Carolyn Brylinski, 81, prayed for months to find a companion who would make her laugh and love her dog, Teddy, just as much as she does.
When she moved to Oakmont from Las Vegas in September, the assisted living facility had just built a dog park. Brylinski, widowed for four years, soon met a dachshund named Liberty Bell and the owner, John Hansell, 79, a widower for three years.
The couple stood in front of their children and neighbors on Saturday to exchange wedding rings and vows, officially becoming John and Carolyn Hansell.
“I’m thrilled,” Carolyn Hansell said after the ceremony. “I feel blessed and so happy…I had been saying prayers for many months asking for happiness and blessings, and I got it all.”
The bride was ripped off as she sat in her walker for most of the festivities on Saturday, but opted to walk down the aisle with her son, Mark Lewis-Jones, escorting her. Umbrellas kept attendees in the shade as the couple exchanged vows in the 107-degree sun.
Teddy and Liberty Bell, in matching pink dresses, watched from a shaded lawn nearby. The Hansells slowly walked up the aisle after the ceremony as John Hansell thanked every guest they passed.
“Our friends, and especially those who might be here, make this one big family,” he said in the lobby of the facility.
John Hansell retired from the Air Force after 24 years, his last station being at the former Nevada Test Site in the 1980s. He told everyone he spoke to at the front desk that he wanted to wear a dress on Saturday and call it a forced marriage because his hernia made him look pregnant, he said.
Carolyn Hansell worked as a community reporter for several newspapers, living in North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania before moving to Las Vegas five years ago.
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not,” Lewis-Jones announced in his toast at the reception. “When we wake up in the morning, we start each day with hope, gratitude and love in our hearts… I hope today is a wonderful day that sends a great message to everybody.”
Lewis-Jones and John Hansell’s daughter Dena Heady laughed as she recalled that shortly after meeting their parents, the two children stopped receiving the dozens of calls they usually received from their single parents .
“He said, ‘I have a girlfriend now,'” Heady said with a laugh. “He’s happy. That’s all I care about.
Contact Sabrina Schnur at email@example.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.