Residents of Aria on the Bay and surrounding buildings in Edgewater were treated to a sweet, intimate wedding ceremony Saturday afternoon.
While many engaged couples have rescheduled or canceled their impending nuptials owing to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Jamie Webner and Ben Katz got creative. On the date originally reserved for their wedding, April 4, Webner and Katz dressed up, walked onto their balcony, and said, "I do."
Whereas their original wedding at Villa Woodbine in Coconut Grove took Webner and Katz eight months to plan, their balcony ceremony took about five days to organize. They ordered microphones and tripods and purchased a webinar package from the video conferencing service Zoom.
"It was a couple hours of figuring out the tech so we could run a webinar, which is not something we generally do," Katz says. A video clip of the wedding uploaded to @Lifestyle_Miami on Instagram amassed more than 220,000 views over the weekend.
The couple made the tough decision to call off their big day three weeks ago when it was clear the new coronavirus wasn't going away anytime soon.
"We mourned that for a bit, and it was really hard and sad," Webner admits. However, about two weeks later, "we decided we were going to take back our day and planned this whole virtual wedding."
Why the rush? Simple — because they couldn't wait to be husband and wife.
"I was tired of not being married to Jamie," Katz says, "so we wanted to have our day and give our friends something to watch other than Tiger King."
Things quickly fell into place. Webner's sister, who was at first meant to be the maid of honor, stepped into the role of officiant. Their next-door neighbors were asked to join from their balcony and be witnesses. And the invitations were sent to friends and family with a Zoom meeting ID.
Webner and Katz met in 2002 while studying at Tulane University in New Orleans. They became friends their freshman year and continued a platonic relationship for the next 16 years.
In September 2018, Webner visited her brother on the West Coast. Katz was living in San Diego at the time, so the two planned to meet up. During that trip, they became more than friends.
"We talked about having been friends for so long and how much our friendship meant to both of us, and then we decided we should kiss for the first time," Webner says. Metaphorical fireworks filled the sky after their lips touched for the first time.
Nine months later, in June 2019, Katz moved to Miami to be with Webner, and they were engaged by August.
The two attorneys never imagined their big day would garner so much attention.
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"We're so overwhelmed with joy," Webner says. "A bunch of people who were on their balconies caught view of the ceremony and started popping champagne. There were corks flying everywhere."
Although the newlyweds had plans to head to Italy for their honeymoon, they're opting instead to eat a bunch of pasta at home from their favorite restaurant, Macchialina.
Once social distancing becomes a thing of the past, the new Mr. and Mrs. Katz plan to celebrate with friends and family in real life.
"The way things are going, it might end up being an anniversary party or a vow renewal," the bridegroom says with a laugh.