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.
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