Groom Who Uses Wheelchair Undergoes A Year Of Physiotherapy So He Can Stand For His First Dance

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

 Barry and Emma MacDowell on their wedding day Facebook

In an inspiring story that warmed the hearts of many, a groom bound to a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis astonished his wedding guests by standing up for his first dance with his new wife.

Barry MacDowell, a 49-year-old Scotsman and former BMW technician, shared the multiple sclerosis diagnosis with his beloved wife Emma, 36, who formerly worked as a hairdresser. Their paths crossed on an MS support platform, where a shared sense of humor sparked their connection.


Emma and her 11-year-old son, Corbhan Doyle, soon moved in with Barry, and it wasn’t long before Barry, a father of three, proposed. 

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He underwent a year of physiotherapy so he could stand for his first dance with his wife at their wedding.

Having used a wheelchair since 2018, Barry embarked on a year-long journey of intensive physiotherapy, driven by his dream of standing for their first dance on their wedding day.

Their magical moment happened at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness, Scotland, on April 8, 2023, to a medley of “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk the Moon. The entire event was a surprise for their guests, who watched in awe as Barry stood on his feet, aided by his physiotherapy team.


“I always had to be behind him, pushing him, but that dance gave us a different type of closeness. I never even knew he was taller than me,” Emma said in an interview with SWNS.

Barry agreed with the sentiment, stating that despite his legs being sore for two-and-a-half weeks following the wedding, the experience was “worth it, of course.”

The couple’s journey was laden with struggles, including the long wait for Barry’s diagnosis and the worsening of his condition because of it. Despite her diagnosis following a bout of meningitis, Emma managed to receive treatment sooner and still can walk.


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groom with MS stands up for first dancePhoto: Facebook

Their love story unfolded online through an MS support group on Facebook in 2017.

A Christmas meet in Glasgow solidified their connection, and frequent visits turned into Emma and Corbhan moving in with Barry. The couple’s love for Oasis and shared experiences with MS helped shape their bond. 


“We go together like peas and carrots, like Forrest Gump says,” Barry said.

groom with MS stands up for first dancePhoto: Facebook

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Their plans for a grand wedding hit a roadblock with the untimely passing of Emma’s father, Robert Townsend. However, Barry’s proposal for a quieter affair sparked the realization that Emma indeed wanted to share the joy with loved ones.


The countdown to the big day started in early 2022, along with Barry’s goal of standing for their first dance. To achieve this, they sought help from Move4ward, a neuro-physiotherapy and rehabilitation organization.

Barry’s progress, bolstered by his unwavering determination and countless physiotherapy sessions, led to an unforgettable moment on their wedding day. Barry stood and danced with Emma for an entire minute and 30 seconds, the longest he’d ever managed to do before.

The newlyweds have been reveling in the joy of married life ever since. 

groom with MS stands up for first dancePhoto: Facebook


“Every day now, I’ve got earbuds in, and I sit and watch our wedding video. I love it, I just can’t stop watching it,” Barry gushed.

Move4ward’s Dave Powney expressed his admiration for Barry’s determination and was thrilled to help him realize his dream. He described the moment as emotional, stating there “wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

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Ethan Cotler is a writer living in Boston. His work covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.