Just as Cathryn Copeland was preparing for her destination wedding, her mom’s health took a turn for the worse. The mother of the bride was admitted to the hospital in what turned out to be her final battle with cancer.
So Copeland, who goes by CC, and her fiancé Conner Wood recently moved their wedding date up by almost two weeks and said “I do” in a little garden just outside her mom’s hospital wing in Houston, Texas, so she could see them get married.
“It was just truly joyous. Everybody was just so full of joy that day and described it afterwards as a sacred day that you just really felt God there doing good things in the midst of this really trying time that we were going through,” Copeland, 26, told TODAY.
“It wasn’t bittersweet… we were just all so happy, including mom. We’re really thankful that we had that day.”
Copeland’s mom Janet, who had been battling another recurrence of breast cancer, died two weeks later. She was 57.
She had been admitted to the hospital weeks before Copeland and Wood were set to tie the knot in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Nov. 1. The couple, who lives in Dallas, was hoping she would get better, but when they realized she would likely not be strong enough to travel they began to make alternate plans, just in case.
“We agreed that the most important thing was not having it in Scottsdale, but was having all of our family there and that means mom,” Copeland said.
“We just asked her what she wanted us to do. And she said, ‘I want to see you get married.’”
She got her wish. On Oct. 22 —the new wedding date—Copeland spent the morning getting ready in her mom’s room. Copeland and Wood exchanged vows as the mother of the bride, dressed in a beautiful pink one-shoulder gown and surrounded by her closest friends and family, watched with pride. Photographer Jess Barfield captured some of the special moments.
Afterwards, everyone celebrated during a reception – which Copeland cheerfully described as “a Nutella and champagne feast”—in a family room in the hospital.
“We prayed that she would have super human energy that day and she did, it was incredible to see her go from pretty tired—she had been through a lot— and then that day she just had so much energy, she was so full of life,” Copeland recalled.
She hopes the story isn’t sad but rather an inspiring, uplifting account of people coming together. It's also a tribute to her mom.
“Obviously, I miss her every day and my heart is broken for myself… (but) I know I’ll see her again,” Copeland said.