The offbeat bride: Rebekah, Designer/Wannabe Entomologist

Her offbeat partner: Shayne, Computer Programmer (AI)

Location & date of wedding: Beth Israel Hospital, Manhattan, NY — November 24, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: To start with, we were married in Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan.

Shayne and I knew as soon as we started dating that we would be together for a long time to come. About six months prior, we packed up everything we owned into a van and moved to Brooklyn. I was going to Parsons to get my MFA and Shayne was taking a leap of faith to become a full-time musician. A few months later, Shayne was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma and we decided not to wait any longer. We got married in the hospital a week after we got the diagnosis.


We thought we wouldn't have enough time to get wedding rings, so we decided on matching Converse – gray with pink shoelaces instead. We considered finding a tuxedo and dress last minute, but shirts and jeans are more our style. Then at the last minute, I went to a little jewelry store across the street and got simple silver rings.


We decided to not take one another's last names, but instead we intertwined the first two letters of my last name (Meek) and the last two of his (O'Neill) to come up with Miel. It also happens to mean honey in French and Spanish which is fitting considering we got matching honeybee tattoos seven months ago.


Oh, and instead of saying, “you may kiss the bride,” our officiator said, “you may high five the bride” – then we kissed.

Our biggest challenge: Shayne's inability to leave the hospital was our biggest obstacle. I did everything, from getting the marriage license to getting the rings, on my own or with a few people's help. Shayne weighed in on which shade of pink shoelaces and what kind of rings via cell phone in between procedures and talking to doctors.


The hospital, my family, friends, and co-workers were all amazing in helping put together the wedding in less than a week. The hospital let us get married in their “Urban Zen” room, my co-workers sent flowers for my bouquet, and since I was staying at the hospital, my mom and sister took care of everything at our apartment.

Shayne and I had to focus on his health most of that week, so we had to rely on our community to support us.


My favorite moment: After the ceremony, most folks had left for the night and Shayne and I were talking in the hallway outside of his hospital room. One of the coordinators of the “Urban Zen” program asked if he could read us the “Apache Wedding Blessing,” because it had been read to him and his wife at their wedding. Even though he was a complete stranger, it was that first moment we realized that we were married. We were now a team, which meant we could get through anything.

I was expecting to bawl through the ceremony, but that was the first time we cried, but (as cheesy as it sounds) they were tears of joy.


My advice for offbeat brides: Remember why you want to spend the rest of your life with your partner and try to capture that in your ceremony. We were lucky that our decision to get married and the actual ceremony were so close, so we didn't have time to perseverate over center pieces or invitations.


We're looking forward to celebrating again when Shayne gets better – one that celebrates our community and all of the support they've shown us. However, we were glad to have an intimate ceremony for just the two of us, which included: a couple of t-shirts, the loved one who were nearby, and a pair of silly, in-love grins.

We had originally struggled with the idea of getting legally married – we wanted to wait until it was legal for everyone. Once Shayne got sick, it logistically made sense for us to get married so that I could legally have the right to access his medical records, stay with him at the hospital, and make sure we had continuous insurance. We are grateful that since we have to wait a year or more to have the wedding celebration, that by then the legal side will be so far away, it will feel like two completely different events.


Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Meet our fave wedding vendors

Comments on This nontraditional hospital wedding

  1. Your wedding was beautiful as are both of you. You guys brought tears to my eyes this morning. I wish you the best of luck.

  2. This is what it’s all about. At the end of the day, a wedding is only the start of a marriage and whilst the details of a wedding are fun and important, what’s really important is supporting and loving one another through whatever gets thrown at you.

    What a nice story. Best of luck to both of you in the future

    • I can’t voice my point of view any better then Ruby did.
      But I will add my own congratulations and wishes for the best of luck in the future.

    • Agreed – this is what it’s all about!! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  3. What a touching wedding, puts it all back into perspective. Congratulations and all the best for the future and a speedy recovery

  4. This is so sweet!

    FYI- My friend’s common in law spouse kicked that same cancer; your honey can too!

  5. What a beautiful story. All the best for Shayne’s recovery and congratulations to you both!

  6. Yes yes yes!!!! THIS is what it’s all about! Congratulations and MANY happy years for you both!

  7. Ditto on the perspective comment — this wedding is great reminder of what the whole “marriage” thing is all about. Congratulations, and I hope that you are both in good health.

  8. What a lovely story…I’m all teary eyed and was really touched by your wedding tale. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations and best of luck to you and your husband!

  9. What a beautiful story! THIS is TRUE love. Congratulations & all the best to you both 🙂

  10. Thanks for the congrats and all of the good wishes! Shayne has been through about 6 months of treatment and is looking at another year, but he’s a fighter, so his going to kick this thing. More importantly, we’re so grateful to have each other through this struggle.

    If you’re interested, you can read more about what’s been going on with Shayne on our blog.

  11. This is the sweetest wedding I’ve ever heard of. Yes, I too have tears in my eyes. I really hope your husband is well again soon. And congratulations!

