With so little to do in April 2020, Danielle Lavey and Drew Feldman quickly learned they had easy jokes. It was enough for them to continue the conversation.
“We were quickly reaching a point where, if we didn’t meet in person, there are no limits to Zoom encounters,” Mr. Feldman said. So, despite being what they euphemistically call “coronavirus aware,” at the end of May, Mr. Feldman flew from Dallas to Knoxville, Tenn. Her outfit above the neck: two masks, glasses, a hoodie and oversized headphones.
Despite the reluctance of Ms Lavey’s parents to contract the coronavirus, they reluctantly agreed to house Mr Feldman.
“A usual first date that would be in a bar or doing an activity, was in my parents’ living room,” Ms. Lavey said.
The couple had connected through CoronaCrush, a Facebook group created by a few friends to allow Jewish singles wary of regular dating apps to meet during the pandemic (even though the two barely use Facebook). They are one of his successes. There have been at least seven engagements and the group now has over 20,000 members.
Ms. Lavey, 28, who grew up in Los Angeles, graduated from Northwestern. She is a healthcare management consultant at Oliver Wyman, the New York-based consulting firm. She had moved to Manhattan eight months before the pandemic, but when it started she moved with her parents to Knoxville, where they had recently moved.
Mr. Feldman, 30, is from Dallas and studied theater at Oklahoma City Community College. He is an independent director of cinema and theater. While living in Israel before the pandemic, he was working on a documentary about Johnny Cash in Dallas when the pandemic began.
The day after her arrival, they went for a coronavirus test, at the request of Ms. Lavey’s mother. Then they went shopping and cooked the Sabbath dinner together. It went well enough that he extended his visit for two more days.
A few weeks later, Ms. Lavey traveled to Dallas; again, they prepared and ate Sabbath dinner together, this time with Mr. Feldman’s family.
There was another visit from Mr Feldman and then in the middle of the summer with remote working the norm he moved into his own accommodation in Knoxville in July.
Soon they were talking about marriage. They consulted a self-proclaimed “kosher astrologer” in Israel who found them well suited.
“Drew is so loving, sensitive and caring,” Ms. Lavey said. “I feel so supported and such unconditional love from her.”
In November, Mr. Feldman proposed on a surprise picnic that included a short documentary he directed titled “A Quarantined History of Danielle & Drew”.
Ms. Lavey said yes, but it was not enough for her.
“It’s not the 1800s,” she says. “Being offered makes you feel so loved, I wanted him to experience it too.”
A friend regarded his as a rebuttal proposition; it was in the form of a book of 45 haikus that she wrote about their courtship.
They were married on May 6 by Rabbi Josh Livingstone, a college friend of the bride, at Magnolia, an event space in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Sixty guests, nearly all of whom were vaccinated (including the couple) attended and 280 others watched from a distance.
After the traditional Jewish ceremony, a bluegrass band performed. During the reception, the groom sang his own version of “Helpless” from the musical “Hamilton,” with family members joining in a choreographed dance.
“When I look at Danielle, I think, ‘I can make a marriage, a partnership, and build a life with this person,’” Mr. Feldman said. “It doesn’t sound romantic at first glance, but it is the deepest recognition of all the incredible possibilities and potential that I see with her.”