Lora Burns' vision for her wedding day was as modest as it was romantic. She and fiance Doug Waddell were to exchange their heartfelt vows in a private courthouse ceremony with her wearing the same dress she donned the night they met. And the happy occasion would take place on the one day of the year dedicated to matters of the heart.
"Valentine's Day is a very special time," Burns said. "It is a day for love and we have a lot of love for one another."
The bride's dream was nearly crushed, however, by the snowstorm that dumped more than 2 feet of the white stuff on Westminster and kept the courts closed Friday.
"I was very emotional this morning," after she learned of the closure, Burns said. "I was so disappointed because this was the day we had anticipated for several weeks."
But, Waddell wasn't ready to give up. He began chatting with a neighbor about finding a substitute officiant as they cleared their vehicles of the heavy, wet snow before the sun rose Friday. After several phone calls, serendipity intervened in the form of Burns' employer, Carroll Hospital Center, where she works as an operating room scheduler. The Rev. Chuck Leger, the hospital's director of spiritual services, agreed to perform the ceremony in the hospital's multi-faith chapel.
"We are so appreciative to the hospital for making this happen," Burns said with tears in her eyes as she saw the cake and snacks laid out by food services in the chapel later that afternoon.
The couple exchanged vows in private before friends stopped by to help celebrate. Waddell said he was a little nervous before the ceremony, but afterward only grinned and said, "all is well."
Burns said her co-workers, who were eager to hug their newlywed friend, were a great support to her through the tumultuous morning. They were also eager to get a peek at Burns' wedding rings.
"It's spectacular -- just like you," said co-worker Kathy Goad.
The couple met Sept. 4, 2011, when Burns said a friend dragged her to a singles dance she did not want to attend. She is thankful, she said, because when she saw her future husband there, she fell in love at first sight.
"We knew when we met and talked that that was it," Waddell said.
The Westminster couple is foregoing a honeymoon for now and said they will go to the ocean later in the year with the children in their newly blended family.
"We are both just looking forward to growing together in the future and as a family," Burns said.