When a bride's big day was canceled because of coronavirus concerns, she and her florist teamed up to create a silver lining by spreading joy to others.
Keali Lay, 28, and her fiancé Jeff Scheider, 31, got engaged on Labor Day weekend and were set to have their wedding ceremony on March 21 in Bluffton, South Carolina. The cake, flowers and DJ were ready to go, but after President Donald Trump encouraged no gatherings larger than 10 people, Lay's venue called to cancel the ceremony.
"I was really, really upset, but I had known deep down that this was going to happen," Lay said. "We'd rather have our big day later and make sure everyone is safe. I was really, really emotional. We were just sad."
Now just five days out from their wedding, Lay set out to call her vendors and inform them that she had to cancel. She especially wanted to reach out to her florist, Angela Mandigo, because she knew her flowers had likely already come in -- which meant the company would be losing money.
Lay called Mandigo and informed her the wedding had been postponed. Not wanting the flowers to go to waste, Mandigo suggested that Lay donate the flowers to people in the community who may need cheering up.
"She was so grateful they weren't going to be thrown away," Mandigo said. "I asked her if we could donate them to make somebody happy and she said, 'Absolutely.' She was ecstatic."
The flowers were donated to several different people. One woman gave them to her friend who just found out she had colon cancer, another gave the flowers to her mom, who was coming out of the hospital, and another donation went to a woman who wanted to uplift the spirits of the people in her office who were working throughout the coronavirus concerns.
"It makes me feel a little better that this horrible thing has happened, [but] that something happy is coming out of it," Lay said.
Lay said her and Scheider will still get married on Saturday in an intimate ceremony with immediate family and friends near the water at Scheider's parent's home. Since their pastor would be unable to travel down for the ceremony, the best man got ordained online this week and will be marrying them.
Mandigo will also still bring a bouquet and a boutonniere for the bride and groom free of charge, just out of the kindness of her heart.
Lay said they will have another ceremony with all of their friends and family at a later date.
"The important thing is that we will still be married on that day we said we would and also have a bonus 'fun-iversary' for the later day," Lay said.
Mandigo said when her flower shop finishes arrangements for the few weddings they have left, they will work on making flowers for the nurses at nearby hospitals to get them through this time.
"I'm hoping as other flower shops and brides see this they will give back to the community and lift their spirits," Mandigo said.
While weddings all around the world get postponed due to coronavirus concerns, Lay encouraged fellow bridges to look at the bigger picture.
"You've already accomplished the best part of getting married, which is finding your partner and best friend," Lay said. "A wedding is just a big party, but marriage is so much more than that."