Two Austin brides traded their heels for cowboy boots, their elegant dinner for take-out, their dance-party reception for an old movie, and their Yucatán Peninsula honeymoon for an Airstream trailer stay. Welcome to Pandemic 2020: Wedding Edition, in which a traditional hotel wedding turns into an evening at a drive-in movie theater, complete with social-media broadcasts of the ceremony.
The story begins predictably enough. Bri Houk, 31, and Lindsey Leaverton, 37, met on the HER app, and fell for one another straightaway. Then came two dramatic proposals and one fabulous wedding plan.
But before long, everything changed. Quickly.
Bri is a dental surgical assistant. Lindsey is a Texas A&M graduate who was a full-time touring Christian-music singer and recording artist—that is, until she came out in 2009 and lost her career. These days, she’s the director of wealth management services at the Miura Group.
Within twelve hours of their initial match on HER, Bri asked Lindsey out on their first date—since that night just so happened to be Lindsey’s birthday. It was clear from the moment they laid eyes on one another that it wasn’t just a virtual match. They were meant to be in real life, too—right down to the fact that Lindsey and Bri both wanted to propose and be proposed to.
So, that is precisely what they did. Bri proposed to Lindsey during the 2019 Austin Pride Parade at a rooftop bar in downtown Austin. The plan was to meet a small group of friends. Instead, Lindsey was surprised by a roomful of family, friends, and co-workers who were all there at Bri’s invitation.
Lindsey planned to propose far above the earth in a private hot-air balloon during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico. When fog foiled her plans at the last second and they never got off the ground, Lindsey simply proposed the minute they stepped out of the balloon basket. And, as luck would have it, a local news crew happened to catch the whole thing on film.
Watch Bri and Lindsey’s wedding ceremony below:
The pair had originally planned to get married at the Hotel Ella in Austin during the 2020 Easter weekend because, Lindsey jokes, “Nothing says ‘He is risen!’ like a good ol’ lesbian wedding.” They had everything planned down to the last detail, including, Lindsey says, “A menu that would make your toes curl.” But the couple soon learned that the COVID-19 pandemic was gaining momentum and that an official shelter-in-place order for the City of Austin would go into effect on March 25. “Reality slowly began to sink in. April 10, 2020, would not, in fact, be our day.”
Then things got worse. The day before their original wedding date, Lindsey received a call from a family member who had tested positive for COVID-19. “Not to be cryptic, but let’s just say the news of this positive test was significant enough that it further fueled our desire to get married sooner rather than later. No one is promised tomorrow.”
The morning after their original wedding date, as the pair was watching cartoons with Lindsey’s twin daughters and Bri’s son, a moment of genius struck Bri. “There’s a drive-in movie theater that is still open in Buda, Texas,” she exclaimed.
And so there was. Doc’s Drive-In is legally considered an essential business, due to their full-service kitchen providing to-go food. In other words, they’re open. A serious wedding pivot was about to ensue. They called to see if Doc’s might be game to host their nuptials in a way that would be both safe and compliant. The answer? A resounding Yes. Bri and Lindsey reached out to their wedding planner when they got the news, “And then it was all hands on deck,” Lindsey says. “We began planning a wedding that was the polar-opposite of our original vision, and we had seventeen days to get everything ready.”
Being equal parts excited and nervous about their big day in Buda, the pair followed every order and restriction in hopes that the evening wouldn’t attract the police or any other unwanted attention. Bri emphasizes that they were also hoping to prevent the cows living in the neighboring pasture from escaping and free-ranging into the ceremony—live on camera, and projected on two gigantic movie screens. “But honestly, at this point, nothing would surprise me,” Bri recalls. Lindsey adds that she hoped the local stray dog who frequents the drive-in would also opt out of attending, “and relieving himself on our wedding dresses.”
Instead of a lavish reception, the movie Airplane was shown after the wedding. Bridesmaids was their first choice, but everyone had to leave the drive-in by 10:30 p.m. in order to abide by the curfew order. So the pair googled “movies under 90 minutes with wedding themes,” and Airplane was the ultimate winner.
Of course, their guests would likely have stayed no matter the film. Why? No need to rush home sooner than you have to with the world on lockdown. “Any excuse to get out of the house these days, right?” Lindsey jokes. Indeed. As far as excuses go, a mid-pandemic drive-in wedding seems like a pretty darn good one. And, it seems that any marriage that follows such an impressive—and creative—last-minute rescue will be a pretty darn good one, too.
This article appears in the May 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.