MANILA -- In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, without observing physical distancing or wearing a face mask, Lychie Sumido walked down the aisle and exchanged vows with her beau of nine years, Kelvin Bautista — albeit virtually.
Through Nintendo’s hit game Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the couple skirted health protocols and tied the knot in front of their friends and family, which was otherwise prohibited in the real world.
“We decided to celebrate this wonderful day with the kindest and most amazing people we've met,” Sumido enthused.
While the pair wasn’t scheduled to get hitched until November 2020, with no signs of COVID-19 abating, they both knew they wouldn’t be able to celebrate with all their loved ones as initially planned.
“COVID-19 happened and that meant changing a lot about our plans,” Sumido said.
Since large gatherings will remain banned under the “new normal” setting, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) announced that secondary elements of wedding ceremonies (like the wedding entourage) are no longer permitted as only the bride and groom, the parents of the couple, and one set of sponsors can attend a church wedding ceremony.
“Unfortunately, since we have to cut down our guest list for the wedding, I won't be able to invite my maid of honor. [Since she also plays Animal Crossing], I took the opportunity so she could still somehow be part of our wedding,” Sumido explained.
She continued: “The plan is to still pursue the wedding in the original date, but given the restrictions, we're holding instead an intimate wedding with only our immediate family members.”
Although the entire ceremony and reception was held in the game, the newlyweds described it as “the most amazing thing.”
With the help of their friends, Sumido said they were able to mimic all the idyllic parts of a typical wedding.
“The way we did it also somehow reflected how weddings are done these days. My maid of honor came over my island for the 'wedding preps,' we had a couple of photo shoots. They also put up an RSVP and message site and gift registry for the guests,” Sumido described.
“The details are all sponsored and organized by the guests and my best friend (maid of honor in game), including what we both wore,” she added.
The wildly popular game, which allows players to freely build their own island, personalize their items, host social activities, and visit their other friends, became a hit during the quarantine.
According to Nintendo, they sold over 13 million copies of 'Animal Crossing' in its first six weeks, making it the fastest selling Nintendo Switch title.
While the the schedule of release was not timed with the onset of the pandemic, it was certainly favorable for the gaming giant as many attributed the game’s success to its ability to provide gamers with a virtual escape from the lockdown imposed across the globe to limit the spread of the virus.