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love, a theme park: ohyay’s first wedding takes guests on a wild ride.

Written by 
Aletta Hiemstra

Adam and Leah never wanted a traditional wedding. Ohyay was their answer to creating a dynamic wedding experience full of twists and turns — from an Antarctic windstorm to a Central Park boat ride. On their six-month anniversary, they shared how they came up with an amusement park theme, what they’d recommend to other couples hosting their weddings virtually, and more.

Landing page for the event.
Map that guests used to navigate the virtual wedding space.

Why did you choose to host your wedding on ohyay?

Leah: We’re both creatives and many of our friends and family are also creatives, so we had a lot of out-of-the-box ideas that we wanted to incorporate from very early on in the planning process. Also, a virtual wedding made a lot of sense for us. We've both lived all over the world and had guests coming from four continents and nearly 20 states.

Adam: We wanted to do something different. What ohyay offered — other than a way to bring people from disparate geographic regions into one virtual place — was a really cool way to be creative and dream up new settings.

Adam and Leah welcoming guests into the wedding space.

What was it like to build out your wedding space on ohyay?

Leah: It was a fun, iterative, and creative process. We decided to include little vignettes from different parts of our lives. We recreated experiences that shaped us, like dancing in Berlin’s Berghain club, taking the NYC subway to dive bars, and riding a giant ship in an Antarctic windstorm.

Adam: We divided up the wedding space into past, present, and future places. The future part of the map was called “Married Bliss” and featured rooms with minivans, dirty dishes, and Costco. We loved poking fun at the institution in the virtual space.

Adam and Leah built a subway system in ohyay that took guests through Leah's single life.
Costco social room, featured in the future part of the map.
Antarctic windstorm adventure.

What was your favorite room in the wedding space? 

Adam: The elders in my family really appreciated the Chinese banquet rooms, where guests gathered to watch the reception. The reception banquet is so important in many Chinese weddings. Even more so than the ceremony itself.

Leah: A lot of my people hit up the karaoke room. We are karaoke nuts. And so by the time everything was over, it was just my closest friends and I yelling songs together for hours.

One of many Chinese banquet rooms where guests watched the live ceremony in small groups.

What were you able to unlock in ohyay that you wouldn’t have been able to unlock at an in-person venue?

Leah: I like the creative expression piece of it. We weren’t beholden to specific lighting or music. The sky was the limit. I like to DJ, so I was able to create different sets for every room and for the overall space ahead of time. Who gets to DJ their own wedding?!

Adam: We liked incorporating our dog, Carlton, as a fun Easter egg for guests. We kept a camera on him while he was sleeping on the couch in the living room and he was with us during the ceremony.

Adam and Leah kept a camera on their dog, Carlton, as a fun Easter egg for guests.
Club room where guests could "dance" by dragging their faces around.

How did the ceremony work on ohyay?

Leah: We were in the same physical room, in two separate face bubbles on ohyay. After we were pronounced married, the ohyay team worked their magic to bring us into one face bubble. Then there were all these fireworks and confetti explosions and tons of heart and star emojis. It was over-the-top and hilarious.

Adam: In the moment, we couldn’t keep up with everyone’s messages, but it’s incredible to go back, watch the recording, and see people’s live reactions and jokes and messages of love. It snaps me right back to the emotions I felt that day.

Reactions exploded from the audience as Adam and Leah were pronounced married.

What would you recommend to other couples hosting their weddings virtually?

Leah: Mail your guests physical gifts to make the experience feel more cohesive. People kept asking what they should wear, because they didn’t know what they would look like on-screen. So we sent our guests headbands with disco balls (my side) and furry ears (Adam’s side). We also mailed printed invites, designed to look like theme park tickets.

90s-themed social room, modeled after Adam's childhood bedroom.

In what ways does the virtual space feel transient and ever-evolving?

Leah: When you think about it, a virtual space can have the same “people were here” feeling as an in-person space. Two of my teenage cousins wrote their names on the walls in the bathroom. Microphones in the karaoke room and puzzle pieces were scattered about.

Adam: With most in-person wedding venues, you can’t really go back. We kept the website up for a few weeks and both our moms brought in groups of friends regularly to re-watch the ceremony. We can return to the ohyay space whenever we want and re-live, re-purpose, and remix the experience.

What feelings did you walk away from the event with?

Adam: I was just flooded with emotions. More so actually than if I had been standing on a stage or in a church. Partly because we built the space from scratch, it was so intimate. Based on everything I heard from friends and family, I think folks felt the same way.

My man of honor, for instance, is never without words. He always has something to say. But when it came time to give his prepared speech, he was speechless. I’ve never seen him like that, which speaks to the power of the platform.

Man of honor giving his speech.

Explore Adam and Leah's ohyay wedding space here.

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Aletta Hiemstra

Community & Communications at ohyay