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story.lead_photo.caption Marie White and Kenny Brown share a kiss following their swift, surprise wedding at Conway Regional Medical Center.

Since getting engaged in August 2017, Marie White and Kenny Brown have spent more than a year planning their dream wedding -- set to take place in March at a lakeside venue boasting of "frolicking waterfalls, a sandy beach lagoon and tropical greenery."

Yet the Chandler, Ariz., couple married the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. In a quickie ceremony coordinated in a matter of hours. In the Critical Care Unit of Conway Regional Medical Center.

The week before, Kenny's mother -- Betty Miller of Conway -- had been admitted to the hospital. Days later, a combination of cancer, pneumonia and sepsis left her on life support.

Marie says Betty's sister had an idea: "All she cared about was [your] wedding and if she's not going to make it until March, you guys have to do it here." Here. And now. That very night.

They had the family's blessing. Relatives knew Betty "was planning this wedding like it was hers."

They had an officiant. A pastor in the family scheduled to be away had his plans change. "He said, 'It was God's calling; he was to be there to perform our ceremony.'"

They had not only the permission of the hospital staff but their participation. The nursing supervisor asked Marie, "What can we do to help you? ... Do you need flowers? What are your wedding colors?" The staffers not only purchased a cake, they decorated; the hospital provided refreshments.

They had a wedding license ... eventually. The Faulkner County Courthouse was closed due to the holiday, so it was on to Pulaski County.

They had a professional photographer; Elizabeth Hayden answered Marie's last-minute plea.

Marie even found a gown to surprise her groom. Leigh Middleton, owner of Conway's Inverness Bridal Couture, allowed her to borrow any dress she wanted; the first one was a perfect fit.

"God had a hand in everything. ... Everything was so effortless," says Marie who, by contrast, spent 12 frustrating hours trying on dresses for her spring wedding.

The couple was married with about 40 people -- and guest of honor Betty -- in attendance. After, Marie grabbed Betty's hand saying, "'Mom, I love you, and we did this for you.' And I kissed her hand and she squeezed my hand. ... She knew what was going on."

Betty died at age 67 three days later. The family that came together for the wedding would do so again for yesterday's funeral.

And they'll be reunited when Marie and Kenny have their spring wedding.

Marie, who works in the medical field as a surgical assistant, expressed her gratitude to Conway Regional Health System's CEO Matt Troup when he visited the hospital on Thanksgiving: "I have a very expensive wedding planned for March, and I don't even know how it's going to compare to what you guys have given me."

Email: jchristman@arkansasonline.com

SundayMonday on 12/02/2018

Print Headline: PAPER TRAILS: Pair says 'I do' in critical care unit at Arkansas hospital

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