Wedding planning is hard enough. Add pregnancy into the mix and some things are bound to stay unchecked on that wedding to-do list until the very last minute—like finding a wedding officiant, for example.
The couple was going about their usual day-to-day routine on May 15 when they were greeted by an unexpected surprise. “He was in the shower and I just walked in and said, 'I think my water broke,'” Brianna told New York City's WPIX.
The two still wanted to tie the knot before welcoming their new baby, but in the middle of the night in birthing unit of the hospital, that looked unlikely. That is, until also-in-labor Sushma Dwivedi stepped in.
Sushma was right in the middle of getting an epidural to deliver her own baby when her anesthesiologist, looking to make small talk, told her about a couple a few doors down looking for a chaplain—and it struck a chord with Sushma. Sushma, who is licensed to officiate weddings, put her own delivery on hold to help out the couple in need.
"It was important to me to help the second I heard the story. For starters, I empathized with their situation. Parenthood is a great universal unifier, as I see it," Sushma told Brides. "To me, it felt like a life-defining moment to help show my soon-to-be-born son that whenever he has the opportunity to choose love, kindness and empathy, to help someone else out, to do some good in the world, no matter how big or small—he should take it!"
The now-mom of two was all in, and so was her husband. The two took part in the couple's special moment, which Sushma said was "very full of love."
In 2014, Sushma was officially ordained with the intention of performing LGBTQ Indian weddings, inspired by her transgender sibling's struggle to find a Hindu pundit to officiate their wedding. In May 2016, Sushma set up The Purple Pundit Project, an organization helping "gay, lesbian, queer and trans" friends celebrate their love without sacrificing their cultural heritage. Her work includes officiating weddings, naming ceremonies, and housewarmings.
Sushma said that she was so excited to put her skills to use and help the couple, even if it meant doing so while in labor. "There was a beautiful energy to it all—perfect for a wedding and also for bringing life into the world," she said of the ceremony, adding "I didn’t have much time to prep, so I asked them to tell us a little about themselves and I basically welcomed them to the crazy ride that is parenthood and marriage!"
The New York Presbyterian Weill-Cornell Medical Center helped turn the unconventional ceremony into a real celebration. The staff members brought in flowers, a created a processional, and did a reading for the newlyweds—one of the nurses even wrote a poem!
“All of a sudden, the nurses rushed into our room,” bride Brianna said of the ceremony. “One starts braiding my hair, getting me ready for my wedding, another puts a bow tie on him made from a baby’s hat.” Sushma gave the couple a short speech before pronouncing them husband and wife.
Shortly after, the celebrations continued. Sushma gave birth to her son, and a few hours later, the Walkos welcomed a baby girl.
"The whole experience was totally surreal, full of love and amazing," Sushma said. "I couldn’t be happier to have been a part of it all."