Michaela Murphy never bought into the idealized notion of the glitzy “dream wedding with the pressure to be the happiest you can on ‘the most important day of your life’. ”She simply wanted someone who was close to her and her fiancé Gregg to preside over a heartfelt ceremony.
But then, their greatest fear was realized as Gregg’s father, Larry, fell ill. His brain tumor had returned and the prognosis was not good. Larry told them, “the only thing I’ll regret is not seeing you get married.”
Michaela lost both of her parents at a young age and had taken Gregg’s parents as her own. She and Gregg decided to do everything in their power to ensure that Larry would be present at the wedding. They moved up the date of the ceremony and changed the location to Larry’s hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The wedding guests, who were mainly in the New York and Seattle areas, planned to attend the event via Skype Video Call. Robert knew it was important to the couple that he marry them, so he bought a last-minute ticket to Cedar Rapids.
However, Larry’s health took another devastating turn for the worse. He stopped eating, was in and out of consciousness and moved into hospice care.
Every hour counted.
Michaela and Gregg revised the wedding plans again and flew standby to Iowa. During their layover in Minneapolis, they called the hospice for updates on Larry’s health only to find out that he was unresponsive.
Robert, who had arrived home in Seattle minutes before from his own travels, agreed to preside over the ceremony via Skype. Michaela IMed him the vows moments before she and Gregg arrived at the hospice.
Gregg pulled on his suit and haphazardly tied his tie as they rushed down the halls looking for Larry’s room. Michaela wore pearls that Larry had originally bought in Japan for his mother. As they entered the room, Gregg called out, “Where’s the father of the groom?” Larry stirred, recognized his son’s voice and regained consciousness.
He saw Michaela’s pearls and said, “Okinawa.”
“I told you we were going to make it,” Michaela beamed as she set up her laptop at the edge of Larry’s bed.
Michaela called Robert on Skype. The couple sat on the bed with Larry and held hands as Robert conducted the ceremony. One of the nurses acted as the wedding photographer, shooting the event on a smartphone.
Larry smiled as Michaela told him, “I’m your daughter-in-law now.” No one cried in the moment but all were quietly aware of the importance of what had just happened.
Larry passed away a little over a day later.
Shortly after, Michaela and Gregg had a second Skype wedding with 30 people from 11 states on three laptops. Gregg’s daughter – who wasn’t able to make it on the short notice – “walked him down the aisle” over Skype for iPhone.
Michaela said, “In the end, it actually turned out to be my version of a dream wedding. There was so much meaning and intense love that it far surpassed anything I could have imagined.”