Drive-by pandemic wedding goes ahead despite RCMP call

Drive-by pandemic wedding

Family and friends came through for Port Moody newlyweds Brady and Julie Hebert on Saturday even though the ongoing pandemic kept them apart.

Their big wedding day was to have been a large affair at a Burnaby golf course, with a buffet and dancing, but when people started cancelling because of travel restrictions or compromised health, and COVID-19 social distancing required them to pare down the guest list from 145 to under 50, Julie and Brady knew they had to take action.

With just a few weeks to go before their wedding date, the couple reluctantly made the decision to postpone the reception to the following year and Julie put away her wedding gown until a new date 2021.

But while the big reception was cancelled, the wedding ceremony went ahead anyway, April 4, as Herbert told The Tri-City News: “It wasn’t what you would imagine you would have for a wedding day. I thought ‘this sucks but let’s make it happen.’”

However, she never would have dreamed how her day would turn out as Saturday dawned cool and crisp as April showers held off for most of the day and the intimate outdoor wedding on the deck of Brady’s mother’s home in Belcarra was now just hours away.

Julie arrived wearing a simple white dress already worn on three occasions. After the brief ceremony, Family members dispersed quickly, with no hugs or handshakes to end the day. Julie left with her new husband in their Jeep for a spring afternoon drive. 

Little did Julie know, however, that her hubby had other plans, and after popping home for a change of clothes, the couple wheeled away out of their Port Moody home towards the hills of Coquitlam. As they reached Town Centre, they took an unexpected detour into a Coquitlam Centre parking lot.

That’s where her special day took a turn — for the better.

On most days during the pandemic, the mall parking lot is empty. That day, it was filled with as many as 70 vehicles, lined up in two rows, with people honking their car horns and cheering, waving signs and colourful balloons.

“Honestly, every person I knew was there, family, close friends, distant friends, my co-workers,” recalled Julie, “I cried so much.”

For Brady, though, it was a bit of a relief to see friends and family gathered in their cars, just as he had planned. 

But the couple had arrived late because of a glitch with the video stream during the ceremony, and the whole cavalcade of cars organized with his brother-in-law had nearly been scuttled.

The reality of being wed in the midst of an outbreak was made all the more real when five Coquitlam RCMP cruisers turned up to deal with what looked like a security and social distancing problem.

“My best man had texted me, ‘what’s going on, the cops are here’,” Brady recalled.

It turns out the RCMP had been called to make sure everyone stayed well away from each other, but with a few cautionary comments from police, the social distancing receiving line was allowed to proceed.

“Our police officers worked with mall security to make sure the mall parking lot was all safe and people were respectful,” commented RCMP spokesperson Michael McLaughlin reading the police report.

“They made a note in the file ‘the bride was happy.’ Sometimes we have these rare interactions where everybody is trying to do the right thing and everybody is trying to be positive… we are happy to help create a positive day for them,” McLaughlin commented.

As for the happy couple, they are walking off into self-isolation with the well-wishes of family and friends, something they’ll remember long after the COVID-19 pandemic is a distant memory.

“So many people showed up for it, it was such an overwhelming experience,” said Julie, “and so much joy after these past couple of weeks that were so low.”

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