'When we think back on our wedding, bittersweet is the first word that comes to mind,' the bride shared.
A North Carolina bride spent her wedding night dancing with a mannequin version of her groom after he fell ill with "severe food poisoning" and missed their nuptials. Christine Karmire and Gannon Karmire made the best of the sticky situation when Gannon ended up in the hospital two hours before their wedding. Instead of scrapping their plans altogether, the couple decided that they'd go ahead with their big day at The Victorian in Youngsville last month—especially since this was their third attempt at a pandemic wedding. So, on November 14, Gannon joined the festivities from the hospital in spirit while Christine celebrated with what she affectionately calls "Stick Gannon," a rolling steamer with pool cues dressed in a suit and mounted with an iPad featuring the groom's smiling face.
"When we think back on our wedding, bittersweet is the first word that comes to mind," the 26-year-old bride told PEOPLE. "We were so happy to finally have our friends and family together, but of course, it did not play out how we had imagined. We do believe that with the hand we were dealt, it could not have gone any better than it did. We still felt loved and celebrated by everyone and are so appreciative of their support." Looking back at the day of their one-of-a-kind ceremony, Christine revealed that Gannon, 28, woke up feeling ill that morning.
"He wasn't feeling sick enough for us to contemplate seeing a doctor until about two hours before the ceremony was supposed to start, and then it got worse very quickly," she explained. "At that point, we were just nervous for his health and the status of the wedding was an afterthought." This wasn't the first time the pair ran into a hiccup while planning their nuptials. Like countless couples last year, Christine and Gannon were forced to postpone their September 2020 wedding due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The couple then tied the knot in their backyard in the presence of only their immediate family in July 2020 and rescheduled their nuptials for September 2021. However, just one week before the wedding, Christine tested positive for COVID-19 and they had to postpone their date again. "All of our vendors were so gracious and accommodating," Gannon said. "And we are so thankful to Brian from The Victorian for handling all of this for us while we focused on Christine getting healthy." So when life threw a curveball at them again in November, the couple was determined to carry on with their nuptials.
Christine revealed that it was Brian, one of the owners at The Victorian, who came up with the idea for "Stick Gannon" as he wanted to make sure her big day would still be special. "He thought it would be good comic relief for everyone in attendance if I made a traditional reception entrance with 'Stick Gannon,'" she shared. "It was meant to lighten the mood and encourage people to enjoy both the company gathered and the already prepared dinner." However, "Stick Gannon" ended up exceeding their expectations as partygoers kept dancing and posing for photos with the makeshift mannequin through the night. "The whole situation was really funny," said the real Gannon. "Even though I know we missed out on what would have been a great day together, I know there will be so many more in the future."
"A few days later, getting to look back at the pictures and videos everyone was sending me with 'Stick Gannon' made it well worth the bit of sadness that came along too," he added. "Frankly, he danced better than me!" A video of the night posted by The Victorian on their TikTok account has since gone viral on the platform. Unfortunately, there were some who criticized the couple for their decision to carry on with the wedding despite Gannon's illness. "Due to current visitor policies at our local hospital, Christine would not have been allowed in," Gannon explained. "Christine's brother Eric, who was with me [outside of] the hospital, was in constant communication with her throughout the night."
"We originally planned for me to make it back for a small ceremony after dinner," he added. "As we've seen, nothing ever really goes to plan and so while I made a brief appearance at the end of the reception so Christine could take me home, we simply weren't able to [do more]. I am so glad our friends and family still got to enjoy time with her and the event we worked so hard to plan did not go to waste." Although he couldn't make it into any wedding photos on their wedding day, Gannon and Christine do have something to remember their nuptials. Their photographer, Bri Hines, "offered to shoot wedding portrait photos for us after Gannon was feeling better and The Victorian was kind enough to have us back to do this," said Christine. "These images are so special to us and Bri really captured the love we have for each other. We can't wait to continue to look back on them in the years to come."