Published on April 09, 2020

Local Doctor Finishes Shift Before #Coronuptials

couple kissing with masks at weddingDr. Sarah Barowka, who serves on the faculty of NMMC’s Family Medicine Residency Center, was engaged to marry Brian Gilland on April 5. Plans called for a yacht wedding in Destin, Florida, surrounded by about 50 of their closest friends and family. After the wedding, they were to honeymoon in Bora Bora.

“We suspected in early March that this was going to change, but we didn’t realize how drastically it would change,” Dr. Barowka says. “First came restrictions on gatherings, then travel restrictions, then social distancing. We knew we could not have our yacht wedding, but we also in good faith could not have a gathering of any sort.” Plans shifted to a very small wedding on April 4 with a day’s notice. Seven people would be present, including the bride and groom. “Tupelo lifted us up and helped us to pull together another dream wedding,” she says.

Then came the “shelter in place” order from Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, forcing them to move the wedding yet again. The couple was married April 3, just a few hours after Dr. Barowka made her morning rounds at the hospital. With the hashtag #coronuptials, their wedding was broadcast on YouTube with friends and family watching from more than 12 states and three countries. “More people were in attendance via YouTube than we would have had at the real thing,” she says.

Many people asked why not just postpone their original wedding plans. “Brian is a firefighter from Georgia, and I am a family doctor in Mississippi,” Dr. Barowka says. “As a first responder and a primary care physician, we are very astutely aware of how serious things are. We also know that there is no other person we would want to weather a global pandemic with than the one we promise to love and cherish in sickness and in health. It was never about the party, the pomp, the circumstance.”

Now the couple is sheltering in place at their new home. “Let’s call it a ‘quarantine honeymoon,’” she says, “and there’s no one else I’d rather be here with than Brian.”

Photo credit: Jaqueline Savoy and Marty Pettit

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