California Bride Weds in Hospital So Dying Father Can Walk Her Down the Aisle
Vieneese and Douglas Stanton originally planned to have a big wedding in April 2018, but they knew they had to make some changes after getting the heartbreaking news that Vieneese’s father had been given just a few weeks to live.
“My dad has acute leukemia … [doctors] were constantly giving us negative reports about my dad’s health so my fiancé — who’s now my husband — and I really wanted my dad to be a part of [the wedding],” Stanton tells PEOPLE of her father, who was diagnosed with the disease in February.
“My dad was really excited when we got engaged,” Stanton says. “Then to find out he wouldn’t make it to our original wedding day was sad for us, so we wanted to speed the process up a little bit.”
On Nov. 16, Vieneese, 27, and 30-year-old Douglas, of Richmond, California, wed at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, surrounded by friends, family and nurses. Vieneese says the hospital wedding was a total surprise to her father, Preston Rolan, 64.
“My dad didn’t even know we were planning this. I was working alongside the nurses and my bridal party,” she tells PEOPLE, noting that the nurses decorated the hospital, bought a cake and even got Rolan a suit. “I actually was hiding from him in the hospital! He takes walks around the hospital in the morning so they decided to take him for his walk and then I turned the corner on him.”
His reaction was priceless, she says.
“He was completely surprised. He really was about to start crying. He was bragging. He was telling all the nurses, ‘This is my daughter. This is my daughter!’ ” Vieneese tells PEOPLE.
“With the help of his nurses, we were able to actually have the wedding at the hospital so that he could walk me down the aisle. We wanted him to be able to share this experience with us.”
A “Beautiful” Ceremony
Photos of the ceremony showed Vieneese sporting a wide smile as she and her father walked arm-in-arm down the hospital’s halls. The nurses and guests stood on the sidelines, clapping and snapping photos.
“It was amazing. It was beautiful. I was smiling the entire time,” she tells PEOPLE, adding that hospital staff provided a lot of food and even a professional photographer. “I was surprised just like my dad was because. I didn’t know it would be that big.”
Vieneese and Rolan have always been close. Rolan moved in with the couple earlier this year when he became ill. Even after Rolan entered the hospital, Vieneese was sure to include him in every key moment of her life, including news that she’s pregnant.
“I’m five months pregnant. It’s a baby girl,” she tells PEOPLE. “When we found out, I took balloons to my dad’s hospital room and kind of did a gender reveal with him. He was so excited.”
Doctors held off putting Rolan into hospice care so he could attend Vieneese’s wedding. But now that the ceremony is over, Vieneese says she’s preparing to say goodbye to her father.
“He’s someone who always gives me wisdom, he is always making sure I make the right choices,” Vieneese says through tears. “I’m definitely going to miss his wisdom over all. He was full of humor, so I will miss laughing with my dad. There’s so much about his personality I will definitely miss.”