Groom in Fort Kent and bride in Philippines marry online due to pandemic

FORT KENT, Maine — A Fort Kent groom and his bride from Isabela, Philippines, married over the Internet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Andy Lee Theriault, 43, and Catherine Hamsairi Sanidad, 35, married Sunday morning, Nov. 8, in a virtual ceremony that included tearful exchanges of vows by both and was attended by family and friends from both countries. 

The couple met 13 months ago on the dating website Christian Filipina and married over the website

They have yet to meet in person as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but the couple talked for hours every day on the Internet during their courtship, including Facetime calls.

Catherine was the first to share her vows during the ceremony. 

“First I want to thank God because I know that all my prayers are answered and all my dreams have come true,” her vows read in part. “I praise God for you, for all your love and constant friendship. My love, a year ago you captured my heart by being exactly who you are, the sweetest most loving, compassionate and sensitive person I have ever known.” 

Andy also paused tearfully while proclaiming his vows to his bride. 

“I know I am not perfect but I love you,” he said. “You are an angel and I just hope to give you a good life forever. I love you Catherine.”

Andy Lee Theriault (far right) gathers with family in Fort Kent on his wedding day. (Courtesy of Andy Lee Theriault)

Andy Theriault said he is excited to travel to the Philippines in March to spend time with his bride and fill out the necessary paperwork to hopefully bring her to northern Maine. 

“I want to give her a hug and kiss her; that’s my first thing,” Andy Theriault said. “She’s gonna show me her village and family and friends.”

The newly wedded couple have large families, with Andy, who works as a truck driver for Theriault Boys Inc. having three brothers and two sisters. Catherine comes from a family of one sister and five brothers. 

The daughter of a farmer father who retired from the Philippines military after 22 years of service, Catherine Theriault said she is looking forward to introducing her new husband to her family as well as to cooking him balut, a meal common to her area which is prepared from fertilized duck egg.

“I want Andy to try that and want to teach him how to go fishing,” she said. 

Catherine Theriault is also excited to explore Fort Kent with her husband. 

“First I want to meet the whole family and I want to give them hugs and maybe go around the town because everytime we talk he goes to McDonalds to buy breakfast and he always tells me this is the gas station, the hospital, the church,” she said. 

Catherine Theriault added she is also looking forward to seeing in person “the cars, the big trucks and the ‘black animals — the moose.’” 

Claire Theriault, step-mother of the groom, served as a witness to the wedding and said Catherine is a welcome member of the Theriault family. 

“We all love her like a daughter, and sister,” Claire Theriault said. “We were all there for [Andy’s] big day.” 

Catherine Theriault (center) celebrates with family and friends in Isabela, Philippines her marriage to Andy Lee Theriault of Fort Kent. (Courtesy of Catherine Theriault)

However, some members of the community have expressed doubts about the validity of the union due to its nontraditional nature.

“We hear it all the time,” Clarie Theriault said. “He had been talking back and forth with this girl for 13 months; so have we. She seems genuine. As long as Andy is happy that’s all the family wants.”

Vilma Encarnacion, a mother figure from the bride’s church in Isabela, also served as a witness to the wedding.

Pierre Plourde was best man and Genevieve Toledo was maid of honor. 

An earlier version of this story contained an error. Claire Theriault is Andy Theriault’s stepmother.

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