Summer Love

August 2020 View more

It was 11 years ago when Catherine Healy and John Waris, both now 30, met. They worked summer jobs at the same Chicago law firm, she as a receptionist and he in the mailroom.

“She was the first person I saw every morning when I came into work,” says Waris, now a director of corporate strategy at OCC in Chicago. “It was a good day when she was there and a bad day when she wasn’t. She was my favorite person to talk to, so much so that some mail went undelivered.”

During a trip to Hawaii in 2019, Waris surprised Healy with a proposal on an early morning walk. “The sun was rising just as he was down on one knee,” says Healy, a nurse at Rush University Medical Center. “It was the perfect moment.”

They enlisted the help of wedding planner Amy Harloe of Oswego-based Happily Ever After to plan a May 9 ceremony at Holy Family Church in Chicago, followed by a reception for 300 guests at the Harold Washington Library Center. “We both come from very large Irish Catholic families,” Healy says. “We were looking to have a big celebration with all our loved ones and just have a good time.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they scrambled to reschedule the reception to later in the year; however, they still held out hope to marry at Holy Family on May 9. Just a few weeks before, the church staff called to notify them that the Archdiocese of Chicago was closing and the City of Chicago was not issuing marriage licenses.

“We were pretty devastated … but we just kept saying, we have each other, we have our health, we have our families, they have their health,” Healy says. “But we kind of made up our minds that, where there’s a will there’s a way, and we were determined to get married somehow.”

Healy’s sister stepped in with a last-minute plan. “Her mother-in-law is the religious education director at Holy Cross Church in Batavia. They heard our story and said they would be more than happy to let us get married there as long as it was under 10 people, John and I included.” With the Archdiocese of Rockford still open and Kane County still issuing marriage licenses, all the stars aligned for them to say “I do” on their intended wedding date.

Healy’s mother reached out to the family’s local floral shop, Homewood Florist, and they threw together a last-minute bridal bouquet of ivory hydrangea, blush roses, and eucalyptus. Healy adorned it with tiny portraits of her late maternal grandmother as well her sister and her paternal grandmother, who were not able to attend.

“They are three very important women in my life that couldn’t be there; I kept them with me that way,” she says. For her “something blue,” she donned sky-blue flats embellished with beaded flowers. She borrowed her mother’s earrings and wore her grandmother’s pearl bracelet for “something old.” Her gown was her “something new.”

Waris’s uncle, a priest, performed the ceremony with their parents in attendance, while the rest of their loved ones watched live via Zoom.

“When my dad walked me down the aisle, this was my first time [since the pandemic started] being around my parents without a mask on,” Healy says. “I was very anxious about [safety] altogether, so my dad actually gave a little elbow bump to John instead of shaking his hand, at my request.”

The couple still hopes to have their big family reception to celebrate at some point, but it’s hard to say when that will be safe to host.

“To us, the marriage was the most important part of the whole thing,” Waris says. “The reception is fun and that’s where you get to see everyone, but at the end of the day, it’s a party and there was a much more serious thing happening in the world.”


Venue Holy Cross Church, Batavia
Wedding planner Amy Harloe of Happily Ever After, Oswego
Bride’s attire Bella Bianca Bridal Couture, Chicago
Bride’s hair and makeup Patty McGuire Hair & Makeup Artists, Aurora
Groom’s attire Nordstrom
Floral Homewood Florist, Homewood

PHOTOS BY Rachael Osborn Photography