Chaya Milchtein and Jodyann Morgan kissing on their virtual wedding day in front of a pink smoke bomb.

Here’s How We Pulled Off The Biggest, Queerest, Virtual Wedding

My wife, Jodyann Morgan, and I got married on August 29, 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic of proportions never seen before. Our wedding was entirely virtual, with over 10,000 guests in attendance as we committed our lives to each other in a public fashion, strengthening our already private loving commitment of over four years.

Soon, our love story was featured across the US and UK, with publications like The New York Times, Huffington Post, Metro UK, The Forward, Hey Alma, The Curvy Fashionista, and even Go Magazine all sharing it with the world.

Chaya Milchtein reading her vows to Jodyann Morgan during their virtual queer wedding
Morgan wiped a tear-off Chaya’s face as Chaya read her vows. Natural Nerd Designs
But, an actual virtual wedding, how did we pull that off? What lessons did we learn? Who were the people who made it a reality? Here are the behind the scenes views you haven’t yet seen and the down and dirty of all the fabulousness, bumps, and tears.

A Virtual Decision

We had been engaged for 11 months when we finally buckled down and decided it was time to make wedding plans. While we had gone back and forth over and over again about the wedding itself, we had waffled on the details and kept setting the decision aside. Good thing too, since the world we married in was a changed one. So one day in late July, it was time. The pandemic had worn us down and getting it done quickly escalated to the top of our priority list.

Chaya and Morgan kissing
Morgan and Chaya kissing in Mexico City. Carlos Ratti

Before we can really get any wedding idea off the ground, finding a photographer was my absolute priority. Above all else. When my friend Joyneice recommended Danielle Lawson of Natural Nerd Designs, we knew it was the perfect fit. Danielle has this quiet power to her and excitement that mirrored our own.

She wanted to be part of our wedding vision and her portfolio was steller. Danielle knew exactly how to capture people on camera so their inner beauty sang out. I wanted my bride to shine, and for the photographs to represent exactly the way she looked by someone who knew what they were doing and respected her as a person and an art subject.

Planning the Ceremony

Chaya Milchtein and Jodyann Morgan standing holding hands as their LGBT wedding officiant officiates the ceremony.
Chaya and Morgan hold hands as L.S. Quinn officiants the ceremony. Natural Nerd Designs
Chaya Milchtein talking to LGBT wedding officiant LS Quin
Chaya speaks to Quinn before the wedding ceremony to iron out the last details. Natural Nerd Designs.

Since our wedding was going to be completely virtual, the officiant was high on the priority list. We needed someone who would help us create an extremely personal and unique ceremony. Blending my faith and our values, our history and experiences was no easy feat. In fact, the first officiant we were planning to use ghosted us and left us scrambling.

It was when I was in the midst of frantically reviewing loads of officiants that L.S Quinn messaged me. She shared her background and story and it just felt right. Morgan and I got on a video call with Quinn, and it was decided. I worked hand in hand with her, editing the traditional ceremony, rewriting the parts that didn’t speak to us, adding traditions and language that felt right, and ultimately creating the perfect us ceremony.

A Bouquet for Each Bride

Floral for a virtual wedding
Bouquets by Indigo & Birch. Natural Nerd Designs.

Angie, a queer florist, and owner of Indigo & Birch Floral Company, accepted the challenge of creating bouquets that fit our individual personalities, yet still felt cohesive. We talked and set some ideas, and Angie did a brilliant job. The bouquets were glamorous and thoughtful, each flower picked with us in mind.

Hair Conundrums

Jasmine Howard doing Jodyann Morgan's hair the day before her virtual wedding
Jasmine twisting Morgan’s locs the day before their virtual wedding.

My wife has locs, and I have naturally curly think hair. Since we were really focused on limiting the number of people we interacted with, we needed to find a hairstylist who was also a loctition. Jasmine Howard from Shear Canvas was the answer to our dilemma.

Jasmine washed and twisted Morgan’s hair the day before our wedding and then styled both of our hairs on the morning of. Neither of us were quite sure what we wanted, but Jasmine listened and interpreted and created the most elegant styles for the both of us.

One Connection Leads to Another

Chaya and Morgan wearing facemasks from GuestBox the day after their virtual wedding.

When GuestBox reached out, I wasn’t quite sure how I could incorporate them into my virtual wedding. You see, GuestBox used to be exclusive to high-end hotels and conferences, but has pivoted this year to make custom curated gift boxes for all your wedding and event guests.

They are sure to delight with the essentials and some extras. Shuchi Vyas put together a special GuestBox for us including the perfect face masks, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, snacks, and body butter.

Actually, right before our ceremony, Morgan was looking everywhere for lotion! Good thing that we had the Murumuru Hair + Body Butter from Honey Dew in our GuestBox. It was the exact thing we needed.

