An Unexpected Injury Turns Into a Beautiful Hospital Wedding

The unexpected hospital trip could have ruined their wedding day, but the team at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital helped get them down the aisle.

Sabrina and Justin were married in the chapel at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. Photos courtesy of Alicia Johnson Photography.

Sabrina and Justin were married in the chapel at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. Photos courtesy of Alicia Johnson Photography.

Published in Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital - Fall 2018

Sabrina was in premarital bliss. Her wedding day was just 48 hours away and she was at the salon getting her nails done. With so much to still do, she was multitasking and had an update for her fiancé, Justin, who was watching their 6-month-old son, Layton.

“I heard Layton in the background, and he just sounded different,” Sabrina says. “I knew something was wrong.”

Justin had just arrived to a nearby hospital with Layton. In a freak accident, Layton fell from his bouncy chair and suffered a brain bleed. He needed to be transferred from their nearby hospital to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital via helicopter.

“So I immediately got up, I took the foil off my nails, I told my nail girl I had to go and I kind of started freaking out,” she says.

The Johns Hopkins All Children’s neurosurgery team closely monitored little Layton’s brain. With confidence, they told Sabrina and Justin that the bleed was contained and wasn’t growing. That was the good news. But the bad news was because of the trauma from his head injury, he was very nauseous and unable to keep food down.

“If he couldn’t go home, we weren’t going to push against that,” Sabrina explains. “He had taken a serious fall, so we didn’t expect to get out of the hospital after a day. We wanted him to stay there as long as he needed to."

But that also meant, they would quickly have to make decisions about their wedding day. Oct. 6 was specifically chosen because it was also Sabrina’s late grandmother’s birthday.

“We were telling everyone that we were getting married on Saturday,” Sabrina says. “The neuro team just said, ‘Why don’t you do your wedding? We’ve got our team here. We’ll watch him.’”

The couple had planned to have Layton in the wedding since they got engaged in December. It was unimaginable to think of him not being there.

Enter Mary Kaye Cancela, a registered nurse who was taking caring of Layton. She put the idea of a possible wedding here at the hospital in the soon-to-be newlyweds’ ear. Next came a quick call to to the hospital chaplain, who quickly agreed to marry them in the hospital chapel.

Then the planning began. Security and the front desk were alerted, and they started making badges beforehand for the 60 guests who attended. Valet was on stand-by to help with the traffic flow in and out, and the cafeteria manager prepared to give them the best reception possible.

“It was very, very touching and heartfelt,” Sabrina says. “As much as it wasn’t what we planned, it was better. I didn’t get to wear my dress and get to walk down the aisle to the song I picked out; we didn’t have those moments, but it was just perfect because Layton was there with us.”

It was an imperfectly perfect day–captured by her photographer who still came and snapped many beautiful moments.

“When we walked in, it was shoulder-to-shoulder. Everyone clapped when we walked in, and it was just that love of everybody being there and everybody being so concerned about Layton.”

Today, Layton is doing great. The baby described as the “sweetest, happiest and loving little baby” is getting back to himself, and that’s the most important thing to Sabrina and her now husband, who are very grateful for the care they received during such an emotional time.

“Although Layton was the actual patient, we were the patients too. We were taken such good care of.”

Now comes happily ever after with an unconventional wedding that will be cherished forever.