She wanted him to be a part of one of the biggest milestones in her life and she was going to achieve that dream no matter what.
Every wedding is special, albeit a bit hectic. After all, the bride, despite being told to rest, has a ton of things on her mind. But as long she has her rock, her biggest pillar of strength, her father with her, the storms seem calmer and she feels ready to face the new phase of her life.
However, for Shelby Schweikhart-Conville of Indiana, that moment was snatched away from her when she learned in December 2019 that her father’s lung cancer had recurred and he was no longer responding to treatment, according to WTVR. Devastated, the young bride took to Facebook early in January 2020 to share an emotional post. “It came back with a vengeance,” she said of her father, Steven Schweikhart's condition. “The cancer had taken over his lungs, and he is not responding to chemo.”
Heartbroken that she might not have enough time with him and that she wouldn't be able to share one of the most important moments in her life with her father, she and her partner Jared decided to move the wedding up. Not just that, they decided to have their winter wedding in the intensive care unit (ICU) at St. Vincent Evansville, where her dying father was being prayed over.
So on December 29, 2019, in 30 minutes, Shelby arranged her wedding, determined to have her father by her side as she married her beloved. Speaking exclusively to Women Working, the determined bride said, "My friend, Nalen asked if I would be willing to get married in the ICU, so my dad would be there. Jared and I were originally supposed to be married in October 2020. My family & friends rushed to get me a dress at a local bridal store because mine wouldn’t be here until February. Jared is wearing a Colts jersey because him and my father have always joked about a Colts themed wedding. They are both huge Colts fans. We called our pastor (pastor Jeff) and asked if he could come to the hospital ASAP to marry us."
But it was an even sweeter moment for Shelby's father. "It was a surprise to my dad. He didn’t know we were going to get married in the ICU. Once my family friends came back with the dress they found, I put it on and my friend's dad who I’ve been close to since I was 5, walked me to my dad's room. It was very emotional, and bittersweet. But I wouldn’t change it for the world."
In the video posted on her Facebook page of the ceremony, Shelby is seen tenderly giving her father a kiss while wearing her wedding dress. “I love you,” she whispered as she stroked his hair. As the ring-exchange moment came, an emotional Steven handed the ring out one by one to his soon-to-be son-in-law, and then to his daughter. As the newlywed couple shared a sweet kiss, the guests broke out into applause.
“Not the idea I had in mind for a wedding, but Jared and I got married!” the bride wrote in her post. “Knowing we exhausted every hope, we planned a wedding in the ICU in less than 30 min. It was the most beautiful, bittersweet moment of my life,” she continued. “My dad got to see his baby girl get married, and it meant the world to me that he was able to see it.”
Soon after the ceremony, Steven announced he wanted to be taken off life support. Moving into hospice care, something unexpected happened. Shelby mentioned to Courier & Press that her father has actually been doing quite well since the move. “Now it’s [more than] a week later,” she told the newspaper, “and he just keeps getting better every day. He’s up walking and talking and eating. We’re just praying for a miracle.” Well, we're praying with you and we're glad that a daughter managed to share her special moment with her father, despite the circumstances.