The happy couple, Holly Douglas and Ryan Cheema, will have a different wedding than they planned in June, but they’re happy together no matter what the circumstances. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Drive-through bridal shower a way to improvise during COVID-19

Family and friends share the love socially distanced in an Island town parking lot

Working around COVID-19 is generating all sorts of creative ideas to continue with previously-scheduled social events in a different manner.

Holly Douglas just thought her bridal shower was cancelled. But her family and friends had other ideas and the first drive-through bridal shower in Chemainus occurred April 5.

“She was very surprised,” said mom Laurie Douglas, manager of the Chemainus Public Market where cars could be parked in a circle route while Holly and her fiance Ryan Cheema drove through.

“That was supposed to be the day of her shower. That’s when I thought, ‘how about we make it this.’”

“We had quite a few people that would have been taking the ferry over for the event,” noted Holly, 28.

“My mom did this whole drive-through bridal shower. I had no idea it was happening. It was definitely a surprise.”

Douglas and Cheema, 30, who live in Duncan, were able to connect with others from the Lower Mainland virtually from the site in lieu of their actual presence which made it extra special.

There always has to be a tall tale to get someone out under false pretenses, and this was no exception.

“Ryan had been looking around for a big slab of wood for a side table for the living room,” explained Douglas. “He found the piece and he wants to go pick it up. ‘Let’s go for a ride to Chemainus.’”

When they arrived, the bride-to-be was welcomed by an entourage of well-wishers all socially distanced.

“I didn’t clue in till we drove toward the Chemainus Market parking lot,” said Douglas. “I saw a fluorescent sign that said ‘Holly’s bridal shower.’

“We were in Chemainus both Saturday and Sunday. Here I am just thinking we’re going for a drive, something to do, just oblivious to the grand plan.”

The original bridal shower had been planned for about six months, she added, and cancelled around mid-March due to COVID-19, although Douglas didn’t know her mom wasn’t going to let it rest, with some family and friends from the Lower Mainland sending videos to view.

“She’s sneaky and crafty,” Holly laughed. “It was really nice. I definitely felt the love from everyone. It definitely forces you to be a little more creative.”

The big difference for her not knowing about it was the dress code. She’d already gone for a run of about half marathon distance that morning.

“I just did a mix of road and Cowichan Valley Trail here in Duncan,” said Douglas. “Luckily, it’s two minutes away from my front door.”

She did the Victoria Marathon in 2017 and the Chicago Marathon during the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend in October 2019 after winning a lottery draw for a spot in 2018.

Douglas and Cheema have known each other for about eight years and been together for six. “We actually worked together and that’s where we first met,” Douglas said.

They got engaged on Christmas Day 2018 and had set their wedding date for June 20, 2020. They had planned for about 180 people to attend their wedding at Providence Farm.

“Because of the size of our wedding, we aren’t able to go through with that plan because of the group gatherings,” explained Douglas.

“We have been planning kind of our Plan B option. We have quite a lot of friends and family we’ve invited.”

Laurie is glad the bridal shower could still offer some normalcy in a difficult situation.

She said it was weighing heavily on her daughter with “just the realization that the June wedding wasn’t going to happen. She just felt really blue. It was supposed to be their day and then COVID happened.”

“Right now, it looks like it will be a smaller ceremony on June 20,” reasoned Holly.

“That way, we’re still getting married on our day and looking at a bigger shebang later on. We want to stay as local as we can, same as Providence Farm. For later on down the road, we’re keeping our options open for what might be out there.”

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Laurie Douglas’ car is all decked out for the occasion. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Holly Douglas is very much surprised when she thought she was going to Chemainus for her fiance Ryan Cheema to pick up a slab of wood for a side table he was making and ended up at a drive-through bridal shower for her instead. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Jessica Peters, with Holly’s cousins Hudson and Emily, share the love for the bride-to-be. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Jack Frost does some filming of Sarah Cheema from Victoria at the scene. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Proud mom Laurie Douglas organized the drive through bridal shower for her daughter Holly and fiance Ryan Cheema. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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