Joseph McCloud said he has so much love and respect for Emilia Gonzalez, a nurse he met six years ago, that he “could write a book about her.”
Instead, he wrote a 331-word tribute to her on Instagram, winning the couple a lavish wedding last fall at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, California.
When asked for one word to describe their October 30 wedding, led by Rev. Karna Carr, a United Methodist minister, both Ms Gonzalez and Mr McCloud agreed on “unforgettable”.
But for Mr. McCloud, 32, and Ms. Gonzalez, 28, there will never be enough words to express how their lives were affected by the pandemic, which forced them to postpone planning their first wedding, which was originally planned. for the fall of 2020.
“Our facility had an outbreak from August to September in 2020,” said Ms. Gonzalez, an infection control nurse at the Pleasanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Pleasanton, California. “That’s six weeks of physical and mental exhaustion. I worked almost every day, came on weekends and was available 24 hours a day.”
Because of all this, Mr. McCloud her “greatest ally,” she said. “He made sure to take care of me and everything else so I could focus on restoring our facility’s pre-Covid status.”
However, it was the work of Mrs. Gonzalez on the front lines, and the sacrifices the couple had to make as a result, eventually brought the two to their “unforgettable” wedding day.
“This whole thing has been so surreal,” said Mr McCloud. “It’s like Emilia and I have been living a dream.”
It was a dream that began with a chance meeting between Mr. McCloud and Mrs. Gonzalez in May 2015 at a bar in San Jose, California. “He was actually at the bar when our eyes made contact,” Ms. Gonzalez said of that night. “Then a few minutes went by and he just stood there, not moving, and I didn’t know what to think.”
Neither did Mr. McCloud, a security operations specialist for Sony in San Mateo, California. “I had the courage to meet her,” he said with a laugh.
Sensing she was about to walk away, he decided to walk over to her and said the best greeting he could muster was an old pick-up line: “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”
Ms. Gonzalez said she had never heard that line before and “gave it an A-plus rating.” She said she told Mr. McCloud that she went to the bar that night with her sister, Cristina Gonzalez, who by then was “waiting for me to come out so we could all walk home together.”
mr. McCloud added: “It seemed like a good situation, but now I had to muster the courage to talk to two women.”
He eventually struck up an easy conversation with the Gonzalez sisters and soon made a good impression on both of them.
“I thought he was so charming,” said Mrs. Gonzalez, “and my sister liked him too, so I was looking forward to seeing him again.”
They exchanged phone numbers, and two weeks later, Mr. McCloud and Mrs. Gonzalez arranged a first date at a restaurant in Tracy, California, where Mrs. Gonzalez lived at the time.
“We had so many things in common, like trying to find Mr. and Mrs. Right,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “We sat there and talked for hours. It was just amazing.”
After dinner they went for a walk and shared their first kiss. When Mr. McCloud briefly held Mrs. Gonzalez’s hand, she said her heart began to pound. “I felt my heart beating in my chest,” she said. “It kept beating faster and faster.”
Mr. McCloud and Ms. Gonzalez began dating steadily and after about a year, they moved in together in 2016. In 2019, talks about the marriage led to Mr. McCloud seeking permission from her parents while traveling to the Philippines.
However, when Mr McCloud started making plans to buy the perfect ring, what should have taken 30 days turned into a three-month delay when the jeweler from whom he bought the ring closed its shop in response to the coronavirus outbreak. . The couple got engaged on May 23, 2020.
The following January, their wedding plans were still in the making when a mutual friend called to tell Ms. Gonzalez and Mr. McCloud that the Meritage Resort & Spa and Vista Collina Resort were hosting a social media contest. The prize was a free wedding, worth about $30,000, to a primary care health professional or counselor who had to postpone a 2020 wedding due to work pressure.
The winning couple could invite up to 100 guests to the wedding reception, which was to be held on the vineyard deck of the Meritage. (Mrs. Gonzalez and Mr. McCloud hosted 75 guests, most of whom had been vaccinated; they ate California sea bass and New York steak, along with banana and lemon pie.) The winners would also receive a free two-night suite stay at the Merit.
“I was stunned, it just sounded so great,” said Mr. McCloud. “I told Emilia I would nominate her.”
“When Joseph told me he had written about me for a competition, I thought it was very sweet,” said Ms. Gonzalez. “And then I read what he actually wrote and it was just so beautiful I started to cry.”
He joined a field of 98 participants who each nominated a respective Covid hero on Instagram, where the competition kicked off on January 14. Entries had to be submitted exactly one month later, on Valentine’s Day.
Mr. McCloud, advocating for Ms. Gonzalez, began writing, “My dear Emilia is the greatest gift God has given me for six years now. It has been a privilege of my life to build a relationship with this amazing woman, who has grown into a friendship without boundaries, a love without ceiling and an adventure to cherish forever.”
“This pandemic is increasingly taking its toll on both of us, and Emilia has been particularly affected,” he continued. “As the workload and the contagious cases increased, I saw how it affected her both physically and mentally, even though she would try not to show it.”
On Feb. 18, contest officials contacted Ms. Gonzalez to set up a Zoom call with the pair on Feb. 24 to supposedly conduct a short interview with them. During the Zoom call, Joe Leinacker, the director of the Meritage Resort and Spa, Napa Vista Collina Resort, Napa, surprised the couple by announcing that they were the grand prize winners.
“We were both in such a shock that we couldn’t speak words,” said Ms. Gonzalez. “We just started screaming.”
On this day
When October 30, 2021
True Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, California.
The advantages The award was accompanied by many additional goods and services for the couple’s wedding, including hair and makeup, flowers, stationery, and a wedding cake.
For the record The bride and groom have covered part of the daily expenses. They hired their own photographer and videographer.
what they wore The bride wore an Oleg Cassini dress, paired with Badgley Mischka shoes. The groom wore a Cassaras Italian Men’s Wear tuxedo and Johnston & Murphy shoes.