VANCOUVER -- A Woodland, Wash. couple celebrated their first weekend as husband and wife after an unconventional wedding and a decades-long courtship.

Six weeks ago, Larry Nelson, 71, finally proposed to his girlfriend of 26-year, Chrissy Simpson, 61.

I made sure I was hearing correctly, then I burst into tears! Simpson said.

It was to be a small, simple, courthouse wedding. The couple's friends and family flew into town, but just days before their planned wedding Nelson got sick.

I started getting a little congestion on the lungs and coughing a lot, Nelson said.

It was pneumonia. Nelson checked into Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center three days before the ceremony.

I just thought, 'we're going to get him well. We're going to get him out of the hospital,' Simpson said. Then it was obvious we weren't going to (in time for the wedding).

(Chrissy's) been wanting to get married for some time, Nelson said. We've been together 26 years.

The couple decided they were were committed to each other, in sickness and in health, and that there would be no more waiting.

I said 'You think they'd let us have it here (at the hospital)? Nelson recalled.

Gladys Barnes, Medical Specialist Manager at Legacy Salmon Creek, offered the couple something better.

I said 'Oh you want to get married? We have a chapel!' Barnes said.

Nelson and Simpson exchanged vows in the hospital's chapel Friday evening. Hospital staff provided flowers, a cake and a conference room for a small reception. The cake-topper featured a bride dragging her dazed groom away.

Chrissy's waited a long time, Barnes said. She just got tears in her eyes when she knew this could happen.

When asked how it felt to be married Nelson replied Great!

It's been a real blessing, Simpson added. The alternative was not to get married today and I didn't want to let that be.

Read or Share this story: