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An Alabama bride’s unusual choice of wedding venue meant the world for her terminally ill father

Sarah and Jason celebrate the ceremony with her father (c/o UAB News)
Sarah and Jason celebrate the ceremony with her father (c/o UAB News)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Sarah Williams was just like any bride, she wanted the perfect location, the most beautiful dress, and for her father to give her hand away in marriage to her lucky groom. But when her father’s terminal illness meant he wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital to attend her dream wedding, Sarah took the ceremony to him.

On October 8th Sarah and her fiancé Jason Wire surprised her father, Joseph, with a “Blessing of the Marriage” ceremony in UAB Hospital.

“You look beautiful,” Williams told his daughter when she walked into the hospital room, wearing her gorgeous white wedding gown.

The ceremony, complete with flowers and a cutting of the cake, was all planned with the help of the UAB Coronary Care Unit nursing staff, and presided over by UAB Medicine Pastoral Care Director Malcolm Marler.

“Words cannot express how amazing UAB Hospital was to my dad and to my family for having that ceremony,” said Sarah, who lives with her now husband Jason in Starkville, Mississippi. “This selfless act helped change an unfortunate situation into a memory we will be able to cherish forever. I am so thankful for the nurses, doctors, pastoral care and staff at UAB Hospital for helping create such a memorable day for us.”

Sarah’s father passed away just a week later on October 15th, after a long battle with congestive heart failure.

While the day was special for the Williams family, it also deeply touched the lives of the UAB Coronary Care Unit who witnessed it.

“Mr. Williams had been here for a little while and was critically ill, and every time we went on a trip to X-ray or CT, he kept saying, ‘How am I going to get to my daughter’s wedding?’ He was disappointed that he might miss it,””said CCU nurse Kelly Karell. “Our nurse manager, Delois Spencer, and I talked about it, and Sarah came to us and said she’d like to have a chaplain come and have a marriage ceremony here. We wanted to make it as special as possible, so we had places for the wedding party to change and a place for her to change into her wedding dress, and we ordered some food and a cake.

“We knew Mr. Williams was very sick, and you could tell he and Sarah had a close relationship,” Karell continued. “We wanted her to remember her father seeing her get married, and we wanted to do what we could to make it special for her.”