During COVID-19 when borders are closed and people are unable to meet their loved ones, the internet has helped to reduce distance and introduced new trends. Getting married online is one of those trends Farhan Sadiq has followed by getting married to his fiancee back in Pakistan.
COVID-19 has changed the lives of people around the world. Australia has closed its borders since the start of this pandemic and it has forced some couples to live apart.
Farhan Sadiq is one of those couples. He waited a long time to go back overseas to get married but his dreams shattered when borders closed.
"Since March I was praying for the situation to get better but I haven't seen any silver lining," he said.
"When the situation remained the same for a longer period of time, a month ago decided to tie the knot online."
- Online marriages have become a trend amid COVID-19
- Couples are getting married online because of long processing times for spouse visas
- Wedding planners are also becoming involved online
Farhan, based in Sydney, says that he cannot travel overseas in the first place and secondly, he doesn't know that even if he gets an exemption whether he could return or would get stuck in Pakistan.
Online marriages are not common in Pakistan. "We decided that during this pandemic everything is happening virtually then why not to get married online."
He says with current visa processing times almost 18 to 26 months, he decided to lodge the application anyway and wait for the dust to settle.
"Being miles apart doesn't give you the same feeling as when you are with each other but still it gives us hope that we will be together soon."
In Pakistan, Farhan's bride says she's happy that technology helped in bridging the gap.
"It was a unique experience as we exchanged vows online, not only for us but for many attending the ceremony," she told SBS Urdu.
We had almost 100 guests here looking on the big screen as if we were looking through a window to Australia.
"Though these are difficult times I hope that soon we will be together."
Sajjad Baloch is an engineer by profession and arranged the internet and video conferencing facilities for the wedding.
"Arranging a wedding online with a lot of guests on the other side was a hard nut to crack but thankfully I managed the ceremony," he said.
"To keep the internet connection and video conference inflow especially during the exchange of vows was a stressful task but in the end, everything went well."
Another friend, Ummat ul Ain, planned the event and decorated the room.
"It was fun to attend an online wedding, though virtual weddings are different and they can't be similar to the real ones but it was a very good experience arranging the event."
"Events like online weddings are the only way for people who are parted by this pandemic - and should consider it," she said.
The Australian government has placed a ban on international travel since March and Australian citizens and permanent residents cannot leave Australia. Tens of thousands more remain stranded abroad.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus