Photographed by Meredith Dickens Photography
Nothing could stand in the way of this couple and “I do.”
Written by Shay Maunz
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t started with a spark. No, really, Krista Frye and Salvatore Cataldo’s relationship started with an actual spark. In 2012 Sal, who works as a contractor, had just finished building a house outside of Charleston and was left with a big pile of debris to deal with. “And I had the bright idea to set it on fire,” he says. So he doused the whole pile with gasoline, lit it with a match, and walked away. When he returned to the pile a few hours later and it still wasn’t burning, he picked up the gas can and added more fuel. “Right when I got in there I saw a flame pick up on the side,” he says. “The whole thing blew up, and I came out of it on fire. I was just covered in burns.” After a trip to the emergency room and a stint in the ICU at the Charleston Area Medical Center, Sal ended up in the burn center at Cabell Huntington Hospital where Krista is a nurse. Fortuitously, his room was right next to the nurses’ station.
“I saw him sitting in the room with his mom and sister and thought, ‘Wow, he’s really good looking,’” Krista says. “And then I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a weird thing to think about a patient.’” Sal remembers that moment too. He was in the middle of a conversation with his mom and sister but when he saw her everyone else faded into the background. “They kept talking, but I didn’t hear anything they were saying.” Krista wasn’t assigned to Sal’s room that night, but his nurse was overburdened with patients, so she volunteered to help out.
They chatted all the way through Krista’s shift, obviously hitting it off, but Sal spent hours agonizing over how to ask her out. Eventually, he suggested becoming friends on Facebook, and she accepted. Facebook chatting quickly became a first date, and before long they were a couple.
They’d been dating longer than a year, had bought a house together, and discussed marriage, but Sal still managed to surprise Krista with a proposal. He decided to do it during a vacation to a Mexican beach, their first big trip together. Krista thought a proposal was imminent. But when it didn’t come on the first day, or the second, she gave up on the idea. Then, a few days into the vacation, Sal told her he’d arranged for a photographer to take some photos of them on the beach—she didn’t know he’d been talking with a local photographer for weeks to plan a surprise engagement shoot. “The photographer and I corresponded back and forth over email about how we were going to do it,” Sal says. “We got some signals ready, figured out the timing, and all that.”
So Krista and Sal put on some photo-ready clothes and went down to the beach for a stroll while the photographer snapped away. In the middle of the shoot, Sal got down on one knee to propose. Krista, of course, said, “Yes.”
At first they joked about simply holding the wedding at their house. “We laughed at at the thought,” Krista says. “But then, all of a sudden, it was like, ‘OK, that’s a great idea.’” They had a new home outside Milton with a patch of land, after all. Wouldn’t it be great to pitch a big tent in the yard and have a party? It would take a lot of work to pull it off. The couple would need to cut down trees and move a lot of land to level the yard, among other things. But Sal is a contractor by trade. How hard could it be? “It seemed so simple,” Krista says.
It turned out not so simple at all. A pipe burst. Sal spent days leveling the land. Both spent hours laying sod, only to worry it wouldn’t have time to grow in properly. “I remember thinking that we might just be dancing in a big mud pit at the wedding,” Krista says. “It was overwhelming.”
With a month and a half left to go until the wedding, all the vendors booked, all the plans set—but a still daunting amount of work left to do at the house—Sal and Krista made a decision. “It got to the point where it was like, this isn’t how your engagement is supposed to feel,” Krista says. The couple talked about the issue at length. And with friends and family supporting their decision, they cancelled the wedding and moved it to Jamaica.
The Plans, Take Two
They’d already planned to honeymoon in Jamaica after their West Virginia wedding, so Krista and Sal simply moved their flights up five days and found a Jamaican resort that would host them. They brought their parents, as well as, luckily, their photographer, Meredith Dickens. “We really wanted good photo—that was important to us—and we really loved Meredith,” Krista says. “So when she said she could come it was like, ‘OK, this is perfect. We’re doing the right thing here.’”
Confirmation that they’d made the right decision came three weeks before the big day, a few weeks after the couple decided to have a destination wedding, when Sal was in a major car accident and landed back in the intensive care unit. Had they still been planning on getting married at the house they might have had to postpone or move the ceremony anyway—there was no way he could have finished all that work in time—but his doctors did clear him to make the trip to Jamaica. “We were just so grateful he was able to go,” Krista says. “We completely believe in fate, and we feel like we met for a reason. I think everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to happen, even that bad car wreck.” Sal says his accident made the wedding that much more poignant. “I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude that I was even still here,” he says.
The Big Day
Their day together before the wedding was nice and quiet. They had breakfast with their parents and then got a couple’s massage. “We wanted the day to feel relaxed, and it was as relaxing a day as it could have been,” Krista says. After the massage, they separated and went back to the hotel to get ready for the ceremony with their parents. Krista wore a lace dress with a sheer back and a long row of covered buttons, and Sal wore a black vest, gray shirt, and blush pink tie.
They were married on the beach, in front of turquoise blue water, bright white clouds hanging low in the sky, and a radiant sun. “People look at photos from the wedding, especially this one specific photo, and they think we bought a background to stand in front of. It’s just too perfect,” Sal says. In some photos, there’s even a rainbow—the product of a rainshower that interrupted their vows and forced them to pause the ceremony for a few moments. “That storm set this beautiful scene,” Sal says. Krista chimes in. “It’s funny,” she says. “Because when we were going to be getting married at home I was obsessed with having it not rain. I was poring over historic weather records to decide what day and what month, it was crazy. And then right in the middle of our vows the sky opened up and it poured.”
In the end, Krista and Sal got exactly what they wanted out of their wedding day: They had a beautiful service; enjoyed cake, champagne, and dancing with their closest family; and became husband and wife. “It was the best day ever,” Krista says.