When Katrina Conley accepted Wyatt Behm's marriage proposal, her first instinct was to "run away" and have a simple ceremony at the courthouse.
But at work one day, Katrina, a certified nursing assistant at Sturgis Regional Hospital's Senior Care nursing home, thought about how the residents and her co-workers have become her family, too, and wondered, "Why not enjoy the day with them?"
Eighty-three nursing home residents were not going to make it to the Meade County Courthouse. So Conley, in the opposite of a Bridezilla move, brought her wedding to them, right to their dining room on the Friday afternoon before Valentine's Day.
Kathie Jones, maid of honor and fellow CNA, made the invitations, and Conley delivered one to each resident. As the buzz spread that there would be a wedding - right there at Senior Care - the mood picked up. Women made hair appointments. Women and men both made sure to save their best clothing, with the ladies leaning toward purple and lavender, to match Conley's roses.
Todd Stock, a physical therapist, said it was "almost distracting" during appointments how much people were talking about the wedding: Who was going to be there, where they were going to sit.
"If you're a resident of a nursing home, what are some of the things you'd like to do?" he said. "You like to be a part of life. She brought some life into their day."
The Rev. Joel Higgins of Sturgis' First United Methodist Church officiated in a ceremony full of laughter, that brought Conley and her sons together with Behm to form a new family.
Hospital chief executive officer Van Hyde's wife baked the cake, and he carried all three tiers without dropping them. When he got there to set up about 2 p.m., more than an hour before the wedding was to begin, two dozen residents were already ready and waiting. Conley, 34, and Behm, 37, took their vows in front of all these members of their extended family, the people Conley cares for each day, combing their hair, brushing their teeth, reading to them from the Bible.
A CNA has a hard job, physically and emotionally, she said. But after working with the residents for two years, the former waitress said she wouldn't change careers again for anything.
"It's like a love that just gradually gets stronger with them," she said. "Just to brighten their day was an awesome feeling."
When she left for her weekend honeymoon in Sturgis and Deadwood, residents asked when they would see her again. She told them she couldn't wait to get back and talk about the wedding with them.
"I was like, 'Monday morning!'"