It was 8 years ago that Jaquie Goncher was told by doctors that the chances of her walking again were “too small to put a percentage on,” after a dive into her friend’s pool left her paralyzed from the neck down. Now 25, Goncher has beaten the odds through hard work, physical therapy, and faith in herself. The young woman stood, walked, and danced on her wedding day, which took place on May 22, 2016.
The bride radiated with beauty on her special day, but not only because of her Elizabeth Dye gown or her electric teal hair. She had confidence, stemming from a goal she set a year before her wedding date. Goncher made it her mission to walk down the aisle on her big day, no matter how strenuous the rehabilitation. The first glimmer of hope came when her big toe flexed for the first time, perplexing the surgeons who had given her the earlier diagnosis.
Goncher went on to endure grueling physical therapy sessions, as well as workouts, like planking, weights, abdominal machine exercises, and leg presses on her own. “I was an athlete in high school so working out again and not being able to do the workouts I used to was very emotionally hard for me,” she said. “I walked on the treadmill at the slowest pace holding onto the sides and focused on not passing out. I would pull myself with my legs in my wheelchair around the gym.”
All of her hard work paid off, because when the time came, Goncher managed the entire four-and-a-half hour event on her own two feet. “I was completely shocked that I was standing that long,” Goncher recounts to Buzzfeed. “I think I was just too happy to notice if it was difficult or not. All I can remember is having the time of my life!”
She wasn’t the only one shocked to find herself standing. Many of her bridesmaids and friends had no idea that Goncher was planning on executing this brave feat. Even Andy, Goncher’s husband, who knew all along, found himself tearing up at the altar.
The wedding was emotional, beautiful, and altogether inspiring. The heartwarming photographs, via Love Stories by Halie + Alec, capture these tender moments between a strong, brave woman and the man who has supported her through and through. Goncher says of her husband: “He has believed in me and my goals but through it all I always knew no matter what the outcome, he would be my side. He made it so easy for me to open up to him about all the little embarrassing things that come with a spinal cord injury. He just loved me for who I was from the very beginning. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
It’s no wonder that their first dance was to Ingrid Michaelson’s love song, “The Way I Am.”
All images via Love Stories By Halie + Alec.