This is the emotional moment a teacher shared a ‘first look’ moment with one of her former students who played a special role on her wedding day.
Autumn Sanders, 29, met Xavier Scott, now 21, in 2017, when he was a student in her first class in her new job as a special education teacher.
The pair shared a special bond, so when she got engaged to Casey, 28, she instantly knew she wanted Xavier to play a big role in their wedding day.
Bridal photographers usually capture ‘first look’ photos featuring the groom’s reaction when he sees the bride for the first time.
But these adorable photos show the moment Xavier was overcome with emotion when he turned around and first glimpsed his former teacher Autumn in her wedding gown.
Autumn said the moment captured by photographer Holly Aldridge will forever be one of her favourite memories from her big day.
Xavier, who has Down’s syndrome, had the important role of ‘ring security’ ahead of the nuptials on September 5.
Xavier from Cross Lanes, West Virginia, said: “I felt so touched with happiness.
“Casey was crying so I knew I needed to be the big brother, and I put my arms around him.”
Autumn added: “That will forever be one of my favourite moments – I felt so blessed.”
High school prom king Xavier and Autumn formed “an inseparable bond” in her first week teaching his class in 2017.
He comforted her with kind words after a hard day when her mum was going through breast cancer treatment, during Xavier’s final year of school.
Autumn said: “He said, “Miss Martin, your mum’s going be okay’, and I hadn’t even told the students.
“When he walks into a room it’s like the sun coming out
“I don’t think a day went by when he didn’t give me some sort of compliment.
“And he’s so funny too. One day the class were being a bit random, and he looked over at me with understanding and said: ‘Oh… Jesus take the wheel!’
Casey proposed in the cafeteria at Xavier and Autumn’s school, Nitro High School, West Virginia, on May 7 2018.
He had a big role at their golf-course wedding, on September 5 2020, in South Charleston, West Virginia.
He carried the rings in a suitcase which said ‘ring security’, blessed their meal with a prayer and also gave a speech.
Thoughtful Xavier also stood with Casey at the top of the aisle, to give him support.
“I’m going down the aisle with my dad, one of my favourite people, and at the other end I’ve got two of my other favourite people hugging,” Autumn said.
Xavier’s mum Valeka Miller described the student and teacher’s bond as “God sent”.
She said: “I’m at a loss for words to this day.
“He was so sick when he was younger, having to trust him to other adults in school was really hard, because he finds it hard to know when someone is being unkind.
“It’s an absolute relief for people as warm-hearted as Autumn and Casey to love him.
“I feel so honoured for them to include him on such a special day.
“It still blows my mind.
“Those pictures speak a thousand words.
“My heart was so warm and smiling.”
Autumn said this wasn’t the last big role he would play in her life – and said she plans to ask him to be an ‘uncle’ to future children she has with Casey.
“He’s going be holding our babies,” she said.
“I want my children to know how much he means to me.
“They’re going to call him Uncle Xavier.”