Terminally ill dad celebrates daughter’s wedding with “Blessing of Marriage” at UAB Hospital

When her dad was too sick to leave UAB Hospital, she brought her wedding to him with the help of the team providing his care.
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hospital wedding insideWhen Sarah Williams learned her dad, Joseph Williams, would be too sick to leave the hospital to attend her north Alabama wedding Oct. 10, she brought the ceremony to him inside UAB Hospital.

UAB Medicine Pastoral Care Director Malcolm Marler officiated a “Blessing of Marriage” ceremony for Williams and her fiancé, Jason Wire, with Sarah’s dad and other family and friends by their side Oct. 8. Nursing staff in the Coronary Care Unit, including those who cared for Mr. Williams, helped Sarah plan the event, which included refreshments and a wedding cake.

“You look beautiful,” a surprised Williams told his daughter when she walked into his hospital room wearing her wedding dress.

The event turned out to be more special to Sarah and Jason than they had imagined. Mr. Williams passed away Oct. 15, after a lengthy battle with congestive heart failure.

“Words cannot express how amazing UAB Hospital was to my dad and to my family for having that ceremony,” said Sarah, who lives with Jason in Starkville, Mississippi.

hospital wedding 3“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.”

The day was also quite special for the staff of the Coronary Care Unit.

“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. 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.”