When Alabama couple Kelsey and Michael Kulick got married last November, the groom was in for more than just the usual surprise of seeing his bride's wedding gown for the first time. While Kelsey said her vows aloud, she did a little something extra that meant the world to her groom and his family. She translated her wedding vows into American Sign Language.
Both of Michael's parents are deaf, so he grew up communicating with his parents through ASL. Though Kelsey said she's not fluent in ASL, she communicates with her in-laws using what she's learned since she began dating Michael in 2018. For her wedding day, she knew she wanted the ceremony to be as inclusive as possible.
"I wanted to sign my vows out of respect for Michael and his parents," she told Southern Living. "While we did have an interpreter for the ceremony, I wanted my vows to be coming directly from me, not only by word of mouth but also through ASL so that all were able to understand and know what I was saying."
When Michael and Kelsey first got engaged, Kelsey ran the idea of signing her vows by Michael. When he told her that he thought his parents would love that, she decided to keep mum on the effort in the hopes that he would forget by the time their wedding day rolled around almost a year later.
"Sure enough, he forgot, so it was a surprise!" she said.
Kelsey said she initially tried to learn her vows word by word by using an internet translator. But worrying that she'd get part of it wrong, she reached out to Michael's aunt who is hearing but fluent in ASL because she's married to Michael's uncle who is deaf.
"I asked her to record herself signing my vows and send it to me so I could use it to practice," Kelsey said. "She happily did so, and I used that video to practice over and over for weeks."
When it came time to deliver her vows, Kelsey was well-rehearsed and ready. The couple's videographer shared the moment in a now-viral video that has more than 10 million views on TikTok. As Kelsey repeated her vows, she signed them at the same time. When Michael realized what was happening, he broke out in a huge smile and tears immediately came to his eyes. He said it was a very emotional and special moment for him.
As for her new in-laws, they were both thrilled at the surprise, and Kelsey said they "still talk about how they loved that moment and they're thankful that I made an effort.
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Now that Kelsey is officially part of the Kulick family, she said she hopes to continue to learn and grow in her knowledge of ASL. Her goal is to be able to clearly communicate with her family and make sure that her future children can communicate with their grandparents.
What a beautiful love story!