Their 125-person wedding was cancelled, so they livestreamed a small ceremony instead

Their 125-person wedding was cancelled, so they livestreamed a small ceremony instead

Jessica Cressey and Kyle Bannerman met on Tinder five years ago, and planned a 125-person wedding in Thorold for April 4. The celebration was also going to double as a massive goodbye party, since the couple moved across the country to P.E.I. on April 15. When Covid-19 forced them to cancel their plans, they decided to livestream a small, socially distanced ceremony instead.

Jessica: We’re a Tinder love story. Kyle’s a tattoo artist, which is partly why I was attracted to his profile. And we ended up sharing a lot of common interests.

Kyle: At the time, neither of us had a car, so we couldn’t hang out immediately. I was living in Welland, and she was in Niagara Falls. We spent a month just talking online.

Jessica: When Kyle got a car, we went on our first official date to the drive-in, to see Straight Outta Compton. Now, we go to the drive-in every year to celebrate our anniversary.

Kyle: We visited P.E.I. for Jessica’s friend’s wedding in 2018. I had already been a few times to do guests-artist spots at a local tattoo shop, and I loved it. When we got to experience it together, I jokingly told her we should live there. She said, “Well, then you’ll have to marry me.” We returned for my birthday last year in March, and had a serious conversation about the logistics of moving. When we came home, we started talking about getting married and where we’d want to do it.

Jessica: We are both huge pro wrestling fans, and last April we hosted a WrestleMania fantasy draft party with a bunch of our friends. Kyle proposed right before the party with a title belt, as well as a ring. The title belt was the best part.

Kyle: Our wedding was slated for April 4, 2020. It was going to be 125 of our family and friends in a rustic barn. We wanted it to be a farewell party as well, since we were moving to P.E.I. soon after.

Jessica: It was going to be a mix of traditional and modern. All of our tables were named after drag queens, and I’d hired one, my friend Macy Manolo, to perform a couple of numbers for Kyle as a surprise. I planned to walk down the aisle to a Dustin Kensrue song. We were going to bring in caricature artists, and had matchbooks custom made to mimic the favours at my parents’ wedding. There was also going to be a cannabis bar, because a lot of our friends would rather smoke than drink.

Kyle: For our honeymoon, we were going to visit the Northwest Territories to see the Northern Lights. On March 12, our return flight was cancelled, and since we didn’t want to get stuck there, we decided to pre-emptively cancel the whole thing. There was a domino effect after that.

Jessica: The following Tuesday, Doug Ford announced gatherings would be limited to 50 people. That was a tough day. We spent it crying in bed. But we were still set on getting married on April 4. We had custom napkins and matches that had already arrived with the date on them, and Kyle’s suit had the date embroidered inside. So the next day, we got back on our feet and started planning something that would fit within the allowed parameters.

Kyle: Exactly a week later, on March 24, the province banned gatherings of more than five people. By that point, our guests all understood. They were heartbroken for us, but supported the decision to cancel. We started thinking of ways we could still include people, and settled on livestreaming an intimate ceremony.

Jessica: We split up the day, and got married legally in the morning. We asked Kyle’s mom’s pastor if he would marry us. That morning, at 11 a.m., we went to his empty church, the Gathering Place in Port Colborne, and got married in a quick ceremony, with Kyle’s parents acting as witnesses. Everyone stood two metres apart. The livestream—over Facebook and Twitch—was planned for 4 p.m. We both got dressed in our original wedding outfits, and I did my own hair and makeup. Our dogs, two puggles, were the flower girls. We dressed them in tutus. I walked down the aisle to “Gold” by Trixie Mattel. Kyle and I wrote our own vows and said them to each other. In the end, it was the perfect day for us.

Kyle: It ended up being more personal than I expected. Just the fact that it happened was enough for me. At that point there was so much uncertainty, so to be able to watch Jessica turn the corner and walk toward me, and know that the wedding was going to happen and I’d have my wife beside me in the end, was the best part.

Jessica: There were funny moments, too. The dogs made a nest in my dress and veil and fell asleep there during the ceremony. There were 200 to 300 people watching the livestream, because we made it public. After the ceremony, my maid of honour rented us a hotel room at the top of the Marriott by the falls. There was nobody there. We ordered SkipTheDishes, and watched WrestleMania in our jammies. We had a nice bath with a bath bomb and enjoyed the beautiful view.

Kyle: It was haunting because it was so empty. We’ve lived in the region our whole life, and have never seen it like that. Since there were no guests, the hotels lit up their rooms—one spelled out “hope” and the other made a big heart. It was really fitting, and a special send-off.

—As told to Jean Grant