After postponing their wedding twice during the coronavirus pandemic, Christine and Gannon Karmire were hoping that their November 2021 nuptials would go off without a hitch, but the bride ended up dancing the night away with a mannequin version of her groom instead. It's a wedding story for the ages and one that the newlyweds will certainly never forget.
On the morning of the wedding, Gannon woke up feeling sick and was hoping it would pass quickly, but he soon realized he needed to go to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe food poisoning.
"We hoped I would only be gone for a couple hours, as the ceremony was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Ultimately we thought we could attempt to have the ceremony late evening if I was able to get back in time," Gannon told TODAY.
Alas, fate had other plans for the 28-year-old, who was given a sedative to help him fight off his illness. The visiting policies at the North Carolina couple's local hospital meant that Christine couldn't have visited her groom anyway, so once she knew that he was getting the care he needed, she had to make some quick decisions on how to proceed.
The bride opted to cancel the ceremony portion of the day but the sit-down dinner had already been prepared (and paid for) and would have gone to waste. So one of the venue's owners suggested that the bride proceed with the festivities with a "Stick Gannon" in tow, aka a rolling steamer with pool cues that was dressed to the nines in a suit and had an iPad with Gannon's picture displayed at the top.
"He thought it would be good comic relief for everyone in attendance if I made a traditional reception entrance with 'Stick Gannon.' It was meant to lighten the mood and encourage people to enjoy both the company gathered and the already prepared dinner," Christine explained.
With only a short period of time before guests were set to arrive, the bride agreed that it would make sense to at least try to make the most of the situation, even if it was bittersweet.
"I was so upset he couldn't be with us but when we found out his illness was not life-threatening, it was certainly easier to celebrate, although the sadness was still there. There are just some things that are out of our control," she explained.
Christine's brother Eric was stationed outside of the hospital the entire time and kept in contact with the bride throughout the night to keep her posted on how her groom was doing.
"We informed everyone as they arrived at the venue and kept giving status updates on Gannon throughout the night," she told TODAY. "Everyone was very understanding and sympathetic. We were all only concerned for Gannon’s health."
As it turns out, the couple's guests got a kick out of "Stick Gannon" and had fun dancing and posing with him (check out a fun TikTok video of the night from the venue here).
Gannon spent the majority of the day asleep in the hospital but he was able to make a brief 15- to 20-minute appearance toward the end of the night while the majority of guests were still present.
"I actually didn’t want anyone to see me as I was still very out it from the meds they gave me. When you arrive and start hearing your name chanted by 100-plus people, you can’t exactly not go see everyone," he explained. "Once I was there, it was a great feeling seeing the love and support everyone has for us.
Interestingly enough, this wasn't the first mishap in the Karmires' journey to the altar. The lovebirds had first planned to tie the knot in September 2020 but postponed their wedding until the following year in the hopes that the COVID-19 situation would improve by then. In the meantime, they said "I do" in front of immediate family in their backyard in July 2020.
When September 2021 rolled around, Christine contracted COVID-19 and the couple had to push the wedding back by two months to Nov. 14, when Gannon fell sick.
The couple, who got engaged in September 2019 after dating for seven years, clearly had hoped their final attempt at tying the knot would go smoothly, but Christine said that they're just grateful they are both healthy now.
"A party is a party and we can certainly live without it. I only wish he could have been healthy enough to stay with me and enjoy our night together. We simply tried to make the best of it for the guests who took time out of their busy days to be with us," she explained.
After the wedding, the newlyweds' photographer, Bri Hines, offered to shoot wedding portrait photos when Gannon was feeling better and those are some images that the couple will be enjoying for the rest of their lives.
"The biggest takeaway for us is that we can do anything together and our relationship is between us and no one else! It has been quite a journey to get there but we are so happily married and looking forward to the rest of our lives together," Christine said.
So, will the Karmires be planning any vow renewals in the future? Not likely.
"We are definitely all wedding’ed out! We will cherish the memories of our small family ceremony and that is enough for us. We hope to save up for an extended honeymoon where we can just appreciate each other's company," Christine said.