Searching for the perfect wedding venue can be a challenge for some couples, while others know exactly what they want.
Ruben Alers Jr. and Angelica Bermudez, two Washington state residents, knew that a spot in the Bronx would be the perfect place for their nuptials. But they didn’t pick just any spot — They chose The Plaza Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on West Kingsbridge Road. All so that one very important member of the family could attend: Ruben Alers Sr.
The older Alers lives at The Plaza, and couldn’t make the trip to the other coast to watch his son marry.
“I wanted him to be able to sit back and to be able to enjoy it and not feel the need to rush anywhere,” Alers Jr. said.
Alers Sr., who has lived at the 100 W. Kingsbridge Road facility for the last three years, appreciated having the ceremony come to him, rather than the more traditional other way around.
“I was grateful for the whole thing,” he said, “the whole day.”
Alers Jr. moved to the west coast for college and ultimately stayed there after graduation, landing in Vancouver, Washington, a suburb of Portland. After some time, he decided to try out the online dating scene, which is where he met Bermudez.
After two years together, the couple decided to marry. But both, of course, wanted their families to witness the nuptials.
Two ceremonies were planned — one in Oregon for Bermudez’s family, the other in the Bronx for Alers’ family. The Bronx ceremony took place June 22, while the Oregon nuptials are set for Aug. 10.
“It was really heartwarming to be there with Angelica and say our vows and do this in front of my family, the people that raised me, that care about me, that love me, and see them share in that joy,” Alers Jr. said. “I don’t get to see them that often, so to be able to see them be happy for me, that meant a lot.”
With their Washington home much closer to her family, Bermudez knew bringing the wedding to the Bronx was important for her new husband’s family, and that made it important to her, too.
“I only met them once before, but his family welcomed me so quickly,” she said. “I felt like I was a member already. It was nice to be surrounded by so much love.”
When deciding to use The Plaza campus as a venue, the couple expected nothing more than a small and simple affair.
“We thought it was just going to be a quick ceremony in his (father’s) room, and then we’d all just be together,” Bermudez said. “But they made it special.”
The Plaza’s recreational therapist, Paulette Baldwin, led the way in finding a room at the facility private enough — yet large enough — for the event. She also coordinated decorations, set up the room for the ceremony, even tasked a staff photographer take pictures. Another Plaza staffer took to the piano to play “The Bridal Chorus” as Bermudez walked down the aisle.
Baldwin was surprised just how emotional the proud father was at the ceremony.
“I just didn’t know he was such a crybaby, he was all waterworks,” she said. “At the reception and even at the ceremony, he was thanking God that he could see this. (The planning) was all worth it.”
The tears were a mixed bag for Alers Sr.
“I was a little sad,” he said, “but I was so happy at the same time.”
The emotions certainly touched his son on what already was a special day.
“My father was always this tough guy,” Alers Jr. said. “He always felt the need to hold back and never really share all his emotions. I’m not his little boy anymore and I think that hit him really hard.
“To see him react like that, to me, is a sign that he really does really love me.”