A Wedding Ceremony For My Grandma
Update – My grandmother passed away on 8/25/20 after a difficult fight with heart failure. I was able to spend time with her each day at the hospital until she passed. The wedding ceremony that we had for my grandmother on 9/21/19 was full of so many special moments that I’ll forever hold dear to my heart.
I love you forever, grandma.
Grandmas are definitely special. This post is about making one of my gram’s dreams a reality.
Note: Many more photos from the day and a synopsis can be found here in our Facebook Album.
When I was a little girl, I would spend every weekend with my grandma. We would go on walks up to town, to the convenience store, and to the local festivals. We would play games, and of course…she always spoiled me like crazy!
I have always been very close to my grandmother, from when I was a tot until this very day. She watched over me as I grew into a young woman. She worried about me every single day. I remember her telling my mom how she was afraid that if I didn’t have a thick enough coat, I would catch a cold.
She always told me how she prayed I would meet a nice young man who would look out for me. I told her I would but made sure she knew I was also independent and could take care of myself. But still promised her that I would be sure I married someone who treated me right.
As The Years Go By…
When I went to college, I didn’t get to see my grandmother as much. She would still always call me and was so worried about me but knew I was safe in school. She had a brief health scare when I was in my junior and senior year, which meant she was in rehabilitation facility to learn to walk again when I graduated from college. But she was on the phone with my mom the entire time, proud as can be.
I then started working my first full-time job closer to home and got to see gram a bit more.
It was 2014 when I thought I was going to lose her.
I was on vacation in Myrtle Beach with my coworker when I was talking to gram on the phone and she told me she was throwing up continually and had a terrible headache. I got my mom to take her to the doctors, who said “all was okay” but I knew something was still wrong.
As soon as I got back to PA, I picked gram up and took her to the ER.
She had a heart attack without even knowing it. The next few months were terrible. They did stenting procedures, which seemed to be working well. Except on the last stent they did, gram had a stroke during the procedure. A freak incident.
They rushed her to the ICU and she was on a ventilator. My heart was absolutely torn in pieces. Everyday, I drove an hour after work to go to UPMC Shadyside to be with her.
Being one of grams main advocates, the doctor had me talk to the Palliative Care team, who said their goal was to make her comfortable. But gram was still holding my hand tight when I was in the room with her and still had a lot of fight in her!
My mom, aunt, and I all opted to go for a PEG tube to get her sustenance to give her a chance. And by golly, she MIRACULOUSLY pulled through. The doctors were amazed and astounded. I, however, knew gram was a fighter and she was going to be okay.
She recovered slowly but surely, except she now had vascular dementia due to the stroke. She no longer knew the day/month/year or anything recent that happened. But that was and still is okay. She knew who I was…my mom..my aunt. And that is what matters most.
Nick and I met in August of 2014, right after gram went into a long term nursing facility after she recovered. When we started dating in November of that year, Nick quickly learned how important my grandmother was to me.
He met my gram in late 2015 and gram immediately loved him. And what was even more amazing was that she remembered him. Nick was the first person she remembered *after* she had her stroke and we couldn’t figure out why. At first, I was praying that maybe her memory was starting to come back.
While that wasn’t the case, it was something that was also wonderful. Because of how important Nick was to me…and how important I was to gram, it created a connection and memory for her. Ever since then, she remembered him and every time I would visit when Nick wasn’t around, she would ask where he was!
I ended up moving out to Columbus, OH to move in with Nick in May of 2016. This was such a hard thing to do, as I was leaving my life behind. And would be a lot further away from gram.
But…it is only about three and a half hours to get back home, so I figured it wasn’t quite that bad. As there were ample jobs in my industry in Columbus (the insurance industry is HUGE here) and really not any in Nick’s field out in PA, I decided to make the leap.
Ever since then, I make the drive out to PA to see gram approximately every other weekend. It is so worth it to see gram.
In mid-2018, gram got really sick with her gallbladder. They would not do gallbladder removal surgery because of all of her heart issues (even though she had a pacemaker procedure in 2017, she would have to go under general anesthesia and the surgeon didn’t think that was a good idea.)
Unfortunately, she had to get something called a C-tube, which only needed twilight. She had complications a few days later and things got bad really fast and she ended up having respiratory failure and was rushed to the ICU and diagnosed with sepsis. The next month was difficult but I kept telling gram…you have to get better, you want to see me get married, right? She nodded then would say “Yes!” when she started to feel better.
After a month in the ICU, gram got released! Things were looking up and I took her for a second opinion appointment a few weeks later. Dr. Bartels in Latrobe, PA was amazing and removed the C-tube on the spot.
I even snuck her a milkshake after the appointment…because celebration! Woo!
