Published: Saturday, Apr. 25th, 2020
Socially distanced elopements are quickly becoming the newest wedding ceremony trend in the wake of COVID-19, and AMM Minister Sean Kelley of Ohio just officiated one of the most extraordinary ones we’ve heard of yet.
To start, the ceremony took place at an assisted living center (not your typical wedding venue), and the 92-year-old guest of honor was the mother of the groom and the grandmother of the wedding offciant.
Like so many other love stories, it all started when Sean’s father, Harold, reconnected with his former high school sweetheart, Lorrie, and got engaged over the holiday season. They planned their big day, drew up a guest list (which included the bride’s sister flying in from England), and sent out their invitations in February.
Then, the Coronavirus happened.
Along with countless other couples, Harold and Lorrie were forced to scrap their original wedding plans and itinerary. Luckily, they had obtained their marriage license before the state of Ohio stopped issuing them, and Sean was ordained and ready to officiate - but there was still one all-important person missing from the picture: Harold’s mother and Sean’s grandmother, Christine. At age 92, she wanted nothing more than to attend her son's wedding ceremony.
But Christine was also residing at Windsor Estates Assisted Living center, which was under a government-mandated lockdown – meaning that no visitors were allowed in, and no residents were allowed out.
Concerned about Christine and her age, and with no clear end in sight to Coronavirus-related shutdowns, Sean and his family felt that re-scheduling the ceremony was simply not an option. Having her present for the wedding was of the utmost importance, and they were determined to make it happen.
With the help of the facility’s director, they arranged for Sean to officiate his father’s ceremony in an open space just outside a set of double glass doors – so that his grandmother could witness the wedding from a safe distance while listening on a cell phone.
On April 4, 2020, with Sean poised and ready to officiate outside of the assisted living center, Harold and Lorrie standing together six feet away, and Christine watching from behind panes of glass, their efforts culminated in a meaningful, memorable, and socially distant wedding ceremony.
Other family members and loved ones - including Lorrie’s sister in England! - were able to witness the ceremony too, by virtually beaming in and sharing the experience via Zoom and FaceTime. Sean said the ingenuity and success of the ceremony at this time is a “true sign that when two people love each other enough, nothing can stop them!”
This particular ceremony might be hard for Sean to top as an officiant, though.
“Of my future weddings, I don't know that any will hold a place in my heart quite like marrying my father amidst a global pandemic, with my 92-year-old grandma able to be a part of it. The fact that, despite all else, we were able to perform this ceremony, [it] means everything to me,” Sean told us.
And in a time of much uncertainty, we at American Marriage Ministries are honored to have played a special role in bringing this family together – safely – in love.
Read AMM Minister Sean Kelley's Q&A about this unique wedding ceremony - and how he got ordained online, registered, and prepared for officiating during a global pandemic!
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