A well-known former member of the Westboro Baptist Church recently tied the knot in a special wedding ceremony attended by other former WBC members. The gathering was an emotional time, as none of the bride's family members were present at the gathering.
Lauren Drain and David Kagan exchanged vows this weekend, and the granddaughters of the Westboro Church's founding pastor, Fred Phelps, had the honor of walking Drain down the aisle since her family refused to attend the ceremony.
"It was amazing having them by my side," Drain said in an interview with the Daily Mail. "Just a year ago I never thought I would see them again and here they were, during one of the most important days of my life. They stepped in to make it even more special for me. We are extremely close now, and see each other as often as we can."
Drain became famous for her memoir, "Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church." The book, published earlier this year, became an overnight success and explored the mystery behind the infamous cult and life afterwards. Drain was forced to leave the church after questioning its practices and has not seen or heard from her family since 2008.
Drain has found comfort in her husband's family, which has taken her in and made her feel incredibly welcome. At the wedding, Drain was given a "Welcome to the Family certificate" that had been signed by all 31 members of the family.
"They have accepted me as one of their own," Drain said. "They have read my book and know all the details and have never judged me for my past."
Adding another layer of significance to the ceremony was the necklace given to Drain by her mother-in-law. Inside a locket were three pictures of the brother and sisters Drain was forced to sever ties with when she was banished. She hopes to one day help her own siblings leave the church and become reunited.
"They (her family), were invited to the wedding; they did not respond or attend," Drain noted. "Anyone that leaves or is kicked out is banished for life and all ties to your family, friends, community life are severed and you are truly on your own."
Since leaving the church, Drian has worked to develop her own sense of identity and has chosen to follow Christian teachings and hopes that her book will help others who have left the church.