Charlotte Watson was devastated when her father, Mick Barber, died just a few months before her wedding. But the bride, 26, found a creative way to keep her dad’s memory close as she walked down the aisle.
Watson, who lives in Stoke-on-Trent, England, included her father’s ashes in her wedding manicure.
Watson’s cousin, Kirsty Meakin, a nail artist with more than 130,000 Instagram followers, came up with the unique idea.
“As a family we all kind of thought, how can we bring a piece of Mick to the wedding?” Meakin, 41, told TODAY Style. “My immediate idea was to do something with nails.
“I could see the ashes at my mom's house on her mantle piece a lot,” she added. “We always sort of looked at them and I just thought, they don't actually look too dissimilar to something that would go into nails. They actually blend really well within a design.”
Meakin wasn’t sure what Watson would think of her unusual idea, but her cousin loved it. She thought it would be a special way to honor her dad, who died from sepsis following a spinal operation in April.
“Instantly I thought what an amazing idea it was, and so thoughtful,” Watson told TODAY in an email. “I finally got my wish back, which was for my dad to hold my hand and walk me down the aisle.”
A few days before the wedding, Meakin created the elaborate “memory nails” for her cousin.
She dabbed the ashes with a brush and used clear gel to sweep them onto Watson’s nails. The ashes, which included a mixture of dust-like particles and larger bone fragments, looked kind of like glitter encased in the clear acrylic.
Meakin then embellished the nails with Swarovski crystals and a painted white petal design.
Putting on the nails was an emotional experience for both Watson and Meakin, who had also been very close to her Uncle Mick.
“I knew some people might think it’s just a little bit weird. This is my uncle's cremation ashes and we're putting them inside nails,” Meakin said. “But it was a way to bring my uncle and her dad to her wedding, because he couldn't walk her down the aisle and hold her hand.”
“The reaction we got was incredible,” Watson said. “Not just from family and friends but from thousands of people who watched the video and shared it.”
On the wedding day, “everybody was an emotional wreck,” Meakin said. But at the same time, Watson said she felt like her dad was there in some way, holding her hand as she walked down the aisle to marry her love of 12 years, Nick.
She kept the nails on for a few weeks after the wedding. When it was time to take them off, Meakin removed them carefully and attached them to a commemorative photo frame with a picture of her dad.
“I thought this was another amazing special touch that Kirsty thought of,” Watson said.
She added that she would also like to have jewelry made that incorporates her father’s ashes.
Since Meakin posted the “memory nails” design on social media, people have been flooding her with comments of support and praise for the creative idea.
And Meakin is sure that her Uncle Mick would have been a huge fan, too.
“He always liked the fact that I was a little bit different and I stood out,” Meakin said. “So I know that he would just love it, if he was here … he would absolutely love it, and Charlotte felt exactly the same.”