Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Real Weddings: Heather and Igor

Inside an intimate and spontaneous celebration

As told to Karoun Chahinian| Photography by Rita Kravchuk and Scott Pearson
| September 17, 2022

Heather Burnett, a government litigator, and Igor Provod, a product designer, met on Tinder in March 2018. Shortly before their second year together, the couple moved to Budapest on a whim. The following year, they were engaged. Here’s a look into their unconventional wedding back in Toronto.

Igor: We met on Tinder, as many couples do nowadays. I asked her how she knew a mutual friend of ours, and Heather said she had met her at a show at the Horseshoe Tavern.

Heather: I’d received some advice that, when you’re online dating, it’s better not to do too much chatting before you meet, because text-based chemistry and in-person chemistry aren’t the same thing. Igor said he loved the Horseshoe, so I suggested that we go there and see a show. We were both free on a Tuesday, and the show that night was Marlon Williams, a singer-songwriter from New Zealand. Neither of us had heard of him, but we went anyway and had a great time. The music was good, and Igor was friendly, charming, and confident.

Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Igor: It was so easy to talk to Heather, and we both felt a strong connection right away. I knew she was right for me after six months—I told my friends she was the one. After a year of dating, Heather applied for a two-year position with the World Health Organization in Budapest. When she got the job, I tagged along, and we moved in together. After that, we started talking about long-term relationship plans, and in March 2021, around our third year of dating, I asked her what kind of engagement ring she wanted. I was looking into getting a custom ring with the help of some members of my extended family who are jewellers.

Heather: Another seven months passed before Igor proposed. He was waiting on the ring. But, since we were already speaking about it so openly, and because we wanted to get married soon after we returned to Toronto in early 2022, we started quietly planning the wedding in the meantime.

Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Igor: I told my family pretty early on that we were planning to get married, but Heather waited until things were official before she told hers. I asked her to marry me on Margaret Bridge because it’s my favourite view of Budapest. It’s right above the Danube River, and you can see the parliament building. Everything is lit up at night and it’s beautiful.

Heather: He’s the best guy I’ve ever met. It’s so easy to be with him. We just work together so naturally despite being fairly different.

 Igor: She makes me feel loved and supported and takes me for who I am. I think that’s very rare.

Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Heather: With Covid still a concern, we planned a small, 30-person wedding on a Friday evening in May. We were going to have the ceremony at Evergreen Brick Works and then dinner at Viaggio, an Italian restaurant on Dundas West. My mom made and sent out the invitations for us while we were still in Budapest. Once we moved back to Toronto, at the end of February, I quickly found a dress and someone to do my hair and makeup, which were two things I couldn’t arrange from afar.

Igor: Everything was running smoothly until three days before the wedding, when I got a sore throat. The next day, I took a rapid Covid test and it was positive. At that time, public health guidelines required you to stay home for at least five days after a positive test. There was no way I could leave the house to get married. I didn’t want to risk getting anyone sick.

Heather: That’s when I suggested that we get married on our balcony.

Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Igor: I was freaking out. I thought, “Oh my god, we’ve been planning this for such a long time, and there’s been so much effort, and I feel so bad”—and Heather just jumped up and said, “Hey, let’s get married on the balcony.” It was pretty wild, but we really wanted to move forward, especially since we had a lot of friends and family coming into town for the wedding from overseas and across Canada. And we already had our wedding date engraved inside my ring.

Heather: A lot of people would have postponed. For me, it made more sense to work with what we had rather than try to reschedule everything. Our condo building is curved, so you’re able to see your neighbours’ balconies from your own. There are a few balconies two storeys below ours that are quite large and can easily fit 30 people with a good view of our own balcony. I went by those units to ask if the people there would be willing to lend us their balconies for our guests to stand on. In the end, everyone I spoke to was happy to help, but it still felt a bit awkward going door to door in an N95 mask and saying, “Hi, you don’t know me, but can I use your balcony Friday night?" The next step was to get an officiant, which was actually the easiest part. I called a service, and they said, “This isn’t even the weirdest request we’ve ever got.” I had to cancel my hair and makeup because I didn’t want to inadvertently expose the artist to Covid.

Igor: We had an officiant, musicians, decorations, and a photographer set up for Evergreen Brick Works, but we couldn’t move those things to the balcony ceremony. So Heather spent two days running around and making calls, trying to find alternatives. Everything wasn’t secure until the night before the wedding. I was feeling pretty sick, but I cleaned our balcony in preparation. That was all I could do since I couldn’t leave the house. Somehow Heather never got Covid—she was testing every day.

Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Heather: I bought some large plants to dress up the balcony, and my sister-in-law made us a balloon garland to drape off the edge of the railing. The University of Toronto’s faculty of music was able to set us up with a solo violinist on short notice, and I was able to secure another balcony for him so that he’d have his own space.

Igor: While Heather was running around the day before, trying to get all these details in order, I spent the afternoon working on my vows and pushing through feelings of guilt and doubt. I felt bad that this was all my fault, and I wondered whether we were doing the right thing. But, as I was writing my vows, it became clear to me that all I wanted to do was marry Heather and that it didn’t need to be a big fancy ceremony.

Heather: On the day of the wedding, I quickly visited my neighbour’s balcony to clean it up for our guests—in a perfect world, I would’ve hired a cleaning service, but there was no extra time to arrange that. So there I was, a couple of hours before the ceremony, cleaning the windows, sweeping, and dusting off cobwebs. Once 5:30 p.m. rolled around, everyone began arriving—the guests, the officiant, and the violinist—and I wasn’t dressed yet. Luckily, my family had agreed to act as ushers, which gave me the extra time I needed to finish my makeup and hair and put on my wedding dress. At 5:45, the guests were gathered and the violinist started playing. We didn’t ask him to play any specific songs, just whatever he had in his repertoire that was appropriate under the circumstances. I did ask him to switch to a bridal-type song at 6 p.m., when Igor and I planned to walk out onto our balcony and start the ceremony. We had no idea what he would be playing until he played it. He ended up choosing “La Vie en Rose,” which was perfect.

Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Igor: I walked out first and started waving to our guests but forgot to make room for Heather to join me, and then I heard her whisper, “Move over!"

Heather: People were cheering and Igor was waving like the president, and he forgot about me! I blame the fever. In the end, everything went as well as it could have. Our officiant stood on the balcony below us, with the guests, and used a megaphone to talk to us. Igor and I yelled everything so that everyone could hear us.

Igor: One funny moment was when our upstairs neighbour’s dog interrupted Heather’s vows with loud barking, which made everyone laugh. We also had a lot of random people watching the wedding from other balconies. We couldn’t find a new photographer last minute, but one of my friends, Scott, is an amateur photographer and offered to take photos for us. Our guests also recorded a lot of the ceremony on their phones.

Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Heather: Overall, I was happy with how it all came together and that we made it work. The one thing I was disappointed about was that no one could see our bottom halves because of the balcony railing, so you couldn’t see most of my wedding dress. To capture our full wedding looks, and Igor in full health, we planned a professional wedding photoshoot a few weeks afterward.

 Igor: I was happy about the shoot since I’d bought some nice shoes that no one got to see that day.

 Heather: At the end of the ceremony, we said goodbye to everyone from afar and then went back into our condo.

Igor: Unfortunately, we weren’t able to have the dinner we had planned. To help make up for it, we bought a few cases of the wine we had planned to serve at dinner, from Pearl Morissette in Niagara, and sent everyone home with one of those. We turned the place cards that we would have used at the dinner into name tags for the bottles.

Real Weddings: When the groom got Covid, this couple moved their ceremony to their condo balcony

Heather: For our own dinner that night, we ordered delivery and drank some champagne. While it wasn’t the wedding we had planned, in a lot of ways, it was more romantic—in an against-the-odds, love-conquers-all kind of way.

Igor: It was definitely memorable. I felt like we could really do anything. We could move to a foreign country together after dating for a short time, and we could get married on a balcony.

Heather: It wouldn’t have worked if our family and friends hadn’t been so flexible and understanding. When we emailed our guests the day before the wedding with the new plan, no one objected. Everyone just pivoted and gave us their full support.

Igor: In terms of a honeymoon, our two years in Hungary already felt like one, but we’ll be going to France in September.

Cheat Sheet

Date: May 20, 2022 Venue: Couple’s condo building in Fort York Officiant: Brenda Hamilton Photography: Scott Pearson (ceremony) and Rita Kravchuk (photoshoot) Hair and makeup: Jessica Jean Myers (photoshoot) Bride’s outfit: Vintage Bride Groom’s outfit: Suitsupply Wine: Pearl Morissette

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