  12. I love your name change! It has so much meaning and the two of you sharing something new, as a family. Very beautiful wedding and marriage all around.

  13. Sincerely beautiful. What a testament to true love. I love your name change and your matching tattoos. You are wonderful. I will keep positive thoughts going your way always and I wish for a speedy recovery for Shayne!

  14. The smiles on your faces are so amazingly happy and genuine that they’re contagious! Thanks for sharing your beautiful wedding and making me grin this morning. Best of luck for a speedy recovery!

  15. i think this is my favorite OBB wedding yet! my fiance was diagnosed with cancer not long after we were engaged, and we considered doing the same thing. your pictures brought tears to my eyes because your wedding was so pure – what it’s all supposed to be about! best of luck and health to you both!

    • I was just about to comment the same exact thing. They ended up scheduling surgery for my fiance too quickly for us to organize any type of, what we’d been calling, 1st wedding. We’ve been really lucky and the docs are just recommending vigilant scanning rather than any other treatments now so we’re going ahead with our original wedding date. But, dag, has this whole cancer thing been a huge reminder of why we decided to get married, of what we want our marriage to mean.

      Best of luck fighting the cancer, Rebekah & Shayne, and I hope you have a very long and very, very happy marriage!

  16. This brought tears to my eyes, at work no doubt! I’ve worked a long time in the medical profession, largely due to my own disorder/illness. I am thankful, happy, and delighted that you guys got a chance to do it up even with the diagnosis. You guys are in my prayers, and Shayne, fight hard! You’re not alone. 🙂

  17. Your pictures are so beautiful – I don’t think I’d have known it was in a hospital if it wasn’t explicitly mentioned. The lighting is so great! And the bride’s outfit is totally awesome, I <3 it.

    The best of luck to you both!

  18. This is absolutely gorgeous–the story, the wedding, everything. I wish you guys every bit of of joy and happiness that you deserve.

  19. I think this is one of the absolute best weddings OBB has ever featured. I wish you both the best of luck. Thank you for reminding us all what a wedding truly should be!

  20. That was an amazing beautiful story. That’s what a wedding/marriage is all about! Peace and best wishes to you both!!!!

  21. Congratulations. The reasons you gave for getting married are the reasons all committed couples should be able to get married. Love the shoes!!!!!!

  22. What you said about not wanting to get married legally until anyone could – in a way, you now have a unique perspective on some of the issues of marriage! You can say, “Thank goodness we had the opportunity to access these rights, as is made things much easier for us as my husband was going through his cancer treatments! This is why marriage rights are important.”

    Well, if you want, of course. I don’t want to make it sound like you HAVE to use your experience as activism! 😉

  23. that is so effing sweet. i love the last name change- really you two are too adorable. best of luck and love to you both!

  24. WOW what a cool wedding! congrats hope the bride and groom are doing well….

  25. This was such a beautiful story/wedding! I wish you guys an amazing future, and much luck with the next celebration!

  26. COngrats! A beautifully heart felt and inspiring wedding and story. Best of luck to both!!! Thanks for sharing it with us….

  27. This is the first time I have ever cried reading a OBB post, your story is so touching and inspirational, thank you for sharing it! Wishing you both good luck and better health 🙂

  28. That was lovely, the only time I have EVER even considered wanting to maybe possibly get married one day. The last name thing was the best idea ever! Congratulations!

  29. This made me cry but not in a sad kind of way, I was overjoyed that you two made it official. If you can get through the cancer treatment together in the first part of your marriage, you’re on a road to success. My mom just got done with her treatment and in some weird way, its the best thing that has ever happened to my parents marriage. They are more in love than ever and it has made their marriage stronger. I am sure this experience will do the same thing for you two. I wish you the best in marriage as well as in health. You both are in my prayers!

    P.S. Shayne, kicks that cancer’s butt!

  30. zomg, dude, we’re doing ‘you may now high five’ too! Here I thought I was a beautiful & unique snowflake 😉 congratulations, and sending you positive thoughts for your husband’s recovery.

  31. you two are both adorable! and i can’t tell you how much i love your last name in every way possible. congrats on your marriage.

  32. As a fellow cancer patient/OBT lady, I absolutely love this- bravo, Rebekah and Shanyne! And I have a little anecdote to share: I know another couple who did this exact same thing. They were in their twenties, seemingly healthy, and he got diagnosed with colon cancer, a pretty serious case. Though the outlook wasn’t great, they got married in the hospital as a gesture of faith and hope to one another. That was over thirty years ago, they are still married, he is healthy, and they have two grown daughters. I hope your story will be similar!

    • Hey Shannon – it’s been an up and down year. Shayne was nearly finished with treatment when he was diagnosed with secondary brain tumors. He’s had 15+ rounds of intensive chemo and just finished up a bone marrow transplant. He’s recovering well and we’re planning on taking a real honeymoon to Miami this December.

      You can read more on our blog:

  33. congrats and happy one year anniversary!!! have a great time on your honeymoon you both deserve it. Be safe….

Comments are closed.