A pair of front-line heroes who have already lived through the “in sickness and in health” part of their wedding vows tied the knot on Thursday in a special ceremony on TODAY.
Hoda Kotb, who is an ordained minister in addition to her television talents, officiated the nuptials of New York nurses Vanessa Baral and Herwyn Silva after their initial wedding plans for May had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s surreal,” a beaming Silva during the ceremony.
The heartwarming moment came just a few months after Baral was diagnosed with COVID-19 herself in early April after treating coronavirus patients at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital.
“I was afraid for her, as well as myself, and our family, of her getting to that point and being very sick,” Silva told TODAY. “There was one point where I texted one of my coworkers, I was like, ‘I’m afraid. What if I’m not going to be able to walk down the aisle with her?’ It was hard.”
Baral did not end up needing to be hospitalized and recovered after about two weeks of battling the illness.
“He’s been very understanding, very caring,” Baral said of her husband.
They have been together for more than eight years after first meeting as part of a dance group in Queens. They share a similar passion for caring for others as nurses as Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital and Lenox Hill Hospital, where their colleagues cheered for them remotely on Thursday as they tied the knot.
“It’s really comforting to have someone who understands what you go through, at home and at work,” Silva said.
They got engaged on vacation last year, but their focus soon turned from their wedding to working long hours treated COVID-19 patients as hospitals in New York City became overwhelmed.
“I’ll never forget the picture I’ll always have in our ER when almost everybody who were on the stretchers were on oxygen, and I’ve never seen that in my life,” Silva said. “And that was heartbreaking.”
The couple exchanged their personalized vows on Thursday, which included Baral promising to root for the New York Knicks and Silva pledging to always water the plants.
They were then surprised by a special virtual performance of their wedding song “Rainbow” by the Filipino pop band South Border.
Al Roker then topped it off by letting them know TODAY is sending them on a seven-day honeymoon next year to the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa in Fiji, courtesy of Tourism Fiji and Fiji Airways.
It was a special moment for a couple who has been through a lot while dedicating themselves to helping others.
“I’m just grateful to have her,” Silva said. “It just makes life a lot better and easier. No matter how hard it gets.”