They had a big wedding planned, and Kiki’s family from the UK booked on flights to Toronto to spend a week celebrating their marriage. But, COVID put a stop to all their plans. Their desire to marry legally, regardless of what the ‘not-wedding’ wedding day looked like was strong. And so, they did just that.
Words by Marianne
How they met
Kiki was a gym manager, interested in cheap prosecco and the StairMaster, living in Canada on a two-year visa from England. I was a fourth-year resident doctor, interested in French wine and the opera, born and raised in Toronto, Canada. By chance, we happened to swipe right.
Despite not matching on paper, the intimate conversations and laughter never ended from the moment we met. While living in Toronto, Kiki was gradually introduced to my family, and my mother quickly started calling Kiki her “fourth daughter.”
After several months of dating, Kiki and I finally flew to England to meet her eccentric yet loving family. Following an activity-packed week together, despite some of my fashion choices and “hideous accent,” Kiki’s family also took me in as another daughter. We finished our trip in England in Brighton, Kiki’s favorite city.
On our last day walking through the city, we stumbled upon the Lanes. They’re a collection of narrow pedestrian streets with quaint shops, including several antique Jewelry shops. Our love felt so right at that moment that we walked into one of the shops and bought each other antique engagement rings.
Kiki was in New York City for work one cold week in December and I flew there to spend a weekend with her. Little known to Kiki, I was planning on proposing that trip after having asked Kiki’s mother and eldest sister for their blessings.
I had planned Kiki’s dream, albeit cheesy, proposal in Central Park over a bottle of champagne. After not seeing each other for almost a week, we met on a clear evening in Times Square, New York. And, after enjoying the lights, we walked to a trendy local restaurant for a romantic dinner.
On our way home through Central Park, we heard the dull bass from poppy 80s music. Following the sound, we stumbled upon an ice rink. Like a scene from a Rom-Com, we both rented skates and held hands doing laps around the rink under the Manhattan lights.
Although I didn’t have any champagne, Kiki’s engagement ring was in my pocket. I planned to propose to her after our skate. However, instead of getting down on one knee, I fell down hard on my left knee on our last lap around the ice rink. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had broken my knee cap.
Kiki helped me hobble back to the hotel, and we went straight to bed.
After a painful, sleepless night, we booked flights back to Toronto that morning, so I could seek medical treatment. However, I didn’t want to leave New York without a fiance! So, while immobile on a chair in the hotel bathroom waiting for a wheelchair to bring me down to the taxi, I played our favorite song through the cheap speakers of my phone and whispered into Kiki’s ear will you marry me.
Kiki gave me a cheeky smile but immediately said yes.
Planning the Wedding
With Kiki not feeling particularly inspired after being proposed to in a cheap hotel bathroom and me in a full leg cast, the wedding planning would begin!
Neither of us grew up idealizing a white dress and fancy ceremony. But, as the planning started, our dream wedding we never knew we wanted began to materialize. Through friends of friends, we secured a beautiful farm north of Toronto for the ceremony. We booked the city’s best wedding band, catering from a local chef, and, most exciting, a variety of organic and biodynamic wines that we loved. Also, Kiki’s English family would visit for the week. We planned to spend at a beautiful cottage we had rented on a remote lake in North Ontario.
Everything was booked, but then COVID hit. It was clear we would not be able to safely host a wedding that coming August, so everything was canceled.
We would spend quarantine canceling flights, wedding bands, and flowers, and in the process, I lost my irreplaceable engagement ring.
Needless to say, the early days of COVID were devastating.
The ‘Non-Wedding’ Wedding Day
After a botched proposal, a broken knee, a lost engagement ring, and COVID canceled wedding, there could not have been more signs that maybe this marriage wasn’t meant to be. But as we know, love conquers all, and these hardships only brought us closer together.
The world was in chaos, but we didn’t want to put our lives on hold and still got married in August. Although with only two witnesses and a judge we found on Kijiji.
We still wanted some evidence of our marriage that year. We wanted photos to eventually show our kids. So, we arranged a photoshoot with an up-and-coming local photographer for the Saturday afternoon of our would-be wedding day.
After the shoot, I took Kiki to the fanciest restaurant I could find open during COVID. And, to that restaurant, we wore our white dresses. We were surprised at the table with beautiful flowers and an incredible bottle of biodynamic wine sent from our friends. Our family also sent us a video of our friends and family’s short clips wishing us a happy wedding celebration. It was truly a beautiful day.
Finding someone you like is tough. Finding someone you love is tougher. And, finding someone you can endure hardships and disappointment with is the toughest. However, we are incredibly thankful to have still been able to officially marry during COVID. Not only have so many of our friends in Canada had to postpone weddings because of COVID. But, there are also so many people who cannot legally marry even in the best of times, whether due to sexual orientation, religious or cultural reasons.
I am incredibly thankful to my partner, my friends and family, and my country for allowing us the opportunity to express our love.
Photography by Max Visuals