In a pandemic-free parallel universe, Tiffiny and Clark Carroll would have just returned from their honeymoon in Greece. Their wedding, a glamorous blowout in Las Vegas, would have brought together 100 of their closest friends and family to share one of the most important days of the couple’s lives back in April.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus hit, and the months the couple spent carefully planning their Vegas nuptials went down the drain. Instead of the dazzling celebration the couple envisioned, the couple found themselves stuck inside indefinitely and forced to reevaluate.
“We considered the possibility of just postponing the wedding, but when we really started thinking about it, it was more important to us to be married," Tiffiny Carroll tells Houstonia. “Versus a big party or anything,”
The couple was considering a small ceremony in their house when they learned that The Post Oak Hotel at Uptown Houston, the opulent destination that billionaire Tilman Fertitta opened in 2018, was offering a virtual wedding ceremony.
Starting at $3,000, the package allows couples to marry in one of the hotel’s elegant ballrooms as guests livestream the event from the comfort and safety of their own home. The hotel provides décor, florals, a Champagne toast, and a wedding cake from in-house café Bouchée Patisserie. The newlyweds spend the night in an executive suite and enjoy a mimosa breakfast in the morning—they can even upgrade with a private dinner at Bloom & Bee, access to the hotel’s extensive wine collection, and a photo shoot in the two-story Rolls Royce showroom.
“We booked it. Made the deposit. And planned the wedding in two weeks,” Tiffany says.
On April 18, the Carrolls tied the knot, becoming the first couple to take advantage of the Post Oak’s wedding package, but certainly not the last. The hotel itself quickly came up with the virtual package after seeing the impact the virus was having on numerous weddings, celebrations and events in the area. “Our events team took a really hard look at themselves," Hotel Manager Steven Chou explains, “and asked ‘How can we make this life-changing moment for brides and grooms in the city of Houston and beyond to be able to celebrate within the norms that are currently here today?’”
For the Carrolls, that meant an intimate affair. Due to social distancing regulations, they were allowed only 10 guests total (including themselves) in the room as they wed—one of their friends was even ordained to officiate the ceremony. Another small group of guests occupied a different hotel event space, so that the newlyweds could celebrate with them afterward. About 80 more logged on to the livestream to watch Tiffiny walk down the aisle and exchange vows with Clark, the beautiful ballroom draped and decorated with candles, flower petals, and massive arrangements of white orchids. Many of the guests dressed up and made toasts, including those watching virtually, who also emailed and uploaded photos of themselves to Facebook wearing their finest “Vegas Glam” in a nod to the wedding that never was.
Though, just a few months prior, the couple would never have dreamed of cancelling their Vegas plans and broadcasting their wedding to their friends through a screen, they’re happy with how everything came together. The virtual platform even allowed more guests to attend than could’ve made the trip to Vegas. Thanks to the Post Oak’s in-house AV team, the couple also has high quality video of the event that they've already watched “four or five times” since their big day.
“Looking back, I don’t think we would change anything,” Clark Carroll says.
And that level of approval bodes well for the hotel, too, which already has another virtual wedding on the books for June, and more inquiries coming in daily as our uncertain future remains a reality.
“I do think that in the near future there will be a great demand for virtual gatherings,” Chou says. “We still need to celebrate life and hospitality and celebrate milestones in your life. I think it’s going to be even more important for all of us.”