A Hologram Delivered the Toast
It was a fitting wedding for Brittany Smith and Jeffrey Gallant, whose relationship relied on LinkedIn (“the ultimate platform for finding love”) and other technology.,
After meeting at a Toronto bar, the Ballroom, in 2013, Jeffrey Gallant sensed he’d end up with Brittany Smith. But it couldn’t happen right away.
A Toronto native who had recently graduated from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, where she had made the dean’s list, Ms. Smith was on her way to spend a year teaching biology and English in Bueng Kan, in northeastern Thailand.
One day during that year, she thought about Mr. Gallant, and sought him out online. Not a user of social media, she only found him on the website that he now refers to as “the ultimate platform for finding love,” the professional networking site, LinkedIn.
When she returned, they had a seven-hour date at a dive bar. But Ms. Smith was headed abroad once again, this time to Scotland, to get a master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh. They went out a few more times before she left.
Mr. Gallant, 32, is an Ottawa native, and graduated with honors from Queen’s University in Ontario. Now a portfolio manager at CIBC Private Wealth Management in Toronto, he is also a founder of Capitalize for Kids, a nonprofit that rallies finance professionals around improving children’s mental health.
Soon after Ms. Smith arrived to Edinburgh, they started texting, which progressed into video chatting. When he visited her there in March 2015, they decided to be exclusive.
“Jeff is one of the most thoughtful, kind and motivated people I’ve ever met,” said Ms. Smith, 30, who has worked in management consulting but is in the process of starting her own venture, Smith Collective, an educational company that provides career coaching for teen and young adult women.
“Brittany is unbelievably ambitious, with such great values,” said Mr. Gallant, listing her career successes, how she shows up for family and friends, and the fact that she is on the board of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. “You want your partner to challenge you and help you grow, and she’s been responsible for a lot of my own personal growth in our seven years together.”
He proposed in December of 2019, inside the house they had just bought together, in Toronto.
They set their wedding date for May 29, 2021, at an indoor venue, but like so many couples, the coronavirus forced them to change their plans. They postponed it to summer, moving it outdoors.
They were married by Dean Kennedy, a wedding officiant ordained by Celebrating Life Ministries, on Aug. 14, at Kurtz Orchards in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, with around 100 guests in attendance.
They were hopeful that some guests would be able to join them from abroad, like one of Ms. Smith’s best friends, Sarah Redington, who lives in London.
When it became clear that travel restrictions would prevent Ms. Redington from making the trip, Mr. Gallant came up with a novel way to surprise his bride.
“I don’t know how the idea of a hologram came to mind, but a lot of us know that this technology exists,” he said. He searched online for a company with studios in both Toronto and London, landing on ARHT Media, which beamed Ms. Redington to Toronto in the form of a hologram, both to deliver a toast, which she had prerecorded, and then to have a live chat with Ms. Smith. Ms. Redington appeared in her bridesmaid dress, with her hair and makeup professionally done. They also had a virtual hug. To make this happen, Ms. Redington stood in front of a green screen in a London studio, in the middle of the night.
“For Sarah to be able to participate in our wedding in this way was magical,” said Ms. Smith, who will now be known as Ms. Smith-Gallant.
Mr. Gallant added, “My aunts told me they felt like they were on Star Trek.”