EVANSVILLE, Ind. - It may not have been the wedding she had imagined, but Shelby Schweikhart-Conville said she would not change it for the world. The Indiana woman got married last month in a ceremony arranged in less than 30 minutes, with family and friends crowded into her father's hospital room.
Schweikhart-Conville and her now husband, Jared Conville, were gearing up for an October 3 wedding date, with her dress picked out, bridesmaids assigned, and wedding planning in full swing. But plans have a way of taking detours when priorities change.
The Convilles got married on Dec. 29, in a surprise hospital ceremony planned in less than 30 minutes. (Shelby-Schweikhart-Conville)
On Facebook, Schweikhart-Conville told of how less than a month ago, the family learned that her dad's cancer had returned. "And it came back with a vengeance," she said, explaining that it had spread to his lungs and that he was not responding to chemotherapy treatment. "Knowing we exhausted every hope, we planned a wedding in the ICU," she wrote.
So on Dec. 29, as her father lay in a hospital bed in the intensive care unit at Ascension St. Vincent Evansville, Schweikhart-Conville said it was a friend who suggested pushing up the wedding and bringing the ceremony to him.
"My friend, Nalen asked if I would be willing to get married in the ICU, so my dad would be there," Schweikhart-Conville explained to KTVU.
She and the soon-to-be groom did not give it a second thought, and less than 30 minutes later, everyone scrambled to make it happen.
"It was a surprise to my dad. He didn't know we were going to get married in the ICU," Schweikhart-Conville said.
The wedding dress she had chosen would not be ready until next month, so family and friends rushed to a nearby bridal store and picked out another one.
The groom's attire: an Indianapolis Colts jersey, which was part of an inside joke and a symbol of the bond he shared with his father-in-law to be. "They are both huge Colts fans," explained Schweikhart-Conville and said that the two constantly joked about having a Colts-themed wedding.
The family's pastor was called and asked to rush to the hospital ASAP to officiate the ceremony.
So with the newly purchased dress on, her hastily assembled hair styling crew put to work, and a close family friend also showing up to walk the bride into her father's hospital room, they pulled off a surprise wedding that has moved countless people to tears.
Video of the ceremony posted on Facebook has been shared more than 3.5K times.
As the pastor announced Mr. and Mrs. Conville as husband and wife, wedding guests erupted into applause, no doubt the most meaningful coming from the father-of-the bride from his hospital bed.
The video ended with Schweikhart-Conville going over to her dad to kiss him and her new husband taking his father-in-law's hand.
"It was the most beautiful, bittersweet moment of my life," Schweikhart-Conville wrote in the caption accompanying the video. "My dad got to see his baby girl get married, and it meant the world to me that he was able to see it," the newlywed said.
When asked what her father's response was to the surprise wedding, Schweikhart-Conville told us, he expressed his emotions to them after the ceremony. "He wrote on a white board, 'I am so happy.'"
Her father has since returned home and is in hospice care. Schweikhart-Conville expressed deep gratitude to the many people, friends and strangers alike, who have reached out and offered words of comfort and prayers. She also thanked the hospital staff for its incredible support and helping to pull off the last minute wedding.
For now, she said, "We are praying for a miracle."