Kentucky SNF surprises couple with wedding ceremony, celebration

Credit: Greenville Nursing and Rehabilitation

A Kentucky nursing home resident and her husband finally got the wedding of their dreams more than 55 years after they first recited their vows. 

“We were glad to be able to feature to the rest of our residents and staff what [the couple] have, and set them up as an example of what we should all aspire to be,” said Wade Gish, admissions and marketing director for Greenville Nursing and Rehabilitation. 

Charlie and Sandra Guy marked their 55th wedding anniversary with a big celebration on March 9 at the 62-bed skilled nursing facility in Greenville, KY. But, the party didn’t start as a facility-wide event.

Several days earlier, Charlie Guy reached out to the facility’s business office manager and asked if it would be OK if he brought in a cake to share with his wife and other residents to mark the occasion. 

Sandra Guy is a short-term rehab-to-home patient at Greenville, so she and her husband are temporarily living apart. It’s the first anniversary the couple would not spend together, Gish explained. 

At a morning administrative meeting, staff members decided they would take Charlie’s original plans a big step further.

They decided to bring in extra refreshments and solicit flowers and bouquet donations from a local business. They also decided to surprise the couple with a renewal of vows. Staff were able to connect with the couple’s pastor, who joined in on the scheming by telling the couple he was visiting “under the guise of just coming to celebrate their anniversary,” not to conduct a special ceremony.  

“After they had a chance to welcome everyone and visit with their guests for a little bit, we brought the pastor up and gave her the bouquet,” Gish told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Wednesday. “They were both very touched.” 

It was later in the day when the couple delivered a surprise of their own: Sandra revealed to staff that she and Charlie never had a full wedding back in 1967. They had eloped when they originally married — making last month’s gala even more special for the couple.

The pair were touched and impressed by the event, Gish said. 

“But their focus was still on each other. They didn’t lose each other in the hubbub of the moment,” he added. “It was just an opportunity for them to relight that flame that they’ve had burning for so long … They are still very much in love.” 

The local area’s COVID-19 current case numbers allowed the facility to host the visitors, with limited contact, masking and social distancing. It was one of the facility’s first big events since lifting visitation restrictions. 

“It was kind of a kick-off for us to try to get back to a normal life here,” Gish explained. 

“The other residents were thankful. They were glad we did it and that the facility was able to reach out and do this thing for them,” he added. “We’re a family, so it was like a family afternoon that we did for the Guys.”