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Tufts Public Health

Pandemic Wedding Pivots Keep Celebrations Special

S. Paran Yap, MBS12, M17, MG18, and his wife
S. Paran Yap, MBS12, M17, MG18, and his wife were married with relatives in California, Nigeria, and Ireland watching on Zoom. Photo: Tanya Maximova
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

As the pandemic upended wedding plans over the past year, couples scrambled to find ways to celebrate their “Big Day” while still taking the necessary public health precautions. Should they postpone or proceed? Could a Zoom event feel special? Here, some resourceful members of the Tufts community—both those embarking on marriage and those who help couples on their special day—share some of their creative responses to the challenge. Lessons for all: Never underestimate s’mores or a waterfall.

Live streaming to global guests
S. Paran Yap, MBS12, M17, MG18

My now-wife Melody and I were looking forward to our wedding on May 29, 2020. We originally booked an appointment at Sacramento City Hall. But our families thought differently! I’m Chinese-American, from Southern California, and my wife is from Warri, Nigeria. Both families wanted to celebrate in a traditional, big way, with hundreds of guests, and both wanted a pastor to officiate. We wanted to respect them and so started looking at possible destination wedding locations. But by late March all those venues were suddenly canceling events, and of course nobody could travel anyway.

So we converted the city hall wedding to an appointment for our marriage license and a small virtual wedding at my house (now our home), complete with flowers, photographer, and pastor. It was outside in the garden alleyway, which is only about the size of a large bedroom. The flowers at least made it look more like a wedding, and then just before going live on Zoom I realized we also needed music. So I downloaded the playlist “Best Wedding Mix Ever” on my phone and played it on a boombox.

We had, all in all, a wonderful mini wedding. Our family members were there, in a way, because I attached my phone to a tripod and installed Zoom on it and shared the link with everyone, including not only family in California, Nigeria, and Ireland, but also many of my friends from Tufts School of Medicine. My brother-in-law also walked around with a GoPro so he could get different angles of the event. It was a little crazy because we live downtown, and there’s a lot of foot traffic by the house. So people were walking by on the sidewalk and, upon seeing this little production, couldn’t help taking pictures of us!

Our plans for a big ceremony are still evolving, as we now have a baby on the way. But we hope to celebrate again with everyone. Even if it’s not an official wedding, we will have a great time celebrating our marriage–and our new family.

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