Most weddings take months to plan.
But when a patient battling a recurrence of cancer and his fiancée announced they wanted to exchange marriage vows as soon as possible, a team of nurses, social workers, catering staff, and others at UPMC Presbyterian pulled together and organized the ceremony and reception in less than 72 hours.
Every detail was covered in that short period of time, and the sense of pride that staff felt in their efforts was palpable on Friday afternoon as they transformed a ninth-floor conference room into an elegant reception area decorated in the bride’s orange and white wedding colors.
“Erin Flanagan (Unit 9G clinician) sent out an email request for help,” said Madeline Georgino, a unit nurse who came in on her day off to help. “I told her, ‘I will be there, and I’ll bring my mom.’”
Katie Decker, clinical resource specialist, explained that Unit 9G is a trauma surgical unit that cares for patients with severe injuries and illnesses. “It’s exciting to help someone’s wishes come true. This isn’t the side of the job we see all the time,” said Decker, whose wedding day duties included making sure the bride and groom did not see each other before the ceremony in the UPMC Presbyterian Interfaith Chapel.
As Georgino and her mother, Tracey, began to unload a garden cart filled with reception decorations, a team from UPMC Catering arrived with lilies, roses, and other fresh flowers, linens, and specially prepared foods.
Nicole Cable, catering manager, UPMC Presbyterian, explained that the two-tier wedding cake and many other items were donated by UPMC vendors. UPMC chefs prepared a menu featuring medallions of chicken romano, pasta with fresh tomato basil sauce, bruschetta, fresh fruits and berries, and other treats.
“There won’t be any charge,” Cable said. “When we do something like this, we just do it. It’s not about us. It’s about the patient and the families.”
Planning for the wedding started late Tuesday afternoon when Meghan Halferty, a clinical social worker, spoke with the couple. The groom could not leave the unit to sign the marriage license at the Allegheny County Courthouse, so a county official came to the hospital.
Halferty turned to the Ladies Hospital Aid Society (LHAS) to cover the $115 fee for the expedited marriage license.
“The LHAS agreed immediately to pay for the license to help our patient enjoy this special day with his bride,” Halferty said. “This was truly a team effort.”