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Family

COVID rules prevented her Canadian family from attending her wedding—she had it on the border

COVID rules prevented her Canadian family from attending her wedding—she had it on the border
via Ken Lund/Flickr and PixaBay

Love knows no boundaries, as Karen Mahoney and Brian Ray proved when they said "I do."

We're 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic and there are still travel restrictions between the United States and Canada. The U.S. recently re-upped its ban on nonessential travel by foreigners despite Ottawa's decision to open its border to vaccinated Americans.

Unfortunately, this meant that Karen Mahoney from New York wouldn't be able to have her 96-year-old Canadian grandmother attend her wedding south of the border.

The grandmother would be able to fly into America; however, Karen thought that would put her at risk for catching COVID-19.


"She's my only living grandparent, the only grandparent I've ever known, so it was very important for me for her to be there to watch the happiest day of my life," Karen told CNN. "The most important part of the day for us was the promises we told to each other, and we wanted my parents and grandmother to witness that."

But Karen wouldn't let border restrictions get in the way of having her beloved grandmother be there for the big day.

Karen and her new husband, Brian Ray, have a friend who works for the border patrol. Previously, he allowed for a meeting between them and her father at the border. On that day, Brian asked for her hand in marriage.

The friend then stepped up a second time and arranged for the couple to have a wedding ceremony on the U.S.-Canadian border in Burke, New York on September 25. The wedding took place in a spot that didn't resemble an international border. There were no markers or fences; it just looks like a quiet meadow.

Karen's family stood on the Canadian side while the wedding party and officiant were positioned in the U.S. Both parties were asked not to cross the imaginary line and break international laws.

"The minister asked them if they (my parents) acknowledge that Brian was vowing to love me the rest of our lives, and did they accept him into the Mahoney clan, and they responded, 'We do' and that was extremely emotional," Karen said.

"I cried," Brian said. "It was good for me, because I knew how much it meant to her to have her parents and her grandmother here and see us exchanging vows."

After the border wedding, the couple had another celebration in the States where they signed the official marriage certificate.

It has been a long trip to the altar for Karen and Brian. They met in 1985 when Brian taught her how to ski. They remained friends even though they both married other people. Both marriages lasted 19 years and each produced two boys.

The couple reconnected on Facebook when Brian was selling a car that Karen loved. They soon started dating and after a year, Brian proposed to her on a mountain in Vermont.

"Just an epic day of skiing and bluebird sky. It just was absolutely perfect," Karen said.

"Forever and a day and then some. That's our thing," Brian said.

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