A Michigan couple switched their wedding venue from a lake to a hospital when their daughter was born six weeks early on the day of their planned nuptials.
Jael Reinhold, 29, and John Pulcipher, 30, of Traverse City, Michigan, wanted to get married before their daughter was born. They planned a Lake Charlevoix wedding ceremony for about 70 guests on Saturday, July 29—more than a month before their little girl was due. It turns out, though, that their baby didn’t want to miss out on the fun.
“We thought we planned it with enough time to spare, but she clearly had different plans and wasn’t going to let us have a party without her,” Reinhold tells PEOPLE.
Reinhold was admitted to Munson Medical Center on Tuesday, July 25 when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant. There, doctors confirmed that her water broke and they advised Reinhold against leaving until their baby came—which meant that the lakeside wedding ceremony was officially off.
“We were trying to figure out how to wiggle a day pass out of the doctors to get married, but no, they weren’t going to let me leave the hospital grounds,” Reinhold says. “We tried everything!”
When Pulcipher saw how disappointed his fiancée looked at the thought of canceling the ceremony for their dozens of guests and vendors, he improvised.
“I saw that she started to get very, very, upset—she basically cried—and I knew that not having the wedding was not going to be an option for her,” Pulcipher tells PEOPLE. “So, I told her, ‘Don’t worry about it, I’m going to bring the wedding here.’ But when I first mentioned it, she didn’t think it was something that I would be able to pull off!”
Pulcipher went to work, calling guests and vendors, and eventually got the hospital’s permission to use their basement and conference room for a ceremony and reception on Saturday afternoon.
Everything seemed set (Reinhold even had a bridal shower on Friday in her room) until a midwife came in on Saturday morning to check if she was in steady enough condition to attend the ceremony.
“Lo and behold, at 7 a.m., I woke up in labor,” Reinhold recalls.
Their daughter, Briar Dorothy Pulcipher, was born at 12:42 that afternoon.
Still, their more than 70 guests showed up later that day—all of the groomsmen in their suits and bridesmaids in their dresses—and the couple went through with their wedding in the hospital, just five hours after their daughter was born.
“It was pretty incredible,” Pulcipher’s father, John, tells PEOPLE. “Considering everything—it went extremely well.”
The couple even brought baby Briar in an incubator and introduced her to surprised friends and family during the ceremony.
“It all happened so fast,” Pulcipher says. “I was really hyper-focused. I honestly still feel like I’m recovering a little bit.”
Adds Reinhold: “We both are! It’s so surreal, I can’t believe this happened.”
Briar will stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for two to three weeks, and the couple rented a room near the hospital so they won’t be far away. The couple has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Briar’s medical expenses and future savings, and 10 percent of anything raised will be used to start a Foundation for Aortic Disease and Dissections in her name.
Though it will be a little while longer until they are able to bring Briar home and let it all sink in, Pulcipher is sure of one thing right now:
“If I forget this date, I’m going to be in major trouble!” he says, laughing.