Like many engaged couples, Lindsey and Bri Leaverton were set to marry in the spring ― until the coronavirus pandemic entered the picture.
The wedding was to be held on April 10, Good Friday, (“nothing says ‘He is risen’ like a good ol’ lesbian wedding,” Bri joked) at the historic Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas, with a guest list that included 96 of the pair’s nearest and dearest.
At first, they hustled to find a new date, but given the hotel and their vendors’ conflicting schedules, that proved difficult.
As the pandemic worsened ― on April 9, the Leavertons found out that a family member had tested positive for COVID-19 ― the couple decided to let go of the wedding of their Pinterest dreams and pivot to plan B: a quaint, down-home, socially distanced wedding at Doc’s Drive In Theatre in Buda, Texas.
Bri got the idea after seeing an Instagram story from a friend who’d visited the drive-in, which was still operating as an essential business due to its full scratch kitchen and “to-go” menu.
“Doc’s was thrilled with the idea, and it took us 17 days to plan an entirely new wedding,” Bri said.
“Once I let go of the whole idea we had for Hotel Ella and fully embraced our new wedding plan, everything fell into place,” Bri added. “I mean, here we are getting married in the midst of a global pandemic at a drive-in theatre where all our guests are able to come and support us while staying safe in their vehicles.”
The couple’s three kids were especially game for the new plan, which also included a movie showing prior to the ceremony. (Bri, a lead surgical dental assistant, has a son from a previous relationship. Lindsey, the director at a wealth management service, has twin daughters.)
As the evening went on, more than 85 cars rolled in, with guests grabbing popcorn, champagne and sodas from a table set up by the brides. The guests stayed in their cars through the night; those giving speeches ― the couple’s parents and best friends ― had reserved front-row parking spots. The kids, VIPs for the event, sat in chairs on the side of the stage.
Guests were able to tune in to the ceremony through 87.9 FM radio station. The couple stood on a stage to elevate them from the ground for better visuals, but guests could also just look up at the movie screens to see the ceremony.
Guests who couldn’t make it in person logged on to Facebook or Instagram and streamed the wedding live.
In the end, the ceremony was considerably less fancy but no less sweet.
“When we said ‘I do,’ everyone ‘applauded’ with car honking, flashing lights, decorated cars, I even think there was a cow bell I heard,” Bri said. “We still had our first dance and our family dance with our kids that we had originally planned for Hotel Ella.”
After the ceremony, the family hopped into a 1972 Jeepster Commando and prepared to make their grand exit. That didn’t go exactly as planned, however.
“As we were departing from the venue, Lindsey, who is directionally challenged, turned right instead of left out of the venue which forced us to turn back around and go back into the venue to get my car,” Bri said.
“We had planned to have my little sister meet us down the road to exchange vehicles,” she explained. “Once we returned to the venue we were actually so pleased to see that we got to say goodbye to almost all of our guests. It was actually one of the best moments of the night.”
The couple shared air hugs, “I love you” hand signs, and blew kisses to friends and relatives who’d shown up to support them, even in the middle of a pandemic.
“When I think back on our wedding day, I think it will be talked about for years to come and then passed down to our grandchildren,” Bri said.
Scroll down for more photos from the big day.