Bride of fallen firefighter takes wedding photos alone to honor late husband

Elise Solé

A woman whose fiancé was killed by an alleged drunk driver memorialized their relationship by taking wedding photos alone.

On Nov. 10, 2017, about a year before his planned Sept. 29 wedding to occupational therapist Jessica Padgett, Montgomery, Ind., volunteer firefighter Kendall Murphy, 27, was killed while exiting his vehicle to help a car crash victim in Indiana.  

“When Kendall passed, it took me a while to realize what happened, but as months went by, I realized that I wanted to celebrate our wedding day,” Padgett, 25, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

So she reached out to local photographer Mandi Knepp of Loving Life Photography, who had shot the couple’s engagement photos at the Glendale State Fish and Wildlife Area in Daviess County. “The day was an emotional roller coaster,” Knepp says. “I had chills all that day. It was a blessing to be a part of this.” 

On what would have been the couple’s wedding day, Padgett put on her white gown and got her hair and makeup professionally done, then met her parents and Murphy’s family at Glendale for a tribute to her late groom. “When I arrived, our entire wedding party was lined up to greet us, exactly as they would have stood at the ceremony,” says Padgett. “That was a surprise. It was emotional.” 

Padgett’s once-future in-laws surprised her with a gift of Murphy’s uniform, helmet, and boots, the latter of which were stuffed with sunflowers (the couple’s wedding flowers), along with a sign that read, “No matter your path, I am with you always.”

Padgett also posed for photos with Murphy’s boxer dog and “best friend,” Topanga, and friends and family gave speeches at his gravesite. “There were some funny moments. Like the mosquitos were terrible that day,” remarks Padgett.

The bride was gifted with more than 300 messages submitted via Facebook from loved ones and strangers wishing her happiness, and each wedding usher handed her a different bouquet of flowers. In the evening, the entire wedding party released dozens of paper lanterns into the sky, then enjoyed a meal together, swapping funny stories about Murphy.

Says Padgett of her wedding day, “It was something special to help heal both families.”

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