We wore the facemasks they sent on the day following our wedding and were super impressed. They are made by Godvana, with tie-dye material from one of the oldest US facilities that make it. Then, the masks are made by hand!

It was such a thoughtful put together box, featuring goodies from small businesses from all over the world with important missions and ways they give back to their communities. I wished that I had had guests to share them with!

As we were talking, Shuchi asked me what parts of the wedding I was still working on. It was perfect timing, as I was committed to investing in the small details, to make for the perfect day. I wanted accessories for a small business, and she had the PERFECT recommendation: Laine London.

She connected me with Laine London that very day, and I was hooked. More on that in a moment!

A Bridal Rental Boutique

Chaya Milchtein and Jodyann Morgan kissing in their bridal finery after their virtual wedding.
Chaya and Morgan kissing in front of the fence that leads to the ceremony site. Natural Nerd Designs.

When Shuchi from GuestBox introduced me to Laine London Company, we quickly got on a video call. Lundyn Carter, CEO & Founder of Laine London did a virtual styling session with us, showing Morgan and I the most glamorous crowns, headpieces, veils, belts, and jewelry.

As soon as Morgan saw the full crown, she fell in love. So did all of you, the crown became a highlight of the wedding. (My wife really did look like a queen, the crown just helped everyone see her exactly the way I did.

Funny story, but we actually managed to forget all of our Laine London accessories at home and realized when we were halfway to Indianapolis. After a bit of freaking out and some laugher, we woke up my little sister who rushed in an Uber to pick them up, overnighting them to Indianapolis. They arrived just in time for Jasmine to sew the crown into Morgan’s hair and Robin to steam my veil. All is well that ends well right?

The Big Day

The night before our big day, we checked into our Airbnb. It was everything we had dreamed of. Tucked into a secluded neighborhood in Indianapolis, the backyard was enormous and faced the beautiful White River. The inside was spacious and cozy, every detail carefully selected to feel like the perfect vacation paradise. We went to bed at 10:00 pm, in the most fluffy bed, to awake relaxed and ready for our big day.

Robin Chalmers, day of cordinator for the biggest queerest virtual wedding
Robin running with my cell phone before the live stream. Natural Nerd Designs.

Robin Chalmers showed up bright at early on our wedding day. Robin is a day of coordinator and was our right-hand woman. She made sure that everyone showed up when they should, made sure we drank water, helped us into our dresses, and even picked up our lunch, curry goat, rice and beans, plantains and black cake, traditional Jamaican food for my extremely nontraditional Jamaican bride.

AirBnb Ceremony site
Entrance to the backyard of the Airbnb where the ceremony was held. Natural Nerd Designs.

Getting Glamorous

Aesthetic Artist Agency told me they were sending the perfect makeup artist for us, and they were sure right. JaTwon Henderson did both my and Morgan’s makeup, making sure all the details were just right.

When I was looking for earrings, I knew I wanted ones that were bold, yet delicate. My dress was simple, so I wanted the earring to add to the drama of the day. When I found Twigs & Honey, it was like a dream come true. The delicate flowers were had made, freshwater pearls made them feely classy, and ivory color a perfect match for our David’s bridal gowns.

Jatwon Henderson applying makeup on Chaya Milchtein
JaTwon applying makeup on Chaya. Natural Nerd Designs.

Ashontay Hubbard, fashion designer, and owner of Christian Omeshun made us custom bridal masks. Lace and sparkles, they were perfect.

Big delicate bridal earrings from Twigs and Honey
Earrings and bridal masks. Natural Nerd Designs.
My friend and regular nail technician Melonie, owner of Originails Salon and Spa did my nails. She created the design to perfectly match the earrings from Twigs & Honey. It took FOUR hours for her to get my nails just right, and I feel so lucky to have had her
Chaya Milchtein and Jodyann Morgan after their virtual wedding
With the White River behind them, Chaya stands and looks down at Morgan who is seated. Natural Nerd Designs.

One Piece of Advice

My friends. If you are contemplating marrying during this time, or when this is over, please remember that perfect doesn’t exist.  While photos tell a story of perfect, every single thing we wanted didn’t go right. Our first venue fell through. Our first officiant fell through. It was supposed to rain, leaving me scrambling a few days before the wedding. Luckily, it was sunny. We didn’t find a makeup artist until just two weeks before the wedding.

We didn’t need perfect. We decided that we wouldn’t sweat the details on the day of. We’d focus on getting everything as close to perfect before the wedding day, and on the day of, we’d go with the flow. All we really needed was each other.

By allowing the things that went wrong to roll off our back, we were able to spend the day in peace, smiling, having the “perfect” day we deserved. What we couldn’t control wasn’t worth stressing over.

Follow our love story on social media. I can be found here, and Morgan here.

Chaya Milchtein and Jodyann Morgan's wedding and engagement rings.
Both Chaya and Morgan’s wedding and engagement rings on a dish from Wisconsin Curated Creations. Natural Nerd Designs.

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