real weddings

Family illness leads to hurried wedding — and snowy surprise

June 8, 2014 at 6:02 PM ET

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Alyssa Renee Photography

Life doesn't stop for a wedding, and no one knows this better than Kenya and Adam Dotson.

The Dotsons planned on getting married in late 2014, but when Adam's father was diagnosed with kidney cancer in November of last year, suddenly everything had to change. 

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Alyssa Renee Photography

"When Adam's father was diagnosed, we lost motivation to plan the wedding," Kenya told TODAY.com. "We said, 'We'll just elope.' We didn't want to make this difficult on anybody. But apparently nobody in our family liked that idea."

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

With eloping off the table, the couple of five years went back to the idea of planning a real wedding with a much shorter timeline.

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

Kenya and Adam met back in 2008 when she was an intern at his company, and the two still work together there now. The company works with the State Department to coordinate logistics for moving people internationally, but for Adam, the only thing being moved was his heart.

"The first thing I noticed was her eyes. She has these really big, beautiful eyes," Adam, 28, recalls. "I worked with her a little bit, but I would come in before she did and made sure I was in the area when she came into the parking lot."

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

They remained friends, and eventually, Adam found a way to ask her out, inviting her to join him on a date with his 2-year-old son from a previous marriage.

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

"He asked me to go on a date with them and I instantly fell in love with his son Andrew," Kenya, 25, says. "I was already smitten with Adam, so this was just icing on the cake."

Kenya moved in with Adam and Andrew shortly thereafter, and they quickly became a close-knit family.

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

And the love between Kenya and Andrew was mutual. "He's been asking us to get married for two or three years," Adam says. "He was really excited to be part of the wedding."

Adam proposed to Kenya this past Halloween. She got home from work to find five carved and lit up pumpkins that read: "Kenya, will you marry me?"

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

"I dropped my stuff and immediately started crying," she says.

Despite having quickly booked a venue after they got engaged, in light of Adam's father's health, they spent the next number of weeks figuring out how to tie the knot more quickly.

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

Right before New Year's Eve, they agreed to get married as soon as possible, and within five days, had planned their January wedding.

A quiet reception with just family was held at Riverside Weddings by Clore, a venue in their town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Adam had helped move the owner's daughter a number of times, and the family generously let them use the space for their special day. 

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

Kenya insisted on an outdoor ceremony, despite the fact that it was the middle of winter. What she didn't count on was approximately five inches of snow blanketing the area one day before the wedding.

"I didn't think it was going to snow!" she admits. "I called Alyssa [the couple's photographer] crying because snow was on everything. I was incredibly naive and didn't account for snow."

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

But it turned out to be a wedding gift from Mother Nature. The couple now has gorgeous photos against the backdrop of the powdery snow, and Kenya wouldn't trade it for anything.

"I actually can't even imagine if it hadn't snowed," she says. "It was probably my favorite part of the day."

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

They were also able to capture wonderful photos of Adam fishing in the snow with Kenya's brother, a favorite pastime.

The ceremony was officiated by Cory Lyman, Kenya's childhood bishop and a close friend of the family. They tried to limit their family's time outside in the cold, and after they exchanged vows, everyone drove down to a restaurant in Richmond to celebrate.

real wedding
Alyssa Renee Photography

Adam's father was unfortunately unable to make it to the wedding due to his treatment, but the couple says he is now cancer-free.

Says the bride, "We went into the wedding with heavy hearts, but it was a huge burden lifted knowing he was okay and we enjoyed the day."

Kenya and Adam celebrated their love among close family in a quiet winter wedding

All photos provided by Alyssa Renee Photography. Check out more TODAY Real Weddings here.

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