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Hala Chaoui, middle, takes the laptop from Jonathan Williams, left, so she and her new husband Florian Conrady can speak with her mom and brother in Lebanon.
They could not attend the wedding at the Rectory Cafe on Ward's Island so the couple set up a webcam to broadcast the nuptials live.
When Hala Chaoui and her fiancé Florian Conrady realized Chaoui’s mom, who lives in Lebanon, could not travel to Canada for her daughter’s wedding due to an illness, the couple decided they would help her share the experience via Skype.
But on June 9 moments before they were about to exchange vows at the Rectory Café on Ward Island the groom stood at the restaurant’s bar and struggled to secure a Skype connection with Lebanon.
“We should have rehearsed it,” said Conrady, in hindsight. With a laptop computer manned by one of the couple’s friends in the front row, Chaoui’s mother and brother were able to see the bride’s chic white cocktail dress, her perfect hair and even meet some of the couple’s friends and family.
Then, just moments before Chaoui walked down the restaurant’s makeshift aisle, they made contact. (Skype is a free internet voice and video calling service.) “This is Florian’s brother Stefan and his wife Kim.
This is Florian’s sister Carolin.”On Ward Island on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, the connection was at first blank then frustratingly intermittent – then, at the last minute - strong.
As the ceremony unfolded it was, for the most part, all systems go.
As Chaoui and Conrady were pronounced husband and wife by Mary Beaty, University of Toronto Chaplain's Association and the Humanist Association of Canada, the bride hunched over the laptop for an emotional mother-daughter exchange.
Chaoui’s mom could see and hear her – but Chaoui essentially spoke sweetly to a still picture on the computer screen, proving that even the introduction of unpredictable technology into the age old wedding ceremony could not diminish the intimacy of their low-cost, high tech connection.
From the moment Conrady proposed last January, the couple knew they wanted a small, inexpensive, uncomplicated wedding that welcomed their two cultures, but was not tethered to either.
There would be plenty of time for big parties in the future, says Chaoui. “We never liked the idea of a huge, pompous wedding where there are all these people and you can’t talk to anyone because you’re so busy,” says Conrady.
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