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A vow amid a pandemic: East Meadow marines have a socially distanced wedding

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Two East Meadow marines were planning on getting married before the coronavirus pandemic hit. While social distancing prevented them from having a big ceremony with family, they were able to opt for a more formal occasion than they had thought.

Samantha Chavarria, 24, and her husband Ryan, 25, joined with several friends at the Merchant Marine Academy, in King’s Point, on Sept. 20 for a small ceremony officiated by East Meadow resident Andrew Vardakis, of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ceremony was live streamed for those who couldn’t attend in person, including Samantha’s family in Harlingen, Texas, and Ryan’s family in Lubbock, Texas.

Samantha has been a sergeant in the Marine Corps. for six years and Ryan has also been a Marine Corps. sergeant for five. The couple met while serving in Japan and were best friends, Samantha said. Ryan was a constant source of support while she was pregnant with her son Alexander and helped raise him after he was born.

They began dating and moved to the Mitchel Manor military living community in East Meadow in April 2019. “It’s a great area to raise our son in,” Samantha said. “We feel very secure and safe raising our son here.”

They met Vardakis through a neighbor who works with him in the Coast Guard. “He was great about marrying us,” Samantha said. “He went above and beyond to make our wedding something super simple, but just as incredible.”

When they’re not working, Samantha and Ryan spend time playing outdoors with Alexander and their one-year old Rottweiler Ace. “He and my son are best friends,” Samantha said.

They also volunteer for Toys for Tots, in Garden City, to which they plan to contribute again this year starting in mid-October.