Bride Celebrates Wedding with Mannequin Version of Groom After He Gets Food Poisoning: 'Bittersweet'

"We do believe that with the hand we were dealt, [the wedding] could not have gone any better than it did," says Christine Karmire, who had already postponed their nuptials twice

Stick Gannon
"Stick Gannon" and Christine Karmire at their wedding . Photo: Bri Hines Photography

A North Carolina bride made the best of a sticky situation after her groom fell ill with "severe food poisoning" on their wedding day.

Christine Karmire turned what could've been a wedding nightmare into something to smile about when she celebrated her big day at The Victorian in Youngsville alongside a mannequin version of her groom, Gannon Karmire, while he was sick in the hospital.

Instead of canceling their nuptials altogether, Christine tells PEOPLE that she had her groom there in spirit: celebrating with what she affectionately calls "Stick Gannon," a rolling steamer with pool cues that was dressed in a suit, with Gannon's smiling face mounted at the top on an iPad.

"When we think back on our wedding, bittersweet is the first word that comes to mind," says Christine, 26. "We were so happy to finally have our friends and family together, but of course, it did not play out how we had imagined."

"We do believe that with the hand we were dealt, it could not have gone any better than it did," she adds. "We still felt loved and celebrated by everyone and are so appreciative of their support."

Stick Gannon
"Stick Gannon" and Christine Karmire at their wedding. Bri Hines Photography

Christine says their one-of-a-kind ceremony happened on Nov. 14, shortly after Gannon, 28, woke up feeling ill.

"He wasn't feeling sick enough for us to contemplate seeing a doctor until about two hours before the ceremony was supposed to start, and then it got worse very quickly," she explains. "At that point, we were just nervous for his health and the status of the wedding was an afterthought."

It was far from the first hiccup that the pair had run into while planning their nuptials. They initially planned to wed in September 2020 but were forced to postpone due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

After tying the knot with immediate family in their backyard in July 2020, the pair rescheduled their nuptials for September 2021. But just one week before the wedding, Christine tested positive for COVID-19. Once again, their date was postponed.

"All of our vendors were so gracious and accommodating," Gannon notes. "And we are so thankful to Brian from The Victorian for handling all of this for us while we focused on Christine getting healthy."

So when November finally rolled around and Gannon fell ill, the couple was determined to carry on with their nuptials, despite the unfortunate circumstances.

Stick Gannon
Gannon and Christine Karmire taking wedding photos, which were snapped at a later date. Bri Hines Photography

Wanting to ensure that her day was still special, Christine says Brian, one of the owners at The Victorian, came up with the idea for "Stick Gannon."

"He thought it would be good comic relief for everyone in attendance if I made a traditional reception entrance with 'Stick Gannon,' " she explains. "It was meant to lighten the mood and encourage people to enjoy both the company gathered and the already prepared dinner."

However, they didn't expect the guests to unexpectedly take to "Stick Gannon" — but as the night continued on, partygoers kept dancing and posing in photos with the makeshift mannequin.

The Victorian even shared a video of the night on their TikTok account, showing Christine and her guests dancing and partying with the mannequin while Gannon was recovering in the hospital.

"He had severe food poisoning & is doing better now! 😅," the venue captioned the video.

Stick Gannon
"Stick Gannon" and Christine Karmire and their bridal party at the wedding. Bri Hines Photography

Like many, Gannon says even he found humor in "Stick Gannon," though it was disappointing to miss his wedding.

"The whole situation was really funny," he explains. "Even though I know we missed out on what would have been a great day together, I know there will be so many more in the future."

"A few days later, getting to look back at the pictures and videos everyone was sending me with 'Stick Gannon' made it well worth the bit of sadness that came along too," he adds. "Frankly, he danced better than me!"

Since posting the TikTok video on Nov. 15, The Victorian's post has gone viral with over 57,000 likes and over 2,400 shares.

"It was a bit of a shock because neither one of us are avid social media users," Christine says. "We still cannot believe all of the attention it has received, positive and negative."

Stick Gannon
Christine and Gannon Karmire at their wedding for a brief moment after he was released from the hospital. Bri Hines Photography

That negative attention has included criticism of their decision to carry on with the wedding despite Gannon's illness.

"Due to current visitor policies at our local hospital, Christine would not have been allowed in," Gannon explains of the situation. "Christine's brother Eric, who was with me [outside of] the hospital, was in constant communication with her throughout the night."

"We originally planned for me to make it back for a small ceremony after dinner," he continues. "As we've seen, nothing ever really goes to plan and so while I made a brief appearance at the end of the reception so Christine could take me home, we simply weren't able to [do more]."

Adds Gannon, "I am so glad our friends and family still got to enjoy time with her and the event we worked so hard to plan did not go to waste."

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In addition to the accommodations that their venue made, the couple says their photographer, Bri Hines, was also extremely helpful in making sure their day was one to remember — even if not everything took place on Nov. 14.

"Bri offered to shoot wedding portrait photos for us after Gannon was feeling better and The Victorian was kind enough to have us back to do this," Christine explains. "These images are so special to us and Bri really captured the love we have for each other. We can't wait to continue to look back on them in the years to come."

Looking ahead, Christine and Gannon say they are excited about their future together, though there are no plans to hold another wedding celebration.

"Seeing as this is now the third iteration of our wedding plans, we do not foresee another ceremony or reception," Christine says. "We are just so thankful we are both now healthy. We hope to save up for an extended honeymoon in the future and continue to make memories together."

"We have been together for almost eight years and in that time, have learned a lot about what makes a relationship — and let me tell you, it's not about having a party," she adds. "We will cherish the memories of our small family ceremony and continue to laugh at the debacle this situation turned out to be. And one day, we look forward to telling our kids this whole wedding saga."

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