Having a wedding in the time of COVID definitely caused couples to change plans and cut guest lists and have a wedding day very different than they first imagined. This is exactly what happened to Lyla and Matt.
Full disclosure: Lyla and Matt were not clients of Keyed Up Events, but I did Matt’s sister Jackie’s wedding in 2019 in Lake City, MN. When Lyla and Matt decided to press forward with a ceremony for immediate family at the church, Jackie contacted me about helping them plan a surprise car parade for the couple to be outside when they came out of the church. Of course I said yes, and was excited to help!
Organizing a car parade to happen around the Our Lady of Lourdes in Minneapolis involves a little more work because there isn’t a parking lot for the church that people could just wait in. We needed a spot close by where cars could gather and then go along a route that would bring them down the one-way street in front of the church. Being familiar with the area, I did some research and decided that Nicollet Island would be the best spot to stage the cars before sending them along the route to get to the church. Because this was in June, the island wasn’t busy as most people were still staying home for the most part, so we lucked out that the lots weren’t full.
Next, we needed a way to have people sign up and get information to them easily. Because of my past work with nonprofits where we needed volunteers, I decided to use Sign Up Genius as it would allow Matt’s family to get a link to send out to people and for me to get a list of who signed up. It also sent reminders and let me email people who had signed up updates as needed.
On the day of the wedding, myself and an assistant got ourselves to Nicollet Island about an hour ahead of the start of the parade to put up some signs and direct cars where to line up. Did I mention it was raining at this point? Of course it was, but no matter, as we were determined to move forward with the parade. However, my extremely good relationship with Mother Nature came through again and the rain stopped about 15 minutes before the parade started!
I stayed in communication with Jackie’s husband Ted (my groom from last year), as he was at the wedding but not in the wedding party, so he could text me when they started the service and we could begin bringing cars to the church. The plan was to have two cars waiting outside the church when Lyla and Matt came out, and then my assistant would release cars every 30 seconds from the lot when I let him know when to start.
Imagine my surprise when I got to the church and found a small group of their friends had decided to forgo the parade and were waiting across the street with signs and one of the most adorable puppies ever! I got the first two cars staged and we waited outside as the ceremony finished and they were to come out front for photos and then go back inside and sign the license. And we waited…and waited…turns out when you are trying to surprise the bride and groom and they change their minds and decide to go sign the license before coming outside, you can’t really tell them not to do that 🙂
Finally the door opened and we saw their photographer Veronica Barnes and videographer Jesse Mast coming out to get into place, as they knew what was about to happen (I had been in contact with them both prior to the day). Lyla and Matt came out the doors and at first were taking in the fact that they just got married. Then they saw the sign with their names on it and realized what was going on! The crowd across the street started to cheer and the first few cars began driving past them honking and waving. You can see by the look on Lyla’s face that they were totally surprised!
Cars kept coming, some with varying degrees of decorations, all honking and waving, and some went around the corner and came through again. When the parade finished up, Lyla and Matt crossed the street to chat with their friends and got to enjoy being around some of the people who didn’t want to miss being a part of their special day!
Fun fact: The above photo made our list of the top 10 photos of 2020. Want to see the rest? Check it out HERE!
Prior to coming to the church, Lyla and the ladies got ready at Cornerstone Studios, and then went back to Lyla’s parents house for a small, outdoor gathering with the family. You can check out some of the photos below and watch the short highlight video from Mast Films to see the car parade for yourself!
Getting Ready Space: Cornerstone Studios
Photography: Veronica Barnes Photography
Videography: Mast Wedding Films
Florals: European Floral
Church: Our Lady of Lourdes
Dress: Matthew Christopher from Posh Bridal
Note: You might be asking “How much did you charge to coordinate this parade?” The answer is that I didn’t charge them anything for my services, but I did ask Matt’s family to make a donation of what they thought was appropriate to Theater in the Round. COVID-19 hit many businesses hard, but perhaps none more so than playhouses and their companies, as they have not resumed any kind of business at the time of this blog and do not plan on doing so for the rest of 2020. No matter when you are reading this post, consider making a donation to this wonderful theater, who brings performances to life to patrons for a much more reasonable price than most of the other theaters in town. They truly do it for the love of the theater!