Saturday 17 August 2019

Bittersweet moments as photographer shoots last-minute wedding in hospital where parents died years before

Couple moved wedding date when the bride's mother was given just one week to live

Wendy Teal Photography
Wendy Teal Photography
Wendy Teal Photography

Chelsea Ritschel

When Chelsea and Jordan Harper found out Chelsea’s mother only had a week left to live, the couple moved their wedding date up - planning everything in just two days so the bride’s mum could be there for the ceremony.

Despite the time constraint, the couple successfully pulled it off and married on March 13th - thanks in part to donations from people who wanted to help.

Wendy Teal Photography
Wendy Teal Photography

One of these donations happened to be wedding photographer Wendy Teal, who saw the couple’s plea for help on Facebook and decided to offer her services for free.

But what the couple didn’t know was that Teal would be shooting their wedding photos in the same hospital where Teal’s own parents had both died four years earlier from stage four cancer.

Teal heard about the couple’s plight when multiple people tagged her in the groom’s Facebook post which read: “Looking for a photographer to do a small wedding ceremony in Fort Erie, Ontario. My fiancé’s mum has become very ill and we have arranged to be married at the Douglas memorial For Erie hospital on Tuesday at 2:30 so that she can be there for her daughter’s wedding. We are desperately looking for someone to capture the moment for us. Please message me with info.”

According to Teal’s blog post, she reached out to the couple and offered her services after recognising the name of the hospital. She was one of many who offered to donate their services - “It soon became clear that everybody involved in the wedding had donated their services to this young couple, as the mother of the bride was given a week to live just days beforehand,” she wrote.

Wendy Teal Photography
Wendy Teal Photography

But once Teal arrived the day of the wedding, she realised that not only was it the same hospital where her parents had passed away - but the wedding ceremony was to take place in the same room her own mother’s funeral was held.

Four years earlier, when Teal’s mum passed away, the funeral was held in the hospital so Teal’s father could attend. Just a few hours later, he also passed away.

Wendy Teal Photography
Wendy Teal Photography

Teal decided to keep the connection to herself, rather than add additional sadness to the bride and groom’s day, according to her post. However, hospital staff did recognise her.

According to Teal, she told the staff: “When my family was suffering so much, the hospital and staff went above and beyond for us and this is my opportunity to pay it forward.”

And despite the last-minute planning, the celebration - and the photographs - turned out beautifully and the couple was able to marry in front of Chelsea’s mother, Kim.

Teal was also able to edit and print some of the wedding photos so Chelsea’s mum could have a photograph of them in her last days.

Of the moving experience, Teal told The Independent: “The whole experience was very powerful. Stepping back into the room where my parents literally had their last moment together was sad but at the same time beautiful that a new young couple was beginning their journey and the fact that it was all put together in her mother’s last days made the whole thing more meaningful.”

Chelsea’s mum has since passed away, Teal told The Independent, eight days after her daughter’s wedding.

Independent News Service

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