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Lisa Roland and Brandon Drummond after their ceremony on the Layla. (Photo Credit: Brandon Drummond/Vanity Photo Booths)

Big fancy weddings are so 2019. With COVID-19 canceling or cutting events down to size, engaged couples were forced to pivot. Some pushed their weddings back to an indeterminate future, while others got creative with impromptu elopements and “micro-weddings” on sailboats, in backyards, around pools, on farms and more, with ceremonies Zoomed to faraway family and friends.

Some newly minted spouses still plan to hold a second “wedding bash” next year, but many are thrilled with their less formal, intimate event that boosted quality time with family, friends, the household pet and even an errant chicken or two.

Local vendors, who’ve truly seen it all when it comes to North Fork nuptials, praised this new normal. “The bride and groom get to really be in the moment without the pressure of a ton of guests or extravagant plans,” says photographer Madison Fender, who is enjoying the “increased creativity without the usual strict, fast-paced timeline.” Jenny Marchese of Wildflower Events concurs. “The pandemic has caused people to reflect on what, and who, is really important in their lives, and to celebrate that joy.”

In the first of a series, northforker spotlights some of the sweetest micro-weddings on the East End.

The micro-wedding at sea

“When the pandemic hit, we realized that life is too short. We just wanted to be married!”

Lisa Roland, 39, a clerk for the American Postal Workers Union who worked for a time at the Jamesport post office, and Brandon Drummond, 32, a security guard at Brentwood High School and the owner of Vanity Photo Booths in Hauppauge, truly got swept away at sea on the Layla sailboat. The couple, who live in Mastic, had known each other for years, and credit the annual North Fork wine tour five years ago as their love story’s formal beginning.

“We had been engaged for two years but every time we started to plan a wedding something came up,” says Roland. “We had originally decided to marry on the beach in Hampton Bays, but it was too hard narrowing down the guest list because of COVID, and we still weren’t comfortable with it. I had recently given birth to our third daughter and when the pandemic hit, we just realized that life is too short. We just wanted to be married! I had heard the radio ad for the Layla sailboat, including its ‘Captain Liz is ordained and ready to marry you at sea!’ message, and one day I woke up and said ‘Let’s get married on the sailboat!”

Our friend Lisa was already an officiant so she married us. So, with just six of us (including our two daughters and Brandon’s twin goddaughters), we had our dream wedding for under two grand. That includes food and rum punch from Lucharitos in Greenport—one of our favorite restaurants—flowers, and my $35 dress from Amazon!

It was the best decision we ever made. We won’t be having another larger wedding in the future as this day was so perfect. After the ceremony and under the boat’s flying nautical flags, we played music and sailed around Shelter Island for six hours. Everyone changed into bathing suits and jumped off the boat to swim around. We even inquired about sailing again on our anniversary!”