Paralyzed bride walks down the aisle and dances at reception

Jaquie Goncher and her husband Andy. Photos Courtesy of Love Stories by Halie and Alec.

Story highlights

  • Jaquie Goncher broke her neck while diving into a pool eight years ago
  • Through physical therapy and workouts, she's regained some movement in her legs

(CNN)Walking down the aisle on your wedding day is something all brides-to-be dream about. But the actual walking part is what a Georgia woman focused on when she got married.

Jaquie Goncher of Marietta was paralyzed eight years ago, when she broke her neck during a dive into a friend's pool. She's used a wheelchair ever since. So her friends and family were stunned on her wedding day when she got out of it and walked down the aisle.

    She wanted endurance

    Through intense physical therapy over the years, Goncher had regained some movement in her limbs. She had gotten to the point where she could stand and walk around a bit if she held onto a wall.
    But about four months before her wedding -- which took place in May in Atlanta -- she wanted to be able to do more. She not only wanted to walk down the aisle, she wanted to boogie at her reception, too.
    Jaquie Goncher has done physical therapy and intensive workouts to begin to walk again.
    "I wanted to have the endurance to enjoy the wedding without the chair," Goncher said.
    So she worked with a physical therapist and worked out at the gym with help from Andy, her future husband. She made the most progress after she moved out of her mom's house and became self-sufficient.

    She took the walk

    As the wedding day got closer, she felt she was ready. But she was still nervous.
    "The entire time before the wedding, I thought I was gonna throw up," she said.
    On her wedding day, she rolled in her wheelchair to the end of the aisle. Then, with assistance from her mother and her grandfather, she stood and walked toward her soon-to-be-husband.
    Shocked family and friends cried with joy. So did Andy Goncher, even though he was in on her little secret.
    Jaquie Goncher left her wheelchair behind to walk down the aisle and dance at her wedding reception. Photos courtesy of Love Stories by Halie and Alec.

    She could have danced all night

    But Goncher wasn't done. When the reception started, she ditched her wheelchair for the dance floor, where she danced and mingled with guests the entire time. Even she was "absolutely in shock" at how well she was able to move around.
    Not counting sitting down to eat and watching others dance, Goncher was on her feet for a little more than four hours that day. Before then, she could manage to stand for only 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
    Goncher credits her faith for helping her get through it all.
    "What kept me going was my strength in God," she said.

    She wants to get out of the comfort zone

    Although she's walking more, Goncher still primarily uses her wheelchair, since she's so comfortable in it after using it all these years. But getting out of that comfort zone is what she's now working on.
    "It's more of a mental challenge for me now," said Goncher, who worries about, say, going out to a restaurant and not having the wheelchair with her if she needs to get somewhere quickly -- like the bathroom.
    "If no one is there to help me, what do I do?"
    But she's got a cane, and she's committed to using it more to get around.