This is what weddings look like during the coronavirus pandemic

Newlyweds Emily and Parris Khachi said they were surprised to see the pews full of photos on their wedding day.
Emily Khachi walked down the aisle alongside pews filled with pictures.
Emily Khachi walked down the aisle alongside pews filled with pictures. Vicens Forns Photography
/ Source: TODAY
By Kerry Breen

The coronavirus pandemic may have changed their original wedding plans, but Emily and Parris Khachi were determined to tie the knot on the same date.

The two still wed at their planned venue, San Francisco's St. Ignatius Church, on April 25. Instead of the 200 guests they invited, they were surrounded by just immediate family. Friends and family watched on a livestream, but there were other faces in the pews: pictures of the church's parish members, creating a striking series of photos.

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Emily Khachi was able to walk down the aisle with her father on her wedding date, but not with the 200 guests they had originally invited. Vicens Forns Photography

Even the bride was surprised to see the photos in the pews. The pictures had been placed there by church leadership to make the space feel less empty when livestreaming religious services.

"We just appreciated having the audience, but we didn't know they were going to be there!" Emily Khachi said. "It helped make the church feel a bit more full than just the few of us."

The newlyweds said that photos of parishioners made the church feel less empty. Vicens Forns Photography

The couple said that with only their immediate families and the priest present, the wedding was less than the number of people restricted for gatherings. Despite the necessary changes, the couple didn't want to "postpone indefinitely."

"We're not sure when the restrictions are going to get lifted. We don't know when everyone's going to feel comfortable leaving the house still," Parris Khachi said. "So we just decided to kind of go through with it, and the nice thing was we went back to basics a little bit. It was just about getting married, not the other stuff."

Coronavirus restrictions meant that only immediate family members could attend the wedding. Vicens Forns Photography

The small ceremony wasn't the only place where the Khachis had to compromise. While the bride already had her wedding dress, she said that her sister had to do the last alterations on the gown and her hairstyle on the wedding day instead of hired professionals. The couple's parents decorated their apartment to celebrate after the wedding, and several small vendors helped make sure they were able to have a small reception with their family.

While Khachi already had her dress, her sister had to do last-minute alterations to make sure it fit properly. Vicens Forns Photography

"We had the immediate family get together, and we found that our favorite cake shop was delivering two days a week," the groom said. "We were like, 'Hey, can we get in on this?'"

"Ironically, it wound up being the cake we originally wanted for the wedding," she added. "And then a local steakhouse ... they delivered a beautiful steak dinner to us. We just took it out of the to-go containers, put it on our plates, and had our wedding dinner!"

The couple is planning to have a bigger reception with family and friends once the restrictions are lifted. To compromise for the lack of guests at the wedding, the church helped the couple set up a livestream and chat room where people could watch and talk about the ceremony.

"The nice thing was we went back to basics a little bit. It was just about getting married, not the other stuff."Vicens Forns Photography

"There was cheering and comments like, 'Nice tux, Parris' and 'Emily, you look beautiful,'" stuff like that," she said. "All our family and friends from around the world were able to watch."

The newlyweds were surprised to see that their wedding photos get so much attention after being shared online.

"It's kind of shocking. We were just like, 'Alright, we're going to do this small, simple ceremony,' and people do that all the time," she said. "It's been great. People like the picture and connect with it."