What do you do when you're quarantining in different countries and there's a wedding to plan? Take it from American Ryan Hamilton and his Canadian fiancée Savannah Koop, who took their nuptials to country lines—in the midst of a pandemic, nonetheless—to say "I do" on the border between the United States and Canada.
After meeting on the dating app Hinge in the summer of 2019, Hamilton proposed to Koop on March 1, 2020, mere weeks before COVID-19 forced the U.S. and Canada to shut down their borders to non-essential travel. When Koop came back to her home country not long after their engagement, the Canadian government suggested she quarantine for 14 days. "During those two weeks, the border closed," she explains.
We would meet where our countries met, essentially a ditch in a road. It was the best we could do, though it was hard to be so close yet so far.
With Koop in Canada and Hamilton in America, they were forced to get creative with their long-distance romance, and the border proved to be the perfect spot for makeshift date nights. "We would meet where our countries met, essentially a ditch in a road," the couple explains. "We’d sit on either side of the ditch, and talk or longboard. It was the best we could do, though it was hard to be so close yet so far."
Then, on June 26, 2020, the border became their wedding aisle. "Originally, we did not want to get married on the borderline, because we thought it would mean approaching the wedding from separate countries," Hamilton and Koop admit. But after postponing their original wedding date in May, they began to explore the possibility.
Keep reading to see how the couple made it happen, planning a wedding in just two short weeks and exchanging vows on a friend's property on the border, below.
The couple organized the celebration with the help of their family and friends, specifically a friend from church who handled the logistics. At her suggestion, they asked a friend with property on the U.S. side about the possibility of hosting an intimate wedding there—and once she said "yes," they spoke with border offices in U.S. and Canada to let them know what was happening.
"On top of all of this, we planned this wedding in two weeks, so our community and God were really the ones who made it possible," they explain. "Our family and friends came together to do flowers, set up, make coffee, and so on and so forth. We really saw God’s hand in this process as we never could have imagined this was how our wedding would play out. Two countries and two weeks for this wedding, and yet it was so beautiful."
With the logistics set, they called on photographer Rebekah August to capture their vows from the Canadian side on the big day.
While not the original 150-guest wedding the pair originally envisioned, tying the knot on the border allowed both Koop's and Hamilton's families to witness the marriage.
"This was the best way to allow our families to be there, without having to leave their own country," the bride and groom explain. "On top of that, after being separated for 99 days, a celebration was in order that we could finally get married. It only felt right to do that with those who had fervently prayed for us and supported us during that time."
While the couple's focus was on getting married, they did add minimal ceremony and reception décor that paid homage to the wedding's unique location with American and Canadian flags.
And as a "COVID couple," Koop and Hamilton have advice for fellow couples planning. "It’s okay to grieve the original wedding you may have dreamed of," they say. "Enjoy the intimacy of a small wedding and that you get to marry the love of your life."
After all, they didn't let a closed border or a global pandemic stop them from saying "I do," proving love really does win.