I was so thankful she was on the mend, as Nick and I were possibly going to have to cancel our trip to Europe, as there was no way we were going if gram wasn’t doing okay.
I felt comfortable going once I saw she was truly feeling so much better and we went. Nick then proposed…on a beautiful mountain in the Swiss Alps!
Leading Up To The Wedding
We were in bliss! Planning our wedding…and deciding all of the fun little things, knowing we were getting to marry each other!
Nick and I were talking one day when deciding where to get married (my family is in PA and his is in WI) and I brought up how gram has always dreamed of seeing me get married and I would be heartbroken if she didn’t get to.
That’s when Nick said…well, since it makes the most sense for us to get married in Ohio, which is more in the middle for our family in and friends, why don’t we have a separate ceremony for your grandmother?
We talked about it more and more and I was SO excited that we were going to make this happen!
When I showed her the ring and told her about how she was finally going to see me get married, she was in awe.
Her heart was full of joy. For the months leading up to the wedding, she kept saying, “Won’t be long until you are getting married!! I hope it is a nice day.”
I asked her what she wanted to wear on our wedding day and she said she wanted to wear a pantsuit (she never wore dresses so this was totally her style!) So by golly, a pantsuit I got her!!
She was just SO happy. We worked with the local priest back home and got everything in order so that we could have the wedding in PA as a validation ceremony, since we would already be married at that time.
A few weeks after our wedding in Ohio, it was time for our ceremony in PA. September 21st was a beautiful day.
I woke up early that morning to get my hair and makeup done by a friend I went to high school with. Then, I picked up gram and she was as excited as ever! All of the nurses yelled “Have fun!!” as I took her out to my car and got her in.
I went back to my best friend’s parents place and Stacey (my best friend and MOH) helped me get into my wedding dress. I had it cleaned so that it was as beautiful as it was during the first ceremony. Stacey’s mom helped gram get dressed into the gorgeous pantsuit. Stace made gorgeous bouquets of flowers for me and a few of my bridesmaids who were coming to help make the day extra special. They were beautiful and I reveled in the moment of how lucky I am to have a tribe who were helping to make this happen.
Then, I put on my shoes and jewelry and we had about ten minutes before we had to head to the church. Since we had a bit of time, I went out to the living room to see gram.
She studied me and exclaimed how beautiful I was. I had not seen that much emotion on her face in such a long time and I was already tearing up and the day was just starting.
Once we got to the church, our photographers (who are friends from high school) met us and started taking some photos. They also did our photos from our Columbus wedding and were so gracious to do this second ceremony, as well.
The photos from our second ceremony were taken by our extremely talented photography team: Chasing Eden Photography.
During the ceremony, I was so emotional. It was such a special day for more than one reason. Not only was gram getting to see me get married…but I was marrying the love of my life in the eyes of God. There’s just something special about a church ceremony.
What is really funny is that I did not cry at all during our Columbus ceremony. I was just so happy and in the moment. This time, I was crying tears of joy throughout the ceremony and during our vows. I was so in awe in realizing just how special this was, surrounding by the intimacy of a few family and friends.
The rest of the ceremony was beautiful and gram was intently watching us “happy as a lark”, as she used to say.
We thanked Father Rick before heading out. He had another wedding ceremony to do soon after, so we wanted to be respectful of the next bride and groom, so we headed on back to Stacey’s parents place.
The day was beautiful and the sun was shining. We were able to get gram to stand up for a few photos that will forever be dear to my heart.
Nick and I then went off to take some bride and groom portraits, as we didn’t get to do as many as we planned during our Columbus wedding due to rain.
The photos turned out amazing and we had such a fun time dressed up in our wedding attire again!
After photos, we went out to the backyard and had lunch followed by the cutting of the cake tradition! My best friend and her roommate made a phenomenal wedding cake for us that looked professional and tasted scrumptious!
We snuck gram a piece of cake because, why not…it was our wedding day for Pete’s sake! 😉
She LOVED IT.
We enjoyed the rest of the day and relaxed in the company of friends and family.
Gram was happier than I had seen her in years!
When I took her back to the nursing facility, I gave the nurses the heads up that her sugar may be high when they checked it since I gave her some wedding cake. They were not upset at me at all and asked if she enjoyed it…to which she said, “It was delicious!!!“
The girls there all told her how beautiful she looked and asked if she had fun. She responded, “I had a WONDERFUL day…my granddaughter got married!”
I am forever grateful that I have such an amazing husband…who knew how important this was to both gram and I. And I am equally grateful for my wonderful family and friends, who all came together to help make this special day happen.
September 21st, 2019 is a day that I will always hold dear to my heart…alongside all of the memories from that day that I will cherish for the rest of my life.