I gasped in shock when I realised what my boyfriend, Nick, was doing.
‘What?! Nick, are you joking?!’ I squealed in excitement.
Holding out a ring, he had the biggest smile on his face.
‘Will you marry me?’ he beamed. ‘I promise that I’ve asked your dad’s permission first.’
‘Of course I will!’ I said.
I was so happy he’d asked my dad too.
My dad Mick, 49, was my best friend and he and Nick got on like a house on fire.
I could already imagine our wedding day with flowers and confetti, and Dad walking me down the
But Nick and I didn’t want to rush into planning anything then.
Three years on, in 2015, Dad asked me to come over.
He’d been getting blood in his urine.
‘It’s prostate cancer,’ he said, squeezing my hand. ‘But don’t worry, it will all be fine. I’ll start treatment and it will be like it never happened.’
He had always been such a strong and optimistic guy so I believed him.
Over the coming months, Dad endured 15 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy, as well as radiotherapy and surgery on his prostate.
But doctors weren’t able to remove the tumour fully due to where it was located, so we hoped and prayed
the treatment would do the trick.
I tried to go with him as often as I could so he wouldn’t get too bored.
‘How are you feeling Dad?’ I asked him as he was getting his cannula fitted for his chemo one day.
‘Not bad thanks. I wouldn’t mind a nice cup of tea though,’ he winked at me reassuringly.
When there was no improvement after two years, Nick and I decided to start planning the wedding.
‘I want Dad to be here to enjoy it with us,’ I said.
My mum, Joanne, helped me pick flowers and we booked the venue.
But five months before the set date, we received the devastating news that Dad’s cancer was terminal.
‘It’s spread to my bones and lymph nodes,’ he said with tears in his eyes. ‘There’s not a lot more they can do for me.’
The idea of him not being at my wedding broke my heart. I’d always dreamt of my dad walking me down the aisle.
‘How long do you have?’ I asked him.
‘I’m not sure love,’ he replied.
But Dad deteriorated quickly and moved into a hospice.
‘You’ve always made me so proud,’ he told me.
Just over a month later, Dad passed away peacefully, surrounded by family.
I was devastated and didn’t know how I’d get through our wedding without him.
But I knew Dad would want us to go ahead with it.
In the lead up to the big day, I received several beautiful presents from family members as memorabilia of
my wonderful dad – but it was my cousin, Kirsty, 41, a nail technician, who thought of the most unique idea of them all.
‘You want to what?’ I said to her, gobsmacked at her quirky suggestion.
‘We should put some of Uncle Mick’s ashes into your wedding nails!’ Kirsty said. ‘It will be like he’s holding your hand on the day.’
I teared up at the idea and immediately said yes.
Having the ashes attached to my nails on my special day really was like my dad was holding my hand.
I knew it wasn’t the same as him being there with us – but it was as close as we could get.
Two days before the wedding, Kirsty mixed some of Dad’s ashes with the clear acrylic. Then, once set, she decorated them with stunning diamantes and pretty flower designs.
‘They look beautiful,’ I said when she’d finished.
On the day of the wedding, I felt okay until the very moment we pulled up at the church and heard the bells ring.
‘Dad should be here,’ I said to Mum, who was about to walk me down the aisle in Dad’s place.
‘I know honey, but he’s with us in spirit – and always will be,’ she said.
And I knew with Dad on my nails that in some ways he was, and that really helped.
Despite Dad not being there, everyone had an amazing time and we had several drinks in his memory.
My guests thought my nails were brilliant too. I loved having a part of my dad there with me.
Having his ashes attached to me as I walked to marry my husband really did feel like the next best thing and I couldn’t thank Kirsty enough.
A lot of people asked if I was going to throw away the nails when they had outgrown, but I couldn’t do that.
I now have them in a gorgeous frame, hung up on my wall in my living room.
This way, a part of my dad is always with me.