Chicago Couple Has Impromptu Wedding 2 Days After Fire Caused by Lightning Strike Destroys Apartment Building

A lightning strike likely caused their apartment building in the Chicago suburbs to flatten after it caught fire in late July. It took firefighters about five hours to put out the flames. 

A fire that leveled an Illinois couple’s apartment didn’t stop them from getting married two days later. 

“It actually turned out to be better than anything we could plan,” the groom, Scott Aiello, tells Inside Edition Digital over Zoom while sitting next to his new bride, Katy Sullivan. 

A lightning strike likely caused their apartment building in the Chicago suburbs to flatten in the late hours of Friday, July 28. It took firefighters about five hours to put out the flames. 

“I started crying on Saturday morning,” Katy says. 

“She scared me because she was like, ‘I have to tell you something.’ And I was like, 'oh my God, what's happening?'” Scott says. 

“I told him that I had planned a surprise wedding. We talked about it and he just was like, ‘let’s do it anyway,’” Katy says.

That Sunday, the couple still proceeded with an intimate dinner part that they had planned to host. What Scott didn’t know about the dinner party is that Katy had actually planned to surprise him and tell him they were getting married that evening.  

The couple, who are both actors, met about six-and-a-half years ago through a dating app. Scott had randomly just seen Katy’s off-Broadway play (which later won a 2018 Pulitzer Prize) “Cost of Living',' by Martyna Majok.

“I thought it was fantastic," he says. "Her, in particular. About a week later, just randomly, she contacted me on Bumble. As soon as I saw a picture, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I know this person.’ I fanboyed out. Then we got together and the rest is history.”

Katy, who is a double above-the-knee amputee, became the first amputee to ever be nominated for a Tony Award. She’s also the first woman amputee to star in a Broadway show.

If that feat isn’t enough, she’s also a four-time U.S. champion in the 100-meter race and among the first bilateral above-the-knee amputees to compete in the Paralympics in ambulatory track when she ran in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. She set a new American record and also placed sixth in the world. 

The pair got engaged right before “Cost of Living” moved to Broadway in the fall of 2022. The plan was to elope, as they didn’t want a big wedding. They were saving for a house. 

“We were talking about doing a trip in June and getting married. Then I got nominated for a Tony,” Katy says. “We spent June in New York.”

After they moved back to Chicago at the end of June, they settled for a wedding in August. But then Scott booked a show. 

So, Katy took matters into her own hands once their schedules didn’t sync up. 

“My great, grand plan with Martyna, who wrote ‘Cost of Living,’ was we were having a dinner party at our apartment on a Sunday evening, and she was like, ‘why don't I marry you? I'll get ordained and we'll surprise [everyone.] We'll just convince [Scott] we're doing a fancy dinner party and just turn it into a wedding.’ And I was like, this is a crazy idea. Let's do it!”

But the Friday before the dinner party, they were forced to evacuate after a fire broke out at their apartment complex. 

“We walked out of that apartment with our laptops. I had my prosthetic legs, my purse and our dog. He left his wallet and his cellphone in the apartment. I was saying to somebody the next day: a man is more concerned about getting you and your dog out of a burning building, and he leaves his phone and his wallet. You marry that man,” Katy says. 

The impromptu wedding was moved to Scott’s mother’s house — the same home where he grew up. “I thought it was such a great idea and it meant so much to me,” he says of the change in plans.

Scott was able to grab his suit and Katy’s dress from their apartment, but not much else.

“We both wore flip flops because I had no shoes,” Katy says. 

Guests at the wedding included Scott’s mom, dad and sister. Katy’s family was on Zoom. Martyna still flew in. The newlyweds danced to Broadway’s Bobby Conte singing Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight.” They drank four bottles of champagne, DJ’d themselves and danced on the porch until 2 a.m. 

“It was lovely,” Scott says. “At one point, I leaped over to Katy and said ‘my mother's in the basement and the Shih-Tzus are fighting. Baby, it couldn't be any more perfect. Every day since then, it's been hard, but that was lovely.”

“I think when you're faced with something so devastating … it just felt like we were deciding to choose joy and deciding to move forward with a commitment to each other. We've been together so long and we've been together through so much that it just felt like the right thing to do in the face of this horrible [fire],” Katy says.  

The newlyweds are now living in temporary housing as they navigate their next move. A GoFundMe was organized by a friend to help them recover from their loses.

They seem in good spirits after the whole ordeal. 

“I just realized how much we actually do have to be grateful for instead of focusing on the negative. You have moments that are hard, but we're going to rebuild and we're going to move forward, and we're safe and healthy, and that's what matters,” Katy says. 

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