Anybody can elope to Vegas.
But it takes true love to elope on a front porch in Delco.
And so it was Friday night — as neighbors looked on in their quarantine finest, and loved ones watched from miles away on Facebook — that Joy Karsner married Brian Barton at their Springfield, Delaware County, home in a ceremony they dubbed “Eloping in Quarantine.”
The people of Ballymore Road came out with their babies and their beers, their dogs and their dancing shoes to groove on the sidewalk to the tunes of DJ Neeek Nyce and to celebrate the couple, true love, and finally having something to do on a Friday night.
“I think it’s awesome they’re still celebrating all of life’s moments,” said neighbor Devon Pasha, 35, who came to the wedding in her best Christmas leggings.
Karsner and her three daughters walked down the driveway to an instrumental version of “Penny Lane” as Barton and his “best pooch” — Maxine Tiggermush the bulldog — anxiously awaited them on the porch.
The officiant, a friend of Karsner’s who was ordained online in five minutes this week, appeared via iPad and performed the ceremony over Zoom from her home in Rochester, N.Y.
“At this time, we would like to honor those who could not be with us today, which is basically everyone,” she said.
It was a far cry from the summer wedding at the Shore the couple had imagined, before the coronavirus hit and made everything unimaginable.
When the stay-at-home order began, Barton, 44, moved in with Karsner, 39, and her daughters so they could all quarantine together. Living together made Karsner want to get married as soon as possible “to make it official for the family," she said.
The fact that Barton has spent the last six weeks sleeping on the couch with Maxine Tiggermush played a role, too.
“That’s the real reason we’re getting married," he said.
The couple met online in the fall and took a train together to New York City for their first date. The connection was immediate.
“We’ve both been married before, and we’ve dated other people and we knew this was it,” Karsner said. “We know what we like, and we like each other.”
So when Barton, a political science grad student and graduate teaching assistant at Temple University, proposed to Karsner at the top of the Art Museum steps in January with her daughters by their side, she didn’t hesitate to say yes.
They talked about a wedding in Ocean City, N.J., and planned a honeymoon in Prague, but as everything began shutting down amid the coronavirus — and Karsner was laid off from her job in nonprofit communications and marketing — planning a traditional wedding became impossible.
As the sofa got smaller by the day and their love grew larger, they decided instead on a very nontraditional quarantine elopement, one they planned in the span of just eight days.
Karsner’s youngest daughter, Eva Drager, 9, served as flower girl, and her oldest, Alison Drager, 14, was her maid of honor. Karsner’s 11-year-old child asked that it say “starring Katelyn Drager, as herself" in the official e-program.
The bride wore a navy blue sequin dress she rented online. Sheets of chiffon and white lights hugged the poles of the porch, and baskets of flowers hung overhead.
As more than 100 of their closest friends and family watched on Facebook Live, two dozen of their closest neighbors watched from the sidewalk or the porches of their own homes, cheering them on and dancing at all the right times.
Neighbor Jacqui Dieterle, 39, wore a brown silk formal dress to the ceremony, which she paired with a gray hoodie and a can of White Claw.
“I used to not drink, but then quarantine happened,” she said while dancing in the street. “This wedding is great. We needed this.”
Under a tent in the front lawn, the couple set up a “wedding reception to go” with tiny bottles of champagne and boxes of cupcakes for their guests.
Karsner’s mom, Nancy, who cried on Facebook Live while watching the couple’s first dance to the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun,” offered the first toast over video.
“I’d like to thank everyone for not coming to the wedding,” she said.
The newlyweds had no big plans for a dinner, no buffet set up in the kitchen, just the Chick-fil-A the Karsner girls’ had requested and the wedding cake they got from Traub’s Bakery in Prospect Park.
It was unclear if they’d share either with Maxine Tiggermush, who for the first time in weeks would find herself sleeping alone on the couch Friday night.