Last August, a couple was in the path of the Charlottesville attacker who drove through a crowd of counter-protestors at the Unite the Right rally. Now, they've walked down the aisle together. Marcus Martin and Marissa Blair, who just got married, are the Charlottesville couple who survived the white supremacist attack. And in their wedding ceremony, they honored their close friend, Heather Heyer, who was killed by the driver.
The two are both alive because Martin pushed Blair out of the way as the driver headed toward them. He was hit, and the moment has been immortalized in a photo of Martin flying through the air. His ankle was broken and lower leg was shattered. The following months proved difficult as he lost his job due to the injuries.
But Martin recovered and the two celebrated their love on May 12, exactly nine months after the attack. In addition to the typical marriage rituals, the couple decided to honor Heyer. Blair explained their choices to Glamour:
We didn’t want to have an empty chair, or do something sad. Instead we had purple flowers because they were her favorite color. Susan [Heyer's mother] also walked down the aisle and released butterflies. Some of them flew away but one latched onto my dress, and Susan said that we’d name that one Heather.
Local television news captured the special moments and the presence of Heyer's mother, Susan Bro. She told NBC 29 that Heyer is with these friends on their special day. "She’s watching over those that she loves and that includes Marcus and Marissa," Bro told the news channel.
The two were supported by many in the community, who donated their services so that the couple's special day could honor their love and Heyer. Christina Moore, a wedding planner who owns Bella Giornata Events, offered her services for free and coordinated with 30 others in the wedding industry to make the day possible for the couple.
“I can't help them in the courtroom. I can't help them fight the KKK. I can't help racism. You know, I can't fix these things for them," Moore told NBC 29. "What I can do is make their dreams come true with the help of my friends today."
The two met each other at James Madison University in 2011 as Blair was graduating. "I remember one day I went over to somebody’s house, and he was there, and I thought he was so handsome," Blair told The New York Times. "I went home and told my mother I met this gorgeous man."
They would cross paths a few times, but nothing happened until October 2016 when they ran into each other at a Charlottesville nightclub. "I saw her and I was just like, ‘There’s the pretty lady again,’” Mr. Martin told The Times. “Next thing I know I’m sitting on a bar stool, and I turn around, and she’s there."
The two started dating and by January 2017, they were engaged. But the wedding was delayed following the August attack. In addition to Martin's physical issues, the two started to fight a lot, dealing with the aftermath of the trauma. But they went to therapy and were jubilant at the wedding.
150 friends and family watched as Major started the ceremony and celebration singing the song, "Why I Love You." Major told The Times he didn't hesitate being there. "I wanted to be here because their story gripped my heart,” Major told the paper. “When I heard that they wanted to walk down the aisle to my song, I got on a plane.”
The ceremony honored both Heyer and their love, and everyone pitched in to make it happen.