Travel-blogging couple Elien Wijns and Liam Dorney say the sun, moon and stars aligned for their love story
It was, just like the song says, a total eclipse of the heart for newlyweds Elien Wijns and Liam Dorney.
Actually, their whole love story revolves around a series of several eclipses that saw them meet, get engaged and then wed, traveling all the way from their home countries in Australia and Belgium for a ceremony on a sandy lakeshore near McCall, Idaho, where they held hands — he in tux and top hat, she in a white gown — as sunshine gave way two minutes, 10 seconds of total darkness.
“It’s like a romantic dance between the sun and the moon,” Dorney says of the eclipse, days after his unique wedding on Monday. Notes his giddy bride Wijns, finishing her new husband’s thought: “And it forms a diamond ring. It’s something you have to feel more than words. It makes you speechless.”
Guests were taken with the grandeur and simplicity of the day. Before 21 friends and family, and basking in the afterglow of a rare astrological event, the couple read self-penned vows that were,”short and sweet and calm,” much like the eclipse itself, says pal of the groom Brandon Davenport, 27, a tour guide from Moyie Springs, Idaho.
“Watching the eclipse was 100 times more awesome than I thought it would be,” Davenport says, but his friends’ love brought the moment full circle. “I’ve never been particularly touched by a wedding, but I was in love with the day. It was related to the eclipse and it came straight from their heart — something that was passionate for both of them.”
When the subject of rings came up, both bride and groom knew exactly what they wanted, turning to London-based jeweler Karl Karter, who carried out their theme. “We wanted our rings to resemble the wedding and we got them designed like a total solar eclipse,” Dorney says.
The day, much like the eclipse was for thousands across the U.S., was all that the couple had hoped for.
“I get tears in my eyes every time I see one,” Dorney, 32, and a musician from Australia, tells PEOPLE. “I alway have said that there really is nothing that can beat a total solar eclipse, but definitely the wedding was the best thing that could ever happen to me.”
Adds Wins, 27, a native of Belgium and a flight attendant: “It was special that we got to see it with friends and family — to see it in their eyes, it was an amazing moment to share. It was like two minutes where everybody had the same feelings. I couldn’t have wished for a better day.”
The couple met in 2014. Wijns was visiting Australia with friends around the time of an eclipse that was occurring Down Under, and she ended up meeting Dorney after some of her pals had stayed at his house. After they grew close, both confided their love of sunsets, so as part of their courtship, they would meet each evening to take one in at the end of each day.
Later, as their love blossomed, they decided on a road trip to Melbourne that they would travel the world together to see as many eclipses as they could. Their love for travel and one another grew, and while visiting her family in Belgium, Dorney asked her parents for Wijns’ hand in marriage.
And he know just where he planned to propose. They couple, who write about their adventures on their blog, went on another eclipse-chasing adventure to Denmark’s Faroe Islands, an archipelago located between the Norwegian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. But with clouds covering much of the eclipse and the couple surrounded by a group of friends with little privacy, Dorney enjoyed the moment but waited three days afterwards to ask Wijns to marry him.
She was shocked but said yes. And true to form, the couple returned to Belgium, all the while planning their next eclipse together, which occurred in 2016 in Indonesia.
And when they began in earnest to plan a wedding, the Great American Eclipse was just the type of grand event they were looking for. The details proved tough — many people had already booked accommodations in Idaho, which offered prime eclipse viewing — but they managed to find a spot for their entire group. A longtime friend who owned a meat company even drove up from Austin, Texas, to prepare a special barbecue meal for their reception.
And just like Monday’s much-watched event, everything for their special day also seemed to align.
“We’re definitely dreaming of the next eclipse,” Wijns says, “It’s always going to be a part of our married life.”
Adds Dorney: “I guess romance is in the eye of the beholder, and for us it’s the most romantic thing.”