After canceling her wedding reception due to the pandemic, one woman made the most of the situation by wearing her reception dress on another very important day — to get her vaccine

By Hanna Flanagan
April 15, 2021 04:04 PM
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Sarah Studley wedding dress vaccine
Credit: Richie Stever/University of Maryland Medical System

One Baltimore woman isn't letting her wedding reception dress go to waste!

When Sarah Studley finally got her coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine appointment, she decided the special occasion was worthy of an equally-special dress — so she slipped on the retro-inspired A-line satin dress with a polka-dot tulle overlay that she never got to wear due to the pandemic.

"I hadn't gotten gussied up in the past year, so I wanted to take this moment to celebrate for myself," Studley, 39, told the Washington Post.

Photos snapped on-site captured the newlywed rolling up her sleeve in the formal dress (which she paired with peep-toe-pumps, a face mask and sunglasses) before getting her shot at the M&T Bank Stadium Mass Vaccination Site, a partnership by the Maryland Department of Health, the University of Maryland Medical System, the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Julie Lefkowitz, the nurse who administered Studley's vaccination told the Washington Post she definitely "stood out," adding, "You don't see many people come in with white frilly dresses. I wanted to understand her story and be a part of it."

Sarah Studley wedding dress vaccine
Credit: Richie Stever/University of Maryland Medical System

"She just glowed," Lefkowitz continued. "She was super upbeat and excited, and you could just tell that she was trying to do her part to get the world back to normal," Lefkowitz said. "It definitely brought a lot of joy. We all need positive, and this is positive."

Speaking with PEOPLE, Studley says she "had no idea" the dress would bring joy to those around her.

"I was taking an opportunity to seize joy for myself, because I feel like that's something you have to actively cultivate when we're in the middle of a global pandemic," she adds, explaining that it was a "beautiful, unintended" bonus that people working at the vaccine site also enjoyed her outfit.

When Lefkowitz asked about the story behind her glamorous appointment outfit, Studley explained that she and her then-boyfriend Brian Horlor got engaged in November 2019. They planned a 100-person wedding in San Diego, according to the Post, but ultimately tied the knot at the San Diego County clerk's office due to the pandemic.

"It became very clear that it was going to be a very bad idea for us to proceed," Studley told the outlet of their original nuptial plans. "It was not what I would have chosen. But there were definitely things about it that were wonderful."

Studley and Horlor wore formal attire for the small ceremony, but they didn't host a reception. So instead of letting the polka-dot dress just hang in her closet, Studley saw a Twitter photo of a woman wearing a black-tie gown to get her vaccine appointment and got inspired.

"It was an excellent idea," Studley said. "It resonated with me so much because things have been really dark and the idea of getting a vaccine is such a bright moment."

"It's not a cure, it's not the end of the pandemic, but it's certainly an important turning point," she continued. "For me, personally, getting a vaccine means being able to hug my 81-year-old father without worrying, and going grocery shopping without worrying that I'm going to infect the workers."

When asked if she knows what she's going to wear to get the second dose of her vaccine while speaking with PEOPLE, Studley quips, "I don't know!"

"I should've done it for the second trip because now I've set myself up with an impossible task," she jokes.

Studley tells PEOPLE she's received positive feedback from brides facing similar situations since her story went viral: "The idea is resonating with them."

"A lot of us didn't get the wedding of our dream," she shares. "It's time to seize opportunities to turn lemons into lemonade."

"A wedding doesn't make a marriage, it's just a party," she says, advising other brides effected by COVID-19 to "be patient" and remember that "at the end of the day, it's just a party."