After 11 years together, Melani Maxwell and David Cesar of Lindenhurst planned to finally wed.

Nothing fancy. A simple fall ceremony outdoors in a local park with close family and friends was scheduled for Sept. 30, just weeks before the birth of their first child.

But, as they so often do, the baby had its own plans and they did not include waiting until after the rings were exchanged.

Jayda Noelle Cesar was born Wednesday at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore — an unexpected three weeks early.

The jubilant couple, not wanting to cancel their officiant or their planned wedding date — which had already been pushed back once because of COVID — moved forward with the big day Thursday, exchanging "I do's" in the hospital's Meditation Room surrounded by nurses and the bride's mother.

Jayda slept through the ceremony, a welcome break for the exhausted parents.

"We wanted to be married before the baby. That was the plan before she came nice and early," said David Cesar, a nurse at Mount Sinai-South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside. "We just wanted to have our little unit. And even though it didn't happen on schedule, I think we are at a good place now and ready to move forward."

The newly minted Melani Cesar said in the weeks and months ahead they may plan a more formal celebration with family and friends.

"But we thought it was important to have it done as soon as possible," she said just moments after the wedding.

The couple's wild 24 hours began Wednesday as Melani, a pharmacist at CVS in Bay Shore, was administering a flu shot to a patient when her water broke. She immediately called her husband-to-be and her mother and raced to the hospital where Jayda came into the world on Sept. 29, a healthy 6 pounds, 12 ounces.

"Her original due date was Oct. 19 so I figured we had some time," Melani Cesar said. "I figured we were going to get married and have it all figured out for Sept. 30 so we all had the same last names and we were one happy family before she came. But that didn't go according to plan."

Less than 24 hours after giving birth, the couple exchanged their vows — the officiant was patched in over Zoom because of COVID precautions — and kissed for the first time as man and wife through their respective masks. They dined on cake and Champagne before turning in for a well deserved nap.

"It was an amazing day," said the new mom. "It felt very special. The staff here was absolutely amazing … They went absolutely above and beyond for everything. This is like nothing I expected. So much better."

With Danielle Silverman

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