It wasn't how they expected to tie the knot, but Taylor Cole and Cameron Larson's wedding turned out to be "the perfect day."
PEOPLE can exclusively announce that the actress married her longtime love on the shores of Lake Tahoe on June 20. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Cole, 36, and Larson, 42, made the decision to wed with just an officiant and a handful of others present.
Though they were initially preparing for a wedding of over 100 people at Tahoe Beach Club, a local resort on Lake Tahoe, over time it "became increasingly clear that it would be unsafe for guests to travel," recalled the bride, whose Hallmark Channel original movie Matching Hearts airs Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
So last month, the couple — who also met on the set of a Hallmark movie! — decided to alter their plans. Though they discussed postponing the wedding until next year, "after talking it over with our parents, we decided we didn't want to wait," Cole explained. "We couldn't wait — we were too excited to profess our love and commit to each other. It sounds a little cheesy, but when you know you know, and we wanted our forever to start as soon as possible."
Their videographer, Jordan Drew, came up with a way to livestream the event so they could still share the big day with friends and family from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Cole even walked down the altar with a phone attached to her right arm with a blue band, connecting her to her father via FaceTime.
"It was still heartbreaking not to have friends and family at the wedding, and not having my dad walk me down the aisle took a while to wrap my head around," Cole said. "He's made me who I am today and his best advice was always 'choose happy' — so I made the most of the moment and ordered a blue arm band (a.k.a. something blue) so he could walk me down the aisle."
"Luckily, it worked well and several of our virtual guests commented how sweet that moment was for them — as it was for all of us," she added. "Both Cam and I were crying when he gave me away."
Their original venue, the Tahoe Beach Club, was hit with construction delays due to the pandemic. But the resort connected the couple with a local family who allowed them to hold the ceremony in their backyard, right on the lake.
"It turned out to be the perfect location and we felt so blessed and grateful," Cole said. "To have this family open up their gorgeous home and their arms to two complete strangers meant so much and is a major reason we love the Tahoe community."
The couple worked with wedding planner/designer Courtney Cyphers, who also served as their required witness. They opted for "a bit of a moody color palette," striking a fall feel with deep oranges and blues — "it just felt like Lake Tahoe colors to us," Cole said.
Cole wore a vintage Hollywood-inspired Vera Wang dress, with hair and makeup by Sarah Santana. Her producer husband wore Hugo Boss, and both had masks made by their "amazing and thoughtful friends" Jenny and Robert Buckley.
"Though we knew there would only be a limited amount of people at the ceremony, just our officiant (who was originally a groomsman and had already gone through the process to be ordained for the day), our witness, musician Roland Stone, photography (the amazing Casey Simon) and our videographer Jordan Drew, it was important for us to still be safe and maintain social distancing," Cole explained. "Our officiant also quarantined prior to the wedding — safety first!"
Coincidentally, as they were planning the wedding, Cole was filming Matching Hearts, which happens to be "very similar" to her and Larson's real-life love story.
"We were friends for several years before dating and I even tried playing match maker with Cam, attempting to set him up with a few friends of mine," she said. "Luckily, similar to the movie, none of the matches worked and we both realized we were perfect for each other."
In the end, Cole said, their wedding "was unconventional, it was unique for sure, and it was definitely very 2020."
"But we made the best of it, and it really turned out to be the perfect day — our own Hallmark version of love in the time of COVID," she added. "We couldn't be happier and we can't wait to celebrate with our family and friends when it's safe to do so again."