Elderly woman marries herself at retirement home to fulfil lifelong dream wedding

A 77-year-old woman from Ohio has fulfilled her lifelong dream – to marry herself.

Dorothy “Dottie” Fideli celebrated her love for herself during a wedding ceremony at her retirement home on Saturday 13 May. The mother of three and grandmother was married once in 1965, but the marriage ended after nine years. Now, after 40 years of being single, she’s finally performed the ultimate act of self love.

“This is something I’ve always wanted,” Fideli told NBC affiliate WLWT5. “I wanted to get married and have a happy life but things didn’t work out that way and now I have a second chance in doing something that’ll make me happy.”

The wedding, which took place at O’Bannon Terrace Retirement Home in Goshen, Ohio, was an emotional and symbolic ceremony surrounded by family and friends. Fideli initially got the idea to marry herself from her neighbours, who had heard about a woman doing something similar on a talk show, WLWT5 reported.

“I do some crazy things around here just to make people laugh,” she said in an interview with Today. “When I see them all down in the dumps, I go get one of my outfits on and dress up and come down, and they smile.”

But on Saturday, Fideli’s plan to uplift the residents of the retirement home turned out to be an emotional and symbolic ceremony.

For her first wedding in 1965, Fideli and her ex-husband quickly exchanged vows at a courthouse, but “he went to work and I went home” right after the ceremony. “I wore a black dress, so I was doomed before I got started,” she jokingly told Today. Fideli added that she always wished she could have had a “big wedding”, but had thought it was “too late” for her.

It’s because of her daughter, Donna Pennington, that Fideli’s dreams came true. Her daughter did all the cooking for the big day, and decorated the retirement home’s community room with balloons. Fideli wore a white dress with sheer long sleeves and a silver belt, as well as a white veil with an embellished headband.

“I told my daughter, I said, ‘This is the best thing that I’ve ever had, outside of having you kids,’” Fideli told Today. “‘This is what I’ve always wanted and I’m so happy that you [gave] it to me.’”

Like any bride, the 77-year-old was “nervous” leading up to the wedding but was ultimately “really happy” when she married herself. During the ceremony, which was officiated by the retirement home’s property manager, Fideli held a white lily in her hand as a symbol for self-love, according to Today.

“I said, ‘Everybody takes this outside lily. And they live their life and they think they’re happy and everything’s going to be hunky-dory, but they don’t consider the inside, the little petals inside,’” she recalled.

“‘The inside is what’s important. That’s where God’s love flows,’” Fideli continued. “‘That’s where he gives you wisdom and he gives you hope. And nobody ever takes time to think about that. So that’s what I’ve done, and I’d appreciate it if all of you people would do it and think of it that way.’”

After dedicating much of her time towards raising her family, Fideli said she’s “at the point” in my life” where it’s “my turn to do what I want to do”.

“Love, love is the most important thing in this world, and if you love God and love yourself, this world will be a field of roses,” Fideli told WLWT5, adding that she hopes her story inspires others to find their own self-love.

“If it’s not in the cards for them, then there’s something out there that will make them happy and find themselves in life and fulfil their soul.”