Despite bans on gatherings and social distancing becoming the norm during the coronavirus pandemic, a New York City couple still found a way to celebrate their love with a surprise wedding.
Reilly Jennings, 28 and Amanda Wheeler, 38, got married on Friday as their friend, Matt Wilson, officiated from his fourth floor apartment window in the Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights.
The couple had originally planned to get married in October, but fearing their venue would be closed and travel restrictions becoming more severe, they decided to move up their nuptials. Jennings also told NBC News that the couple was worried about the financial cost of a wedding as the gym where Wheeler works had to close due to the pandemic.
stephsine via Instagram
Jennings and Wheeler rushed to the marriage bureau on Thursday to get a copy of their marriage license, which they received without issue. But as they were about to leave their apartment to return for Friday’s ceremony, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the marriage bureau would be closing indefinitely.
“I definitely panicked,” Jennings told NBC News. “I was freaking out a little bit. I just wanted to get it done.”
Hoping they would still be able to get married, Jennings and Wheeler messaged their friends, trying desperately to find someone who was certified to officiate a wedding in New York City. Luckily, they discovered that their friend, Matt Wilson, was certified by the city clerk to perform such a ceremony. He enthusiastically agreed.
we were supposed to get married in October. the reality of that happening in our current climate seemed slim. Amanda’s business closed and everything has just blown up. we got our marriage license yesterday and were walking out the door to get hitched at the courthouse when the mayor announced the immediate closure of the marriage bureau. after several hours of crying (& drinking), one of our dear friends @iknowmattwilson sent us a message saying he was ordained and could marry us through the state of NY (nyc has weird laws that you have to be married by someone ordained by this county clerk). we said YES, finished our work meetings, walked down the street to his apartment and got married below his fourth story window as the neighborhood looked on alongside 4 of our best friends @kktapper @harold_gibbons @joselynmujica (& @erikahenningsen through a car because #socialdistancing). what a day. amidst the uncertainty and despair we all feel right now, marrying the love of my life in the most NYC moment was perfect. i’ve waited 4 years to call @wheelsfit my wife and this was all just the cherry on top of the love i feel every day. ❤️
A post shared by Reilly Jennings (@reillyjennings) on Mar 20, 2020 at 6:39pm PDT
After finishing up a work call, Jennings and Wheeler put on their wedding attire and headed out to the street to get married.
In a video that has since gone viral, Wilson officiated the ceremony, reading an excerpt from the novel, "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel García Márquez. The couple then exchanged “I dos” with neighbors and friends, all from safe distances away, cheering happily.
“It was perfect, classic New York,” Jennings told NBC News. “Everything I love about this city was encompassed in that moment.”
As for their honeymoon? In true self-quarantine style, the couple pulled their mattress into their living room and watched Netflix together.