It was an ordinary city bus that played matchmaker. The bride and groom chanced to meet via Fort Wayne public transportation, which both use regularly.
“I give out information about Christ on the bus,” said Elizabeth Gray, a Seventh-day Adventist. “Bryan Stavitzke was on the same bus so I began telling him about Jesus, but he already knew. We began chatting and he asked me to come to Swinney Homestead’s annual Herb Sale in May 2013, where he was caretaker.”
Thus began a courtship of nearly two years.
Before coming to Fort Wayne, Gray was a medical case manager at the University of Miami for seven years. As she was working, her back kept going out.
“I would be in meetings and not be able to finish my sentences. I got confused a lot,” said Gray, who went to a neurologist and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “(A year ago), I was diagnosed with lupus when. My body shut down and I couldn’t talk or move my arms and legs,” she recalled. “I moved to Fort Wayne because the weather was too hot for me in Florida and I’m very sensitive to UV rays. The Midwest was a better option.”
Fast-forward to December when the couple celebrated their eternal love with special wedding vows at a ceremony made possible by Wish Upon a Wedding (www.wishuponawedding.org). It’s a national non-profit organization that grants weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life-changing circumstances. This is the fourth wish granted by the Indianapolis chapter of the organization. Indianapolis is one of 11 chapters giving people who have endured great challenges a chance to marry and celebrate with loved ones, according to a press release.
Gray’s condition has gradually became more challenging, necessitating hospital stays every six months or so.
“But having my Bryan has changed that to make it so much easier,” she says.
The happy couple recited vows among a very small group on the 25th floor of the PNC Center on Dec.16, 2014.
“My parents are both gone but my nephew and his wife from Ypsilanti came and so did my Aunt Kay Kimball from Detroit who walked me down the aisle. That was very special to me,” said Gray.
“It was such an honor to walk Liz down the aisle and the whole wedding was beautiful, delightful and overwhelming,” said Kimball. “Seeing her joy was endearing and exciting!”
The couple, who lives at the Swinney Homestead where they are caretakers, honeymooned at the Hilton with complimentary champagne and room service.
“Pastor Victor Jaeger was the officiant, and because we are both Seventh-Day Adventists, we ‘waited’ the 18-month courtship before marrying so as to be perfect in the sight of God,” said Gray. “Also, although we have been dating nearly two years, the wedding was the first time we had ever danced together, so it was really special.”
For dinner, the wedding celebrants dined on squash soup, salad with figs and sea bass with beef tenderloin and asparagus.
“My wedding cake had blue butterflies on it,” said the new Ms. Stavitzke, “and it was so beautiful. They also served the cake with chocolate bon bons covered in silver glitter.
“I wish to express my deep appreciation for the wonderful peoples who made my dream come true, especially the Wish Upon a Wedding organization and Empyrean Events and Catering.”
Sponsor: Wish Upon a Wedding, Indianapolis Chapter
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Empyrean Events & Catering
Wedding Planner: Meg Massey of Events by Design
Photographer: Catie’s Captures
Videographer: Marshall Camera
Caterer: Empyrean Events & Catering
Florist: Empyrean Events & Catering
Musician and Entertainment: Jared Wade
Linens: Chair Covers & Linens
Cake: Classic Cakes
Stationary: Westwood Paper Company
Hair/Makeup: B. Luscious Hair – Brittani Townes-Harris, Andrew Elliott
Accommodations: The Hilton, Fort Wayne
Transportation: Sentimental Journey Carriage Rides