Drive-through ‘I do’

Drive-through ‘I do’

The Rev. Olivier Bala, of the Mount Hope Community Baptist Church in Providence, officiated the marriage of Gabriela Gonsalves and Scott Crowell, at the bride’s parents’ home last Sunday afternoon. (Breeze photos by Robert Emerson)

CUMBERLAND — A local couple said “I do” from a distance over the weekend, creatively altering their wedding plans amid the coronavirus pandemic to safely tie the knot.

Gabriela Gonsalves, who was born and raised in Cumberland, and Scott Crowell, of Pawtucket, met online and began chatting in January 2018. For their first date, Scott picked Gabriela up from her job at the Lincoln Mall, where she worked for Lincoln Tech. They went to Chili’s.

“That date was hilarious,” Gabriela said. “There was a little kiosk at the table to fill out a survey about the meal, and we pretended to do a survey about our date. I asked him to rate our date on a scale of one to 10 and he said “an eight.”

Gabriela said she knew in that moment, “This is the most honest guy I’ve ever met … I can trust him.”

“Now, I’m a 10 out of 10,” she joked.

In January of this year they took a trip to Florida together. The second night, while sitting out on the balcony, Scott told Gabriela that she was his best friend, and that he loved her, before dropping down onto one knee.

“He pulled out a ring box shaped like a piano, which was amazing because I’m in love with music,” she said. “I’m a sensitive person … I got teary. We were laughing and crying. It was beautiful.”

The engagement “changed everything” for the couple, she said, giving them something to look forward to after more than a year of discussing their hopes of starting a life together. They grasped onto that excitement even when coronavirus struck, forcing them to constantly change their wedding plans and projected date.

“We thought about July 2021, then moved it to the fall, but we weren’t sure what was going to happen by then with the virus. We kept changing our mind, then we heard the idea of a drive-by wedding in April.” Gabriela said.

“We thought it could be a really interesting and safe way to have our wedding,” she said, adding that they’d always talked about having a small backyard ceremony. “This way, we could have the wedding with social distancing and masks and just offer an opportunity for people to get our of their homes and see something happy during a time when we’re all having our own anxieties and lows.”

Gabriela said pulling off the drive-by wedding is something she’s proud of, especially the work her mother, Roberta, put into her yard on Highland Avenue for her daughter’s big day.

“She made it like the secret garden,” said Gabriela, who felt as though she was dancing among the woodland fairies in “The Nutcracker.”

“That’s what it felt like to me, maybe because I was the bride that day,” she said with a laugh, “…but I just felt like I was floating on air, like that was the theme. It was beautiful and green, like the garden of Eden, with flowers my mother planted everywhere.”

On Sunday, the day of the wedding, supportive neighbors opened up their driveways to family members to park. A small ceremony began around 3:45 p.m., officiated by the Rev. Olivier Bala. Gabriela was walked down the aisle by her father, Frank, and Scott was supported by his parents, Robert and Debra.

“Most people started driving by closer to 4 p.m., right toward the end of the ceremony when we kissed and James Brown’s ‘I Got You (I Feel Good)’ began to play,” Gabriela said. The newlyweds and their immediate family members stood in the yard greeting loved ones and passing out wedding favors – little boxes that said “Love” filled with candies – through car windows.

Guests rolled up holding “Congratulations” signs, some stopping to take socially-distanced photos with the husband and wife. Gabriela said the day brought a lot of smiles.

“It was refreshing and heartwarming to see people come out for us. I know people have been feeling down since this pandemic struck, and I realized I haven’t seen this amount of people smiling at once in so long. I’ve been feeding off that energy for days,” she said.

Simplifying their plans allowed the couple to focus on what truly mattered – their love for one another.

“That was huge for me,” Gabriela said. “Scott and I were just happy to be getting married. We have been talking of marriage and family for over a year. We love each other and didn’t want to wait or change our plans again.”

To engaged couples anxious about wedding planning during a pandemic, she said her advice would be to “relax, be cautious, and be creative. You can still pull it off. You can still get it done.”

She has zero regrets about her low-key wedding day, saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” People may come to weddings to dance, drink or eat, but the couple’s guests “were willing to drive over just to smile, take a picture and say hello. If you’re wondering whether there are still good people in this world, the answer is yes,” she said.

Frank Gonsalves escorts his daughter Gabriela to his front door, where she will be married in an outdoor ceremony at 147 Highland Ave., in Cumberland, last Sunday afternoon. It was a drive-by, social-distanced wedding, where cars would pull up one by one after the brief ceremony and one member of the newly-wedded couple would go to the car and receive a congratulatory gift or card.
Newlywed Gabriela Gonsalves shares a moment with her mother Roberta after her marriage to Scott Crowell on Highland Avuenue last Sunday afternoon.
Newlywed Scott Crowell chats with Sonny Duong, of Central Falls, following his marriage to Gabriela Gonsalves last Sunday afternoon. After the brief ceremony, cars pulled up one by one and offered congratulations.
Maria Tourinho, of Taunton, Mass., drives up to talk to newlywed Gabriela Crowell after her marriage to Scott Crowell last Sunday afternoon.
Friends, neighbors and family members gather on a hot summer day to witness the marriage of Gabriela Gonsalves and Scott Crowell last Sunday.


Congratulations on your daughters wedding! You were the catcher on our team the Mets. My sister sent Bernadette sent me this story. Hope you're doing well. You look good even with a mask. Where have the years gone since we were kids looking at the Sears catalog. Hope life has been good for you. Jesus has been good to me. Hope you know him. God Bless! Bernie Hudson