Science Teacher Gets Married on Zoom Amid Pandemic


McKenna and Buttacavoli stand in front of the mantle in their living room. They are prepared to begin the wedding ceremony for the vows at 4:30 p.m., in a Zoom meeting hosted by an Alameda County judge. “It was really just a day where we could just spend time with each other and say our vows in front of the people we love,” McKenna said. Photo courtesy of Mary McKenna.

Abby Becker, Staff Writer

Since March, San Mateo County has had over 14,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 170 deaths. Menlo Park and Atherton alone have had around 590 cases. Despite this, people are still finding ways to celebrate special occasions in a safe way, including physics teacher Mary McKenna who got married on Zoom in June.

McKenna and her now-husband, Brian Buttacavoli, first met at Making Waves Academy, a charter school in Richmond where they both used to teach. They formed a bond due to the passionate discussions they had about their different areas of teaching since McKenna taught science and Buttacavoli taught humanities. The two got engaged in February 2019, before the COVID-19 virus was spread to the United States. 

McKenna and Buttacavoli planned to have an in-person wedding in June 2020. However, once the virus became more widespread, they had to reconsider this idea. “We were monitoring San Francisco County and their health ordinances in regards to large gatherings,” McKenna said. They officially decided to cancel the wedding in May because of concerns with older family members and potential risk factors for guests.

Nevertheless, they made the decision to have a wedding hosted on Zoom. The wedding, still scheduled for the same date, June 25, took place on a Zoom call hosted by a judge of Alameda County. Only the closest family members of the bride and groom were sent the Zoom link. “Just his parents, my parents and some of our siblings were on the call with us,” McKenna said. “It was easier to coordinate with fewer people.”

In preparation for the wedding day, McKenna and Buttacavoli decorated their living room with artificial flowers as well as copper lights to provide a more appealing backdrop. Buttacavoli bought boxes for the wedding rings.

They also prepared for technical difficulties during the call. “We had an extra camera. [Buttacavoli] had a microphone just in case it didn’t work for some reason. […] We also bought a lot of lighting,” McKenna said.

The Zoom wedding backdrop reflected many creative touches, like the string of artificial flowers around the edges of the mantle and the box for the wedding rings on the center table. “My husband’s sister sent us this beautiful bouquet of flowers and we used that as a centerpiece,” McKenna added. Photo courtesy of Mary McKenna.

When the wedding day finally arrived, McKenna appreciated that she didn’t have to deal with the stresses of an in-person wedding ceremony. “It relieved a lot of the wedding day pressure when it comes to waking up early, getting your makeup and hair done and taking a bunch of photos with a photographer,” McKenna said.

The ceremony itself ran smoothly with no technical difficulties, although Buttacavoli and McKenna were only permitted to say the vows without partaking in any of the typical wedding celebrations on the Zoom call. “[The county] would do wedding ceremonies about every 30 minutes, so it was very fast paced,” McKenna explained.

After the Zoom call was completed and the vows were said, Buttacavoli and McKenna were able to record the other ceremonial aspects of the wedding for family members to view, like the cutting of the cake and the first dance.

Although the couple officially said their vows on Zoom, they still plan to have a celebration in 2021, when a vaccine and fewer regulations will hopefully permit large group gatherings.

Nonetheless, McKenna was grateful for the time she got to spend with her husband. “I remember when we started wedding planning, my husband said jokingly that all we need is each other and our vows. And of course I was like, no, we need a big wedding with all these people. But it ended up being a perfect wedding,” McKenna said.