After multiple wedding-day postponements due to COVID, Navy couple ties knot on Midway

Lt. j.g. Eric Doussett and his fiancé Shelby had big wedding plans while he was stationed in Pensacola, Fla., but COVID-19 threw those plans out the window.

The couple, however, would not be deterred. Upon arriving in San Diego, Shelby got to work trying to figure out how they could salvage some part of this special moment in their lives. She also wanted Eric to finally see her in her wedding dress that for nearly a year she had kept under wraps.

“Once we received the confirmation that the wedding was officially canceled, after three postponements, I knew that I at least wanted to take photos in my wedding gown,” said Shelby. “I was looking for locations and thought there’s not a better place than on the USS Midway.”

Shelby took a chance and reached out to the museum to see if it was possible to come on board for a “few photos.”

“When I was contacted by Shelby, not only did I say absolutely, but I knew we could do more to make this a very special day for them,” said Paulette Mello, the museum’s marketing outreach coordinator. “I felt we could perform some Midway Magic and provide them with a memorable small wedding instead of just doing photos.”

As luck would have it, one of Midway’s volunteers, Paul “Chappie” Ward, is also an Air Force Auxiliary chaplain. Paulette put the gears in motion. 

“Paulette was just amazing,” said Shelby. “She just blew me away. It was a dream come true.”

Before the wedding vow ceremony, a group of Midway docents helped the young bride finally reveal her dress her soon-to-be husband.

“When the docents stepped aside to present my bride-to-be in her breathtaking dress, it was above and beyond anything I could have ever expected,” said Eric, a Navy SH-60 Seahawk helicopter pilot. “I was totally taken aback seeing her in her wedding dress for the first time.”

“I really wanted him to be surprised seeing me in my dress and he was,” said Shelby. “I felt like a princess.”

Standing in front of the Midway’s own Seahawk helicopter on display on the flight deck, the couple became man and wife. 

“Everyone on the Midway in putting this together for us exceeded my expectations,” said Shelby. “It was better than any wedding I could have planned myself.” 

“I was very happy that we could do this for Shelby and Eric,” said Paulette. “Getting married is one of life’s most special moments and I didn’t want them to miss out on it.”

“Seeing the joy and love on the faces of this young couple was memorable and rewarding,” said Chappie.

The couple is now stationed in Hawaii, on what Eric is calling a three-year honeymoon.

“It was so special getting married in front of my helicopter,” said Eric. “We really appreciated the support of the Midway, they were incredible and we can’t thank them enough. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” 

Lt. j.g. Eric Doussett and his fiancé Shelby were married on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum after the pandemic canceled their wedding plans in Florida.

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