One Alabama bride wouldn't let cancer get in the way of a special and traditional moment between father and daughter. Warning: major feels ahead.
Mary Bourne Butts—who wed husband James Butts on December 29 in Point Clear, Alabama—led her wheelchair-bound dad, Jim Roberts, to the dance floor for an emotional and beautiful father-daughter dance during her reception. According to AL.com, Roberts had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, an incurable brain cancer, in May 2017 and began hospice care shortly before his daughter's big day. But grateful to still have her father by her side, the professional dance teacher ensured that they both embarked on an unforgettable sashay, motorized chair and all.
Set to "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack, the bride held her seated father's hands and twirled around him in the Grand Hotel ballroom while 175 wedding guests looked on. Mary Bourne explained to Brides that the tune actually holds special significance for the duo; her father decreed it their song when she was just eight years old.
"I did a talent show dance to that song, and ever since that performance, my dad made a decision that was going to be our song the day I got married," she said. Despite the bride briefly considering the early aughts tune "cheesy" when growing up, it fit into the framework of her nuptials quite amazingly. "The words are perfect. The meaning is perfect. What we chose almost 20 years ago embraces and captures everything our family is going through," Mary Bourne added.
In a video of the tender father-daughter moment, which wedding photographer Cindy McCrory of Blue Room Photography shared to Facebook on Wednesday, Roberts is seen wiping away tears as Mary Bourne gracefully parades him around the space. Both mouth the words to their beloved ballad, before the bride concludes the dance with a long embrace on her father's lap. "I was so unaware of everything going on around us," she recalled. "I felt very present and there with my dad, but I was so undistracted. That's a part of my wedding day that will forever be vivid."
Based on her career, Mary Bourne admits that she values dance more than the average person, which did add extra pressure. "A father-daughter dance was holding great weight in my head," she says. "This was something that I never imagined, but it was the perfect father-daughter dance for us."
And, surprisingly, given the level of comfort in dancing to the sweet number, none of it had been choreographed beforehand. "That particular performance was definitely on-the-spot, but grabbing my dad’s hands and dancing of any kind is always so natural to me," she said. "I'm so confident on the dance floor, and he instilled that in me in the first place."
Both her heartwarming confidence and her father's backstory have propelled the tear-inducing clip across the social media platform, garnering the attention of over 245,000 users, almost 300 of whom flooded the comments section with positive messages. "Sweetest thing I've ever seen in my life," one comment read. "Mary Bourne, you are precious to your Dad."
All in all, the bride explained that the wedding was understandably emotional, but not at all in a sad sense of the term. "The wedding and being able to have him there were so joyful," said Mary Bourne. "We felt so blessed."
As for going viral? "It's been so mind-blowing," said the bride. "As anyone who knows my family, that was such a normal thing to happen for me and my dad: to dance. For us to share something sweet and special. So, to have so many people resonate with that is really what's blowing my mind."