Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi couple thrilled as they tie knot in Zoom wedding
The service was a first for St Andrew's Anglican Church in the capital
It was not the big day they imagined but, in the end, it went off without a hitch.
An Abu Dhabi couple tied the knot over video conferencing app Zoom - and more than 100 friends and family tuned in from at home and abroad.
Liam Bek, 40, married his fiancée Solène Montiège, 36, on Monday, despite the closure of places of worship nationwide due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Guests saw the happy couple on one screen at home in Mushrif, with Reverend Andy Thompson at nearby St Andrew’s Church on a second, and friends who acted as official witnesses on a third.
Once the official ceremony was over, the newlyweds enjoyed a Zoom party with friends and family from across the globe.
I have to say it was a very emotional service and there was a genuine sense of occasion which surprised me, it was lovely
Rev Andy Thompson, St Andrew’s Church
“We didn’t know what to expect but it was an incredible experience,” said the new Mrs Bek, from Le Mans, France.
“It was a really warm and emotional ceremony and we are overwhelmed by all the love and support we have received.”
The Beks, who live in Mushrif, planned to get married at the Abu Dhabi church this month and then celebrate in the summer in France.
Like so many others, they found their plans were derailed by the outbreak. To date, there have been a total of 7,755 people infected in the UAE with Covid-19, and almost 2.5 million cases worldwide.
British teacher Mr Bek, from Birmingham, said the initial wedding plans were officially cancelled 10 days before the big day. The couple then approached Rev Thompson about a Zoom wedding.
“We read an article about weddings taking place through Zoom which led us to ask if we could do the same,” he said.
“He came back and said it was okay so we had around 48 hours to send out email invitations.
“We were worried that it wouldn’t have the feel of a real wedding and the technology wouldn’t work for a lot of people.”
But the plans came together and friends and family were able to join from wherever they were, including many from abroad.
“It hit us like a thunderbolt during the wedding that it was actually happening and we were going to become husband and wife,” he said.
“It was such a massive relief we were able to do it with everything going on.
“Everyone was dressed up in suits, dresses and tuxedos.
“But when guests would stand up and we could see many of them were wearing shorts, flip flops and running shoes underneath their tuxedo and suit jackets.”
A two-hour party followed as the newlyweds let their hair down and mingled - as much as the medium would allow - with their guests.
Mrs Bek used flowers from her garden to make a bouquet and stood at the virtual altar with her new husband.
The horse-riding instructor said she was moved by the support from guests.
“They made a music video with each of them singing from where they lived in France,” she said.
“We played it for everyone and it was such a nice gesture to make.”
The couple still intend to stick to their honeymoon plan of staying at a “nice boutique hotel on an island off the coast of Brittany” but realise it may be some time before they can travel.
Rev Thompson said the service had been a first for him in more than 20 years.
“I have to say it was a very emotional service and there was a genuine sense of occasion which surprised me, it was lovely," he said.
Updated: April 21, 2020 06:50 PM