Mikayla Wroten, of Gallia County, Ohio, had always dreamed of the perfect wedding. But when her big day finally arrived, something — or rather, someone — was missing.
You see, Mikayla’s father, David Poling, was killed in the line of duty more than a decade ago. The Marine and former probation officer drowned while chasing a suspect in the Ohio River in 2007, when Mikayla was just 9.
“I remember Mom telling us, sitting us down and told us that he wasn’t with us anymore and it was really one of those things like dad’s not gone, he’s just gone for the night and I think it was a couple weeks later that it actually set in that he was gone and he wasn’t coming back,” Mikayla told WSAZ last year.
The 19-year-old Ohio bride found ways to incorporate her father’s memory into her October 2017 wedding ceremony, but she still struggled with the fact that she couldn’t share a traditional father-daughter dance with him.
That’s when a group of David’s former partners began secretly scheming…
Mikayla met her now-husband Dakota when they were 4 and 5 years old, respectively.
Dakota is following in his late father-in-law’s footsteps. He works in law enforcement as a deputy, WSAZ reported.
The pair exchanged vows on October 14, 2017.
Mikayla’s bouquet included a picture of her late dad along with a sweet note: “Walk with me today, Daddy.”
Mikayla saved a place for her dad at the ceremony.
She placed a “reserved” sign, his Marine portrait, and his boots on a chair in the front row. The latter were filled with blue peonies and sunflowers to match the bride’s bouquet.
Mikayla's stepdad wound up walking her down the aisle, a gesture she appreciated.
Still, it wasn’t the same as having her own father there with her.
So when the time came for Mikayla's father-daughter dance, a group of her dad's former partners changed into their uniforms and strolled up to the dance floor.
One by one, they each took turns dancing with her to the song, “I Loved Her First” by Heartland.
Sheriff Matt Champlin, David’s best friend, wanted Mikayla to know a part of her father was present during her special day.
“We wanted to be able to give her on her wedding day, the little piece of Dave that couldn’t be there, that each of us carries with us every day,” Matt told WSAZ.
Only Dakota, the photographer, and the DJ had been told about the men’s plan ahead of time.
Needless to say, their secrecy paid off: Mikayla was shocked and overwhelmed by the men’s kind gesture.
“The first cop walked out, he was a state trooper, and I just lost it. Everyone was in uniform and I was just like, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ I fell into his chest and lost it,” she told Caters News.
“I was full of emotion. I never expected anything like that to happen,” she added. “It was a real surprise.”
Toward the end of the night, Mikayla stumbled upon a gold button that had fallen off one of the officers’ uniforms.
“I remember I took it out there to (trooper) Marvin Pullins and I said, ‘Here Marv,’ and he said, ‘Well that ain’t mine but it’s yours now,’ and it was just one of those little God winks,” Mikayla told WSAZ.
At that moment, she knew for sure that her father was with her on her wedding day.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect wedding, and it was all thanks to her "fathers in blue."
“I told every single one of them I loved them and how much it meant to me for them to be there for me,” Mikayla said.