It was a whirlwind wedding, but it was for a whirlwind reason. Bride Steph Fish planned her whole wedding in 25 days — just so her mom would be able to see her get married.
Though Steph’s mom, Susan Gefroh, is only 58 years old, she has early onset Alzheimer’s disease and actually began showing signs 10 years ago. Steph, who is now 27, was devastated at the thought of her beloved mother never being able to see her get married.
Steph found a wonderful young man in Bryan Fish, and they originally set a date to marry in 2018. It sounded like a great plan on paper, especially because they wanted to marry in Minnesota, which would be a midway point for both of their families.
But Susan’s disease had progressed quite a bit over the past few years, and she had recently lost the ability to speak or recognize her own daughter. On top of that, Steph’s sister pointed out that travel was becoming increasingly difficult for their mom, so her ability to make a big trip to Minnesota would be unlikely.
“She said 'If you want her to see you get married, you should do it in Devils Lake,'” Fish said.
So it was decided that the wedding would be in Susan’s backyard, right there in North Dakota where Steph grew up.
And in less than a month, they were able to pull off the wedding, complete with a dress Steph bought off the back of a bridal store mannequin, food cooked by relatives, and donated wedding goods. Purple, the color of Alzheimer’s awareness, dominated the scene.
And it was beautiful.
“I wanted my mom to be able to be at that wedding and see her last daughter walk down the aisle,” Steph said. “It meant a lot for me to have her there. It was a beautiful ceremony, and when I look back, I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
In the midst of the rush of trying to get the wedding in order, Steph had wondered if it was really necessary that she get hitched so quickly. But when her mom was moved to a memory care unit in a residential facility, she was so happy she did.
“I gave up a lot of what I envisioned for my wedding to do this for my mom, but I wouldn’t change it,” Steph said. “It was a very special day to have her there. This definitely wasn’t anything I imagined I’d do for my wedding, but it was worth it in the end.”