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Sensational Wedding Surprise Video Ties to Regent

| May 23, 2014

Marine Officer Daniel Atwood is reunited with his sister, Sarah Fitschen, on her wedding day.

Brides often experience surprises on their wedding days, but a poignant surprise that exemplifies the deep bond between siblings was captured on a video that's been making international news over the past few days. And, several of the players associated with the video have close connections to Regent University.

Regent psychology student Sarah Fitschen (CAS) is featured in the video, being surprised by her brother Daniel Atwood, an active-duty Marine officer, just a few hours before her marriage to Regent alumni officer Malcolm Fitschen '14 (CAS) on Saturday, May 10. Andrew Didway '11 (CAS), co-founder of the Virginia Beach-based Snapback Studios and friend of the couple, produced the video.

To date, the wedding surprise video has been featured on The Huffington Post, Fox News, Yahoo!, MSN,, and a host of other news and social media sites nationally and abroad.

Daniel, who is based on the East Coast, was away on a training exercise and had told Sarah that he would miss her wedding.

"Finally, after us all hoping and praying, the week before the wedding, Daniel told me that he really didn't think he could make it. It was devastating," Sarah said. "But then, Daniel got permission the Wednesday before my wedding to leave early Saturday morning. He didn't tell anyone but his wife and my parents. It was a miracle!"

While military men and women's "surprise" reunion videos regularly make the rounds of social media, Sarah and Daniel's video offers some insights into close sibling relationships.

"I think it connects with a number of powerful themes that people of multiple backgrounds love and can connect with: family, the military, a bride on her wedding day, and sibling love," Sarah explained. "The video displays raw and unrestrained emotion, which comes from a genuine place of deep familial love and relationship. I have no doubt that people are drawn to this video because of the universal and even sacred nature of these themes."

Some viewers may have thought Daniel returned from an overseas deployment, when in fact, he was coming from just a few hours away. Sarah explained her emotional reaction when she saw her brother striding across the lawn toward her during a pre-wedding photo shoot.

"My emotion really was rooted in the deep love and gratitude I have for my brother, in addition to the deep love and gratitude I have for the rest of my siblings. The strength of my emotion wasn't because Daniel was oceans away but because of how much I love and value him," Sarah said. "As soon as I saw him walking towards me, I knew my wedding day would then be complete and that was the best wedding gift I could have ever received."

Those witnessing Daniel and Sarah's meeting that morning shared in the emotion, according to Didway, who learned of Daniel's surprise visit just a few minutes before Sarah did.

"It was an emotional and awesome moment for the Atwood family. There was not dry eye anywhere to be found, including us behind the cameras," Didway said. "It was such an honor filming this special moment, however, it was an even greater honor meeting Daniel. I could never thank him and other military men and women enough for their service."

Sarah echoed the sentiments of gratitude for those who serve in the military and sacrifice to keep others safe.

"Whenever I thought about Daniel being away on my wedding day, I fought back the tears. But at the same time, I have extreme respect for my brother who serves our country," she said. "Not only am I proud to call him my brother, but I am proud to have a brother who fights without reservation for my freedom.

"I knew this was the nature of the military and with gratitude and honor for him in my heart, I went into the wedding day remembering him and thanking the Lord that I get to have an incredible brother who is a United States Marine officer."

Watch the video.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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