Newlywed Jessie Smith, of Chincoteague Island, Va., is quite used to having to work around her military family's schedules. With a brother and now a husband both actively serving, she's become accustomed to the two men not always being home for important or special occasions.
Her wedding day on June 29 was no different.
Smith was grateful to even have her husband-to-be, who is in the Coast Guard, home long enough to get married, and had accepted the fact that her brother, Ryan Douglas, a soldier in the army, was unable to attend.
"I was upset that he couldn't make it but understood he had a career that he had obligations to," Smith, 26, told GoodMorningAmerica.com.
Little did she know that two weeks before the wedding, her brother, whom Smith hadn't seen in several years, found out he could actually make it to the wedding, but intentionally kept it a secret from her and most of the family.
"It was probably only 15 minutes before the wedding started, and the photographer and I were taking some bridal portraits inside and trying to avoid Nick [her fiancé] because I didn't want him to see me before the first-look photos," Smith explained.
But then her photographer asked her an odd question, completely catching Smith off guard.
"The photographer asked me, 'Is Nick wearing his uniform?,' because she saw someone wearing a uniform outside," said Smith. "I said no, and then wondered who was wearing their uniform. I peeked my head around and saw my brother and his wife and sister-in-law and freaked out."
Fortunately, Smith's photographer caught the tearful moment on camera.
"I was ecstatic but also remembered we had to avoid Nick so I quickly ushered them all inside," Smith said. "I rarely get to see my brother as we are both busy working on our careers and education, and it was amazing to get to have him there for my special day."