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Over Zoom, a couple who had never met in person married.
During the epidemic, the pair – Ayse, 26, and Darrin, 24 – began a transnational romance.
They met through a Facebook community that aimed to connect pen pals from all around the world.
Ayse began conversing with Kenda, 56, after she introduced her son Darrin.
She said he was a similar age and would love to chat to someone from the UK – he was based in Detroit, Michigan, US.
So the two began chatting as friends in July 2020, but were soon inseparable and spoke on the phone to each other every night.
The five-hour time difference didn’t stop them and they quickly became official.
Ayse began planning a trip to the States to meet her boyfriend for the first time in July but travel restrictions to the US made this impossible.
The couple continued their weekly date nights via video calls and would do sweet things like order each other takeaway food and treats as a surprise.
On May 21, 2021, Darrin proposed to Ayse.
With restrictions preventing them from meeting for a long time, the couple decided to get married via Zoom, in a legal ceremony officiated in Utah, US.
On August 19 this year, Ayse and Darrin became husband and wife, with a small number of friends and family there to see it through video call.
Months after their wedding, they are yet to meet face-to-face. They speak multiple times a day while waiting for Ayse’s visa application to be accepted.
Ayse, a cleaner, from Lancaster, said: “I never imagined this would happen to me in a million years.
“I don’t think anyone expected this when we started talking last year.
“But we’re married and it’s all completely legal and official – I still can’t believe it.
“It’s been really hard not being able to meet properly, but in the long run it will make us stronger because we’ve had to go through all of this to be together.
“We just really love each other.”
Ayse said she was only looking for a pen pal to cure her boredom in lockdown but she found love.
“It’s funny that I met my mother-in-law before I met my husband,” Ayse said.
“We got on so well, so when she suggested speaking to her son, I thought it was a great idea – although I was a bit nervous at first because I’d seen photos of him and he looked lovely.”
“I knew he was from the US so didn’t expect anything from it but thought it would still be interesting to chat to someone from somewhere else.”