Coronavirus Wedding Diaries: A Philly Nurse Anesthetist Who’s Hoping to Get Married in Poland This Summer

Her role makes her among the most at-risk health care providers facing COVID-19.


Bride-to-be Marta Waraksa is a nurse anesthetist at Penn Medicine working on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis. She and fiancé George Benham are planning to wed in the summer. Photos courtesy of the couple

Bride-to-be Marta Waraksa, 33, is a nurse anesthetist at Penn Medicine, where she has worked for the past three years. She loves her role: She collaborates with surgeons, anesthesiologists and her fellow CRNAs to administer anesthesia for surgery and other procedures. She also manages their pain and safety. Since the coronavirus outbreak, her day-to-day life has been transformed; as a CRNA, she is among the health care providers who are most at-risk for exposure. Yet she, and so many of her fellow medical professionals, bravely face the impacts every day, while also navigating the crisis’s effects on their own lives. Case in point: The Naval Square resident is marrying fiancé George Benham, 40, this summer — in Poland, where she was born. Here, Marta, who was recently seen on Van Cleve Bridal’s Instagram as part of its efforts to highlight clients on the front line, shares her story.

This story is part of Philadelphia Wedding’s on-going Real Talk series, where real Philly couples share their unique approaches to wedding planning and marriage. If you have a unique story or experience worth sharing, we’d love to hear about it.

Things have been very different at work since the coronavirus outbreak. CRNAs are involved in intubating (putting in a breathing tube) patients, which can aerosolize the virus directly into our faces. We have been constantly wearing masks and personal protective equipment in order to protect ourselves. 

It has definitely been a scary and challenging experience. Since we have canceled elective cases at this time, we have been sent to help out in the ICUs and in the respiratory deferment. This ensures that there are enough critical staff members to take care of patients when and if a surge of coronavirus comes. 

Being a health care provider on the front lines makes this situation extremely real. I can’t check out and ignore what is happening in the world. Every day when I see COVID-19 positive patients, I fear that the world won’t be back to normal for a very long time. 

RELATED: A Guide to Philadelphia Weddings During the Coronavirus Outbreak

I often have doubts that my wedding will be able to take place this year. My wedding is (hopefully) on August 7th, in Sopot, Poland, right on the Baltic Sea. After we moved to the United States, we used to vacation in Sopot often. I always loved it there and envisioned getting married overlooking the Baltic. My fiancé is not from Poland and has never been to Poland but was sold on the idea after hearing and seeing all of my pictures and stories from my childhood. We will hopefully have around 80 guests. We have a romantic, traditional, sleek and clean theme: think lots of white flowers, candles, special scents and crisp white linens. 

After the wedding we are thinking about having a party in Philadelphia, possibly at the Four Seasons with all of our friends. We are going to wait until the middle of May to see if we need to change our date. We of course hoped to have it take place during the summer months to take advantage of the beach and outdoor activities. It would break my heart to have to move it to the winter or even next year. 

Philly couple

Our planner, Wedding Alchemy by Valentina, has been an absolute godsend. She has been coordinating with the vendors and the venues to make sure that they are still willing and able to make our wedding magical (and actually happen). She has also provided us a backup plan with alternative days in case we need to change our date. 

It has been extremely frustrating and anxiety-producing [to have a destination wedding right now]. We don’t know if places will be open and if we are going to be able to fly to get to our wedding! We aren’t sure if our friends and family will be able to come to Poland after all of this is over. Everyone’s financial situation has been affected during this virus, and fear continues to be on everyone’s mind. 

But [we must] stay positive, focus on one another and the love you have created. You cannot control what is going on in the world or if your wedding will need to be postponed or canceled. This difficult time will pass. Stay safe, stay patient and know everything will work out and fall into place.

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