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Tears and joy: Couple rushes wedding so ill father can walk daughter down the aisle

JP (left) and Allison (left center) Lundsetter with Allison’s parents, Chris (right center) and Keith (right). (Photo by Amber Lee Caldwell)1 / 4
Allison Lundsetter and her husband, JP, got married 19 days after JP proposed because Allison’s father (left) was very ill from pancreatic cancer. He was able to walk her down the aisle. Three days later, he passed away. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)2 / 4
Allison and JP Lundsetter on Nov. 17, 2017, their wedding day. JP asked Allison’s father’s permission to take their last name so the name wouldn’t end with Allison. (Photo by Amber Lee Caldwell)3 / 4
Keith Lundsetter, Allison’s father, on her wedding day. Allison says she and her father were very close as she grew up and being able to have him at her wedding meant everything. (Photo by Amber Lee Caldwell)4 / 4

Editor's note: The Echo Press asked readers to send us their touching stories for Valentine's Day. Here was one story we wanted to share.

Allison Lundsetter's father's health was fading fast.

Eighteen months earlier, he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. So when Allison's boyfriend, JP McMillan, proposed on Oct. 29, 2017, the Lowry couple knew they had to act quickly if they wanted Allison's father, Keith, at the wedding.

So, on Nov. 17, just 19 days after the proposal, Allison's father walked her down the aisle.

He died three days later, on Nov. 21.

"It meant the world to me for my dad to walk me down the aisle and be there to witness our marriage," Allison said. "I know he was worried that with us only having a week or so to plan the wedding that it wouldn't be the big day that I had always dreamed of but it ended up being more than I had ever imagined. The day was full of so much meaning and emotion."

JP and Allison met on New Year's Eve of 2013 through mutual friends. Both had been picked up by friends and were riding in the back of a vehicle on the way to a party. Allison had gotten her feet wet in snow earlier in the night.

"I ended up in the backseat with her and she asked me if I could warm her feet up," JP recalled. "So I lifted up my leg and she put them underneath."

The rest, as they say, is history.

Nearly five years after they began dating, JP asked Keith's permission to marry his daughter. But he also asked his permission for something less traditional — taking Allison's last name. If he didn't take it, the Lundsetter name would have ended with Allison, as she has no brothers.

"I don't want their last name to end," JP said. "He (Keith) was a great guy. He chuckled and said, 'You really want to do that, huh?' I said, 'Yes, I do.'"

Keith fetched Allison's great-grandmother's ring and JP proposed the next day. Initially, the two thought about having the wedding Dec. 30. But Keith didn't think he would make it that long. So they began planning a wedding with close family members as fast as possible.

Much of the planning took place from a deer stand, Allison says, as she, JP and her dad love to hunt. First Lutheran Church in Alexandria had an open date. The couple booked a photographer. Decor was delivered via Amazon Prime. Allison found a perfect fit of a wedding dress.

"People thought I was crazy, but it just felt like it was meant to be," Allison said.

The day of the wedding, Allison's father wasn't feeling well. But he was able to walk her down the aisle and to later share a father-daughter dance at The Hatchery Bar and Grill in Lowry.

"I don't think there was a dry eye in there," JP said. "It was hard."

One of the things that drew Allison to JP was how much he reminded her of her father, she says.

"I just kind of knew he (JP) was the one," she said. "The thing I love the most is they both have big hearts and are always willing to help others."

Allison and JP plan to hold a large reception to celebrate with friends and family on their one-year anniversary. The two say they wouldn't change a single detail about how their wedding day played out.

"I don't think we would have done it any other way," he said.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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