Couple Weds in Hospital With Preemie Ring Bearer

Jennifer O'Neill
·Writer
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Photo: Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images

It wasn’t the most romantic of settings, with beeping monitors, nurses and tubes everywhere, but to Kristi Warriner, the neonatal intensive care unit at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas was the only place on earth she wanted to wed her fiancé Justin Nelson.

The couple has been ever present at the ICU since September 2 when Warriner delivered son J.J. 25 weeks early, after his twin, Colt Austin, died in utero. So on Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m., the parents tied the knot in the hospital’s first NICU wedding with 11-week-old JJ as ring bearer, soundly asleep in a tuxedo onesie, and Warriner’s daughter Carissa, 8, as flower girl. 

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“It’s not what you dream of as a little girl. It’s even better,” the bride declared. “I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect wedding.”

The parents postponed their original ceremony plans after Warriner’s pregnancy became high-risk when they discovered the babies had a rare disorder called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, in which identical twins aren’t able to get enough nutrients in utero. Going to a justice of the peace was the next thought but the mom says they decided, “We couldn’t do it without having both kids there.”

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The hospital staff understood. “It’s our desire to try to not only help kids become happy healthy and strong but their families too,” Cook Children’s spokesperson Winifred King tells Yahoo Parenting. So as soon as the family started talking with a nurse about having a ceremony, the hospital coordinated details and everything was arranged in about a week — including a TV crew to document the emotional I Dos.

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Photo: @ Jason Wheeler/Twitter

“Our mission behind sharing our story was to let those that have been there, are there or unfortunately could one day be there [know] that they are not alone.” Warriner told CNN.

Mission accomplished. The “small affair,” says King, “has just exploded” thanks to the reporter live tweeting the ceremony and local journalists on hand.

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Photo: @ Jason Wheeler/Twitter

“They are extremely surprised,” King says of the couple’s reaction to making national news. They’re hoping for more good news too, about JJ who is still being monitored for chronic lung disease.

"He has been struggling but has made great improvements," Warriner told CNN of the preemie. "We still grieve [for his twin Colt Austin] but keep strong for JJ."

It’s a resolve the share with the NICU staff at Cook Children’s Medical Center. Says King, “JJ is so precious and he’s doing well. We’re all very hopeful he’ll make a full recovery.”

Photo: Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images