ATLANTA (WSAV) — Jill and Josh Ogundele never imagined when they got engaged on Christmas morning in 2018 that a global pandemic would throw a wrench in their wedding plans.
The couple, who first met at an Atlanta Nike Store that Josh was managing in December 2014, had their nuptials originally scheduled for March 28, 2020.
“While I was thinking about sneakers, it was a husband that God had placed in front of me,” Jill later said during her wedding vows.
Around 130 and family and friends planned to gather and watch the pair wed at Savannah’s First African Baptist Church.
“My family has been going there since before I was born, so I was blessed there as a baby, baptized there, my parents were married there,” said Jill, a Savannah native who moved to Atlanta during the second grade.
“Everything has taken place in that church for our family,” she told WSAV.com NOW via Zoom interview from their unexpected wedding venue — their living room.
As the wedding date fast approached and the COVID-19 outbreak began to unfold stateside, attendees began asking Jill and Josh if they were thinking of rescheduling.
“We were like, ‘Oh, we have plenty of time,’ and this was when it was starting to make its way into the United States and hadn’t really become a big thing for us,” Jill said.
While she normally tries to stay positive, she started getting nervous after her March 15 bridal shower.
As officials started ordering closures of restaurants, bars and businesses, Jill thought, “Uh-oh, this isn’t good.”
Not long after, the City of Savannah followed suit.
Josh and Jill nixed their honeymoon plans to the COVID-19 hotspot of Italy, then made the tough call to cancel their wedding.
“That day was really hard,” Jill said. “That’s when we really realized there would be no dress and ceremony or walking down the aisle.”
That’s when they decided to get creative.
The Zoom wedding
The couple chose not to postpone their marriage plans.
“Beyond the fact that we had already gone through the whole process, the emotions and everything that leads up to that, we were like, ‘Hey, we’re here. Why stop now?’” Josh told WSAV.com NOW.
With social distancing becoming more and more crucial as the coronavirus began to spread across the U.S., they looked to the web as an alternative.
However, Zoom wasn’t their idea, Jill says. It came about after a friend initially suggested they get hitched on Facebook Live.
“We were like, ‘Facebook Live!?’” Jill said.
They didn’t like the idea that just anyone could potentially tune in to their e-wedding.
“We didn’t want it to be weird,” she said.
Friends who had been using Zoom while working from home suggested the video conferencing app, and a friend assisted the couple in setting up their virtual wedding.
“She helped the pastors get set up the day before, she made it an easy process,” Jill said, adding that with their friend’s help, they quickly became more comfortable with the idea of getting married online.
On the big day, over 100 of their loved ones and three pastors logged onto Zoom — some of them dressed to the nines — to watch the couple tie the knot from their Atlanta home.
Neither of them could pick up their planned wedding attire due to the closures, Jill said.
“We just went in the closet the night before and said, ‘Let’s see what we can make happen,’” she said.
Wearing a white jumpsuit as Josh stood in front of her wearing a suit, the pair listened as Rev. Thurmond N. Tillman of First African Baptist Church officiated their ceremony on the video conference call.
Tillman tells WSAV.com NOW that he’s known Jill all her life.
“I did not know that I would be participating in a virtual wedding, and I was sort of surprised at how smooth it went [despite] a couple of glitches,” Tillman said.
Adding yet another digital element to the wedding, the couple each read their vows from their cell phones.
“Joshua, today on Zoom in front of God and everyone here, I vow to love you forever, through whatever, even in a quarantine,” Jill said to her soon-to-be spouse in front of an e-audience as an emotional Josh wiped away tears.
Despite their ceremony not working out in the way they envisioned, the virtual ceremony turned out to be a success.
“Make sure you buy a cake, because we forgot,” Josh said. “Last night, our cake was replaced by Krispy Kreme donuts,” he added as Jill laughed, holding up the doughnut box.
“I would tell people to just make it fun,” Jill said. “If you cancel, seeing the refund come back in your bank account makes you feel good also!” she laughed.
“You know, there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she added. “Find a way to make it your own and still go forward with what you had planned.”