Canadian officiates wedding while both she and the bride are in labour

Sushma Dwivedi was getting ready to bring her second child into the world when she was called upon to officiate her first wedding.

Montreal's Sushma Dwivedi wed couple from her hospital bed in New York City

Sushma Dwivedi Jindal, left, was in labour last week when she ordained a wedding for Brianna Doyle, centre, who was also in labour, and Casey Walko, right. (Submitted by Brianna Doyle)
Listen6:37

Read Story Transcript

Sushma Dwivedi was hours away from giving birth to her second child when she was called upon to officiate a wedding.

The Montreal woman who now lives in New York City was in labour on May 16 at the New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center when her anesthesiologist mentioned that a couple in the same maternity ward was desperately looking for a chaplain so they could tie the knot before their baby was born.

"I very conversationally just offered back that I had the ability to officiate weddings thanks to the internet," Jindal said.

"The doctor was like, 'Really, you would do that? You know you're in labour too, right?'"

'The stars aligned'

Brianna Doyle, 28, and Casey Walko, 30, got their wedding licence the day before and planned to get married the next day, but her water broke unexpectedly more than two weeks before her due date.​

"I was absolutely terrified about giving birth to my first child and not being able to get married as planned," Doyle told As It Happens in an email.

"That's when the stars aligned and sent me this angel named Sushma who made our dreams come true."

Hospital staff pitched in to throw together a wedding in the maternity ward at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center on May 16. (Submitted by Sushma Dwivedi Jindal)

Dwivedi was ordained with the Universal Life Church online as part of her side business of organizing LGBT-friendly Indian weddings.

But she'd never actually wed a couple herself.

"It felt like the right thing to do for my husband and I in terms of like, OK, can we help another family out right before we have a kid?" she said.

"It's the right lesson to teach our kid before he makes his debut."

There was just one problem. Dwivedi had just gotten an epidural and couldn't move at all from the waist down.

"My legs were jelly by this point," she said.

"It was a little bit of a Jabba the Hut moment where they took the automatic bed ... and sort of propped that up so that I could sit and officiate, and they came to me in my room."

'Room was totally abuzz with love'

The hospital staff scrambled to throw together memorable nuptials for the young couple.

A nurse wrote a poem, while other staff members braided the bride's hair with baby's breath, searched for a wedding procession song, cobbled together a flower bouquet and made a bowtie for the groom out of a newborn hat.

Sushma Dwivedi Jindal was in labour last week when she ordained a wedding for Brianna Doyle, who was also in labour, and Casey Walko. 7:10

"I have never seen such incredible patient care," Dwivedi said.

"The room was totally abuzz with love, which is the nicest feeling to have before bringing life into the world."

The whole ceremony, which was recorded via cellphone, took about seven minutes and ended with Dwivedi declaring: "By the power invested in me by the internet, I'm happy to proclaim you husband and wife."

Healthy babies

About five hours later, Dwivedi and her husband, Vivek Jindal, welcomed their son Nayan into the world. 

Doyle and Walko's daughter Riley came soon after.

Both mothers and babies are doing just fine.

Baby Riley, left, and Nayan, right, were born several hours after the impromptu wedding in the hospital and are both doing well. (Submitted by Brianna Doyle, Submitted by Sushma Dwivedi Jindal )

"The most amazing thing I think to take away from this is how none of these people [Sushma, doctors, nurses] had to do this, they chose to do this for a complete stranger," Doyle wrote.

"I am forever and eternally grateful to Sushma and the amazing nurses and doctors at Cornell."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Sushma Dwivedi produced by Jeanne Armstrong.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.