Bride carries preemie son down wedding aisle instead of flowers

"I jokingly said I could carry him down the aisle instead of my flowers, and everyone agreed.”

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/ Source: TODAY
By Rachel Paula Abrahamson and Scott Stump

Amanda and Edwin Acevedo were all set for a beachfront wedding earlier this summer when an adorable little guest changed everything by showing up months early.

The couple had scheduled a ceremony on June 21 in Wilmington, North Carolina, but that plan was abruptly scrapped when Amanda's water broke only 27 weeks into her pregnancy.

Doctors said she had enough amniotic fluid around her baby to stay pregnant for three more weeks so Amanda gave birth on July 14 to son, Oliver, after 30 weeks. He weighed 3 pounds and 14.6 ounces.

After welcoming Oliver to the world early, the couple was going to get married on Aug. 2 at the local courthouse while their son was being cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit at WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh.

Mallory McKeown, WakeMed's family navigator and chaplain, had other ideas. She proposed marrying them in the hospital chapel with Oliver in attendance.

Amanda Acevedo held her baby son Oliver, who was born after only 30 weeks, during her wedding.wakemedhospitals/Instagram

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"When (McKeown) called me that morning, I was so surprised and thrilled at the idea of getting married at the hospital, and of course Edwin was on board!'' Amanda Acevedo, 26, told TODAY in an email. "We planned on coming there after we went to the courthouse to get married anyways to take pictures with Oliver."

Dr. Stephen DeMeo cleared the little boy to be unhooked from the monitors to attend his parents' wedding. That gave Amanda the idea to add a special touch to the ceremony by carrying her son down the aisle instead of a bouquet of flowers.

"I jokingly said I could carry him down the aisle instead of my flowers, and everyone agreed," she said. "Our baby is what brought everyone together there, on that day in the hospital, so having Oliver be up there with us as we became a family just felt right."

The NICU nurses dressed Oliver in an adorable tiny suit and bow tie, while other staffers made decorations in a matter of hours for the ceremony.

Amanda, a pharmacy technician, and Edwin, 27, a customer service manager, tied the knot with Oliver in Amanda's arms as the NICU buzzed with excitement.

Their parents and siblings were in attendance along with several members of the hospital staff who had been caring for Oliver.

The bride wore a dress that her mother bought off the rack just two weeks before the ceremony. She had returned the white maternity dress she had previously bought thinking she would still be pregnant at their wedding.

"Edwin and I are more private people and we don’t like the attention to be on us, so having everyone watch us was a little nerve-wracking,'' Amanda said. "But once I had Oliver in my arms, and we were standing up there together, the nerves faded away. The vibe was excitement, joy, love."

McKeown also wrote personalized vows for the couple in only a few hours before the wedding.

"They were so thoughtful and a lovely surprise, which made us a little emotional,'' Amanda said.

Oliver is currently doing great and has grown to 8 pounds and 11.5 ounces.

"Oliver is happy and healthy and on track to go home very soon,'' the hospital said in a statement.

"Our love brought Oliver into this world and his life and well-being are now and always will be our top priority,'' Amanda said. "We could not have gone through all of this without the love, help, and support from our families. We are endlessly grateful for them, as well as the awesome NICU staff. We leave our baby every day to be cared for by them, and we know he is in the best hands."