Essential Workers and Newlyweds: How This Couple Pulled Off the Perfect Zoom Wedding

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Zenzile & Joel enjoying their surprise backyard honeymoon
(Photo by Rachel Rodgers).

When newlyweds Zenzile and Joel started planning their Barbados wedding, they had no idea they would have to change their plans. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened as the couple’s dream wedding got derailed by the pandemic. 

After meeting at a concert in 2014, Zenzile, a public school teacher in East Flatbush, New York, and Joel, an emergency room nurse, got engaged last year during a surprise proposal on Zenzile’s birthday. They were excited to start planning their wedding and had already landed on a date when the pandemic hit. Amid the uncertainty, they opted to forgo their original plan and began looking into other options.

Before they could settle on a new direction, the couple was forced to spend several months apart while Joel worked in a high-risk environment taking care of COVID-19 patients. During the same time, Zenzile continued to teach kindergarten, working primarily with displaced children or those in temporary housing. The couple admits that this was a difficult period for both of them, but they were able to get through it together and grow closer as a result. Once they reunited in June, the two decided to come up with a new plan that would allow them to move forward with their future together, without having to put their love on hold.

The Ultimate 2020 Wedding

Zenzile & Joel watch the surprise honeymoon video message

“We were going to push the wedding back to 2022, but then we heard about the New York executive order to get married virtually, so that’s what we did,” says Zenzile. The couple eventually opted to hold their nuptials over Zoom, complete with a recitation of vows, a first dance, and even a cake-cutting ceremony. 

They were joined at their apartment by their parents, their sisters, and Zenzile’s niece. The rest of their friends and family attended the ceremony virtually, as did the pastor. “We still had everything that normal weddings have, except we didn’t do the engagement photos or the bachelor and bachelorette parties,” explains Zenzile. Despite the change in plans, the couple is happy with their decision and say they feel their wedding day was just as special as they hoped it would be. “It turned out way better than expected,” says Joel, emphasizing that having their family and friends join them virtually made all the difference when it came to having the type of wedding they had dreamed of.

A Honeymoon in the Not-So-Distant Future

Zenzile & Joel holding the Chase Southwest Departue Board

Joel and Zenzile’s wedding celebration didn’t end there. As one of the lucky couples included in the “Honeymoon for Heroes” program launched by the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, the couple was surprised with a Caribbean-themed pop-up honeymoon experience where they were able to enjoy tropical drinks and recreate their first dance. It was a chance for the couple to relive their special day while also getting a taste of what their future honeymoon could look like. 

To help them plan their perfect honeymoon in the future, the couple also received 200,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points that don’t expire and they qualified for Companion Pass®. Companion Pass is one of the most coveted benefits in travel as it allows one person to fly with you for free (not including taxes & fees from $5.60) every time you purchase or redeem for a flight on Southwest Airlines. Companion Pass is good for travel for the remainder of the year that it’s earned, plus the entire next calendar year. That can be a big cost savings when you take multiple trips. So where are they heading to when they’re able to travel? Most likely the Caribbean, where they look forward to relaxing in the sun as they start the next chapter of their lives together.

* If you’re thinking of traveling soon, you may want to consider a new Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card to help you earn the 125,000 points in a calendar year needed to qualify for the Companion Pass benefit. All Rapid Rewards rules and regulations apply, please visit Southwest.com/rrterms.