“Webster’s dictionary defines ‘wedding’ as ‘the fusing of two metals with a hot torch.’”
While this definition given by Michael Scott on the popular television show “The Office” mixes up the words “wedding” and “welding,” University of Pittsburgh School of Education alumnus John Lush (MAT ’05) and his new bride, Susan Hedrick, proved that the traditional definition of a wedding ceremony may also have room for interpretation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The couple planned to wed in spring 2020 but had to postpone their big day like so many other couples due to social distancing restrictions. But unlike everyone else they experienced the joy of having John Krasinski (Jim Halpert from “The Office”) marry them with the rest of the show’s cast serving as their surprise bridal party. The wedding was broadcast to millions of people over the internet.
“We experienced it just like you and everyone else did when you watched it on YouTube,” said Lush. “Our friends and family never said a word to us. We were, and still are, in shock.”
Two Educators With a Shared Love of “The Office”
Today, Lush is the Director of Athletics for Henry E. Lackey High School. In 2005, Lush was finishing his final year in the Master of Art in Teaching English program at Pitt Education. “The MAT Program had us working full time while taking intense master’s classes with very thorough and rigorous teachers,” recalls Lush. “It was absolutely grueling, and there were times when I wanted to quit because I was so overwhelmed. However, I realized just how great the preparation was during my first year as a teacher.”
After graduation, Lush became a teacher in Charles County, Maryland. “I realized just how great the preparation was during my first year because when my fellow colleagues were overcomewith stress at the daily grind of being a first-year teacher, I felt like a seasoned veteran. I would highly recommend the program as it is one of the best things that ever happened to me.”
Lush met his wife, Susan Hedrick, a fellow teacher, at his school’s orientation programs for new teachers. They became best friends and were friends for several years before dating. During their friendship, they started watching “The Office.”
When they moved into their house in 2017, watching the show became a daily ritual. “Susan routinely said that she ‘can’t fall asleep without hearing the voice of Dwight Schrute,’” said Lush. “So, when I decided I was going to propose to her, I wanted it to be unique and felt that incorporating ‘The Office,’ and specifically the proposal scene, would be the best way to make it memorable.”
Lush recreated Jim’s famous wedding proposal to Pam in the rain at a gas station. He bent down on one knee outside a Wawa. This special proposal and connection to the show is what gave Lush the idea to reach out to Krasinski to invite him to the virtual wedding he and his wife were planning.
In response, a producer invited Lush and Hedrick to appear on Krasinski’s new online show “Some Good News” (SGN). The show began a few weeks after the COVID-19 social distancing protocols to serve as a platform to highlight the positive things happening in the world during the difficult times.
The Wedding Surprise of a Lifetime
The SGN producer told the couplet their appearance on SGN would be only for talking about their wedding proposal and connections to “The Office” show.
But when the Zoom call began, Lush and Hedrick were shocked to find out that Krasinski had become an ordained minister so that he could marry them on SGN. Both of their parents were invited to the show.
The surprises kept coming. Next, Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesley on “The Office”) appeared on the screen to serve as Susan’s maid of honor.
Then, after Lush and Hedrick exchanged vows, Krasinski snipped his tie like his TV character did on his wedding day. He pulled out a hidden small audio speaker.
“Guys, there’s only one way out of this wedding,” Krasinski told them on the broadcast. “Susan and John, because you so elegantly ripped off our show for your proposal, I feel like it’s only fitting that you rip off the wedding, too.”
Krasinski pressed a button on the speaker, and the first notes of Chris Brown’s song “Forever” played. This was the song the Dunder Mifflin crew danced to as they swept down the aisle at Jim and Pam’s wedding.
The biggest surprise of them all came next. One by one, cast members appeared on the Zoom call. They celebrated the new couple’s union by recreating their dance choreography from the wedding scene in the show.
Lush recognizes that his wedding experience is unique and that many other couples are experiencing the difficult emotions and logistics of postponing a wedding. He advises them to “focus on what you can control and remain positive in the face of adversity.”
“While we obviously have a direct connection with SGN now, we watched it religiously prior to that,” said Lush. “The best part of each Sunday was seeing how John Krasinski and his team injected joy into homes all over the world, providing hope for so many when at many times it felt hopeless. It reminded people that tragic situations do not define us, and it is pretty awesome that our wedding is part of that message.”
In “The Office,” Jim says on his wedding day that couples should create many different plans to be prepared for the unexpected turns that their wedding day could take. “The boat was Plan C, the church was Plan B, and Plan A was marrying her a long, long time ago,” said Jim on the show.
The Lushes stuck to Plan A and added a memorable Plan D of their own: Getting married by and celebrating with the cast of their favorite show.