Couple separated by Canada-U.S. border closure gets married to be reunited

It wasn’t the wedding Jeremy Ernst and his American partner Michael Laducer dreamed of, but after seven months of being separated, the couple was eager to tie the knot.

Ernst lives in Winnipeg while Laducer lives just across the U.S. border in North Dakota.

The two met online about four years ago and had taken weekly drives to see one another.

That abruptly stopped in March when the border shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s hard to go through that, not knowing any plan of when you’re going to see each other again (and) when the next time you’re going to hold each other (and) be part of each other’s families,” Laducer said.

The rules, as they stood in Canada, didn’t allow for the couple to be reunited because they weren’t married.

“We hadn’t made any plans and hadn’t set a date or we weren’t officially engaged but we had talked about it,” Ernst said.

“All this did was reaffirm, after so many months of not seeing each other, that this can’t continue. We both want to be together. It’s not an option to say we will call it quits because the border is closed forever now. That made us decide then and there.”

Ernst flew to Minneapolis for their wedding on Sept. 29.

“It was very emotional to see him get off the plane, and actually get to hug him. We cried. After all of that, I couldn’t believe he was sitting there and then two days later we are signing the papers to get married,” Laducer said.

“It was very bing-bada-boom — it just happened,” he said. “We are just like, today was our wedding day, do you comprehend that?’”

Days after their wedding, the federal government in Canada announced a change to the border restriction rules that would have allowed the couple to be reunited without getting married, but the two have no regrets.

“We definitely made the right decision. It was a good time for us,” Ernst said.

The two came back to Canada after their wedding and have enjoyed spending time actually together, and not just looking at each other through a screen.

“It’s all the little things you don’t think of – like seeing them in the morning when they wake up, getting the chance to give them a kiss. Or you’re sitting there watching a TV show and you can share a snack,” Ernst said.

Laducer echoed the sentiment.

“Being in the same room together, just looking over at them and holding their hand, just those split seconds that couples take for granted and just do, we couldn’t do. It was those little things,” Laducer said.

“The biggest thing for me was just going to sleep at night and saying goodnight and waking up and he’s there. That first day, I got kind of emotional because you’re here, right here. For me, that was a big thing.”

“When our quarantine ended a few days ago, we just went and got food and it was nice, just being in the car together, listening to the radio, and singing to something stupid on the radio, grabbing some food and going home. That was nice. It was very nice and I’m very thankful for it.”

The couple wants others who are in a similar situation to hold out hope for that moment when they can see one another again.

“I want people to see that there are happy spots,” Laducer said.

“People do have happy spots and this is ours and we are very thankful for it. We wish anyone the best of luck in a similar situation.”

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