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By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
Laura Wetherell and Nick Laniauskas were planning to say “I do” on April 17 in Hawaii.
Then COVID-19 turned into a global pandemic. And instead of reciting their vows, the couple, who are both emergency room nurses, spent their would-be wedding day working at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.
“The wedding was supposed to be on April 17 here in Hawaii with a second reception in Ohio scheduled for July 11,” said Wetherell, a former Upper Sandusky resident. “With everything going on, we have postponed both for now.”
A picture taken that day shows the couple kissing while donning masks, scrubs and caps in the emergency room. Wetherell holds a sign that reads “We were supposed to get married today …” while Laniauskas’ sign says “But instead we went to work for you. So stay home for us!”
“The main message we were trying to get across was to remind people to continue staying home and staying healthy,” Wetherell said in an email. “I posted the picture on what would’ve been our wedding day.” A friend saw it on Facebook and asked Wetherell to share it. Within a few hours, it exploded.
“A local news station called us for an interview shortly after I posted it and then another one the next day,” she said. “The story was then shared with news stations nationwide. It was crazy!”
The Knot wedding planning service reposted the picture, which got over 40,000 likes.
“We did interviews with a blogger in India and a reporter in France. We couldn’t believe how quickly and how far it had spread!” Wetherell said.
“There were so many people reaching out to us and sharing kind words, telling us that the post helped put things into perspective for them and encouraged them to keep staying home. It was really special to us that one little picture had such a positive impact.”
It’s just one more adventure in the couple’s story.
Wetherell graduated from Upper Sandusky High School in 2007 and attended Ohio State University.
“I was lucky enough to get into the amazing nursing program there,” she said.
She earned her degree in 2011 and moved to Cincinnati for her first job as an emergency room nurse. She started doing travel nursing in 2014.
“I was able to travel to Texas, Florida, Colorado, and then did a ‘travel’ assignment closer to home before taking the Hawaii travel job in February 2016,” she said.
These contracts generally last three to four months, but in Hawaii, she met Laniauskas. He was born in Hong Kong and raised in Hawaii.
“We hit it off pretty quickly,” said Wetherell, who decided to take a full-time staff position at the hospital. “And as they say, the rest is history.”
The couple got engaged on a big group trip to Osaka, Japan, in December 2018. They planned their wedding for April, but ended up having to postpone the celebration.
“We realize there are much worse things happening, and to postpone our wedding is minor compared to people losing their jobs or losing loved ones to this virus,” Wetherell said. “Plus, we know we made the right decision in postponing for now. With working frontline in the ER and with all my family having to travel here, we don’t want to put anyone at risk by having our wedding too soon.”
Wetherell said the couple is lucky that they are able to work together all the time, but especially now.
“Hawaii has been one of the best states by numbers, with just 629 cases at this time,” she said. “Working in the ER, you never know what’s going to come in those doors, so we have to be extra cautious with every patient.”
The couple hopes things will improve so the wedding can be held before Wetherell’s mom, a teacher in Upper Sandusky, has to go back to work at the end of the summer. They’re looking at a potential wedding date of Aug. 1, but are waiting to see what happens over the next few months before making a final decision.
“We just want all our family and friends to be able to be together with us whenever we do,” Wetherell said. “We are very fortunate to have each other, our health, our jobs, and to have amazing friends and family to support us through these crazy times.”
As a surprise, the couple’s work family put together a Zoom wedding reception for them the night of their would-be wedding.
“It was so well planned, so thoughtful, and we had a blast!” Wetherell said. “It was just what we needed on that day! We can’t wait for the real deal!”