It hasn’t sunk in that I’m married, because I’m at home by myself.
Six weeks ago, my fiancé (now husband) Ebrahim and I were readying ourselves for a dream wedding: 70 of our friends and family from around the world gathering for a two-week celebration in the beautiful mountains of Cape Town.
Then Covid-19 hit.
Everything from flights to catering started looking shaky. Adding to the stress, Ebrahim and I were in self-isolation – separately. Him in Bromley; me in Surrey. Like most 2020 events so far, we hoped that the pandemic would pass quickly. But, when our flights were eventually cancelled, we called for our own crisis talks.
Heartbroken, Ebrahim and I had two options: cancel or postpone. Neither felt right. We had sacrificed so much to Covid-19 already, as had our families. Now it was going to crush our dreams of being married? Having worked in digital my whole career advising brands daily on how to use technology to solve challenges, I felt more determined than ever to find my own solution. Whether conscious or not, I asked myself: what would I advise a client to do?
Take it all online, of course.
A blushing digibride
Zoom has helped thousands of people around the world keep their businesses running. Surely it could handle a wedding?
"But what about our guests?" I asked Ebrahim. "Won’t it be weird?"
We will make it a small gathering of immediate family. That’s that solved.
"And what about an Imam? Who will marry us?"
We have friends who know Muslim priests. Solved.
"And what about not being in the same room together? How will we feel?"
Good point. This would certainly be a leap of faith.
But somehow it felt worth it. Wedding or not, we would be apart anyway. We concluded that we’d rather be apart and married than apart and not.
In the two days that followed, we:
- Found an imam – a lovely man from Norway, currently unable to fly home
- Told our immediate family – a tight guest list of 50 (who were perplexed, to say the least)
- Found a wedding dress – my amazing mother made sure that I felt every inch a bride, giving me the dress she wore on her own wedding day
- Recruited two self-isolating witnesses
- Ordered two wedding cakes (bonus)
- Tested Zoom
On Sunday 5 April, the link found its way to distant friends and family all over the world. By the time the Zoom call opened at 1pm, it had brought together our friends and family from across four continents – many of whom wouldn’t have made it to Cape Town, including my own sister. One by one, their faces appeared on screen. Then the imam arrived. Then Ebrahim. And it all felt perfect.
Standing separate but side by side on screen, we laughed our way through the two-hour ceremony. Everyone on the call was given the chance to say a few words. Those words will stay with me forever (not least because Zoom let us record the whole thing!), reassuring us that we’d done right by following our hearts.
Apart but never more connected
If you’d have asked people at the start of this year about mobile technology, they may have argued that it was stopping us from connecting to one another.
Today, however, I think the majority of people see it as our only source of true connection. During the service, both Ebrahim and I felt every bit connected, despite being in different places and even though we hadn’t expected to. The power of technology to connect us is entirely in our hands and therefore down to our perception.
The world changed with Covid-19. Our perspectives around what technology is capable of as a human experience must also. We’re just beginning a new journey with it. I’ve been a wife now for nearly a week, yet I have been isolated from my husband since we tied the knot. To most, that’s upsetting. For me, however, I’m thankful to have had the resources to create something good from a bad situation.
I hope my digibride tale helps us all to see what’s possible when we push ourselves to take a new view. We’re certainly all being pushed to the limits of what’s possible today. Most of all, I hope we all do something to reconnect with our loved ones during this time – even if that does mean sitting behind screens.
Hera Khan is digital project manager at Dare