Two emergency room nurses said "I do" over the weekend with pictures of family and friends due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Clare Seghers, 25, and Mel Keefer, 35, met three years ago working in the emergency room ward at Baton Rouge General Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The medical professionals had been planning their nuptials for months and were hoping to spend their big day with loved ones, but the escalating COVID-19 crisis got in the way.
"We were just happy to be there and be out of the hospital for a minute," Keefer said. "Delaying the wedding didn’t make sense for us so we tried not to worry about things out of our control."
They invited 200 people to the ceremony but had to cut it to just 10 of their closest family members to keep with social distancing guidelines from the Center of Disease Control.
But Keefer’s mom wasn’t about to let the couple walk down the aisle without a few familiar faces lining the pews. She got together with a handful of cousins and put up printed headshots of nearly 100 guests who otherwise would have been present. Keefer had no idea until he reached the alter.
"I turned around and couldn’t believe it," Keefer said. "It was crazy to see because I know how much time and effort they had to put in to print all those out. It felt really nice."
But when Keefer saw his bride, the pictures seemed to melt away.
"I saw Clare and that’s all I had in my head," Keefer said. "Everything else became a blur just standing there with her during the ceremony."
As the newlyweds made their way out of Mount St. Carmel Church in St. Francisville, Louisiana, family, friends and co-workers secretly waited in cars to send well-wishes from a distance.
"They were all honking the horns and cheering, it was a heartwarming surprise," Keefer said.
With the ceremony over, it was back to the front lines for Seghers and Keefer as the battle against COVID-19 continues. Keefer, who now works at West Feliciana Parish Hospital, revealed the wedding came as a short but much-needed breather from the ER room.
"It was a good break for both of us to put a lot of sad and negative things to the side and focus on each other for a day,” Keefer said. “It felt like a vacation from everything that’s going on and I'm thankful for my family and friends that helped us celebrate our marriage."
Keefer added the couple intends to have a wedding reception at their Louisiana home in the fall. Plans for a honeymoon are on hold.