“We’re married, but we’ve never had our first dance.”
David and Andrea Croft’s dream wedding was dramatically cut short after the speeches when the groom unexpectedly collapsed in the honeymoon suite, unable to catch his breath.
Wearing his full wedding suit, the 27-year-old electrician had to be stretchered out of the reception by paramedics, with Andrea quickly changing out of her bridal gown to make the journey to hospital.
“I looked at him and could tell he wasn’t well at all”, said Andrea, 28.
“He was really pale and complaining about pains across his chest, and I think that scared him.
“I was frightened and it felt so surreal, but my priority was David.”
Paramedics discovered David’s right lung had completely collapsed, and emergency intervention was needed to prevent it leading to cardiac arrest.
But after sharing their wedding cake with nurses at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, the couple –who were engaged for five years and have a daughter, Lilly - now have a reason to smile.
Unknown to the Lostock Hall newlyweds, Andrea’s uncle and chief bridesmaid organised a whip-round at the night do, which carried on without the star guests, and now they have been able to organise a new celebration with suppliers offering to return free of charge. “It’s lovely, because we felt like we’d been robbed”, said David.
“There was all the build-up, all the effort that went into having a perfect day.
“It was about Andrea and I wanted it to be perfect for her. She really wanted a sparkly dance floor, so we saved up for it, but didn’t get to see any of it.”
The wedding day on December 10 was the third time David’s lung had collapsed since September last year, the first coming out-of-the-blue just days before his stag do in Dublin.
He said: “I was feeling a lot of pain, but when I called an ambulance they couldn’t find anything wrong.
“So I went to work the next day feeling ill, but by the time I got home I knew there was something not right and I ended up in hospital for five days.”
David wasn’t expecting to fall ill again, but just two days before the wedding, he started experiencing the same tell-tale chest pains. Rushed into hospital just after midnight on the day before the wedding, the couple feared they would have to cancel the day.
David said: “It wasn’t like I was stressed out. I was excited to be getting married and everything was really organised. I’m fit and healthy, I go to the gym, so I was wondering why me? But apparently this can happen to young, slim, tall men.
“I told the doctors it was my wedding the next day and I couldn’t stay in, so they decided to try to aspirate the air out with needles. It was painful, but it was that or cut my chest open and put a drain in, and that would have meant missing the whole wedding.
“It was a 50-50 chance, and we were hoping and praying the lung would go back up again.”
By 7am nurses were happy enough to allow David to return home, on the condition he spent the rest of the day relaxing.
Worried by the events, Andrea cancelled plans to spend her last night of freedom at her parents’ house, and left the home she shares with David and their four-year-old daughter Lilly, for Mitton Hall at 6am on her wedding day.
David said: “I woke up and I didn’t feel on top form, but then the cars arrived and the adrenaline kicked in and I was looking forward to the day.”
David made it through an “emotional” service, then struggled his way through photographs and the speeches.
Andrea said: “I could tell he wasn’t himself. He was struggling during the photographs for breath and I asked the photographer to wrap it up early.”
He said: “I was short of breath and I felt pressure in my chest, but it didn’t feel like before. I put it down to all the needles from the previous day.”
At about 2pm when staff were changing the room around, the wedding co-ordinator suggested David should lie down for a little while, so he retired to the honeymoon suite, but his condition took a turn for the worst.
“I looked at him and could tell he wasn’t well at all”, said Andrea.
“When the paramedics arrived they said it was the worst they’d ever seen - there was no air in the lung at all because it had been left so late. But if it hadn’t have been for the day and the adrenaline getting him though, David probably would have got help sooner.”
Before being rushed to the Royal Blackburn Hospital, Andrea asked her uncle Steve Allen to let guests carry on enjoying the entertainment without them.
She said: “We’d put so much effort and money into it, and we wanted our guests to have a great day.”
David’s mum and Lilly were left to cut the wedding cake, and guests tagged the couple in on videos from the night do on social media.
“We were sitting in hospital and everyone was sending us nice selfies from the do, showing them enjoying themselves”, said David.
“The nurses were really great too – they even gave us our own ‘honeymoon’ room in one of the wards.”
Then, through the hospital ward came Steve with an envelope containing £420, collected from wedding guests. A Just Giving page has also raised a further £170.As the couple are still unsure whether their insurance company will pay out, the money has allowed David and Andrea to book a second reception at Charnock Farm on February 25.
Andrea said: “We can’t believe people’s generosity, especially as they’d already given wedding presents, bought outfits and bought expensive drinks at Mitton Hall.
“It really restores your faith, we’re very touched. It’s turned something that was really a shame and devastated us, into something that’s really overwhelmed us with kindness.”
Band Funtime Frankies have agreed to play the event again for free, Dancefloor Couture have offered a free DJ, Slaters menswear are providing wedding suits free of charge, Sands Photography will film the first dance for nothing, Marvel at Everything have offered party invitations free of charge, and Andrea’s hair and makeip will be done for free by her original make up artist and her colleagues at Heaven on Earth in Leyland.
In total David spent a week in hospital, with doctors carrying out an operation on his right lung to remove a small area of little blisters that had ruptured, causing the lung to deflate.
He has been told there is only a one per cent chance of his lung collapsing again.