Julia Napolitano, 30, and her love, Justin Phillips, were married in November of last year.
After a beautiful ceremony at their local church, the couple arranged for a mini reception at Silverado Oak Village, an Alzheimer’s home in Menomonee Falls, WI.
This is where Julia’s mother, Linda, lives.
Six years ago, Linda, 66, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and is now in the late stages of the incurable brain disease.
Today, Linda no longer recognizes her daughter, or her husband, Umberto.
She has lost the ability to speak, but is fortunately still mobile.
“I’m an only child, so taking care of my mom has always been in the back of my mind,” Julia told TODAY.
“She may not be the same person in every sense, but she is alive. And we need to share that life, even if it’s only for a short amount of time.”
Julia couldn’t bear the thought of having her mother leave the Alzheimer’s home, and all the people she’s grown used to having around.
So, instead, she and Justin decided to bring the wedding to her!
The staff at the home arranged for Linda to get her makeup and hair done in preparation for the reception.
The guests were given ceremony programs beforehand that explained the situation, and were invited to join the party back at Silverado Oak Village.
“Almost everyone decided to join us,” said Julia, who was surprised at the incredible turnout.
When everyone arrived at the home, Julia was the last one to enter the room at the reception.
“I walked in, and the crowds parted, and then they brought my mom around the corner,” she said.
“That moment — when she got to see me in my dress… I can’t describe the feeling.”
And though Linda technically could not communicate with her family, she showed signs of understanding what was going on.
“Deep down, we all truly believe that she understood there was something special going on,” said Julia.
Even the nurses at Silverado noticed the incredible effect the reception has had on Linda.
“[They] said that Linda has been in the best mood ever since that day,” Justin told BuzzFeed Life.
For Julia, the most breathtaking moment of the entire reception was when her parents danced together.
The couple, who have been married for more than 30 years, “swayed to the music, and as you can imagine, it was extremely emotional,” said Julia.
“He always assumed she would be there to give away their only daughter.”
Julia and Justin did their first husband-and-wife dance at that reception, in front of the most important people in their lives.
Though they went on to host a larger reception that day, it was here that they had their first cake-cutting, and were “surrounded by couples, staff, and residents dancing in wheelchairs.”
Julia is very thankful to the Alzheimer’s home for treating her mother like a part of its family, and for being so open to host the reception.
Since the wedding, Linda has been in terrific spirits, and in a stable condition. The newlyweds are grateful for all the support they have seen from family and friends.
“People who never knew Linda at all came to spend some time with us, and there wasn’t a dry eye to be found,” Justin told BuzzFeed Life.
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Thumbnail: Gravidee Photography