The day after their wedding, Hallowell newlyweds Karen Tucker Knox, left, and Tom Knox pose for a portrait Friday in their Hallowell home. The painting of lovebird and heart by Jen Greta Cart has ribbons listing the wedding date. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

HALLOWELL — More than 200 people watched as Karen Tucker and Tom Knox of Hallowell become husband and wife Thursday night.

One Maine wedding during the coronavirus pandemic made headlines after becoming a deadly super-spreader event, but this wedding has no risk of doing that, as guests tuned in from all over the world via Zoom video conference.

The pandemic has forced numerous weddings to be altered or postponed, though some eager lovebirds have taken their nuptials online. While they lack the pomp of a destination wedding, couples told Vox in June that the stripped-down ceremonies were more intimate. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the $73 billion dollar wedding industry is reeling during the pandemic, as 80% of couples postponed their weddings and a vast majority of others have pared back on their ceremonies.

In August 2020, the Portland Press Herald reported that couples waiting to get married faced challenges from venue cancellations and “wedding shaming” on social media.

Some companies have pivoted quickly to send officials or to take over planning for online weddings. Denver, Colorado-based Wedfuly, which assisted Tucker in planning for Thursday’s wedding, has produced 600 weddings since their founding in 2017.

Ahead of the wedding, Tucker, 67, said she met Knox, 71, exactly 10 years before the day of their wedding. It wasn’t the first time she was interested in him, however. Tucker admitted that she had a crush on Knox when he was a teacher’s assistant at the University of Maine, and she was in the class.

“When I met him 10 years ago, I didn’t recognize him as that person,” Tucker said. “As we talked about our lives, I realized he was that person.”

Tom Knox and Karen Tucker of Hallowell share their vows to each other during their virtual wedding on Thursday.

Tucker said Fox proposed to her three weeks ago at their home after getting her mother’s blessing. Shortly after the proposal, they began talking about their wedding and decided on the anniversary of their meeting.

Tucker said she envisioned her wedding as a large celebration with all of the their favorite community members and old friends. She said the virtual wedding didn’t have any guest limits, which allowed them to invite as many people as they could think of.

“We’re trying to create that party in a virtual world,” she said. “We can ask anybody (to come) and it’s open bar and the buffet never ends.”

Before the ceremony, an emcee provided by Wedfuly ran through key features of Zoom and asked people to remain muted during the ceremony. Shortly after, friends of the couple shared pre-recorded videos of songs dedicated to them.

The ceremony began with Tucker “walking down the aisle,” a path that took her from the couple’s Middle Street home and into to her neighbor’s porch, dubbed the “COVID-free chapel.”

The day after their wedding, Hallowell newlyweds Tom Knox, left, and Karen Tucker Knox pose for a portrait Friday with their front door sign. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

The ceremony was officiated by Fran Falcone, a mutual friend of Tucker and Knox who was present when they met at The Wharf.

All through the ceremony, the Zoom chat feature was abuzz with well wishes and celebratory reactions from participants.

Spotty audio did not detract from the vows, where Knox, sporting a black tuxedo and a red boutonniere, called Tucker, clad in a snow white, long-trailing gown, his “eternal love.”

“I’ve known for a couple of years that I wanted to get married,” Knox said. “With you, I have found trust that I never thought I would experience.”

Tucker said during her vows that the marriage was the culmination of a love story “half a century in the making.”

“I thank you for the trust you place in me to co-create a loving home with music, art, and hopefully in the near future, friends and family,” Tucker said.

Tom Knox and Karen Tucker of Hallowell dance for the first time as a married couple during their virtual wedding on Thursday.

Musician Katie Daggett scored the newlyweds first two dances, which took place in their living room. Looking through the grid of attendees, some guests were seen dancing with their partners, family members and in some cases, their pets.

In a toast, Tucker’s mother, Janice, said that Knox has become a son to her and she is fortunate to have him in her life.

“He goes to the store rain or shine to get me the daily paper,” she said. “He builds me a cozy fire in the fire place because he knows I’m cold from living in Tucson, (Arizona) for 30 years.”

Instead of being placed at tables for the reception, guests were sorted into breakout rooms. Attendees were able to toggle between the breakout rooms to chat with friends, or they could join “lounge” breakout rooms.

After the wedding, Tucker said the technological challenges during the ceremony “didn’t affect anybody having fun.” Her only wish, she said, was that she got to visit with everybody who attended.

“We could see each other and we haven’t been able to do that for so long,” Tucker said. “People were dressing up and it was just great to see everybody smiling and dancing and being happy together.”

Tom Knox and Karen Tucker of Hallowell cut the cake during their virtual wedding on Thursday.

Michael Frett, a friend of both Tucker and Knox, said the wedding was “delightful.”

“They’re such a storybook wedding and coming together of two people, and I thought they expressed it beautifully,” he said, adding that he was happy to have seen it.

Frett said he has been at The Wharf with Tucker and Knox, and their special connection was obvious to those around them.

“I saw how they loved dancing together,” Frett said. “Every time you saw them together there was a lot of smiling. You knew there was something going on with them that was special and unique to them.”

On Friday, Mark Walker, who also attended the wedding, extended his congratulations to the newlyweds for their wedding and a successful event on Thursday.

“As an attendee, it was so great to see and then be able to speak with, via Zoom chat rooms, many of Hallowell’s citizens and regular visitors,” he said.

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