Couple marries at closed Canada-US border so bride’s parents and grandma could attend

Caitlin O’Kane – CBS News

For those who live on the U.S.-Canada border, crossing between the two is commonplace. Karen Mahoney, who now lives in New York state, used to visit her family in Quebec every week. But during the pandemic, the border closed – and it threw a wrench in her wedding plans.

Mahoney was set to marry Brian Ray, who grew up just over the border from her in New York. The pair met when they were kids when Ray taught Mahoney how to ski.

Thirty-five years later, their friendship turned to love and Ray proposed to Mahoney on the ski slope. 

“We didn’t want to wait and have a long engagement. We are so much in love that we couldn’t wait another day to be married,” Mahoney told CBS News. “So, we planned it for September in hopes the border would be open.”

On August 21, they found out the border would still be closed on their wedding date, September 25 — meaning, Mahoney’s family couldn’t travel to the U.S. for the nuptials. 

“COVID has hit hard. Without being able to hug them for 18 months, it hurts,” Mahoney said, tearing up. 

A few weeks ago, another childhood friend came into the picture: “Border Brian,” who got his nickname from his job as a border patrol agent. Border Brian said he could help secure a special wedding location. 

“I’ve known him longer than I know her,” Ray said about his friend and Mahoney. “He was more than accommodating and willing to be there for us.”

“He was off-duty at the time and … let the other agents who were on duty know what was going to transpire,” Mahoney said. “He arranged so that it would be uninterrupted.”

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They couldn’t cross the border – but they could embrace from their respective sides in New York and Canada. KAREN MAHONEY

Border Brian arranged for the couple to say their vows on the Jamieson Line Border Crossing between Burke, New York, and Quebec, Canada. Mahoney and Ray stood on the New York side in their white wedding gown and tuxedo. With them were Mahoney’s maid-of-honour and their pastor.

On the Canadian side were Mahoney’s parents and her 96-year-old grandmother. “She was extremely excited,” the bride said about her grandmother. “I’ve seen her once in two years. So, it was very emotional; we both cried. And she expressed to me later that to witness the happiest day of my life is a moment she would never forget.”

The couple had their planned wedding with the rest of their guests the next day. The wedding weekend wasn’t what they expected – but it was unique. “I got to marry the most beautiful woman in the world two days in a row,” Ray said.

images: Karen Mahoney via CBS 

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