7 celebrity couples who got married during the pandemic

(Clockwise from top left) Celebrities Ariana Grande & Dalton Gomez, Gwen Stefani & Blake Shelton, Benjamin Kheng & Naomi Yeo, tied the knot during the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTOS: ARIANAGRANDE/INSTAGRAM, GWENSTEFANI/INSTAGRAM, BENJAMINKHENG/INSTAGRAM

Celebrity couples who tied the knot during the Covid-19 pandemic had to go low-key, forgoing the usual high-profile coverage, lavish setting and star-studded guest list.

Instead, these lovebirds said "I do" in small, intimate weddings, often in their homes. Or, in the case of American singers Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, in a chapel he built on his sprawling ranch.

Due to travel restrictions, some could not invite their nearest and dearest, such as Singaporean singer Kelly Poon, who held her banquet in Taipei without family.

Others did not get the wedding of their dreams, such as American actor Nicolas Cage, who wanted to wed his fifth wife, who is Japanese, in a traditional Shinto ceremony in Kyoto.

Closer to home, local singer Benjamin Kheng and actress-DJ Naomi Yeo went for an intimate do, instead of having everyone getting smashed at a big wedding party.

On the bright side, the pandemic ensured that those who wanted to keep their wedding under wraps were able to pull it off, such as former Spice Girl Emma Bunton, who finally got hitched after 23 years of dating British singer-turned-chef Jade Jones.

And of course, no pandemic-era love story is without a virtual wedding ceremony - American actor Sean Penn said his vows to Australia-born actress Leila George via Zoom.

1. Ariana Grande & Dalton Gomez: Stuck with you


The lyrics of American pop star Ariana Grande's song Stuck With U, performed with Canadian singer Justin Bieber, sums up the experience of couples living in a pandemic.

The song, released in May last year, tells a story familiar to many couples - forced to settle down together quickly or be kept apart due to distancing measures.

Grande, 28, and her then boyfriend of four months, Mr Dalton Gomez, 26, made their first public appearance in its music video.

A year later, Grande married the luxury real estate agent.

In the wedding at her home in Montecito, California, Grande was walked down the aisle by her parents, echoing the lyrics of her 2018 hit, Thank U, Next, in which she sings: "One day I'll walk down the aisle. Holding hands with my mama."

A tight circle of close friends and family were there to witness the marriage, with no other stars present.

2. Kelly Poon & Roger Yo: Yam seng in Taipei


When Singaporean singer Kelly Poon registered her marriage to Taiwanese music producer Roger Yo in February last year, she tried to keep it low-key, but was spotted by photographers at the Household Registration Office in Taipei.

If she had her way, she would have kept her wedding in November last year under wraps as well.

She had held a 45-table banquet at Regent Taipei, but friends and family from Singapore were unable to attend due to the pandemic.

However, Taiwan-based Singaporeans, such as former actress Yvonne Lim, singer-actress Boon Hui Lu and singer Huang Jinglun, as well as friends from the music industry in Taiwan, turned up to wish the couple well, with famed lyricist Yao Chien walking her down the aisle.

Not surprisingly, both bride and groom performed songs at the wedding, which incorporated Singaporean touches, such as pandan cake, an orchid bouquet for her and raucous toasts of "yam seng".

The couple, both 38, had surprised even their friends when they revealed they were dating after being friends for years. They plan to hold another wedding dinner in Singapore.

3. Sean Penn & Leila George: Zooming to I do


American actor Sean Penn, 61, not only had a secret wedding, but he also did it in a way that reflects these pandemic days - via Zoom, with only three guests.

The Oscar winner married Australian-American actress Leila George, 29, on July 30 last year at home with the county commissioner officiating over Zoom.

Present at the wedding were George's brother and Penn's two grown children from his second marriage to American actress Robin Wright - he was also married to pop star Madonna.

Penn had been dating George, the daughter of American actor Vincent D'Onofrio and Italian-Australian actress Greta Scacchi, since 2016.

Asked about the benefits of a small wedding on chat show Late Night With Seth Meyers a few days after the most important Zoom call of his life, Penn joked: "Let's say there are socially liberating factors under Covid."

