Six years after a spinal injury placed Kent Stephenson in a wheelchair, the paralyzed groom stood at his wedding to not only watch his beautiful bride Misti walk down the aisle, but to give her an unforgettable first dance, too!
Pro-Am Motocross racer Kent and his fiancee Misti met in college in 2008 and started dating early the next year when they were suddenly faced with an unexpected set of incredible challenges. On June 9, 2009, Kent’s motor locked up during an 80-foot jump injuring his T5 and T6 vertebrae, paralyzing him from the chest down, and leading doctors to believe he would never regain feeling, walk, or stand again. But he decided he was going to prove them wrong.
In August of 2012 the paralyzed groom underwent surgery, having an electrical stimulator controlled by a handheld remote implanted into his spine. He was only the second participant to undergo epidural stimulation, a procedure whose research was funded in part by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
On March 12, 2016 with the assistance of the stimulator and a custom-designed standing frame built by MS Custom Welding, the paralyzed groom rose to marry his bride after years of being wheelchair-bound.
The emotional moments of Kent and Misti’s tearful first kiss as husband and wife and twirl-filled first dance were captured by wedding photographer Allix Ruby who told The Knot, “The crowd of 400 plus guests was buzzing and chatting before the wedding started but in that moment when he stood up everyone hushed and all you could hear was the sound of people softly crying.”
“The emotions really hit Kent as he watched his bride coming towards him, not just because she looked so beautiful, but also the amazing experience of standing to see her that I know he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to have.” The photographer remembered as everyone watched in awe of the paralyzed groom standing for his bride. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd during the ceremony or the first dance!”
At the reception, held at Elk Meadow Pavilion in New Boston, Texas, Kent relied on the metal rails of the custom frame to help support him during the newlywed’s first dance to Dylan Scott’s rendition of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” The wedding photographer explained that the mood was intense but joyful sharing that, “Kent watching Misti come down the aisle and them sharing their first dance as husband and wife was incredibly powerful and moving. Those moments are sweet on any wedding but you could tell this was so huge for these two.”
“Kent and Misti have been so sweet in their response to the photos! They’ve both mentioned that the images I’ve posted so far just bring them right back to the emotions they were feeling when I took them,” the couple’s wedding photographer Allix said. “It was a huge reminder for me as a photographer of how special wedding days truly are. To see this couple just delighting in things many couples take for granted was truly eye-opening.”
Adding to her pride in being chosen to photograph not only Kent and Misti Stephenson’s beautiful wedding but also the momentous occasion of the paralyzed groom standing in front of the crowd, wedding photographer Allix Ruby told The Knot, “I felt deeply honored to be capturing memories that will hopefully inspire and help many others but also for the bride and groom to cherish in the years to come as they relive these life-changing moments.”