One of the most important parts of any wedding is the guest list: the cherished friends and family that will be in attendance.
Matriarchs and patriarchs of the family are a crucial part of the celebration, and for many grandparents, seeing their grandchildren happily married is one of their greatest joys.
It is a sad fact of life, though, that many grandparents are experiencing poor health or are too frail to travel by the time their grandkids are getting ready to tie the knot. Some have found a way around this problem by staging pre-wedding “first looks” or holding ceremonies early in order to include these incredibly special individuals.
Tara Foley was a young bride who found a way to include her grandmother, Stasia, in her celebrations.
“When my Nana was put on hospice, the nurse asked her what her goals were,” Foley said. “She replied that she wanted to be at my wedding.”
That didn’t look like a possibility for the nearly 103-year-old woman.
“They reluctantly told her they didn’t want her flying anymore (she was nearly 103 years old) and her heart was failing,” Foley continued.
The bride-to-be wrote that she knew her grandma was still fighting to stay around and figure out a way to be involved — so Foley decided to give her grandma a special preview.
“I knew in my heart she was trying to hang on to get there somehow. I decided to fly to her with my wedding dress, it was unaltered and didn’t fit yet but none of that mattered,” Foley said. “I may have lied to my entire family about where I was that weekend, and I didn’t tell my friends so I could surprise everyone with these photos.”
The photos, taken by photographer Misty McLendon, are absolutely heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Stasia looks proud and thrilled to see Foley all dressed in white, a beautiful bride-to-be. Foley said it was “one of the greatest days” of her life.
“When I said goodbye to her that night, I think we both knew it would be the last time we would see each other,” Foley added. “She grabbed my cheeks with her hands, looked me straight in the eye and said ‘I love you very much’ and 27 days later she passed away. I am so blessed to have this be my last memory with her. She was beyond an amazing woman! I love you Nana, always and forever!”
Foley kept their meeting a secret until her big day, and by doing that she was able to present her family with an even more meaningful memento.
“She didn’t show her parents the pictures or that she flew to see her until the wedding day,” photographer McLendon told KOMO.
“A real wedding moment here,” Misty McLendon Photography posted on August 21. “The brides grandmother was 102 years old and traveled by herself up until then! The bride found out that her grandmother wouldn’t be able to fly anymore so she flew to her grandmother, got dolled up in her wedding dress and did a photo shoot with her.”
“Shortly after, her grandmother passed away,” McLendon wrote. “Tara kept the shoot a secret and surprised her mom, dad, brother and sister in law with the picture of them together on her wedding day.”
The photos have made the rounds online and people are being absolutely blown away by the sweet moments grandmother and granddaughter got to share — and perhaps some will find inspiration to do something similar for their own grandparents.