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Amanda Stuart postponed her wedding with her long-term fiancee and resigned from her job at an ER in Midland, Texas to care for COVID-19 patients in New York. Since her arrival, she has been working steady 12-hour shifts, taking an hour-long bus trip each day from her Manhattan hotel to a hospital in Coney Island. The shared experience of working on the front lines of the pandemic created a tight bond among the nurses on her bus, and as they exchanged personal details during the commute, Amanda says, “Many of them heard I had to cancel my wedding and began joking about having [my fiancee] Ronnie fly out here and just walk to Times Square to get married.”
The idea of a wedding in the COVID-stricken city might have sounded like a joke at first, but perhaps a life-affirming act like marriage could be a welcome counter to the stress and emotional turmoil of the pandemic. When Amanda’s fiancee decided to visit her in New York, the joking notion gave birth to a plan: “I felt deep inside me not only did I want to get married but I felt all the frontline heroes needed something positive to look forward to at this point in our journey,” and a widespread group agreed.
As in a Cinderella story for the COVID-19 era, aid came from all sorts of unexpected sources. The Times Square stairs, normally prohibited for private use—and now denuded of the usual crowd of tourists—was made available for the ceremony. There were also mysterious gifts that appeared as if by magic: “I had complete strangers provide a cake, a wedding dress, shoes, jewelry, music, and flowers for my wedding, [and] the NYPD & FDNY blocked off the ‘red stairs’ where the wedding would be held,” Amanda relates.
The festivities were a combination of the fanciful and the practical. “They made me a wedding dress out of PPE, lingerie out of scrubs, and my leg garter for my something borrowed. Something new and something blue [were made] out of a piece of scrubs detailed with a one of a kind Coney Island face patch from the Coney Island fire department crew.” Masked fire-fighters, NYPD members, nurses, friends, and family looked on as the couple (also wearing masks) exchanged vows, and nurses and other front line workers practiced social distancing as they danced in the streets following the wedding.
The bride will always treasure that special night. “We realized how much we ALL needed that moment… My dream come true was something I never, ever could have imagined! A small town girl from Arkansas with the wedding of a lifetime!”
For the full story on Amanda’s NYC wedding, see the story on WBTV.