Johannesburg-based couple, Ianthe Sandnes and Izak van der Walt, took their nuptials to Zoom and celebrated with their friends and family around the world.
The couple had planned to have their wedding day on 25 April this year but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown had to postpone their big day.
What could have remained a moment of grief and sadness the “nearly weds” took their would-be wedding ceremony to Zoom.
The eminent video teleconferencing software allowed the couple to have a virtual wedding with more than 120 of their friends and family connecting from different countries.
But how did this Zoom wedding come about in the first place?
The couple had already decided to get together with their loved ones online but didn’t anticipate such a large scale celebration. When Izak’s boss suggested they do just a toast with their friends, it then snowballed into two MCs directing the festivities, a famed DJ making a music offering, two comedians entertaining with a three-tiered mini wedding cake completing the party, courtesy of Ianthe’s mother.
After going through “all the stages of denial” about their physical wedding, Izak says they first tackled the decision of when they would postpone their wedding to and settled on 27 March 2021. “Hopefully that’s a safer date,” he says.
“We had planned for the original wedding to be about 100 guests in person but for the Zoom wedding we wanted to invite more people because now there were less restrictions," says Izak.
The couple then decided to invite friends and family from far and wide because the technology made it easier to share the moment.
“Luckily our MC, Inge Coetzee, had already done a very small wedding gathering where she was the MC, for one of our good friends, ironically. She had a lot of ideas around how you manage a lot of people because it gets quite chaotic.”
Guests called in from parts of North America including Canada and the U.S. in Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, as well as Argentina, Amsterdam in Holland, Rome in Italy and Ianthe’s bridesmaid whose work on a cruise ship was put on hold also joined in from the coast of Bali.
“She can’t leave the cabin so for her, this was very special,” says Izak.
The guests all tuned in from their varied time zones, some at 8:00 and the bridesmaid mentioned above called in at 2:00 to attend the virtual ceremony that took place at 16:30 South African time.
Ianthe says, “All the bridesmaids and maid of honour said a speech, which was quite nice. So we kept to the usual wedding agenda – we kept the structure going which was very cool.”
The programme for the virtual wedding included games, speeches and time for an open dance floor, the ceremony lasted about two hours before the dance floor opened.
Izak adds that before the virtual wedding “the groomsmen surprised me with a Zoom bachelor party, where we all just got onto a call and had a few drinks and caught up”.
Adding to the festivities, Izak secretly organised for comedians Glen Biderman-Pam and Schalk Bezuidenhout to crash the wedding and provide some comic relief for the guests.
The couple also treated the guests to a virtual dance floor and had DJ Half ‘n Half play a set.
“We danced virtually to our first song in front of everyone, so we were dancing to a computer – which was quite weird – and the dancing went for another hour or so,” says Izak.
“We had a photographer, which was myself and my bride-to-be, we had other photographers around the world taking screengrabs, which was amazing. What’s cool is that you can record Zoom, we had our wedding video unedited,” he adds.
Ianthe says, “In general I think people were a bit down about being in their houses and not being able to go out in general so they had something to look forward to and dress up. All the guests dressed up beautifully as if they were coming [physically] to the wedding and we also dressed up in a suit and a white dress, so we all looked the part.”
The wedding call ended between 20:30 and 21:00. “I don’t think it would replace the actual event, it was a completely different experience. It was incredible waking up the next day, it felt like the real thing. It was incredible to wake up with the feeling of ‘last night we did something, last night we went out — it actually felt like that,” says the bride.
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