A bride whose father had a heart attack on the morning of her big day still managed to walk down the aisle with him after the wedding ceremony was moved to the hospital.
“Not what we planned, but every bit [was] magical if not more so,” Alesha Strycharz from Blackstone, Massachusetts, said.
Marketing manager Alesha, 29, met construction project manager Bruce Baisch Jr, 37. in 2011 in German 101 at college, and they fell in love through private jokes and handwritten notes.
The two got engaged eight years later after Bruce proposed to Alesha on a gondola with a letter hidden inside a bottle floating on a lake.
“As he got down on one knee, a family of ducks and a swan couple swam beside our boat. It was adorable,” Alesha recalled of the proposal.
However, due to the pandemic, their wedding date was pushed to May 7, 2021, and was slated to happen at the Briar Barn Inn in Rowley, Massachusetts.
On the morning of the wedding day, while Alesha’s father Edward Strycharz, 59, was sitting in the hotel room, he began suffering from chest pains.
“I thought that he was just nervous and having a bit of anxiety,” Alesha said. “As soon as I got to his hotel room, I knew it wasn’t anxiety and he was having a medical emergency.”
Edward, a medical supply driver, insisted that it was just indigestion from the rehearsal dinner the night prior to the wedding, but Alesha said that her father kept complaining that his left arm hurt, which is a common symptom of a heart attack.
“I remained composed while we waited for the paramedics to arrive, even though I was terrified. I didn’t want him to see me scared and become more distressed,” Alesha said.
Edward was taken to Beverly Hospital and the paramedics determined he was having a heart attack. He was treated with nitrous and baby aspirin in the ambulance.
“When he was taken away by ambulance, the first thought that ran through my mind was canceling the wedding,” Alesha said. “We had spent over a year planning this day, but it didn’t feel right having the wedding without my dad there.
“My dad fully knew everything that was happening, he was so excited that he was able to be a part of the day and walk me down the aisle.”
Initially, it seemed like a minor heart attack that could be medically managed and Edward could still walk his daughter down the aisle at the venue like it was all planned.
However, at 2 p.m., when the tests came back, they showed two blocked arteries and there was a need for open-heart surgery.
The doctors said it was too risky to allow Edward to leave the hospital until after the surgery, so the nurses hatched a plan to hold Alesha and Bruce’s ceremony in the Ayer Healing Garden at the hospital.
Alesha called the officiant and Bruce called their photographers and videographers and rerouted them for their new ceremony.
“We didn’t bring much outside of ourselves, our closest family, and our rings,” Alesha said. “The nurses were absolute superstars! We brought my dad’s suit, his boutonniere, his tie, and shoes, and they got him fully dressed for the occasion.”
“They helped us plan the ceremony location in the courtyard, our precession path, and where we would do the first look with my dad,” she added.
Apart from offering the bride and groom coffee, the nurses also shared words of encouragement and excitement as they waited for Alesha’s dad to dress up.
Alesha and Bruce tied the knot officially at the hospital after proud father Edward got to give his daughter away.
“He played a star role in the wedding. He was able to walk me down the aisle and give me away to Bruce like we had always planned,” Alesha said. “It was extremely important that he was there. My mother passed away when I was 7, and then my grandmother stepped in to help my dad raise me.”
In 2015, Alesha’s grandmother passed away and thus she explained that not having her father be a part of the wedding was “nearly non-negotiable.”
After a teary goodbye to her dad, the newlyweds rushed to the Briar Barn Inn for a second ceremony with their other guests.
Edward underwent successful bypass surgery on May 12 and was discharged from the hospital five days later.
He is now resting at home and hoping the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup this year.
Epoch Times Staff contributed to this report.