If you read my first blog post How I Got Started Officiating Weddings then you know a little bit about the first couple I married; Brian & LaShonda.
Was I nervous? Yes absolutely
Did everything go well? I'll let you decide
Brian & LaShonda were married by me at the Texas Medical Center Hospital in Houston, Texas in the hospital chapel on the evening of Saturday December 17, 2016. I never would have imagined that my first wedding would be under such extreme circumstances.
Brian & LaShonda have known each other for eleven years. Brian proposed two years ago and the wedding planning started. They were to be married on board a cruise ship surrounded by family and friends. A couple of weeks before the cruise LaShonda got sick. The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. She was eventually admitted to the hospital approximately one week before the cruise. She underwent several tests but still no diagnosis. The wedding date of 12.16.17 was non-negotiable and they were determined to get married on that date. When I received the call from LaShonda's sister LaKeshia the evening before (yes I had 24 hour notice - not a problem at all because I was ready), she was so organized and was handling everything. I met her for the first time at the hospital on the day of the wedding. I also met Brian and his mom. I didn't see LaShonda until she actually came down the aisle in her dress.
What I was told about LaShonda...
LaShonda was unable to speak. She had a tracheotomy tube placed in her windpipe. I was also told she was very weak and would be arriving in a wheel chair with an oxygen tank. I couldn't imagine what she was going through. I was so nervous because it was my first wedding and I was thinking how is she going to repeat the vows or say "I Do" which is legally required. I was quickly trying to figure something out and not show that i was an anxious mess at the same time. I had to show that I was in full control of my emotions and that everything was going to be okay. Everyone was in very good spirits considering these unfortunate circumstances. THANK GOD FOR MOTHER'S! Brian's mother had an idea. She wrote the words I DO on a piece of paper so when it it came time for LaShonda to respond, Brian's mom would hold up the paper and LaShonda would nod her head in agreement. That worked!
When it was time to start the ceremony I had no idea what to expect. Brian was wearing his suit and he was ready. His best man was wearing a graphic tee of some sort, sweat pants and sneakers. It was just the two of them. The bridesmaids entered one by one and they all were wearing their bridal dresses with their flower bouquets. It was about six of them. There were about 30 guest present in the chapel. There was no photographer of videographer, no music. One of the guests turned on his cell phone and held it up high in the air so everyone could hear the music playing from him playlist. When LaShonda made her entrance, I smiled on the outside but I was so emotional on the inside. She was absolutely beautiful. She wore her wedding dress, her hair and make up were done. She actually was able to walk in and did not use a wheelchair like I was initially told. She was also attached to a huge oxygen tank. The tracheotomy tube was covered with a white satin ribbon to make it look like a necklace. She smiled slightly off and on as she made her way to the front. My God, I literally thought she was going to pass out at any moment. Brian grabbed both of her hands and it was obvious he was holding her up. I didn't know how long she would be able to stand so I started the ceremony. I made it short and sweet but included all of the legally required elements. I didn't want her to stand any longer than she had to. When it came time for her to acknowledge the vows Brian's mom was right there on the front row holding up the handwritten note that simply read, I Do. LaShonda nodded as she acknowledged her commitment to marry Brian. The ceremony took less than five minutes which I know seemed like forever to LaShonda.
Once the ceremony was over, Brian slowly escorted his bride out of the chapel and into the foyer area. I really wanted a picture with this couple but their family and friends were getting all of the pictures they could take with the couple. It was tiring to LaShonda. They eventually broke away from the group and headed to the elevator. I was able snap this quick photo of them waiting on the elevator as Brian was taking LaShonda back to her hospital room. I sensed their love for each other is so extremely strongly.
Update on LaShonda...
On March 3, 2017 I sent a text message to LaShonda's sister LaKeshia to see how she was doing. LaKeshia remembered me and said the two of them are doing fine as husband and wife. Unfortunately LaShonda's health has not changed for the better or for the worst. They are taking life one day at a time.
Please keep them in your prayers.
Five Star Review
"Kim has shown my family nothing but empathy, kindness, and professionalism during our trying times. My sister (the bride) planned her wedding for 2 years and nothing went as planned due to her unexpected admission into a hospital. With less than 24 hour notice, Kim showed up to the hospital and officiated my sister's wedding and showed nothing but compassion the entire time. A hospital wasn't the ideal place for a wedding ceremony and Kim was very patient with the many setbacks we endured such as not starting on time, difficulty maneuvering through the hospital, and comforting the bride who is currently non-vocal. The bride received a tracheotomy as part of her treatment which disabled her from speaking. Kim's improvision during reciting of vows made this circumstance less awkward and provided the bride with ease when saying "I do" to her groom. Kim, you have been a heaven sent to my family and it was a pleasure working with you! Sincerely, LaKeshia W. and The Hogans"