A Toronto groom surprised his new wife with a holographic visit from a bridesmaid who was unable to travel to the wedding due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Jeff Gallant and Brittany Smith Gallant tied the knot at an outdoor ceremony in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., on Aug. 14.
Bridesmaid Sarah Redington lives in London, England, but was unable to travel to Canada because she’s not a Canadian citizen.
Fully-vaccinated travellers from outside North America are scheduled to be allowed entry to Canada from Sept. 7, 2021.
The couple had already rearranged their wedding once because of pandemic rules.
When the hologram of Redington appeared after the couple’s first dance, it was met with gasps from the crowd.
The bride screamed, “Oh my God! Oh, this is absolutely incredible!”
She and her husband told Global News it was a moment that they and their guests will never forget.
“My aunts, as an example, they felt that they were on Star Trek — like, literally,” said Gallant.
“We still would have had an amazing wedding, nonetheless, of course, but it really was the cherry on top.”
“It was pretty trippy,” said Smith Gallant.
“You know, you’re speaking to this vision of your best friend, but it’s really just particles. It felt like we were in in the future.”
Man with a plan
Smith Gallant said it was “devastating” when it became clear that pandemic travel rules would not be relaxed in time for Redington to travel to the wedding.
That’s when her then-fiancé decided to see if there was something he could do.
“I just went on Google and I typed in ‘top global hologram or holographic companies’, and lo and behold, ARHT Media was at the top, and by fate or luck, or what have you, they have offices both in Toronto and in London,” said Gallant.
“I reached out with a heartfelt letter and note to, I believe was their ‘general inquiry’ part of their website, and went on LinkedIn and added a number of executives and directors.”
It wasn’t long before ARHT Media CEO Larry O’Reilly got in touch.
“He was very articulate and and I thought he would be great on camera,” said O’Reilly.
“So I said, ‘Hey, no promises, but we’ll try to make it happen in the schedule.'”
With a week until the wedding day, the schedule was tight.
It’s not cheap, either. It normally costs $25,000, but ARHT Media asked Gallant if he’d be happy to share their story afterwards for a better deal.
“It certainly helped his pricing, I’ll put it that way,” said O’Reilly.
On the big day, the reveal went off without a hitch.
It was middle of the night for Redington in the U.K., who was standing in front of a green screen at ARHT Media’s London studio.
Given the spotty mobile signal at the venue, a recorded hologram message from Redington was played first, followed by a real-time conversation between her and the newlyweds.
“In the end, we actually ran the transmission through our technician’s cellphone and and it worked brilliantly,” O’Reilly said.
ARHT Media normally cater to motivational speakers and world leaders, but O’Reilly says, like all technology, he sees holograms becoming cheaper and more accessible in the years ahead.
But for now, the rest of us might have to make do with a Zoom call.