On their one-year anniversary this year, George posted a rare photo of them on a bicycle with the caption: "365 days of marriage to an incredible man with the biggest heart who makes me proud and makes me smile."

4. Benjamin Kheng & Naomi Yeo: No song and dance


Like many Singaporean couples, singer Benjamin Kheng, 31, and actress-DJ Naomi Yeo, 26, very relatably had their wedding plans disrupted by the pandemic.

The renovation of their flat was delayed - again, no thanks to Covid-19 - and their plan for a traditional wedding in the second half of the year was up in the air.

So they decided to bring their wedding date forward and shift their moving-in date back.

In an Instagram post on April 17, Kheng, who has been pursuing a solo career after the band The Sam Willows went on hiatus, wrote: "To absolutely no one's surprise, I cried like mad on my wedding day. We got hitched on a balmy Sunday in front of our closest friends and family.

"Nayo looked like a dream, and at the first look, predictably misheard the cue to turn, so I spent the first few seconds gawking at her silhouette while she yelled, 'Turn now ah?'"

The couple got engaged in New Zealand in March last year after dating for a year.

In an interview with online magazine Wonderwall.sg in May, Kheng said: "I really wanted everyone to sing, dance and get smashed at a big wedding party, but having a small and intimate one was really special too."

5. Gwen Stefani & Blake Shelton: No doubt about it


Rumours began swirling in the middle of the year that No Doubt lead vocalist Gwen Stefani, 51, had secretly tied the knot with American country music king Blake Shelton, 45.

He proposed at the height of the pandemic last October, but the couple never set a date as everything was up in the air.

Everyone was left guessing and the superstar couple finally said "I do", after five years of dating, on July 3 in a private ceremony on Shelton's ranch in Oklahoma.

He reportedly built a chapel on his property for the occasion, which had just 40 guests, including Stefani's three sons from her first marriage to British singer Gavin Rossdale, from 2002 to 2016.

This was the third time down the aisle for Shelton, who divorced first wife Kaynette Gern in 2006 and was also married to American country singer Miranda Lambert, whom he divorced in 2015.

While Stefani wore white stiletto boots with her two wedding gowns, both by American designer Vera Wang, Shelton paired his tuxedo jacket with blue jeans in true country music style.

Her jaw-dropping veil featured the embroidered names of her kids - Kingston, 15, Zuma, 13, and Apollo, seven - as well as Gwen and Blake, a touching tribute to their formation of a new family.

6. Emma Bunton & Jade Jones: Spiced up their lives


It took only 23 years and a pandemic for former Spice Girl Emma Bunton, 45, and British singer-turned-chef Jade Jones, 42, to walk down the aisle.

The British couple, who began dating in 1998, made the surprise wedding announcement on their Instagram accounts on July 13.

This came as a shock as they had been engaged for more than a decade and share two sons, Beau, 14, and Tate, 10, who attended the wedding together with a couple of the bride and groom's friends.

Bunton said in a 2018 interview with BBC Radio 2 that they had been engaged for so long because they were terrible at organising the wedding and keeping it under wraps.

"We try to, but we want it to be private. Every time we try, it's out there. We want to do it privately on our own."

7. Nicolas Cage & Riko Shibata: Fifth time's the charm?


Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, 57, made news when he got married for the fifth time in February - to a Japanese woman 30 years younger than him.

Little is known about his bride, Ms Riko Shibata, 26, who is also four years younger than his first son. The couple were first spotted together in February last year in New Orleans, and this is her first marriage.

Cage announced his engagement in August last year, revealing that the pandemic had prevented him from proposing in person.

He said at the time: "She left New York and went back to Kyoto, Japan, and I went back to Nevada and I haven't seen her for six months. We're really happy together and we're really excited to spend that time together so I finally just said, 'Look, I wanna marry you' and we got engaged on FaceTime."

The engagement ring was FedExed to her and, when travel restrictions were lifted, they tied the knot at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas in a small and intimate wedding.

According to his representative, they exchanged traditional Catholic and Shinto vows with poetry from Walt Whitman and haiku sprinkled in.

Cage was previously married to American actress Patricia Arquette, singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley (he was a big fan of her late father Elvis Presley), actress Alice Kim and make-up artist Erika Koike.

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