In this time of quarantine and social distancing, weddings — like all social gatherings — have ground to a halt. But that didn’t stop Allison Ruppert and Rob Conroy. They decided that getting married was too important to wait — so they held a wedding on the front porch of their North Side home.

“This crisis absolutely put a lot of perspective into our heads,” says Conroy. “How did we want to face this crisis together? Was it going to be as a couple who’s been together for 11 years? Or do we want to do it as husband and wife?”

So at 6 p.m. on March 23, they tied the knot.

“We knew that with each passing day, it was going to be less likely that we’d be able to get people together, or get anybody to stand in the same room,” says Conroy. “When we originally applied for the license we did it (leaning) towards a traditional marriage, but by the time we went to pick it up, we knew it had to be a self-binding situation.”

Instead of friends and family, they asked the neighbors to be there — from an appropriate distance, of course.

The witnesses, Sara and John Lozecki.

“Our neighbor, who was self-quarantining, was shooting a video from across the street and up the steps of his house,” says Ruppert. “Our two neighbors were standing out in the rain, witnessing it, so they could sign the papers. When they went to sign the papers, we went inside, and they wiped down with antibacterial gel before they actually touched the papers.”

It was a short ceremony, probably only about six minutes, with lots of improvisation. Like the pot of mint that Ruppert used for a bouquet.

Vows were exchanged, with a little stumbling.

“Rob planned ahead and wrote some vows, based on the traditional ones,” says Ruppert. “I had no idea what to say without a clergyperson or officiant prompting me. So I started giving my vows as what you would do when you write a will: ‘I, Allison Ruppert, of sound mind and body …”

They ordered their rings, made mostly of plastic,  last week on Amazon for $20 using a coupon but they plan to upgrade soon.

The wedding rings and mint bouquet.

So what did they wear to this impromptu event? Conroy donned a casual collared shirt with a fuschia tie and khakis. Ruppert wore a black ball gown.

It was tough not having friends and family there, but ultimately worth doing anyway.

“For as cobbled-together-seeming as this all sounds, it was grounded in the grand gesture of us against the world, and real love,” says Conroy. “We didn’t want to have to face what might be coming down the pike as anything other than two people who are fully united as husband and wife.”

Conroy works for CeaseFire PA and Ruppert works for City of Asylum.

Here is Allison’s Facebook post making the announcement:

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.