Paradise Alaska Wedding- Becky & Kelly
One year ago I was part of one of the most tear filled weddings of my life at Paradise Alaska -- the wedding of Becky & Kelly Turney.
You may remember their wedding from the heart-wrenching photographs of Becky meeting Jacob Kilby, who had received a new heart because Becky’s late son, Triston was an organ donor.
I was so touched to have even a small part in a truly incredible day. Becky & Kelly are dear friends of my family. My husband was even in the bridal party, trying his hardest all day not to cry. When I posted a few images of their wedding’s incredible moments on my Facebook page, I never expected to wake-up to over one million views and calls from around the world.
The Viral Facebook Post
I only posted a few of the pictures and they went viral, eventually landing somewhere around 30 million views. I never posted more because of the amount of work it was to coordinate media contracts and permissions. My voicemail and email were flooded for weeks as I tried to maintain my workload while making sure I could help share this important story about organ donation. Not once did I think I would be on the phone with NBCUniversal, Fox, ABC, BBC and pretty much every major network in the world.
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt Feature
Kelly refers to this feature as “the day we made Lester Holt cry”.
This was one of the nicest crews to work with and they even flew up from Los Angeles to meet with the family.
Becky and Kelly's Wedding Day
What you have not heard yet is the rest of the story. The groom, Kelly, told me early in the day of his plans for the meeting between his bride and the recipient of her son’s heart. I immediately felt the weight of it, but honestly didn’t realize just how impactful it would all be until we were already in the middle.
That morning I met Jacob Kilby as he sat in the grooms’ dressing room talking with Kelly and Becky’s daughter, Paige. It was her first time meeting the man carrying her brother’s heart.
I listened as Jacob told Paige his plans for his new lease on life. He seemed to know exactly what to say and told her he was an open book.
“You can ask me anything,” he said, and he promised Paige he would take care of this gift and make his life count. He explained how much he hates running, but does it for the health of his new heart -- her brother’s heart.
At this point I was bawling, of course, and Paige laughed at me and told me I was crying even more than she was. I was, and really still am, so moved by the life of Jacob, his understanding of what he has and his ability to share such gratitude, which has provided incredible closure to this family.
This has all occurred before the ceremony and before Becky even knows Jacob is here. We dry up our tears, do our best to compose ourselves, and head downstairs to get Becky and Kelly married.
As I took my place to capture everything I tired not to look in the direction of Jacob, who is hidden in plain sight within the audience. The rest of the lead-up to the ceremony was typical, with a few shenanigans down in the aisle in true Turney style.
The ceremony was moving right along when Kelly interrupted. Becky was so confused, and you could hear her mutter “what, no?!”.
Kelly told the attendees that he had a surprise for Becky. It was then he introduced a new, honorary groomsman -- the man carrying Becky’s late son's heart.
These are the images that went viral and made the world think harder about organ donation.
After Jacob was introduced, the ceremony continued with inspiring vows of devotion and love. Then the couple turned to their kids, and shared their vows to the merging family and what they promise to do for their children. That had me crying even more. In 14 years of photographing weddings I have never seen a couple do anything like that!
Becky is an incredibly caring and kind friend. Even now, as I write this, I am supposed to meet-up with the family to celebrate their first anniversary, but I have been feeling run down and with a lot of weddings ahead in the coming weeks I a need to make sure I am well rested. So, on her anniversary mind you, Becky is offering to bring me soup and medicine and anything I need. She never stops giving. That's the depth of love this family has -- not only for each other, but others as well.
The support for this couple was amazing, and I could pretty much give their entire wedding day a standing ovation. Though Kelly had moved on from law enforcement some years back, that didn’t stop a ton of officers from showing up in uniform and cruisers to celebrate this day.
The "All Local" feel of the wedding was also an incredible display of community. The owner of Humdingers Pizza came out and barbecued pizza on site, while Bleeding Heart Brewery provided some amazing local beer and, of course, Special Events Alaska provided tents, tables and chairs.
Family friends from Las Vegas kept the music on point. The crew was a blast and I see why Triston loved you all.
This day will be one I remember for years to come. We absolutely adore being a part of amazing stories and can’t wait to meet more incredible people along the way.
We hope this story touches you and that you might consider organ donation. Enjoy the rest of their incredible wedding day images below!
Cheers to one incredible day and many more to come. We love a good story and can't wait to be a part of yours whether it's in Palmer, Alaska or an amazing destination wedding. Learn more about what we do here!