Eldridge Toney tells PEOPLE that he and late wife Anna "threw cancer out of the picture" on their wedding day and focused only on their "special moment."
Less than two months after Anna “Chickadee” Cardwell's death, her husband, Eldridge Toney, is sharing special memories from the couple's quiet March 2023 wedding — during which, he says, they did their best to not think about Cardwell's cancer and focus only on the joyful day.
The Here Comes Honey Boo Boo star was diagnosed with stage four adrenal carcinoma in January. She died on Dec. 9, 2023, her mom, Mama June Shannon, announced in an Instagram post. She was 29 years old.
“To be honest with you, on the wedding day ... we both kind of threw the whole cancer thing out of the story or out of the picture and made it about us and about the special moment," Toney tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview, adding: "The whole cancer thing is always going to be in the back of your mind."
He continues: "We were just working with less time and it was something that we both wanted. She was starting chemo that Monday and we didn’t know how chemo was going to treat her, so we just wanted to go ahead and get it done before she got sick. She felt well enough to."
Cardwell first began dating Toney in 2017, following her divorce from Michael Cardwell, with whom she shared one daughter, Kylee. She also had another daughter, Kaitlyn, from a previous relationship.
Cardwell and Toney married in Wilkinson County, Georgia, on March 4, shortly after her diagnosis.
Their wedding will be the focus of the latest episode of Mama June: Road to Redemption, which premieres Friday.
Toney says he plans to watch the moving episode alongside Cardwell's daughter Kaitlyn, as well as her mother, June and her husband, Justin Stroud.
“You know they do their watch parties like that on TikTok. I’m not sure if I want to watch it alone because it is kind of personal thing," Toney tells PEOPLE. "I think for the first time watching it, it might be good for me to watch it with other people who loved her.”
“I have mixed feelings about it," he continues. "I have joy in the sense of I get to rewatch the special moment between us two, and it’s also going to be heartbreaking in the same sense because [of] seeing how happy and healthy she was then opposed to her final days."
He continues: "And just hearing her voice again, and seeing her facial expressions. Obviously, I’ve seen pictures and stuff from our wedding but it’s not the same as watching that moment happen.“
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The episode, Toney adds, will be the first time he's viewed any footage of his own wedding.
“I got to watch like the first few minutes of the episode just like everyone else got to watch and I teared up like a baby," he says.
He adds: “It’s going to be tough. The video of us dancing is very nice. I really love that”
Meanwhile, Toney continues to grieve Cardwell, telling PEOPLE he hadn't been in the couple's shared bedroom until recently "because everything was just how she left it."
"The last night we were in the bedroom was actually the day before she had decided to go to hospice," he adds, saying there are a lot of "feelings that are tied with that room down there, especially with all her stuff being exactly how it was when we were there."
Among the items left behind, he notes, were clothes, gifts from fans and memories from the couple's special day — all of which he folded and stored or left on display. Still, he adds, he isn't quite ready to spend his nights in the room they once shared.
"I hung up her wedding dress," he says, "and I closed the door."
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