Couple marry after meeting at Las Vegas retirement home

Groom John Hansell, left, and his new bride Carolyn Brylinski share a moment by their wedding c ...

Carolyn Brylinski, 81, prayed for months that she would find a companion who would make her laugh and like her dog, Teddy, just as much as she did.

When she moved to Oakmont of Las Vegas in September, the assisted living facility was just putting in a dog park. Brylinski, a widow of four years, soon met a dachshund named Liberty Bell and the owner, 79-year-old John Hansell, a widower of three years.

The couple stood in front of their children and neighbors Saturday to exchange rings and vows, officially becoming John and Carolyn Hansell.

“I’m thrilled out of my mind,” Carolyn Hansell said after the ceremony. “I feel blessed and so happy … I had been saying prayers for many months asking for happiness and blessings, and I got it all.”

The bride was wheeled around while she sat in her walker for most of the festivities Saturday, but she chose to walk down the aisle with her son, Mark Lewis-Jones, escorting her. Umbrellas kept attendees shaded while the couple exchanged their vows in 107-degree sunshine.

Teddy and Liberty Bell, in matching pink dresses, watched from a shady grass area nearby. The Hansells took a slow walk back up the aisle together after the ceremony while John Hansell thanked each guest they passed.

“Our friends, and especially those that could be here, make this a big family,” he said in the foyer of the facility.

John Hansell retired from the Air Force after 24 years, with his last station being at the former Nevada Test Site in the 1980s. He told everyone he spoke to at the reception that he wanted to wear a dress Saturday and call it a shotgun wedding, because his hernia made him look pregnant, he said.

Carolyn Hansell worked as a community reporter for several newspapers, living in North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania before moving to Las Vegas five years ago.

“The heart has its reasons that reason doesn’t know,” Lewis-Jones announced in his toast at the reception. “When we get up in the morning, we begin each day with hope and gratitude and love in our hearts … I hope today is a wonderful day that sends out a great message to everybody.”

Lewis-Jones and John Hansell’s daughter, Dena Heady, laughed while remembering how shortly after their parents met, both children stopped receiving the dozens of calls they usually got from their lonely parents.

“He said, ‘I have a girlfriend now,’” Heady said laughing. “He’s happy. That’s all I care about.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.