A wedding in the ICU: couple ties the knot at hospital to fulfill father's wish

By Anjali Patel

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) -- A couple said "I do" at Mission Hospital on Thursday to fulfill the wishes of the groom's father, whose health has been failing.

Derrick Marotta and his fiancee Caylea Lautner traveled from New York to North Carolina to spend time with Marotta's dad, Joseph, at the end of May.

"My health got worse, and I was looking at possibly not coming out of the hospital," Joseph Marotta said.

He's officiated weddings before and had always dreamed of doing the same for his youngest son, Derrick. But Derrick Marotta and Caylea Lautner weren't planning on getting married until October 2023.

"They could've had another reverend or something, but it wouldn't have been the same," Joseph Marotta said.

With the patriarch's health deteriorating, the couple decided to push up the date of the wedding -- to May 26, 2022 -- and take the ceremony straight to him.

"I just knew that no matter what, it couldn't be anybody else. Dad's been talking to us about it since we were little, and it was right," Derrick Marotta said.

Mission Hospital staff helped make the occasion complete with cake and flowers. They even provided a big sign with the bride and groom's names on it and well wishes for the newlyweds.

"The family had just mentioned that they wanted to get married and he wanted to officiate, could we allow extra visitors and so I went to my resources of who I knew, what could we do to make it special for them," said Austin Jones, a clinical nurse coordinator who helped make the wedding happen.

Hospital staff turned the ICU hallway into an aisle and the hospital room into an altar.

"It's amazing. It being in the ICU, we see a lot of very sick people and so being able to see someone get to that point of what they were hoping to do is great," Jones said.

Joseph Marotta officiated from his bed, fulfilling a lifelong wish through an impromptu wedding.

"What would you do if you had one last wish? Well, if I had a last wish, that would be it, because I know I've done something before I leave to go to heaven," Marotta said.

Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, there were no tears of sadness during the ceremony -- just tears of joy.

"It felt as if we weren't in the room with dad in the hospital. It was more like, it felt like we kind of made him feel above feeling in the hospital," Derrick Marotta said.

"I thought I was going to cry, but I had a big smile on my face," Caylea Lautner said.

"It was a moment of pure happiness and bliss," her husband echoed.

"I felt elated. I didn't feel sad, not sad. Tears of joy, that's what I felt," Joseph Marotta said.

It's a reminder, that weddings aren't about the venue -- they're made by the people.

"God doesn't say you can't have a wedding in a hospital," Joseph Marotta said.

"He's the strongest man I know," Derrick Marotta said.

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