His partner, Julian, was also there as our witness. We confirmed times with our immediate families and then texted friends and family. We were only initially expecting close friends and family to be on Zoom but it quickly grew to at least 50!
I purchased my wedding ring from Emi Grannis. I’m a huge Kina Grannis fan and found out a few years ago that her sister Emi is an amazingly talented metalsmith based in San Francisco. So when we were shopping around for rings, I knew I wanted to meet with her. She was also really kind and made sure that my ring arrived just a few days before the wedding. I think shopping for a dress was a little more difficult—I don’t wear a lot of white and ordered a dress from Lulus a little over a week before the wedding. I was so unsure of sizes that I ended up buying two just to be sure!
We decided to get married at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. It’s huge and beautiful and had a lot of open space to be socially distant from everyone else. It was a short but beautiful ceremony, and Evan and I recited our vows and exchanged rings in front of our loved ones. It felt like we had the privacy of an elopement ceremony, but everyone else was there, too!
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Right after the ceremony, a photographer came by and asked if we just got married and if he could take our wedding photos! It was so kind and unexpected and he even took our photos with Joseph and Julian. In the middle of taking photos, we heard music coming our way and a guy on a bike with a boombox behind him came in and the photographer told him that we just got married. He started cycling around us and began playing All You Need Is Love by The Beatles. The whole thing was surreal and made it much more special.
W: What is your biggest takeaway from the entire experience?
Mara: We feel very fortunate that we were able to get married and be together throughout the pandemic. This is a tough time for everyone and while we don’t know how long things are going to be this way, there’s always time and ways to celebrate love!
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Photos c/o Mara Yee
Art Alexandra Lara