Following Gabby and Zach Kisber’s exciting engagement in February of 2020, the bride and groom knew they had some big decisions to make – choose a wedding date, venue, florist, musicians, and an event coordinator.
They imagined an intimate beach destination ceremony in Fisher Island, Florida, and secured November 14, 2020. The weather is usually good that time of year, and guests from around the country were excited for a weekend in South Florida. Things were coming together perfectly. Then, a mere 90 days before the wedding, Fisher Island cancelled all events.
But Gabby and Zach were determined to get married on November 14. After realizing they had to quickly secure new vendors and to put into place a COVID-safe wedding with restrictions, they turned to mother-of-the-groom Jolie Kisber.
Jolie made one phone call, knowing their success would all hinge on how the call went. “I called Janis Kiel, who I know is Memphis’ highly sought-after event planner,” said Jolie. “She said ‘Yes, I can do this!’”
“Lucky for us, Temple Israel had the space and Janis had the time available,” said Gabby and Zach, who being a low-key couple were happy to place the plans in the capable hands of his mother and Janis.
Less than 24 hours later, Janis surveyed the Kisber’s backyard with Holliday Florist and Amerispan Tent and a coronavirus-safe wedding was in the making.
But additional details needed to be worked out.
Since invitations with the original Fisher Island destination had been printed but not mailed, they reduced the guest list and inserted a card stating the new venue.
The ceremony was held in the atrium at Temple Israel under a most special circumstance, as Zach’s childhood friend, Jeffrey Dreifus, officiated. Zach and Jeff had met 30 years ago in the same Temple Israel Pre-School playground. Sometimes, life can certainly come full circle making things so much sweeter.
“It was very special to us that Jeff officiated since he’d been our pre-marriage counselor and had also planned to be the officiant in Florida,” said Zach.
Following the COVID-19 mandate of social distancing, guests were assigned seats six feet apart. There were personalized masks made for all guests and hand sanitizer placed on each seat.
Even though the guest list was limited, a positive note was that Zach’s grandparents who live in South Florida were able to watch the ceremony via Zoom, thanks to the great folks at Message in a Bottle who have been extra busy this year.
The reception was held in Jolie and husband Michael’s backyard under a tent. The sides were raised to enjoy the outdoors. Large tables of 8-10 seats were only an option for a few family groupings. Most of the couples sat at intimate bistro tables-for-two – date-night style. Small signs on the tables reminded guests to please wear their masks. Paradox Catering placed cloches over the food while serving. It was a night where all felt safe celebrating Gabby and Zach’s wedding.
The couple’s first dance was to Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” And much to the surprise of the newlyweds was the guest appearance of Elvis in 50’s garb, who stayed to sing a few songs. “My mom made a big deal of this last-minute guest who’d sent an RSVP,” said Zach. “We had no idea, and it was a lot of fun.”
“Janis really turned things around quickly and definitely thought outside the box,” said Jolie. “She made sure there was an abundant supply of hand sanitizers, monogrammed masks and even plexiglass between the band and guests.”
So, the weather may not have included a tropical breeze, palm trees or an ocean view, but substitutes of a beautiful backyard pool, balmy 70-degree weather, some Magnolia trees and a cocktail hour where heaters were on standby only, the guests enjoyed cocktails, dancing, and a delightful dinner celebrating Gabby and Zach Kisber in Memphis, Tennessee.
“A lot of our friends said, ‘We had the best time! It was the most normal night we had in 2020!’” said Gabby and Zach.