OAKLAND, Calif. - One Oakland couple was all set to get married next month; a big wedding with family flying in from the East Coast. But COVID-19 put a stop to that. The wedding is canceled.
"It was so disappointing. I cried so much. Where are we going to get married? What are we going to do," said bride-to-be Sadie Pangilla.
"We couldn't make it happen safely," said groom-to-be, Daniel Gere. "To ask everyone to travel and come over and have a wedding, it just didn't seem feasible."
The two have a plan they say is feasible. But it is a long shot.They stumbled upon an international contest for a dream wedding at Chateau Challain in France about 200 miles southwest of Paris.
"This would be a silver lining turned gold," said Pangilla.
The contest is for essential workers. Sadie Pangilla is a labor and delivery nurse at Alta Bates Hospital who has seen a lot during the pandemic.
"Moms just being so afraid during a pregnancy is not good. It's been hard...sometimes people don't tell the truth about their COVID status because they think they are going to get the baby taken away, which is really sad," she said.
Pangilla entered the couple's story in the French contest, not expecting anything. On Sunday they learned they were among the 14 finalists.
The winner will be selected online by people voting on the instagram account: @challainchallain. Runner-ups will win the elopement package at the chalet.
The couple is looking for likes. They say any ceremony will happen only when it is safe.
But even if they come up empty they say they will still have what's most important, each other. They can always have a very small civil ceremony.
"Even if we don't win I'm really happy someone gets their fairy tale wedding," said Pangilla.