The bride’s “something blue” was her hospital visitor wristband.
Her “something new” was her tiny 11-week-old son, J.J., sleeping soundly in his bed in the Cook Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
In an emotional ceremony Tuesday afternoon, Kristi Warriner married her fiancé, Justin Nelson, at the Fort Worth hospital with their premature son at their side. J.J., wearing a tuxedo onesie, nearly stole the show as his parents’ ring bearer. His older sister, 8-year-old Carissa Warriner, served as the couple’s flower girl in the NICU’s first-ever wedding.
“It’s not what you dream of as a little girl. It’s even better,” said the new bride, Kristi Nelson. “I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect wedding.”
J.J., who arrived 15 weeks early on Sept 2, weighed less than 2 pounds at birth. For a while it was “touch and go.” Though he still struggles with chronic lung disease and needs assistance breathing, J.J. now weighs 6 pounds, 8 ounces and appears to be improving every day. The Midlothian couple is hopeful their son will be well enough to be released in the coming weeks.
“We’re praying that at Christmas time we can have our gift come home,” Kristi Nelson said.
Though the day was filled with smiles and happy tears, the Nelson family still grieves. J.J.’s identical twin brother, Colt Austin Nelson, was stillborn. The family honored him during the wedding ceremony in prayer and by placing a specially made Dallas Cowboys teddy bear next to his brother.
“We thank God every day for J.J. getting better and stronger. Our biggest mission with all this was to help others know they are not alone,” Kristi Nelson said on sharing her big day with local media. “I hope we’ve touched somebody’s life and let them know there is hope after tragedy.”
Knowing the couple wanted to wed but were busy caring for their preemie son, Cook Children’s staff helped arrange the ceremony. Local businesses donated the bride’s wedding gown and flowers. There was even “something borrowed” at the wedding. One of family’s friends lent the outfit for the tiny ring bearer to wear.
“He made that thing look good,” said his proud father, laughing.
After exchanging their vows, the parents smiled down at their slumbering newborn and touched his tiny hands in comfort.
“He’s a little fighter. I’m so proud of him today,” Kristi Nelson said. “He did excellent.”