Hong Kong's coronavirus guidelines allow up to 20 guests at a wedding.  Ivan Watson and Rana Wehbe had eight. Photo: Scott Clotworthy

Engaged in December and married by May, coronavirus shaped our relationship ... and our wedding

Updated 0020 GMT (0820 HKT) May 8, 2020

We are publishing personal essays from CNN's global staff as they live and cover the story of Covid-19. Ivan Watson is a senior international correspondent for CNN in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong (CNN)"Can we take our masks off?" I ask, as my bride and I get into position.

"You may," responds a Hong Kong official, who is still wearing his mask.
Moments later, Rana and I exchange rings, sign government documents, and share a brief kiss. Amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, Rana and I have just gotten married.
On the other side of the planet, our families and friends in the US, Lebanon and elsewhere watch the little civil ceremony in Hong Kong streamed live on Instagram, sprinkling the video with hearts and emojis and other social media expressions of happiness.
Family and friends tune in to watch the wedding via livestream. Photo: Rana Wehbe Watson
Before leaving the wedding registry, we put on his and hers surgical masks adorned with the titles "Mr." and "Mrs."
This was not what we expected, when I first asked her to marry me on a freezing night in New York City last December.
At the time, we were both jet-lagged after the long flight from Hong Kong, where we live and work. We were also deliriously happy, posing in front of a glowing fountain alongside my sister and brother-in-law, who conspired with me to take surprise photos of the occasion.
Basking in that happy moment, we had little clue that a deadly new strain of pneumonia had just been discovered in a city called Wuhan in China -- and the next four and a half months of our lives became our Engagement with Coronavirus.
Ivan proposed to Rana in New York City on December 21, 2019. Photo: Anya Hanson