Saturday was my brother's wedding. It had everything you might expect — from cake to the tears of joy — except that some of the guests, including most of my family, watched it unfold more than a continent away in Brazil.
It was our first Skype wedding. And we didn't have to travel far from our Hartland home. It took only a little more than an hour to drive to the home of my parents, Jim and Karen McDavitt, who live in Clinton Township.
Not that we didn't look at this with some trepidation at gambling with missing memories of a lifetime just to save on travel costs. But I knew of a friend who had a baby shower through this free Internet video chat system and that worked to bring families from afar together, so why not?
So we soon we had our computer hooked up to the television, changed a few settings and — voila — we had a connection. The wedding of Kirk McDavitt and Gitane Reveilleau was on.
It turned out wonderful as we were transported to a restaurant where everything was set up to a 1960s-theme, starting with the my brother's suit and Gitane's dress. They were married by a justice of the peace and the ceremony was kept simple with just an exchange of rings and an agreement to love and care for one another as husband and wife.
Here in Michigan, we had our own reception with party favors, a toast to the bride and groom, dinner and, of course, a wedding cake.
The laptop in Brazil was set up so that we could see where my brother and his wife-to-be would be standing to be married. We felt like the “animals at the zoo” as we were viewed by the people at the wedding coming up to the screen and my brother pointing us out to all his friends and his wife’s family.
Most importantly, we were so happy it worked and my mom and dad were so grateful to witness the ceremony.
"We truly felt a part of the wedding even though we were so far apart," said my mom. "We feel blessed we have gotten to know her through skype to begin with and feel we really know her."
It would have been sad to have missed such an important day in my brother’s life.
My family has seen my brother travel all over the world. First by taking a month to tour Europe with only a backpack, then to teach English over in Japan for a year then to land in Brazil for two years also teaching. This is where he would find his bride to be, Gitane.
So will this be a growing trend? So far not yet locally.
Terri Bendes, the director at in Hartland, said that they don’t offer it in their packages currently and may not in the future. But she added that a few couples have incorporated Skype.
“I do remember one 92-year-old Romanian grandmother with tears streaming down her face as she watched her granddaughter walking down the aisle," Bendes said. "It was a moment that meant the world to her, so I do think that it can connect the ones that we love during special occasions who might otherwise have had to only experience it through pictures.”
I couldn't agree more.
Thank you, Skype for giving my family the ability to be a part and witness the marriage of my brother Kirk and Gitane in Brazil. We will see them when they are here for a two-week honeymoon in July before they head to teach in Bangkok and start the next part of their journey together.