Big moments in our lives now play out on smaller, domestic stages.
And for one Portland couple, delaying an already small wedding ceremony due to the increasingly strict social distancing rules in place seemed illogical. Instead, Beck Forsland and Greg West got married in the living room of their barely lived-in Laurelhurst rental—they had only moved in a few days prior—and invited their out-of-state parents to join via Zoom. We asked the Forsland, a yoga therapist studying to become a chiropractor at University of Western States in Northeast Portland, what the day was like.
Note: the wedding, which included the presence of a third person, photographer Natalie Woodrum, took place just before Governor Kate Brown's stay home order on Monday, March 23.
What was your original plan for the wedding? Our original original plan for our wedding was to use my spring break between my school's quarters to do an adventure wedding and honeymoon in Patagonia and have gorgeous wedding photos from the Torres del Paine national park. But the outfit in Chile wanted to charge us nearly double the cost of the 10-day honeymoon just to arrive an extra day early with our photographer. So in January we decided to have our wedding ceremony take place a few days before we flew to Patagonia for our honeymoon. We invited Jeff and our parents to fly out—his from Massachusetts and mine from Wisconsin. We had planned for a small reception with about 20 friends here in Oregon.
Then on Monday, March 16, I was going through finals week—my lab finals were all cancelled and the other exams were all online. That's when I realized that if my school was cancelling obligations in order to do social distancing, then our parents who are all over the age of 60 shouldn't be getting inside a confined metal tube and flying across the country. So we told everyone they shouldn't fly. We didn't want to risk anyone's health. My parents packed their car with the intention of driving straight from Wisconsin to Oregon without stopping, but my sisters and I didn't feel very confident in that plan either and so they ended up staying put. Chile had just closed its borders to tourists and so our honeymoon was cancelled too.
What made you decide to go through with the wedding instead of delaying it entirely? Well, I think it was in part because we had anticipated our wedding ceremony so much and the idea of putting it off for an unknown period of time was hard to swallow. We watched as every business closed down or was significantly impacted to some degree by Covid-19, every single person reduced their lives to accommodate the fear of the virus, and ultimately we didn't want the virus to completely win. I really didn't want the novel coronavirus to determine when and where we got to commit our lives to each other and who got to witness that commitment.
Walk us through the logistics. How did the ceremony work? We wrote out a script for our ceremony complete with all the parts: a welcome statement, readings to be read by his mom and mine, an introduction to the vows, a declaration of intent, a ring exchange, a pronouncement and finally the presentation section.
We read our parts and our parents read their poems. We had 2 iPads set up: one with Greg's parents and one with mine so that we could see them and they could see us in real time... we were using Zoom. Early in the ceremony the iPad with my parents visible went black and I thought we lost my parents. I wasn't sure who was going to read my mom's poem so I introduced her poem by saying "and now for a reading from my mom... who seems to have gone missing." But then her voice came through and she read the poem. They could still see us. Other than that one small thing, we didn't have any technological problems.
How did you get your Roomba to carry the ring? What was that like? We used double sticky tape to get the ring boxes to stick on top of the Roomba, who we named iHenry.... So when it came to the part in our script to exchange rings, I picked up my phone and instructed iHenry via the app to go on a training run. That meant he would maneuver around a bit faster since he wasn't vacuuming. iHenry was much like a human ring bearer: he peeked out from under the couch and then promptly took a 90˚ turn and went back underneath. It was really funny and gave us a humor break because we were a bit emotional before that. Eventually iHenry made it out from underneath the couch enough for Gregory to pick up the rings.