"Make a celebration of it. It doesn't have to be fancy. Seize the joy in the moment," she said, encouraging others to dress up for their vaccine appointments.
Like most brides who were set to tie the knot in 2020, Sarah Studley's big day did not go according to plan. Instead of the elegant 100-person celebration Studley and her groom, Brian Horlor, had dreamed of, when it became evident that proceeding with their original vision would be a "very bad idea," they settled for a much more modest civil ceremony. The couple—who got engaged in November 2019—tied the knot in November outside the San Diego County clerk's office, followed by a small dinner with their immediate family, and a cake from Costco. "It was not what I would have chosen," Studley told The Washington Post. "But there were definitely things about it that were wonderful."
Husband-elect has been inaugurated.— Sarah Studley (@StudleyEsq) November 14, 2020
But the newlyweds still wanted to hold a larger reception once things got better. Since June seemed like a good bet, they started planning the reception for the summer and Studley bought a retro, white, A-line satin dress with polka-dot tulle for the party. However, when the vaccine rollout was lagging in January, the couple made the call to pull the plug on the event yet again. "It seemed like it was not going to be possible to have a reception that was both safe and fun, so we decided to call it off," said Studley, a lawyer at a DC nonprofit organization.
Oh man, maybe I’ll wear my backup wedding dress when I get mine.— Sarah Studley (@StudleyEsq) February 23, 2021
OH! No! Imma wear primary wedding dress one for shot one and backup dress for shot two. https://t.co/5ELoLx4RCw
That meant Studley's polka-dot dress would hang in the closet indefinitely, where it stayed until last weekend when she decided to pull it out for another momentous occasion: her long-awaited Coronavirus vaccine appointment. "I knew this was the dress I would wear," she told CBS Baltimore affiliate WJZ. "No pretty dress should sit in your closet forever unworn." On Sunday, Studley pulled her hair back into a bun, wore a pair of pearl earrings, and zipped up her whimsical, polka-dot wedding gown. She even applied eyeliner, which, she said, she was glad she remembered how to do after going months makeup-free.
Before heading to the M&T Bank Stadium mass vaccination site in Baltimore, she showed off her bridal look to her husband. "I was definitely surprised," said Horlor, who hadn't seen his wife in the dress before that. "There she was, all dolled up. Our wedding was an occasion, and her getting vaccinated was an occasion. Normally, those two things don't go hand in hand, but why not?" Studley became the belle of the ball the moment she stepped out of her car in the parking lot of the vaccination site—which is a partnership between the state of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System.
Studley revealed that someone immediately stopped her to ask where she was going. "This is where I'm going," she responded, pointing to the converted football stadium. "I explained that this was my reception dress and we had to cancel the reception, so now it’s my vaccine reception dress." Those at the vaccination site, especially the staff, got a kick out of Studley’s bridal get-up. Julie Lefkowitz, a nurse at the vaccination site, waved her over as soon as she spotted her at the entrance. "Okay, please tell me the story," Lefkowitz said to Studley as she approached her.
"She stood out. You don’t see many people come in with white frilly dresses," the 52-year-old said. "I wanted to understand her story and be a part of it. She just glowed. 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. It definitely brought a lot of joy. We all need positive, and this is positive." Richie Stever, the operations section chief at the vaccination site, said that seeing Studley in her fancy outfit brought smiles to everyone's face. "We normally see people in athletic wear and casual clothes. Certainly not a wedding dress," Stever said. "Everybody that was around that vaccination station had an extra big smile on."
Studley is thrilled she uplifted others by simply dressing up for herself. "It was really nice to have such positive interactions," she said, encouraging others to dress up for their vaccine appointments, too. "Make a celebration of it. It doesn't have to be fancy. Seize the joy in the moment. I'm already brainstorming what I'm going to do for my second dose."