Whenever Robyn Roberts-Williams imagines what her wedding day would look like, there was one thing that always stood out: a picture of her mom sitting in the front row.
Her 89-year-old mother, Dorothy Roberts, has been a resident at the Isabella Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Washington Heights, New York, for 13 years.
Robyn visits her every week, but ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit, they had to make adjustments to her visitations. She now has to sit outside in the facility’s garden and chat with her mom through a glass window on the ground floor.
She and her then-fiance, Tim Williams, were supposed to get married in the spring of 2021, but the pandemic forced them to cancel their plans.
However, when Robyn was visiting her mother one day at the facility, she got an idea: what if they get married at the nursing home’s garden?
“Once we saw the spot where we get to have the window visit, we said this would just be a perfect spot to have a small ceremony,” she told Patch. “A few people, efficient, a couple of family members, and that will be the end of that.”
She thought it would be the perfect arrangement as it would allow her mother to witness her wedding day, albeit separated by a glass window.
Robyn shared the idea with Jessica Garcia-Robinson, the director of therapeutic recreation at the nursing home. Since they’ve known each other for over a decade, Jessica treated them like family. She was very excited to make the ceremony happen for Dorothy.
“Her family is like our family,” Jessica said. “It was honestly a privilege to have done this for them.”
However, getting married in the facility entailed getting approval from a few governing bodies.
The facility’s administrators had to review the Department of Health’s regulations about visitations and make sure it gets the okay from MJHS Health—its parent company—before proceeding.
In July, Robyn and Tim asked if they could do the ceremony at the garden on October 10, and at the start of September, they finally got the approval.
This meant the couple had over a month to prepare for the wedding. Robyn and Tim scrambled to find the right dress, suits, and flowers for the event. Luckily for them, they got everything just in time!
On October 10, surrounded by a few of their family members with Dorothy watching from the window, Robyn and Tim tied the knot in a simple garden ceremony.
The smile on Dorothy’s face that day made all the effort worth it.
“That day was my 52nd birthday and this is my first marriage. So for my mom to be there, my prayer has always been that.
Even when she went to the nursing home, it was always that my mom would be at my wedding no matter what,” Robyn said.
“So to see her face there in the windows, and to have her be mentally present, have her be physically present, and just so excited. It was just amazing,” she added.
Their guest list was small, but the community at Washington Heights caught wind of their nursing home wedding.
When they emerged from the building, they were greeted by cheers and well-wishes from people in the nearby apartments, cars, and streets.
“There were only 10 of us in the garden, but the celebration around us was just amazing. All of that happened organically, we didn’t plan for any of that to happen,” Robyn recalled.
While Robyn certainly didn’t imagine having her wedding in a nursing home, she made it happen so that the most important woman in her life could be there. Dorothy is indeed very fortunate to have a daughter like her!