A Virginia woman said she has “no regrets” about holding her wedding in a hospital’s intensive care unit so that her cancer-stricken mother, who died just days later, could attend.
“It meant everything to me to be able to have my mom there,” Whitney Romans, 27, told ABC News. “We used to talk a lot about my wedding when I was little and I have three older brothers so she always wanted to have a wedding for me.”
Romans, of Hampton, Virginia, married her husband, Nathan Romans, on Dec. 10 at St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Whitney Romans’ mother, Debbie Tyler, spent almost two weeks in the ICU due to complications from cancer. Tyler, who spent her life helping women facing addiction and domestic violence, died at the age of 61 just five days after watching her only daughter get married.
“She always told me that she didn’t want to plan my wedding but she wanted to help me with it,” Whitney Romans recalled. “She didn’t want to make the decisions for me but I’m sure she would have loved to pick out flowers and decorations and I would have loved to have her in the room with me getting ready.”
Whitney Romans got ready for her wedding herself in a hospital bathroom after her impromptu wedding came together in the span of less than 10 hours.
The hospital’s ICU director, Curt Egbert, received a text from a nurse while at church that Romans had asked to marry in the hospital so her mom could be there.
“I left my class and got my wife who I know does really well with decor and is able to plan these things,” Egbert said. “We ran home and got a few of our Christmas trees and loaded them into the back of our Suburban and grabbed any decorations we could.”
Egbert, who had not yet met Whitney Romans, also called his sister, who is also a nurse at St. Luke’s and whose daughter recently got married.
Egbert’s sister not only provided wedding decorations but also got her daughter’s wedding dress, which fit Whitney Romans perfectly.
The hospital’s food service provided fresh flowers and food for the wedding, including cake and sparkling cider. Nurses transformed the ICU’s waiting area into a wedding venue, complete with a runner down the hallway for Whitney Romans to walk down.
“I came up out of the elevator and walked around the corner and they had a table set up outside with flowers and a Mr. and Mrs. banner and I just started bawling,” Whitney Romans said. “I had no idea that anybody would do something like that.”
The wedding party gathered at the door to Tyler’s room, with around 30 family members and hospital staff there as witnesses. The family’s local pastor came to the hospital quickly to officiate.
Whitney Romans’ three brothers, who with her have started a GoFundMe to help cover their late mother's medical expenses, also stepped into help, from playing music to livestreaming the ceremony for family and friends.
“We’ve talked many times about our wedding will look like and we never imagined it like this, but I think this was more beautiful than anything we imagined it being,” said Nathan Romans. “I knew Whitney wanted her mom there more than anything so it was an easy decision.”
Whitney Romans said the wedding went by “so fast” but she knows her mother took it all in.
“I know that my family all loved it and my mom loved it and that’s really what it was about,” she said. “She was awake during the ceremony and you could tell she was trying really hard to concentrate.”