Love, weddings and technology in the times of Covid-19

By Sameer Naik Time of article published Jun 27, 2020

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Edith Klug had a plan. She was going to get married at St Luke’s Church in Orchards, Johannesburg, and then have the reception at the Radium Beer Hall.

Last weekend she did get married, but the aisle was her house in Orchards and the altar was in the garden where her fiancé, Gerhard Lourens, stood waiting.

The two were surrounded by just eight people.

“We literally had two witnesses - one of them was my daughter Lara, the second was a friend of Gerhard’s. Then we had his wife and my other daughter, Hannah, the photographer Xavier Saer and the marriage officer,” said Edith.

Friends and family watch over Zoom as the couple tie the knot.

“All our other family and friends were on Zoom.”

Edith and Gerhard are among the many couples who’ve had their weddings upended by Covid-19, which prohibits all social gatherings, including weddings, during the lockdown.

Many others have opted to postpone their big day, but Edith and Gerhard embraced the change - and the technology.

Their wedding invitation included a unique Zoom meeting ID and password which enabled guests to watch the proceedings live.

The Zoom wedding invitation.

“It was exciting because it was a wedding after all, but at the same time sad and a little bit daunting, because you don’t know how it will be and how family and friends will react being online during a wedding ceremony,” said Edith.

“At the time we decided to go ahead with our wedding we weren’t sure if it would even be possible, not knowing when you would reach the right level of lockdown to get the opportunity to get married.”

While they had always been determined to get married this past weekend, it was difficult coming to terms with not having their family and friends physically present.

“My parents live overseas and they wouldn’t have been able to attend our wedding anyway because of their age. Gerhard’s parents live in Bloemfontein and were extremely excited to come to Joburg for our wedding. It was very disappointing for them not being able to be part of it due to the lockdown travel regulations.

“Gerhard and I have been blessed to be able to carry on with our work online, which meant we had a better understanding of online interaction then before lockdown, but conducting a wedding was still a different ballgame. The initial thought was completely bizarre,” said Edith.

“But once we were standing together in front of the marriage officer, it was as emotional as if one would have been in a church, synagogue or temple to get married.

“I know we both looked every now and then during the ceremony on to the screen and you just saw lots of familiar faces that were part of the celebration, and it felt amazing.”

The couple went through all the traditional wedding rituals and said it turned out to be a perfect day, despite the circumstances.

Cutting of the cake at the wedding.

“At the end of the day we had a beautiful wedding. Both our parents could talk to us via Zoom after the wedding ceremony and give us their blessing. We moved another screen inside the house for everyone to watch the signing of the register and eventually the cutting of the cake.

“We could see friends and family laughing, crying going through the same emotions as if they had all been right next to us. I don’t think either of us really knew what to expect but it was a truly beautiful and real experience.”

The only thing the Joburg couple could not do was go on honeymoon.

“We had to cancel our honeymoon,” said Edith. “We haven’t made any definite plans yet. I think it's too soon to plan anything at this moment, but it’s okay because we managed to get married under lockdown.”

After lockdown, they want to do it all over again - this time with family and friends.

The Saturday Star

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