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We organised our entire wedding in TWO DAYS after finding out my dad’s cancer had spread

A couple organised their wedding in just two days so the bride’s dad could walk her down the aisle – after his cancer worsened.

Mary Grace Quigley, 33, from Croydon in Adelaide, Australia, was devastated when learning her dad Barry, then 79, likely didn’t have long left.

Barry learned his skin cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and doctors advised against operating.

Medical professionals said he likely only had a couple of months left to live – so Mary was left heartbroken that her father would likely not live to see her and her partner, Thomas Stapledon, 34, marry months later.

Their families rallied around organising an entire wedding in under a week to make it possible for Barry to attend. 

Mary Grace Quigley, 33, from Croydon in Adelaide, Australia, married her partner, Thomas Stapledon, 34, in a wedding that they planned in just two days Mary Grace Quigley, 33, from Croydon in Adelaide, Australia, married her partner, Thomas Stapledon, 34, in a wedding that they planned in just two days

Mary Grace Quigley, 33, from Croydon in Adelaide, Australia, married her partner, Thomas Stapledon, 34, in a wedding that they planned in just two days 

Mary organised the wedding so her dad could walk her down the aisle - after his skin cancer worsened Mary organised the wedding so her dad could walk her down the aisle - after his skin cancer worsened

Mary organised the wedding so her dad could walk her down the aisle – after his skin cancer worsened

Barry had been diagnosed with a stage four cancerous tumour in his neck on in November 2022 – which had grown quickly out of nowhere.

It originally started as skin cancer before spreading to retired teacher Barry’s lymph nodes.

The next month, doctors told Barry and his family that it was bad news, and they wouldn’t advise surgery – and he likely had just two months to live.

Mary and Thomas had recently been to a friend’s wedding where not all of the bride and groom’s parents hadn’t been able to attend.

When they heard Barry’s prognosis, they realised how much they wanted their both sets of parents at their wedding, so knew they needed to act fast.

Mary proposed to Thomas, an audio technician, on the phone on December 15 to get the ball rolling. 

On December 15, Mary proposed to Thomas in an untraditional way – by phone call, because he was infected with Covid at the time.

Then they began researching how to have a short-notice wedding – after the first celebrant they contacted was booked out for the next six months.

This included using a dress Mary already owned, Thomas’ mum and auntie helping to get a cake ready and family helping them to decorate – their on back garden.

Their big day went ahead thanks to a last-minute celebrant who heard their story and stepped in to help.

Mary was devastated her dad would likely not live to see her and her partner, Thomas marry (pictured on their wedding day) Mary was devastated her dad would likely not live to see her and her partner, Thomas marry (pictured on their wedding day)

Mary was devastated her dad would likely not live to see her and her partner, Thomas marry (pictured on their wedding day) 

Mary, an online content creator, said: ‘We agreed if we had the opportunity to have all our parents there, we wanted to do it and have that special moment.

‘I wanted my dad to know my husband is looking after me so it’s OK if he isn’t there. I thought it might give him more peace.

‘We had recently moved to somewhere with a big backyard, so it came together perfectly when we were planning it last-minute.

‘On the day, we wouldn’t have wanted it to be any different – everything went perfectly.

‘It’s heartwarming and emotional to think of how many people contributed to make that happen.’

Skin cancer (non-melanoma) 

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.

The term non-melanoma distinguishes these more common types of skin cancer from the less common skin cancer known as melanoma, which can be more serious.

In the UK, around 147,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year. It affects more men than women and is more common in the elderly.

Mary was devastated when learning her dad Barry, then 79, likely didn't have long left to live (pictured together on Mary's wedding day) Mary was devastated when learning her dad Barry, then 79, likely didn't have long left to live (pictured together on Mary's wedding day)

Mary was devastated when learning her dad Barry, then 79, likely didn’t have long left to live (pictured together on Mary’s wedding day) 

Incredibly, despite being given just two months to live, Barry has defied the odds and is still battling on Incredibly, despite being given just two months to live, Barry has defied the odds and is still battling on

Incredibly, despite being given just two months to live, Barry has defied the odds and is still battling on

Thomas' mum and auntie helping to get a cake ready and family helping them to decorate - their on back garden Thomas' mum and auntie helping to get a cake ready and family helping them to decorate - their on back garden Thomas' mum and auntie helping to get a cake ready and family helping them to decorate - their on back garden Thomas' mum and auntie helping to get a cake ready and family helping them to decorate - their on back garden

Thomas’ mum and auntie helping to get a cake ready and family helping them to decorate – their on back garden with flowers and disco balls hanging from the trees 

But after hearing Mary and Thomas’ story, the celebrant offered to reach out to others in the area who could help – and soon they had a date in the diary.

