by Satina Richardson

Kelly Forbus and her fiancé Johnny Thompson planned to visit the courthouse to get their marriage certificate processed in time for their formal wedding ceremony the following day. Her work family, however, had alternate surprise plans. They secretly arranged a ceremony on the plaza at the UAB School of Optometry.

Forbus nor Johnny were expecting this to happen. There had only been a discussion about her colleague Dena Clemons simply notarizing the documents on the plaza on May 5th instead of the couple going to the courthouse. They chose the plaza because Forbus didn’t want to sign such meaningful documents in her office. The weather was beautiful that day too.

As the clinic coordinator for the University Optometric Group (UOG), the faculty practice at the school, she noticed that Dr. Adam Gordon was behaving differently that afternoon but wasn’t sure why.

“Dr. Gordon left without charting or saying bye, which he never does, because he and the other doctors rearranged their schedules to beat us to the plaza at 4pm,” she said.

When she and her fiancé got on the elevator enroute to the plaza, the elevator had filled with clinic staff on their way to the surprise wedding where the UOG doctors were already waiting.

Forbus, now Kelly Thompson, has worked at the UOG for 8.5 years. The UOG is housed at UAB Eye Care, the clinical arm of the UAB School of Optometry, and everyone is like family. They have watched each other’s kids grow up and have very much been part of each other’s lives.

“This wedding happened so organically,” said Dr. Kathy Weise, director of UAB Eye Care Pediatric Optometry Services. “We all knew we needed to be there for Kelly. There was no better place to be. She does so much for us and for everyone else. She’s one of the most selfless people we all know. We wanted to see her draped in happiness!”

Drs. Gordon and Mark Swanson walked Forbus down the aisle since both her brother and father are deceased, while Clemons officiated the ceremony. A bouquet of flowers was provided as well. The couple exchanged rings and later had their first dance to “At Last” by Etta James.

Johnny was impressed by the surprise. “It’s awesome that your doctors and coworkers love you so much,” he commented.  

The pair, who were friends for 10 years, had a formal wedding ceremony the following day. Because they technically married on Cinco de Mayo, the couple’s one-year anniversary will be celebrated in Mexico.

“This was, by far, the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me, and I owe this to a group of great, great people who created a special moment for me,” she said.