A poignant photo shows a bride walking down the aisle surrounded by pictures instead of wedding guests.
In a heartwarming gesture, the St. Ignatius church in San Francisco, California stuck photos of its congregation to empty pews before Parris Khachi and Emily Manashi tied the knot last Saturday.
The couple were married in the huge Catholic church with just a handful of family members present due to a ban on mass gatherings in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
But thanks to the church’s kindness, the room was filled with dozens of well-wishers and guests in spirit.
Parris and Emily, from San Francisco, were forced to reconsider their wedding plans when Covid-19 swept across the US and social distancing orders put in place.
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With more than 1m infections, the country now has the highest number of coronavirus cases than any other in the world and over 64,000 Americans have lost their lives.
But the couple, who had been engaged for almost a year, were determined to carry on with their special day.
Speaking to ABC7, groom Parris explained: “Once the shelter in place took effect, we spent some time figuring what we should do next.”
“Neither of us wanted to postpone indefinitely, since it’s hard to figure out when things will feel right again. Meanwhile, we did not want to put our loved ones at risk.”
The couple decided to go ahead and get married with just 11 people present.
The church also agreed to livestream the ceremony, so that other family and friends could watch online.
But as a surprise, the church also taped pictures of its regular attendees, which were spread across 26 rows of seats filling the empty room with smiling faces.
An image capturing the beautiful scene by photographer Vicens Forn has now gone viral on Facebook, garnering thousands of likes.
As he shared the picture, Vicens wrote: “The bride’s entrance holding her father’s hand.
“Yesterday I was very lucky to be the photographer of this wedding in San Francisco, a different but especially emotional wedding, let’s not forget that life goes on.
“It was a really beautiful thing the church did for the priest and church members to be connected during their now regular livestreams,’ he said.
“We think it’s resonating because we still found a way to celebrate a happy occasion even amongst the current climate. In a way it allowed a wedding to be brought back to basics, in sickness and in health and in pandemic.”