Since Kristin Owens was born, her mother, Cheryl, had always looked forward to her daughter’s wedding day. You can imagine the flurry of excitement, then, as Kristin and her fiancé, Brian Powers, made plans for their February 4, 2016, wedding. However, in November 2015, Cheryl was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer that had spread to her lungs.
“At 8 a.m. [on Tuesday, January 3], I found out that chances of her being here for the original wedding date were very slim,” Kristin tells Brides. She decided, on the spot, that she wanted the wedding to happen that day.
After getting permission from the hospital to have the wedding in the ICU where her mother was located, she called her childhood pastor to see if he’d officiate, then called her best friend, Meagan Terlep, who helped mobilize friends, vendors, and hospital staff. Together, they pulled off a beautiful, moving ceremony—complete with a wedding dress, cake, décor, and music—in under six hours.
Planning the impromptu wedding was a massive effort and one that required support and generosity from everyone involved. David’s Bridal moved her dress—which she’d already dropped off—to the front of the alteration line so Kristin could pick it up that day. The local grocer made a customized chocolate cake, the hospital cleared out an empty room and provided chairs and tables, and a hospital staff member even volunteered to play guitar and sing at the ceremony. And that’s just the beginning.
“After chatting with a few friends, we decided we didn’t want her to get married in a boring hospital room, so I picked up several different sorts of strands of lights, battery-operated lanterns and candles, silk flowers to make bouquets, tulle, a cake topper, matching ‘a mother’s love is eternal’ infinity necklaces for Kristin and her mom, supplies for a sand unity ceremony, and more,” says Meagan. “Our friend, Mary, drove three hours from Chicago, met me at the hospital, and we got to work on sprucing up the room we were using.”
Meagan says the staff at IU West Hospital were “beyond amazing” as well. Nurses helped unload supplies from the car and joined in setting up the room, and the cafeteria made punch and dinner for the 50 guests, including chicken parmigiana, lasagna, a meat-and-cheese platter, and salad.
“The wedding itself was just perfect,” says Meagan. “Her mom’s bed was wheeled in, and Kristin’s childhood pastor was able to make it to marry them, so the sermon was lovely and very personalized to the couple.”
The groom—who had a “let’s do it!” response when Kristin told him she wanted to move the wedding to that evening, wrote and memorized his vows that day. In that room, with Cheryl, family, and friends, he vowed to make Kristin his best friend and to be her best friend, and Kristin responded with her own heartfelt vows.
“There were both laughter and tears, and Cheryl maintained her amazing personality and sense of humor despite the circumstances,” says Meagan. “It wasn’t the circumstances they planned on, but it was filled with love and joy and the most important people, and that’s all that matters. It was truly perfect.”
Kristin says that she was blown away by all the support from her groom, friends, family, and hospital. “It was an amazing way to celebrate love and my mom,” she says. "The situation sucks, but it sure was something special. I feel blessed to be a part of such an event. I feel fortunate to be able to really soak it all in on my wedding day."