Nothing about this Friday the 13th wedding in Wilton was like anything anyone there had ever witnessed before – including the town's justice of the peace, Charles Flynn, who had performed 500 ceremonies spanning 32 years.
Danielle Waring, a cancer survivor and Stamford's Teacher of the Year, and Paulo Bernardo got married under the stars on the side of a football field near the track at Wilton High School during the town's Relay For Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society.
The bride walked down the aisle dancing to blaring music from loudspeakers as hundreds of her students from Westhhill High School, family, friends and others throughout the tent-laden field and walking around the track, gathered to watch the 30-minute ceremony.
"When I was diagnosed with cancer and then bald with scars all over my body I never could have imagined I could ever be this happy," Waring told her soon-to-be husband while exchanging vows. "You heal me and make me feel whole."
He responded, "You are the most beautiful bride in the world. I am the one who feels lucky to have you."
After just about everyone stopped crying, the couple was pronounced husband and wife, and a loud cheer went up from the crowd that sounded more being at a football game after a touchdown.
"She's the best teacher I ever had and she deserves a wedding this big to match her personality and charisma, it really fits," said 15-year-old Cassandra Corvett, a sophomore at Westhill High.
"This is by far the most unique wedding I have performed in all my years marrying couples," said Flynn.
Waring, 32, and Bernardo, 33, met up at Stamford Hospital on Dec. 21, 2001, while she was waiting to be discharged in the lobby after months of treatment that included a medically induced coma and stem cell transplant that sent her acute myeloid leukemia into remission.
Bernardo, an emergency room technician, was there to pick up his paycheck. He recognized her from their days at Greenwich High School, recalling how they always seemed to run into each other.
"It's Friday the 13th, you got to love it. I'm Portuguese and that's considered a lucky day in my culture," said Bernardo. "And this proves it. When I saw all those people out there and we were exchanging vows I got really choked up. Danielle agreed. "This was everything I could have hoped for ... and more."
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