Two nurses got married in a church with photos of their loved ones in the pews
Published on: April 25, 2020 10:22 (EAT)
Only a handful of people were allowed in the church for Clare and Mel Keefer’s wedding because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the couple was still surrounded by the smiling faces of family and friends. Their families surprised the couple Friday by putting photographs of their guests in the pews at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in St. Francesville, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge. The Keefers are both nurses in the Baton Rouge area — he works in the ER and she’s treating Covid-19 patients in ICU. Mel Keefer, 35, said he met 25-year-old Clare when they both worked at Baton Rouge General Medical Center. Mel Keefer told CNN that he knew his mom, Pam Brignac, had gone to the church before the ceremony, but he thought she were just putting up flowers and other decorations. “It was a cool surprise,” he said. “It meant a lot, it was pretty crazy.” They both have big families and had been planning to have about a hundred guests. Instead they were joined by Mel’s mom and three of his cousins, Clare’s parents, two sisters, her grandmother, and her aunt. The priest and a photographer were also there. Dozens of photos, printed on computer paper, were hung with clothes pins from string that stretched across the pews. Keefer said they considered postponing the wedding so their loved ones wouldn’t be left out, but they’ve been looking forward to it since he proposed in August. “The most important thing is that we wanted to be married,” he said. “We didn’t want to put something off that we were ready for just to have a bigger ceremony.” Clare’s father, Jim Seghers, wore a mask and gloves when he walked her into the church and put his arms around the couple at the start of the service. “Once I saw Clare coming down the aisle everything else was just a blur. That was what I was focused on,” Keefer said. “I was just looking at her.” Keefer said he was thankful that the church let them go through with the service and that their moms worked really hard to get it ready. “I think they were more stressed about it than Clare and I,” Keefer said. “They wanted it to be perfect.” Keefer didn’t know where the photos came from, but it turned out that his mom and Clare’s mom, Michelle Seghers, had secretly contacted everyone on the guest list. “It took them about two or three weeks to receive them and print them out,” Clare’s sister Mary Seghers Shaffo told CNN. Keefer said they walked around to look at the photos and were touched that so many people wanted to be with them. Then the newlyweds got another surprise. They had shared the ceremony on Facebook Live, so people could watch from home, but some watched the video from their cars in the church parking lot and cheered and honked their horns when the Keefers left the church. There was champagne and a small cake, which the Keefers weren’t expecting. The group watched from a safe distance as the couple cut the cake together and shared their first dance. “We thought we were going to be doing it in front of our parents,” Keefer said. Keefer said they had always planned to have their reception at their house so they’ll get everyone together once things settle down. They couldn’t go on their Jamaican honeymoon, so they’re going back to work to treat Covid-19 patients.