Decades Later, Childhood Friends Tie the Knot in Drive-By Wedding

More than 30 cars full of family members, church friends, neighbors, and longtime friends came to the celebrate the newlyweds.

From graduations and championship games, to weddings and funerals, the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we mark milestones.

With no end to the crisis in sight, Madeline Gresham Haisten and John Orr didn’t want to wait to make their relationship official. So, the Georgia couple came up with a unique way to celebrate their wedding with family and friends without putting anyone at risk.

Madeline Gresham Haisten and John Orr Wedding
Kaitlyn Ross/11Alive

On Sunday, the lovebirds tied the knot at their Cumming home, with the ceremony captured on video for family members to experience. Afterwards, the festivities spilled onto the front yard, where a line of cars formed a surprise drive-by reception. According to 11Alive, more than 30 cars full of family members, church friends, neighbors, and longtime friends came to the celebrate the newlyweds. They waved signs, threw rice, and blew kisses from inside their vehicles.

“While both sides of Madeline and John's families were excited for their marriage, they tried to talk them in to waiting until the coronavirus times subsided to have an appropriate celebration,” Madeline’s daughter, Amanda Koch, told 11Alive’s Kaitlyn Ross. “Despite the families’ efforts, the excited couple was absolutely determined to be wed sooner than later, in fear of how long the healthcare crisis may last.”

The wedding, though not what they had originally planned, was the culmination of a decades-long story.

“Back in the 1970s, Madeline and John's two separate families were next-door neighbors in the Hearthstone Subdivision in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Both families were dear friends, sharing children, celebrations, neighborhood parties, and family activities,” Koch told 11Alive. “Over time, the families moved, children grew up, grandchildren were born, and spouses passed away. After many, many years, the two reunited a friendship after realizing both now lived in the Cumming area, just 10 minutes apart from each other.”

After dinner dates and trips to the movies, a romance blossomed between the childhood friends. A year later, they decided to get married.

“I couldn’t be more happy for my Mom and her new husband John,” Koch said. “I thought this occasion was worthy of sharing, to show that old friends, new love and hearts of determination can still lead to joyful beginnings even during trying times.”

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