Despite a devastating April fire that destroyed their home, Amanda Cappiello and Nick Ladalia were able to have a wedding, with 150 guests, thanks to help from family and friends. Credit: Howard Simmons

From fire alarms to wedding bells, Nick Ladalia and Amanda Cappiello have lived through a lot recently, but the Middle Island couple made it with the help of friends, family and the community.

Cappiello, 28, said she was sitting on her couch in the Fairview Artist Lake community on April 24 when she heard a "loud buzzing noise." Cappiello thought it was an alarm for, as she jokingly put it, a "burnt toast incident"  — until she put her dog Chandler on a leash and walked outside to see people running and flames shooting out from beneath the roof.

That was a Sunday; her wedding was slated for that Friday. 

"We lost pretty much everything," Cappiello said. "The firefighters broke down a door and got our wedding rings."

The Middle Island condo suffered severe damage in an April fire.

The Middle Island condo suffered severe damage in an April fire. Credit: Amanda Cappiello

Even as she sat watching from the complex pool, barefoot and without a coat, neighbors started offering help: water, food, a sweater, she said. And then family and friends swooped in.

A GoFundMe page popped up online, clothes, shoes, appliances and TVs showed up where the couple was staying. Even wedding vendors got into the act.

As result, their wedding day was everything the couple had wanted and, as it turned out, just what they needed to recover emotionally after the April fire.

Cappiello had been a member of the group, Brides of Long Island, which offers advice, ideas and reviews of wedding services. Group founder Heather Cunningham sent the word to her 18,000 members.

"I said, ‘This is something I can help with,’ " Cunningham, of East Patchogue, told Newsday. "If I could bring her wedding day back to what it was supposed to be, I wanted to."

Cunningham even replaced Ladalia's favorite cologne. Luckily, the wedding dress and tuxedo had been kept at their parents' homes.

Ladalia said when he arrived home from work and saw the fire-damaged condo that he and Cappiello had purchased a year ago, it was a blackened skeleton of a structure, the roof collapsed and the walls gone.

At that moment, Ladalia, 28, said he didn't know what to do. Cappiello said she cried for 24 hours, and then they got down to the business of rebuilding their life together. 

Nick Ladalia and Amanda Cappiello.

Nick Ladalia and Amanda Cappiello. Credit: Howard Simmons

Members of Cunningham's group, friends and family started ordering and delivering all kinds of items, picking some from the couple's wedding registry. They replaced wedding favors and the bridesmaids' gift baskets that had been destroyed in the fire.

Bridal Rush in Port Jefferson provided hair and makeup services for their rehearsal dinner. Esquire Tuxedos in Merrick offered the groom a suit for the rehearsal.

"Heather called me and told me how everything was burned up. My heart sank," said Michael Zisman, owner of the tuxedo shop. "We wanted to help in any way we could. I said, 'Send them over. It'll be our pleasure.' "

The wedding, at Watermill Caterers in Smithtown, was a great success, with 150 people attending, the couple said. 

"Everyone was super happy, crying and hugging us," Ladalia said, adding that people took "a million pictures." 

The newlyweds said they'll head down to Florida for a few days, and then a cruise.

Both acknowledged that going from tragedy to bliss in a week left them with some emotional whiplash, and they know more challenges are ahead. They won't be able to move back into the condo for a year, until it's rebuilt, but they still have to pay the monthly mortgage. They said they've come to learn they had bought some "lower level" home insurance, so they're staying at her mother's' home for now.

"We didn't even read the policy until the tragedy," Cappiello said.

But they said they've come away with a greater appreciation for people's humanity, as well as a sense that, if they can make it through this together, they can make it through anything.

"Nick is amazing. He's so strong. He's a gem," she said.

He added, "I'm very happy."

Latest videos


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months