Inside a Real Virtual Wedding Due to COVID-19

When Coronavirus changed this couple's plans, they hosted a livestream ceremony for loved ones spread across the country.

Though they originally planned a wedding in the location where they first met, they decided to get married at a private home and send their loved ones gift boxes to fully enjoy the virtual celebration from afar.

real wedding photo covid-19 coronavirus pandemic virtual wedding livestream no guests bride and groom exchanging rings
Photo: Tiffany Kyees Photography

The year 2020 has certainly been a year that no one could have predicted. While there have been many disappointed couples forced to postpone their weddings into next year and beyond, some pairs have chosen to make the most of the situation and get married in a way they never originally planned. With so many friends and family members in different states or counties, with different comfort levels, and in different stages of quarantines, shut-downs, and lockdowns, many brides and grooms have chosen to elope – or celebrate with a virtual wedding.

The latter is exactly what Los Angeles couple Caroline Lett and Samer Elayyan chose to do when COVID derailed their original wedding plans. While of course they wish that all of their friends and family members could have joined them in person, their intimate wedding was celebrated across the country by way of an online livestream – made extra special with personalized gift-box deliveries from the couple to their wedding guests. Read their story to get ideas for your own virtual wedding, and see photos from their real wedding, below!

Wedding Rings for Virtual Wedding

Solitaire Engagement Ring Between Shoes

Photos by Tiffany Kyees Photography

How They Met & Got Engaged

Before Caroline Lett and Samer Elayyan fell for one another, they were close family friends for over three years – first introduced by the mother of the bride while Samer was in town from the Bay Area. Later on, he visited once again to attend the Long Beach Grand Prix with Caroline. To both of their surprise, they hit it off! For the next month, Samer thought about Caroline and finally asked her out on a date. She flew to the Bay Area, and from that date on, they were a couple. However, since she was living in Los Angeles and he in Northern California, the pair dated long-distance for over four years – even after they became engaged on a trip to Maui, Hawaii. 

The Original Wedding Plans

Just 12 days after the groom finally moved to Los Angeles to be closer to his fiancée on March 1, 2020, they were now living in quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though Caroline and Samer originally planned to have their wedding at Warner Bros. Studios where they first met on a studio tour while the bride was an event producer, it just wasn't looking feasible. After a conversation with their friends, they decided to move forward with getting married; however, they had to reimagine what their ceremony would look like.

Bride's Wedding Dress in Tree

Bridal Bouquet of White Flowers

Groom's Shoes, Tie & Accessories

Photos by Tiffany Kyees Photography

The New Wedding Plans

With their celebration on a completely different track than what they envisioned, they leaned on the advice of their friends and wedding professionals as they navigated the reality of getting married during a global pandemic. "Our officiant and dear friend Mark Pincus gave his opinion on everything!" shares the bride. They also received planning advice from Loriann and Herick Serna of Wife of the Party: "Make it about your relationship," they suggested, a favorite piece of wisdom the couple cherished throughout the planning process.

"The wedding was nontraditional due to the fact that it was during COVID, which meant we could only have a limited number of people in any one place," explains the bride. "We opted to not have anyone at the ceremony and to livestream the full event." Choosing to get married with a virtual guest list of 230 loved ones, the bride and groom exchanged vows in an intimate outdoor space at the Serna home. "We tried to share all details with family members so that they would feel involved," notes the bride of their planning process. 

Since they were hosting an alfresco celebration to stay in line with CDC guidelines, the theme of the day came together seamlessly. "We love eucalyptus and we knew it would be an outdoor wedding, so we kept that theme throughout the wedding," shares the bride of the invitations, wedding website, livestream website, ceremony altar, wedding cake, and more. 

Bride with Pomeranian Pup

First Look at Virtual Wedding

Rustic Wedding Arbor at Backyard Wedding

Photos by Tiffany Kyees Photography

The Wedding Ceremony

Since the event was being witnessed via livestream by their friends and family, they took the opportunity to make the day even more personal for those watching. "To start the wedding ceremony, we had a slideshow of our life over the years to one of our favorite songs, 'Automobile' by Kaleo," explains the bride. "In addition, we specifically selected our officiant so that he could speak from personal knowledge of who we are and experiences we have had, so that it could be a connection and shared emotion to the friends and family watching." As loved ones watched on their screens, the bride and groom exchanged vows in front of their beautiful arbor backdrop.

Pomeranian Pup on Dog Bed with Bouquet

Intimate Wedding Vow Exchange

Bride & Groom with Dog at Ceremony Site

Photos by Tiffany Kyees Photography

Personalized Details

"We worked with Hostess Provisions to ship out gift boxes prior to the event to guests all over the country to enjoy on the day of the event," notes the bride of the special addition. Despite being physically distant, loved ones felt connected to the pair by way of the custom gift boxes complete with chocolates, popcorn, and a wedding-branded "advice postcard" that had been postmarked and floral pen for friends and family to write their well-wishes and advice and send back to the couple. 

In addition to the physical favors and gifts bestowed upon their faraway friends and family, the couple also wanted to honor their upbringings and heritages throughout the fête. Since the groom is Arab, it was important to the couple to incorporate his culture. "We had the mother-son slideshow to a heartfelt Arabic song and also played a popular Arabic song with the 'thank you for joining us' slide at the end of the ceremony," smiles the bride.

The Wedding "Reception" & Surprises

Though they didn't have any wedding guests in attendance, the bride and groom made sure to keep with popular wedding traditions, such as having a first dance and cutting the cake. They selected a two-tier classic confection decorated with gold-leaf elements and brushed frosting in sage and soft mauve. Their adorable pup was front and center for the festivities. 

For an additional surprise for friends and family, Caroline and Samer found a way to honor their father and mother, respectively, without having the special parent dances at the reception. Instead, they shared a mother-son slideshow and a father-daughter slideshow, which touched all of the attendees watching. After the wedding, the pair traveled south a couple of hours to Palm Springs to celebrate their honeymoon safely. 

Couple Cutting Wedding Cake with Dog

Photos by Tiffany Kyees Photography

Their Best Wedding Advice

Of course, the pair wishes they would have had their family and friends physically present for the big day, but ultimately, they were overjoyed to get married and share the experience with their loved ones, even if it was virtual. Though the newlyweds had a small, intimate virtual wedding, they insist that hiring a wedding planner made all the difference and encourage other couples to do the same. "I would always advise to hire a planner," affirms the bride. "We legitimately could not have had a successful wedding without Wife of the Party."

Bride & Groom Portrait at Virtual Wedding

Photos by Tiffany Kyees Photography

Bridal Gown & Salon: BHLDN;  Cake by Sweet Deetails; Consulting by Wife of the Party; Custom Gift Boxes by Hostess Provisions; Entertainment by Wife of the Party; Floral Design by Butterfly Floral & Event Design; Groom's Attire by R. Douglas; Hair by Karicean Dick for The Posh Studio; Invitations by Zola; Jewelry by Sharif Jewelers; Lighting Design by Wife of the Party; Makeup by Makeup Therapy; Photography by Tiffany Kyees Photography; Registry: Zola; Venue: Private Home