Two nations, one union: Families meet at Vermont border crossing for couple’s big day

Coronavirus

One wedding, two countries. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a couple to exchange “I do’s” at the Canadian border. 

David Hecht, an American, and Devina Finn, whose family is in Ottawa, live in Washington, D.C., but they decided to meet their loved ones halfway.

“We wanted to get together with both of our families, but we could not make it into Canada with my family being American and Devina’s family being Canadian,” said David.

The bride’s brother suggested that the ceremony be held at the Derby, Vermont, border crossing — a four-hour drive from the bride’s hometown.

“We kind of laughed about it when we first heard it, and then we realized maybe we should really consider this. It’s a real possibility,” said Devina.

It became reality on a sunny day in early September. Andrew Geddes, co-owner of Union Eleven Photographers, documented the event. He says it was his first border wedding.

“We didn’t know if it would actually happen because you don’t book this ‘venue,'” he said. “It’s not really a venue, it’s just a street that happens to transition across the country.”

David and Devina fully embraced the idea once they got the go-ahead from border agents on both sides. “They were great,” David said.

“They said, ‘Oh, that’s an interesting idea.’ I don’t think they were expecting that call. They said as long as you don’t cross the border, touch, or pass anything. They were perfectly nice about it.”

Geddes said they tried to make the border itself a part of the occasion.

“We didn’t try to hide the fact where we were,” he said. “We didn’t try to make it look like a normal wedding. It’s kind of neat to see border patrol out there and the caution tape right in the foreground of the photo. It makes it unique.”

Devina said the celebration was special — and more personal — than it might have been under more normal circumstances.  

“We set up a portable Jewish wedding canopy called a Chupah,” she saiud. “We made that out of prayers shalls that were in our family. We had our family hold it up so it was a lot more personal than maybe we otherwise would have had.”

David said he enjoyed having his closest friends and family members by his side, as well as tuning into the live stream later on. 

“We feel really good about it, having a very small, intimate, close group of people,” he said.

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