FDNY Chaplain Escorts Bride After Crane Collapse, Officiates Wedding

Amid falling snow, the chaplain asked the couple if they would support each other "through crane collapses and snowstorms? Through to sandy beaches and sunny days?" according to video of the vows

An FDNY chaplain escorted a bride caught in the chaos that followed Friday morning's deadly crane collapse to a historic New York City courthouse, then performed an impromptu wedding ceremony for the woman and her husband-to-be.

The Rev. Ann Kansfield said in a Facebook post that she saw bride Nesh Pillay leave a salon wearing a white strapless dress while the firefighter was responding to the collapse at Worth and Church streets in Tribeca.

Pillay was planning on taking a cab up to Tweed Courthouse so she could marry longtime boyfriend Aaron Vanderhoff in what she tweeted was supposed to be a "secret" ceremony. But because of the collapse, she couldn't find a cab.

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So the NYC crane collapse today is yet another reminder to Get Busy Living and cherish every moment as crazy things can happen at any time. Amongst the terrible tragedy in the loss of life and injuries that happened today, here's a story that I managed to work on in cahoots with the New York Post (and big ups to Chad Rachman on inspiring me to bring the camera and passing this photo on to his team). Upon learning the news, I went to go check out the monstrosity that is capable of hoisting 330 tons and almost taking out the entire Stupid Cancer staff this morning. As I walked down Leonard Street, I came across this bride, her bridesmaids and FDNY Chaplain Ann Kansfield rushing towards me. I snapped these photos and was not able to ask questions as they were in quite the hustle. After passing on the photo to Chad, he and the folks at the New York Post were able to investigate based on my location at the time and track down the bride. It turns out she was set to be married at City Hall and the crane went down while she was getting her hair done in a salon at the site of the collapse. Everything was thrown off and they missed the time she was set to get married. Instead of calling off the wedding, the FDNY Chaplain escorted her to City Hall and officiated their marriage on the street outside. Such a cool story! #tribeca #cranecollapse #nyc #crane #newyork #news #wedding #married #bride @nypost

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Kansfield said in the post she offered Pillay her coat when she saw her shivering as she was hit with sleet, then offered to walk her the six blocks to the courthouse so she could get married.

Pillay's planned officiant wasn't there when they arrived, Kansfield said, so she offered do the ceremony on the steps outside.

Video of the ceremony was posted to YouTube and shows Kansfield still wearing her fire hat and coat as she officiated the wedding. Before kicking things off, she referred to the weather and the tragedy just blocks away.

"Witnesses, do you promise to support Nesh and Aaron in their marriage?" Kansfield says, snow pelting the couple on the steps. "Through crane collapses and snowstorms? Through to sandy beaches and sunny days?" 

The witnesses all shout "Yes!" to the pastor's queries.

As Vanderhoff and Pillay exchange tearful vows, sirens can be heard in the background. Afterward, Kansfield pronounces them husband and wife, again touching on the unexpected events of the morning.

"By the power vested in me, on behalf of the church and the FDNY, I very joyfully now pronounce you married!"

Provided by FDNY
Aaron Vanderhoff, the Rev. Ann Kanfield and Nesh Pillay

The Daily News first reported on the wedding. Pillay told the newspaper that she felt lucky that Kansfield, who is also a pastor at a church in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, was there.

"I feel so lucky she was there. There was a lot of fear over what was happening, and she was just incredible, leading us through everything. She made it seamless, even though it wasn't her job," Pillay told the newspaper.

Pillay didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC New York.

Photos: Crane Collapses in New York City

Vanderhoff, meanwhile, recounted being grateful his new wife wasn't hurt and how surprising it was to see her walk up the stairs wearing a firefighter's jacket.

"Sometimes you have the first look (at your bride) programmed, and you have it planned out. But this was totally unplanned with the FDNY jacket (over her dress), and it made it really special, though in the shadow of something so terrible," he told the News.

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