The pandemic cancelled our wedding. We exchanged vows alone at a beach instead
Robert Doherty and I met in 2015. We were part of a fundraising boxing event for Princess Margaret called the Fight to End Cancer. We signed up to be fighters and trained together at a boxing gym for six months. The day of the event, Robert finally told me that he liked me.
I work as an event planner for non-profits, and I have a side hustle as a wedding planner. Robert works in sales at a software company. I basically had all of the wedding vendors set up in my head before he proposed. Robert proposed in June 2019 on the balcony of our condo, hiding a ring inside of an antique camera. After I said yes, I had everything booked in two months. We were going to get married on March 21 at the Trinity College Chapel at U of T. Our reception would be at the Drake Commissary. We were expecting 160 guests, and it was going to be cocktail style with food stations and passed appetizers. We wanted a fun vibe with people up on their feet and mingling.
When we first heard about coronavirus in late January, I didn’t think it would have any effect on our wedding. It wasn’t until it was deemed a pandemic on March 11 that I thought, Are we still going to go through with this? Our plan was to follow the suggestions of the Ministry of Health.
Within two days, things had changed drastically again and most people were self-isolating. Large group gatherings weren’t banned yet, but even if we did have the wedding, was it even going to be fun because our guests would be so stressed? We had a lot of people that were travelling into Toronto and some were cancelling. The thought of cancelling the wedding devastated me. I had put my heart and soul into planning it. After a lot of tears, it came down to what was important: the health of our family and friends. My dad was on my mind the most—he’s 77. It was a no-brainer at that point. We had to postpone our wedding.
We sent out an email on March 14 letting our guests know that we were postponing. Everyone was so supportive. After that, I contacted the event manager at the Drake. She understood and gave us some options for a weekend they had open in the fall.
On March 21, the date that I had envisioned as my wedding date for a year, I couldn’t picture myself sitting at home in our condo. We decided to go somewhere nice and read vows to each other. There would be no officiant, so we weren’t officially getting married. We chose a spot at the lake, not far from Humber Bridge. We had two of our friends, Virgil Barrow and Jennifer Huggins, come to take pictures and video so we could share it with our family and friends—they filmed from a distance, of course. They’re the owners of the boxing gym where we met, so they’ve seen our relationship from the very beginning.
We went down to the lake at 5 p.m, the time our ceremony was originally scheduled. It was a beautiful, sunny day. We had some arrangements from our florist that would have been at our wedding, so I made a mini bouquet from some of the flowers.
It was a magical moment. We’d written new vows that morning, and they were more intimate and funny because we were just saying them to each other. That morning I cut some rope off of a little bag I had at home, and we made rope rings that we put on each others’ fingers. We’ll definitely keep those and put them in our wedding album one day.
It was so much fun, and we were both on such a high. On the way home, we stopped at our favourite restaurant, Mattachioni, which was just doing takeout and delivery at that point. The owner, who we know well, put together a beautiful spread of charcuterie, tiramisu, a bottle of Prosecco and two pizzas as a gift. We took it home, changed into our pyjamas and enjoyed the meal. Then we facetimed our parents. They were both really happy for us.
If things settle down, we probably will get married officially with our immediate families in the coming months, just because a marriage licence only lasts for three months. We’ll do a little ceremony and then have the party in September. That’s the silver lining. I’ve always dreamt about my wedding. Now I’m getting three with the same person.
—As told to Andrea Yu