The wedding industry, which rakes in billions of dollars each year, is structured around planning. From floral arrangements to reception playlists, every detail—down to the minute—is designed months or years in advance by professional or amateur wedding planners. But like most industries in Colorado and across the country many wedding plans have been put on hold due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Couples who planned on exchanging vows in front of loved ones in the coming months have instead been forced to make the difficult decision to either postpone or cancel their weddings, according to Caroline Creidenberg of online wedding planning company, Wedfuly.

To help accommodate couples hoping to get married during this time of uncertainty, Wedfuly—which offers virtual, cost-effective wedding planning—collaborated with the videoconferencing software Zoom. While gatherings are still prohibited, Wedfuly is encouraging couples to utilize the video conferencing app for marriage ceremonies. This way, couples can still get married in front of loved ones like they originally planned without canceling all of their plans.

“Some people don’t have luxury of postponing [the wedding]…but some are OK with postponing the reception,” Creidenberg says. “We reached out to Zoom and put together a collaboration with them and they offered their software for free up to any of our customers.”

To help all couples dealing with having to cancel or modify plans, Wedfuly opened the service up to everyone—not just their current clientele. “Out of wanting to help as many people as possible and utilize that collaboration and free software, we went on a bunch of Facebook community groups, posting and letting people know,” Creidenberg says.

Dustin Smith and Erin Hensley were the first couple to benefit from this collaboration; their wedding was originally scheduled for March 28 on the couple’s property in Bennett, Colorado. “It was surreal and also sad at first,” Hensley says. When Hensley first realized she might have to postpone her wedding, she says she cried in her fiancé’s arms for an entire day. “It was heartbreaking but not an unfamiliar story that we’ve heard during the time,” Creidenberg says.

With the help of Wedfuly and the local account manager for Zoom, Smith and Hensley were hitched via a livestream on March 28 in front of 120-plus family and friends. Smith’s father was there to officiate and Hensley used a cardboard cut-out of her father (pictured above) to walk her down the aisle—like many during this time, her father couldn’t travel to be there. The couple, however, rescheduled the reception for October so they can celebrate with everyone in person.

Image courtesy of Erin Hensley

“Now I get two weddings and get to wear my dress twice!” Hensley says. “It felt even more special because we overcame so many obstacles and still got our special moment.”

While holding a virtual ceremony wasn’t ideal for the couple, Henlsey says she would recommend the option to couples hoping to get married in the coming weeks and months. “So many people we hadn’t even originally invited due to finances now got to share in our big day,” she says. “Even if we didn’t live in a world of COVID-19 its a great way to invite others to join your big day and also get a free wedding video out of it.”

Since the stay-at-home order was put in place in late March, three couples have been married virtually through the collaboration with Zoom. Wedfuly has 55 more virtual weddings on the books, according to Creidenberg.

In addition to offering Zoom’s services for free, Wedfuly also handles the coordination of the online event. Instead of using a service like Facebook Live to stream the event, Zoom can cue participants to cheer and clap while also spotlighting different screens allowing the audience to fully participate.

Even through all the sadness and uncertainty, Smith and Hensley got their happy ending. “Everyone who watched, including my mom and dad, said it was so well done and they have no words to express how grateful they are too!”

Victoria Carodine
Victoria Carodine
Victoria Carodine is a Denver-based writer and a former editor on 5280's digital team.