“‘You worked as hard as I have. You’ll help us walk our daughter down the aisle,” her father, Todd Bachman, told Cendrosky, according to Cleveland television station WKYC.
Cendrosky’s reaction, captured on film by wedding photographer Delia Blackburn, has gone viral since it was posted on Facebook Sunday: His eyes crinkled, his face went red, his mouth curled into something between a smile and an overwhelmed grimace. He followed Bachman into the aisle, and they walked their daughter along it together.
In Blackburn’s photos, onlookers seem just as emotional as Cendrosky: One woman gazes at the two men, her mouth open, her expression tearful. Another clutches a tissue, looking pained. Until it happened, none of them knew what Bachman was going to do.
In fact, the only person with any advance warning was Blackburn herself. As the wedding march music cued up, Bachman came over to the photographer and said, “I’m going to do something special. Be ready.”
“For me to thank him for all the years of helping raise our daughter wouldn’t be enough. There is no better way to thank somebody than to assist me walking her down the aisle,” Bachman told WKYC.
Bachman told the TV station that the two families have seen their share of strife since Peck’s parents divorced and remarried. But their moment of reconciliation seemed to resonate, even with people who don’t know the bride or her fathers.
Blackburn’s photos have been shared by half a million people and liked by more than twice that number. They’ve elicited tens of thousands of comments, some from parents, stepparents or children who dealt with the same situation at their own weddings, many more by people who just wanted to say how inspired they were, or leave a few exclamation points and a smiling emoticon.
“The powerful expression of gratitude on your step father’s face is heart warming and tear jerking,” one wrote. “Bravo to all who planned this out. Your family needs to be interviewed by Oprah!”