Nurse Gets Married in Times Square After Moving to N.Y.C. to Help with Coronavirus
A Texas nurse tied the knot in the heart of New York City after traveling to the Big Apple to work on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Amanda Stuart and Ronnie Dooley were married in Times Square Sunday night, PEOPLE can report exclusively. They said “I do” with masks on, in front of their family and Stuart’s fellow travel nurses from Coney Island Hospital where she is assigned as a team lead by the disaster staffing agency Krucial Staffing.
“You love me in ways I could never have imagined,” Stuart, 42, said in her vows. “You have truly made my life complete. All the worries, the stress and fears I've carried for so many years are silenced in your presence.”
“You are the one and only who has shown me true love, compassion, selflessness,” Dooley, 37, reciprocated in his vows. “Through thick and thin and perseverance, compassion and true love for us has always superseded anything that life has thrown at us.”
“There's no other way to describe you but perfect — perfect for me,” he continued.
Stuart and Dooley’s love story is bittersweet. In 2011, when Dooley’s father was badly hurt in a tragic motorcycle accident, Stuart worked as his nurse in the intensive care unit for 14 consecutive days until he died from his injuries. She was asked to speak at his funeral, and Stuart and Dooley, who have three kids between them from previous relationships, stayed close. Their relationship turned romantic nearly two years ago on Memorial Day weekend when Stuart drove eight hours to go on their first date.
"We have been inseparable from that day," she tells PEOPLE.
Stuart and Dooley were originally set to be married on May 30 in Stuart’s home state of Arkansas but when COVID-19 began spreading around the U.S. it was ultimately canceled. With her wedding on hold, Stuart traveled to New York from Midland, Texas, where they live now to care for coronavirus patients in the city, which is the epicenter of the pandemic.
“When she got here, it was just kind of a run of the mill joke with her friends, like, ‘Hey, you should get married here,’ " Dooley tells PEOPLE. “And she said, ‘Yeah, that'd be a great idea.’ Well then, everybody just kind of pitched in and got on board, and it just kind of snowballed.”
Strangers from all over the city began donating their time and talents to give Stuart her dream wedding under these unique circumstances. The director of emergency management at Krucial Staffing, Alexandria Render, first got the plans off the ground. Kerry Botensten and Peri-Gay Walker stepped in as wedding coordinators; Blake Jamieson filmed video; Meagan Rachman of Rachman Photography took photos of the happy couple.
Red and white flowers — in a nod to the bride’s love for Guns N’ Roses — were donated by Ode a la Rose. DJ Lauren Mayhew provided the music, including the couple’s first-dance song “Nobody But You” by Blake Shelton.
The cake — two-tiers of chocolate cake and coconut cake — was made by PEOPLE associate food editor, Ana Calderone. (Editor's Note: That's me!) It was decorated with coordinating red and white florals and stenciled with the words “love rocks” in black buttercream.
Stuart’s fellow nurses served as bridesmaids. (Though they work in close proximity together every day, each nurse wore a mask and tried to adhere to social distancing guidelines.)
“We're not used to this kind of stuff — we're from a small town,” Dooley added to PEOPLE during the ceremony. “It is surreal.”
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