Weddings are filled with joy, love and promises by a couple to love and support one another in good times or bad. While most couples know that life has its share of ups and downs, few newlyweds have to think about those realities on their special day.
But Hunter Knisley and Emily Draper Knisley went into their dream wedding with full knowledge that their marriage would face unthinkable challenges right from the start: The groom recently found out from doctors he only has weeks to live.
Instead of looking at this devastating news as the end, the couple decided they had to spend the rest of their time together as man and wife.
When Hunter, now 27, was a child, doctors diagnosed him with Becker Muscular Dystrophy, according to People. He met Emily in high school, but a love connection didn’t happen until 2019, when he noticed Emily on Facebook. It didn’t take long for the pair to reconnect their friendship, and it blossomed into love.
From the beginning, Hunter spoke honestly with Emily about the seriousness of his condition. He wanted her to understand that his life expectancy was uncertain, and he knew that these were major challenges to a relationship.
But, as Emily told People, she knew in her heart it didn’t matter.
“If I was going to have someone break my heart, I wanted it to be him,” she said.
Emily and her two daughters from another relationship moved in with Hunter. In March 2021, the couple welcomed their son, Maverick. Here are the five of them in a post shared by wedding planners Barefoot Wedded Bliss — more on that shortly:
Hunter had proposed in 2020, but as the couple was waiting for Emily’s divorce to be finalized in court, Hunter got some shocking news from doctors. Despite feeling better than he had in some time, Hunter found out he was in end-stage heart failure. Doctors said he didn’t have much time, and that if he had a final wish, he should consider doing it soon.
He wanted to marry his long-time love at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and take their children to the beach. That’s when family, friends and strangers rose up to make miracles happen.
Emily told People her attorney helped to tie up the loose ends of her divorce. Then, while they officially got married at a courthouse on April 14, hospital staff reached out to people in the Myrtle Beach community to plan a seaside ceremony.
Wedding planners Barefoot Wedded Bliss helped grant their wish. They shared photos on Facebook with a quick description of how it all came together, thanking many people in Myrtle Beach, from their florist to police escort to the Adaptive Surf Project for helping with wheelchair access to the beach:
On April 21, the couple had their dream wedding, which included their children, on the beach.
News of their wedding spread quickly and news outlets all over picked up their love story. Hunter shared People’s story with a wonderful note to his family.
“I never thought any of this would be a possibility for me,” Hunter wrote on his Facebook page. “I can’t thank everyone enough that made this possible. To my beautiful wife that loves me and helps me through every day that makes my dreams real, and our babies that made me the father I always wanted to be. I love you. Thank you everyone for the support. I’m happier than I ever imagined.”