Ten years ago, when Rachelle Friedman Chapman was paralyzed from chest to toe after being happily pushed into a swimming pool during her bachelorette party, she knew most things had changed.
“When I had my spinal cord injury, everything was uncertain except one thing – our love affair was not over.”
That’s what she reiterated Thursday to her husband, Chris Chapman, as they renewed their vows to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.
The renewal ceremony – attended by about 25 family and friends – took place on a blustery night at Fearrington Village in Pittsboro. Against the backdrop of fields, lazily grazing cows and a silo stretching towards the evening sky, Rachelle and Chris honored 10 years of marriage and looked forward to the rest of their life together.
Rachelle said the celebration was not just for them but for their daughter, for family and friends, and for the many who have followed her story since the “crippled bride” national headlines.
They delayed their wedding for a year after Rachelle’s injury, then tied the knot at a wedding in Fearrington Village – “a warmer day than today,” recalled Cynthia Wooten, who presided over the ceremony. from Thursday.
During the first marriage, some doubted that their marriage could withstand the test of Rachelle’s injury.
“There were a lot of people wondering, ‘Are they going to get there? Is it possible? Of course, they’re going to get married now, but is it going to last? ‘ Rachelle said.
A false report online
And a few years ago, people started reaching out after an online fake news article appeared that said, “Paralyzed bride gets divorced, husband leaves her.”
“So people started sending us messages like, ‘Are you okay? »», Remembers Rachelle. “And we were like, ‘Sure, what’s going on? “
“So that’s for all the people who believed in us – we kind of restored their faith in love to the beginning, and we mean we’re still here,” she continued. “True love really does exist.”
During Thursday’s ceremony, Wooten admitted that the circumstances of their marriage could have been more difficult for another couple to deal with. “You’ve managed to transcend what might bury another couple, because you’ve kept your love and sense of humor intact,” she said.
Throughout the ceremony, the couple – who live in Knightdale – often joked with each other.
“Rachelle, do you intend to continue living with Chris as a husband like you have for the past 10 years?” Wooten asked.
“Sure, yeah,” Rachelle replied nonchalantly, and the crowd laughed.
Rachelle was wearing a white dress – specially designed to open in the back so she could put it on – and was holding a colorful bouquet of sunflowers and wildflowers. Flowers also adorned her hair and the wheels of her wheelchair. The couple’s 6-year-old daughter, Kaylee – who was born to a surrogate mother – was the Flower Girl.
“Our love has always been easy”
After the couple renewed their vows, Kaylee joined them for the ring exchange. Rachelle and Chris exchanged rings, and then they both gave a ring to Kaylee, who was sitting beaming in her mother’s lap.
Last year, when Rachelle lost the diamond in her engagement ring, she contacted Raleigh’s Diamonds Direct jewelry store to replace it. “Not only did they replace it, but they improved it and helped us get everything started,” said Rachelle.
Raising Kaylee has been difficult at times because of Rachelle’s injury, she said.
“But you just understood. It just takes a lot of trial and error, ”said Rachelle. “She loves getting on my lap and spending time with me, and I’m the one who puts her to bed every night.”
As Rachelle told Chris in their vows, “No matter how hard life is, our love has always been easy.”
This story was originally published July 23, 2021 6:35 pm.