York PA couple hosted a birthday party that turned into a wedding – York Daily Record

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When Chad Van Laeys met Amy Milrose at work eight years ago, he became part of the family. He was a father figure to her 12-year-old daughter, Anne, and a supportive partner during family tragedies and a lengthy home renovation project.

Three years ago, Chad proposed and Amy said yes. As it often does, life would get in the way, and the two found it incredibly hard to set a date.

After eight years, the family assumed the two would get married “soon” or “at some point.”

With a wedding in mind and being the party hosts their families know and love, the lifelong York residents came up with a plan – a surprise wedding.

With Chad’s 50th birthday in March, they decided to throw a party, where they would not only celebrate Chad’s birthday, but invited guests would be surprised by a wedding ceremony.

Their meet cute

The two crossed paths multiple times through school and even family events but became acquainted officially in 2015 at their job.

One afternoon, Chad went by Amy’s office and waved through the window in the door. She waved back and invited him into her office. “I motioned him in, thinking he was someone else,” she laughed.

“I thought, that was easy, so I went in, and we talked for a little while,” Chad said.

Amy went into work that weekend and found an envelope tucked under her door with a letter from Chad, which included a photo of a sprint car and a formal invitation, asking Amy out on a date to watch a sprint car race.

The rest is history.

Amy Milrose and Chad Van Laeys hold hands during their surprise wedding ceremony, Friday, March 29, 2024, at Wynridge Farms in York Township.

They bought a 224-year-old stone house in York County, which they started renovating.

And in 2018, they became engaged.

That’s when the questions started: “When are you getting married? What’s the plan?”

“We said: Oh, when the house gets done,” Chad said.

As the year passed, and with events taking place, including the pandemic and her father’s passing, the questions would fizzle. But the couple knew they wanted an intimate wedding, surrounded by family and friends.

Before her father passed away, Amy threw a party to celebrate her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. “My dad always called that the best party he ever had, and that time is precious,” Amy said.

Celebrating life’s special moments made the surprise wedding concept even more meaningful.

Laurie Dennis, mother of the bride, left, embraces Mackenzie Imperant, center, and Becky McClellan, right, as they watch a surprise wedding ceremony, Friday, March 29, 2024, at Wynridge Farms in York Township.

The announcement

On Friday, March 26, Chad and Amy’s closest loved ones and friends gathered for an intimate party at the Inn at Wyndridge Farm.

Guests arrived slowly and greeted Amy, who wore an elegant black gown, at the door, while Chad sat off in a separate room.

Once everyone had arrived, Amy directed her guests to stand together by the fireplace, where she and her 14-year-old daughter, Charlotte Gerhart, announced the surprise, with Chad joining them.

“Through tragedy, uncertainty, ups and downs, there’s always love, faith, relationships and support from family and friends,” Amy said.

“We know that life is meant to be celebrated in big ways and in everyday moments, so we asked you here tonight to join us in making another lifetime memory: Welcome to our wedding!”

‘Wonderful people with big hearts’

When they heard the news, their friends and family stood in shock, some in tears, some cheered, others laughed, and all smiled.

The accompaniment of live music played by local guitarist Tate Lehman added to the emotionally joyful event, as Amy and Chad greeted and hugged their guests before the ceremony began.

Chad’s mother Cindy Van Laeys said a few words about the couple.

“I never thought this day would come,” she joked. “I’m just so excited.”

Amy’s longtime colleague and friend Lorri Eline said she was incredibly happy for them. “They’re wonderful people with big hearts.” As for the surprise, Eline added, “You could’ve blown me away with a feather because I work with Amy every day. She’s got a good poker face, for sure.”

Following the exchange of vows, Amy and Chad were pronounced husband and wife. Amy’s daughter Charlotte then read a speech she had written for the couple.

Amy Milrose kisses her daughter, Charlotte Gerhart, during a surprise wedding ceremony, Friday, March 29, 2024, at Wynridge Farms in York Township.

“I’ve always known this day would come – I can now confidently say it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed,” she said with tears in her eyes.

“Seeing my gorgeous mom stand there and marry a man who she obviously loves so dearly is something I’m so blessed to see.”

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