Just virtually married in Argentina

Aussie missionaries help couple tie the knot despite lockdown

Argentine couple Diego Aspitia and Sofia Cuggino were devastated when their long-planned wedding fell victim to a coronavirus lockdown.

They had planned a civil ceremony for March 26 in their home city of Córdoba but were told one week ago it could not go ahead because of the upcoming nationwide shutdown.

But, as Christians, the most important part of getting married for them was the religious ceremony and reception, so with the encouragement of tech-savvy friends they organised a virtual wedding.

“They pulled together the most extraordinary event in 24 hours,” says Julie Field, a missionary in Córdoba, who with her husband Martin had led the couple in a marriage preparation course.

“It was extraordinary – they had all the elements that they wanted for their wedding, how they wanted to give their vows, how they wanted to do the rings, who they wanted to give the sermon, the pastor from their church to do the final prayer; they wanted us to do the rings and the vows. They had it all very clear in their heads what they wanted and so that just translated across to the virtual version,” said Julie.

Martin added: “So they did a Zoom meeting with everybody who was directly involved with the wedding, then the whole thing was then filmed by somebody who then livestreamed on Facebook and Instagram, so all of their wider friends and family were seeing it all live.

“Then, this intimate group of about 30 or 40 on Zoom participated in our own parts while the couple remained in their new house.”

The couple had to borrow a Wi-Fi signal from their neighbours, having just moved into their new home.

“There was no party, there was no food, there was no dress – that was it!” – Sofia Cuggino

Aspitia, 42, told the local press during a four-day honeymoon at home that it took them a while to get used to the idea they were not going to have the wedding they wanted.

“But we left our dream aside for the common good. We are staying at home; we respect the isolation and we are very happy with that.”

Cuggino, 32, commented: “When everything fell through, we had to keep to the most important thing in mind, which for us was always that others be there as witnesses and to have their blessing.”

“That was it. There was no party, there was no food, there was no dress – that was it!”

The virtual wedding was one of the more creative ways that Martin and Julie Field, who have been in Argentina for 12 years with the Church Missionary Society, have been ministering to people since face-to-face meetings were banned in the country.

From left: Eloise, Charlotte, Martin, Julie, Lachlan and Jacob Field

Martin and Julie work alongside uni students, encouraging and training them to reach out to their friends with the good news of Jesus, to understand the Bible for themselves and to live God-honouring lives

Julie said that the absence of normal after-school activities had boosted the number of young people who joined a Bible study group that went online this week.

“They were a group of 10 including a group of four kids who had just joined in on the conversation – ordinarily they wouldn’t accept.”

“Similarly Ellie, our university aged daughter, had in the past tried to encourage her friends in the faculty – she studies in the faculty of philosophy and literature which is a tough faculty to reach out to. Yesterday, she had five other people in her group which is a lovely number of students to gather to read the Bible.”

Martin said a group in another part of the country that ran a movie discussion group went online this week.

“I’m wondering if that might be an idea that might work for Easter, to put on The Passion or one of the other good movies that relate to Easter and to have some discussion time or praise time afterwards,” he said.

“It’s interesting. There’s lots of opportunities, but at the same time we’re going to have a screen tiredness of so many things online.

“I think we need to be wary of that, of offering things but at the same time not overloading because it’s more tiring than normal.”

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