• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

A most unusual wedding

TWO WEEKS AFTER they were married while she was in a church and he was in an ambulance, Tammy Riley and Patrick Shulze exchanged rings. She said they proceeded with their wedding plans after the caterer told her they didn’t have to be in the same place during the ceremony. (Photo submitted)

Patrick Shulze and Tammy Riley’s plan to get married in May was foiled by COVID-19. They rescheduled for July 11, but the make-up date brought another medically-related problem, this time very close to home: stints inserted to assist Shulze with a blocked aorta weren’t working properly. Shulze said he spent the evening before the planned nuptials in Scott County at their Versailles home, while Riley slept at her mother’s home in Georgetown. Her two teenage daughters, Jules and Leah, stayed with him, and Shulze said while they didn’t help get him to the church on time, they did persuade him to go elsewhere, and pronto. “I was getting ready and I started swelling up real bad, and the girls recommended I go to the hospital,” Shulze said. “They were calling and screaming, ‘Patrick has COVID!’ and, ‘He’s going to kiss me and I’m going to die.’ That’s the first phone call I got of the day,” Riley said. Shulze said he drove himself to Bluegrass Community Hospital late that morning. Meantime, his condition worsened. “This automatically makes me lose my mind,” Riley said. “I was crying and walking around outside, and our pastor (Gary Toney) pulls up, and I tell him what’s going on, and he’s like, ‘Tammy, Patrick’s going to be OK, and it’s OK. We can do this wedding whenever you want to. You call me and let me know.’ So he leaves.” She was about to send the caterer and photographer home, too, when the former suggested another option: “You could call him, get him on the phone and you can do it that way.” Riley called Toney, who wondered if a ceremony conducted with one party in a church and another in a hospital or an ambulance was legal. She assured him it was. Toney, on his way to Lexington, went back home, put his suit on again, and returned to the church. Riley called Bluegrass Community Hospital and asked a staffer to tell her fiancé to make sure he had his phone with him in the ambulance and to make sure the ringer was on. He did, and it was, and soon after, Shulze was on his way to Lexington, taking part in a wedding ceremony via Facebook video that none involved will ever forget – aside from the groom, that is. “The only thing I remember was packing up, because we were supposed to go on a honeymoon to South Carolina … and the next thing I remember was waking up in I.C.U. three days later,” Shulze said. In the ambulance, Chad Ford drove while fellow paramedic Clarinda Sheffler monitored Shulze’s condition. “I got to witness a beautiful wedding,” Sheffler said. “I doubt that I’ll ever get to witness a wedding in the back of an ambulance again.” Three days later, Shulze’s wife of three days approached him with these words: “I don’t know if you remember, Patrick, but guess what: you’re married now.” That’s just fine with Shulze. Asked why they didn’t just reschedule again, he responded, “We had everything set up. The caterer was there with the food, the photographer was there … We’d already cancelled once, so we wanted to make sure we went through this.” Eight days after he was hospitalized, Shulze drove himself to church. A week later, in church and with Toney on hand, he and and his bride exchanged blessed rings. Among Tammy Riley-Shulze’s fond memories of that frightening, wonderful day are Toney’s words to her soon-to-be husband in the ambulance. “Gary’s like, ‘Patrick, I’ve done a lot of weddings and seen a lot of people try to get out of weddings, but this one beats them all,’” she said. Tuesday, the couple left for their twice-delayed honeymoon in Hilton Head, S.C. “Third time’s a charm,” Riley-Shulze said.

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