July 18, 2024

Couple have a social wedding

Amy Ekberg and Aaron Cooper

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By Gay Ekberg (Mother of the Bride)

Amy Ekberg and Aaron Cooper announced their engagement and upcoming wedding for Saturday, March 21, in St. Paul.  They had planned a honeymoon to Florida over Amy’s spring break from her elementary school.  Early alerts to COVID-19 caused them to reflect on the honeymoon, deciding not to go through the airports, but maybe drive. As CDC alerts increased, the honeymoon was postponed.  Then CDC guidelines for gatherings of people went from 250 to 50 and then down to 10 people.  Amy’s pastor was advised “no more home visits and no more Sunday morning worship services.” Not knowing whether the wedding party would be allowed to gather on Saturday, March 21, and not wanting guests making the trip to the Twin Cities area which now had COVID-19 patients, the couple made a firm decision to make the best of the situation.  Amy called her mother, Gay Ekberg, on Monday night to announce the wedding would take place Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m.

The pastor was available, and part of the flowers had been delivered early by mistake, but were now perfectly on time.  The wedding party consisted of nine people. The pastor in his formal garb performed the wedding service at the Bethel Lutheran Church half a mile from Amy’s house. Amy’s sister, Vangie Johnson, was already the Maid of Honor and conveniently lives three doors away from Amy.  Kery, Vangie’s husband, would be the witness for Aaron because none of the four groomsmen could be present.  With the current small wedding party, Vangie’s six-year-old daughter Hadley, now became the flower girl (able to wear the flower girl dress and heels she wore a year ago for her Uncle John Ekberg’s wedding.) Vangie’s nine-year-old son Porter became the ring bearer (complete with white shirt and tie.)  The two singers from Mpls., Ryan and Elizabeth Smith, were told they did not need to come, recorded music would substitute. However, they insisted they would come and sing.  Amy wore her wedding dress which had arrived in time, although several weeks later than expected because of the COVID-19 quarantine and factory shutdown in China.  Amy had not worried; she would just sew one if she had to. 

During the wedding, “social distance” was practiced with the pastor and the singers.  The Maid of Honor stood at a distance and the children sat separately. The wedding couple exchanged rings and had the traditional kiss.

The couple wanted their families and close friends to be present and involved.  The solution was to stream the ceremony by Facebook Live. Kery became the videographer so the entire event would appear on Facebook.  Kery moved with his iPad to include participants and highlights; he had no zoom, only his movement created the close up or zoom outs.

Back at rural Herman, Gay arranged her office with chairs so she, Joel, and John Ekberg could sit around the computer to watch the wedding live stream from Facebook.  Vangie held her smart phone out at arm’s length so the wedding party could hear the response when the question came as to who gives this woman in marriage. All three Ekbergs said, “We do!” on John’s smart phone.

The wedding dinner played out at various locations.

For the wedding dinner, Gay had been baking and freezing homemade angel food cakes.  Nancy Rinke, of Wheaton, made the lemon curd filling.  The plan had been for the wedding party to whip cream for the cakes, to be whipped by hand (no mixer.) Thus, after the ceremony, the Ekberg family at Herman ate dinner, followed by wedding cake. 

Over in St. Paul, Vangie had made an angel food cake with lemon curd and whipped cream.  The Johnson family joined the newest Mr. and Mrs. Cooper at their home (just three houses away) for dinner and dessert.

Near Chicago, Aaron’s parents, Bill and Jeannie Cooper, had joined Aaron’s aunt and uncle for a salmon dinner to watch the ceremony.

The couple could feel the love and presence of family and friends near and far. Friends and family from across the state, the country, and even abroad, congratulated and commented on the couple’s Facebook wedding and how meaningful it had been to witness the wedding.

Tuesday, March 17, also happened to be the last day that teachers could be in the school building before starting “distance learning.” Amy, who works for the St. Paul Public Schools as a speech/language pathologist, mentioned to her co-workers that her wedding ceremony was moved up to that evening.  

One teacher who watched the Facebook event found it to be newsworthy and contacted KSTP television station. KSTP-TV contacted Aaron and Amy the next morning and conducted an interview via smartphone. That evening on KSTP’s EyeWitness News, Amy and Aaron’s wedding was featured on “Minnesota Moments,” with the segment titled “The Facebook Wedding.”  Clips from both the interview and the wedding were included.  The story was also written up online for the KSTP “Minnesota Moments” listing of segments.

Amy and Aaron definitely rolled with the punches, adjusted their wedding plans, and were very happy to be a wedded couple going through these times together. Both have worked from home on Arlington Avenue since the wedding. And the honeymoon to Florida is still on hold.  They are hoping to be able to celebrate their wedding later this year.

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