Mary said: ‘That same afternoon we went to her, and she got all the paperwork ready.’

Thomas was still unsure if they should marry so soon – so Mary started planning things on the off-chance he decided to go for it.

He decided to go ahead with it on 22 December – two days before the wedding on Christmas Eve.

With just two days on the countdown, they rushed to get everything ready.

Thomas’ auntie, Shirley Quinn, and his mum, Rosemary Stapledon, organised a last-minute wedding cake.

A family friend, Bill Fragos, stepped up to do a barbecue for their 50 guests.

At midnight on the day of the wedding - on December 24 - the whole family was out in their back garden setting up decorations in the dark. Flowers were picked from Mary's mum's garden and some were bought from the local central market At midnight on the day of the wedding - on December 24 - the whole family was out in their back garden setting up decorations in the dark. Flowers were picked from Mary's mum's garden and some were bought from the local central market

At midnight on the day of the wedding – on December 24 – the whole family was out in their back garden setting up decorations in the dark. Flowers were picked from Mary’s mum’s garden and some were bought from the local central market

Mary pulled a white dress she had never ended up wearing out of the back of her wardrobe, which became her bridal gown Mary pulled a white dress she had never ended up wearing out of the back of her wardrobe, which became her bridal gown

Mary pulled a white dress she had never ended up wearing out of the back of her wardrobe, which became her bridal gown

Mary on the morning of her wedding holding flowers which were picked from her mothers garden Mary on the morning of her wedding holding flowers which were picked from her mothers garden

Mary on the morning of her wedding holding flowers which were picked from her mothers garden 

Mary pulled a white dress she had never ended up wearing out of the back of her wardrobe, which became her bridal gown.

WEDDING BREAKDOWN:

Photography: $500

Celebrant: $440

Mary’s dress – From Ebay about $100 second hand which happened to be white – intended to wear on a birthday party but never got worn 

Cake – Tom’s Auntie arranged with a cake maker she knew, who stepped in at the last minute. Cost several hundred but cost covered by Tom’s family 

Wedding car – free from friends of Tom’s sister

Flowers – done Mary and Tom’s sister, from Mary’s mum’s garden and some from the local central market

Mary’s engagement and wedding ring – passed down through family

Tom’s wedding ring – a special Irish ring from his Auntie

BBQ food – Tom’s friend brought it, who had a family event and had a lot of meat left over

Decorations and seating – Tom’s family brought them all over and set them up.

Helping with cutlery, glasses and making drinks – everyone pitched in but Tom’s mum did the most – and brought extra cutlery and glasses

 

At midnight on the day of the wedding – on December 24 – the whole family was out in their back garden setting up decorations in the dark.

Their families had to bring items such as cutlery and chairs from home to ensure there were enough for all the guests.

Mary said: ‘So many people helped make that happen. It’s very heartwarming and emotional how many people contributed.’

Incredibly, the morning of the wedding everything was ready to go – apart from the vows, which the bride and groom sat together writing that morning, before guests arrived.

The whole day only cost the couple $940 (£740) – having only paid for the celebrant and photographer.

The day, December 24, 2022, went exactly as they had hoped, despite the short notice and the fact it was Christmas Eve.

Mary said: ‘It was absolutely perfect. We didn’t give anyone any notice to come but everyone came – a friend came from interstate.

‘It was so perfect and never would have happened if we weren’t in this horrible situation with my dad, so it was kind of a happy ending.’

Incredibly, despite being given just two months to live, Barry has defied the odds and is still battling on.

A conversation Thomas’ sister, Catherine Stapledon, 28, happened to have with a work colleague about the short-notice wedding led to them learning the colleague’s brother was a specialist neck cancer surgeon.

After other doctors had told Barry it wouldn’t be worth operating on, the surgeon took Barry’s case on and he had surgery to remove his neck tumour on January 20 this year.

Since then, follow-up scans at the end of July revealed the cancer is gone – thanks, in part, to their wedding.

Thomas was unsure if they should marry so soon - so Mary started planning things on the off-chance he decided to go for it Thomas was unsure if they should marry so soon - so Mary started planning things on the off-chance he decided to go for it

Thomas was unsure if they should marry so soon – so Mary started planning things on the off-chance he decided to go for it 

Mary said: ‘I almost can’t believe it. If we didn’t get married, my sister-in-law would never have had that conversation.

‘So, dad wouldn’t have had the surgery and he wouldn’t be here now.

‘Our wedding was already amazing, but knowing it sort of saved my dad’s life truly made it the best day ever.’

Barry said: ‘Everybody there seemed to think it was the best wedding they’ve ever been to. I don’t know if that happens at every wedding!’

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