NEW LONDON, Conn. — It's not unusual for folks to get married on a weekday, but it's not often you hear about the wedding being held inside of a neonatal intensive care unit.
Grier Stanley and Jason Barnwell were due to be married on April 30 but, "Drue had other plans," said Jason Barnwell on Wednesday.
Drue Barnwell is the couple's daughter, who was born April 21 in Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London just 28 weeks into Grier's pregnancy.
"She was 2.61 (pounds) at birth and she's a little over 8 pounds now," said Grier Stanley Barnwell
"She's doing now remarkably well but it's been a three-month experience for this family with plenty of ups and downs," said Dr. James Pellegrini of Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.
Today was one of those ups, as Jason and Grier were married in the presence of perhaps the world's youngest ever Maid of Honor, who still calls the L & M NICU home.
"We can't have family but you know the NICU crew is our family and Father Tony is too and so why not and we get to leave as the Barnwell family," said the new mom.
Not only were their families not permitted to be part of the NICU nuptials, the couple, who met over a year ago on a dating website, didn't actually tell their families they were getting married today.
"We will be sending a message right after this," Grier said with a laugh.
Their priest. Fr. Anthony DiNoto, of St. John's Episcopal Church in Niantic, said officiating today's marriage will be among the more memorable events in his career.
"I've given out ashes on Ash Wednesday at Foxwoods Casino," DiNoto said. "I was present at the John F. Kennedy Memorial service when I was in Greenwich. I baptized an emergency room doctor, who treated me and today is just an amazing moment of grace for all of us."
Baby Drue's appreciative father poured his heart out to the L & M staff.
"Without you guys, you know, she wouldn't be here," an emotional Jason Barnwell said. "So thank you, I appreciate it."
Grier Barnwell said if all goes well, the Drue crew will be together walking out of the hospital for the first time as a family of three, perhaps as soon as Friday.
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