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Ariel & Zackary’s Cyber Ceremony

Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography Captures Backyard Elopement During COVID-19 

Durham wedding photographer, Fancy This Photography is working with local couples to find unique solutions to an unprecedented spring wedding season. Instead of risking the health of family and friends during the Coronavirus outbreak, Ariel Watts and Zackary Sanderford opted for a four-person, livestreamed elopement. Postponing their Raleigh wedding reception for December 2020, the bride and groom shared vows on their six-year dating anniversary, March 20th. The guest list? Ariel and Zackary’s married friends, Sarah Pharr (officiant) and Jason Gavenmen (videographer), Nikki of Fancy This Photography, and star of the show – Kitty Purry, the bride and groom’s beloved pet cat. If you think bride Ariel is heartbroken over having her wedding postponed by COVID-19, you’re wrong, 

“I feel incredibly grateful knowing that no problem, no pandemic could stop our love. I am confident I’ve found my person and no matter what roadblocks or crazy situations we face, we are in it together and at the end of the day, that is all the matters.”

Keep scrolling to witness a romantic, not-your-average, Durham wedding!

White Wedding Cat in Spring Flower Collar Backyard Wedding Ceremony Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography

Find The Silver Lining 

Ariel and Zackary had given up on the idea of having Kitty Purry present at their wedding. The large crowd expected at their original ceremony would have caused the cat too much stress. However, a five-person elopement presented the purrr-fect opportunity for Kitty Purry to be present! Durham wedding photographer, Fancy This Photography (also a cat mom) captured this friendly feline as a member of the bride and groom’s wedding party. 

The groom would also like to mention,

“Our postponed date gives us more time to practice and perfect our first dance (a fun quarantine activity)!”

Bride and Groom and Cat Backyard Wedding Ceremony Portrait Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography

Q: How did you feel when the Coronavirus outbreak happened? 

A: We were nervous when we first heard about the initial outbreak, Zackary’s interest for science had him following the outbreak and reporting news projections for weeks leading up to the wedding (which stressed me [Ariel] out). When we learned it was getting closer to home (in the U.S.) I cried, and had to leave work early. We had been in close contact with our wedding coordinator, Chelsy Ferguson of The Gathering Co. I think we had daily calls, where she kept us updated and helped keep us as calm as we could be. 

Q: What was your solution to having your wedding canceled by COVID-19?

A: It was pretty much a mutual decision. Since over half of our guests were traveling from out of state, we contacted them. They were all supportive of keeping the wedding on our original date, but you could almost feel their apprehension over the phone. After these conversations, we decided we could not ask our friends and family to choose this celebration over their family’s health and made the decision to postpone. Chelsy was unbelievably helpful, she contacted and rescheduled us with all our original vendors (who were so flexible and supportive) and got us re-booked immediately.

Bride in White Lace Wedding Dress Walking Down the Aisle Backyard Wedding Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography
Intimate Private Backyard Wedding Ceremony Bride and Groom Share Vows Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography
Joyful Groom at Backyard Wedding Ceremony Bride and Groom Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography

Q: What was the experience of livestreaming your wedding like? 

A: Holding a cyber ceremony, felt very, ‘millennial’ of us, ha. But, March 20, 2020 was our six-year dating anniversary and we decided we wanted to keep this special date. We were able to get our parents, siblings and a small group of friends to attend virtually. We were unfortunately unable to get our grandparents and other friends and family to attend. Our friend, Sarah Pharr, is the one who put this entire ceremony together, she surprised us by hiring Durham wedding photographer, Fancy This Photography – and we are so grateful she did! Nikki beautifully, and artfully placed the florals for our ceremony, she used to be a florist, lucky us!

Bride Throws her Head back Laughing with Groom at Altar Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography
Bride and Groom Kiss Backyard Wedding Ceremony Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography
Bride and Groom Celebrate Backyard Wedding Ceremony Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography
Bride and Groom and Friends Champagne Cheers Durham Wedding Photographer Fancy This Photography

Q: What advice would you give another NC couple who is facing the same challenges with COVID-19? 

A: Take it one day at a time. Remember you’re in this together. It felt devastating at first, but it was also such a relief not to worry about our guests health and safety. And, at the end of the day, I got to marry my best friend (and cried a lot of happy tears) and that’s all that matters!

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