Gabrielle Mooney — sister of Dan + Shay's Shay Mooney — wrote her new song "I Didn't Know Cowboys Had Tattoos" for her husband, Graylan Stone
Gabrielle Mooney was never the girl scoping out bridal magazines and dreaming about her wedding. But all of that changed on Valentine's Day this year when she had a near-death experience.
"I remember feeling this total and complete peace," Mooney, 35, tells PEOPLE of the incident. "I'm almost a little envious of the peace and complete carefreeness you feel. It was almost like God was pushing me back down and being like, 'Not yet.'"
On that fateful day, Mooney, a country singer who is the sister of Dan + Shay's Shay Mooney, drove from where she was living in Nashville to her childhood home in Natural Dam, Arkansas. She had a splitting headache and considered pulling over to sleep for the night, but she wanted to wake up in her own bed the next morning. The decision saved her life.
Mooney made it home, before she started throwing up. Her mother, Cindy Mooney, was awake doing laundry at 3 a.m. and heard her daughter in the bathroom. The singer says she remembers nothing after her mother asked her what was wrong. She woke up in the hospital two weeks later and learned she had hydrocephalus and a brain cyst that put such strain on her body that it stopped her heart.
Mooney underwent emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, and afterward, the right side of her face was paralyzed. She was unconscious, but her right eye wouldn't close. When she heard that her boyfriend, Graylan Stone, had reached over and closed her eye, she knew he was "the one."
She married him at the family farm in Arkansas on Nov. 4.
"Nobody would be able to stick by you like that and be praying with your family if they didn't love you," Mooney says, explaining that Stone is a triplet and that his brother even came to the hospital to support him.
"When I woke up, the first thing I remember is Shay was at the base of my bed, and he's rubbing my foot and he goes, 'Hey, Sissy.' And I knew it was bad from that moment. Little brothers are not that sweet."
She continues, "After that, Graylan and I were like, 'OK, if we can make it through something like this, I want to be with you forever.' This was a big test for our relationship."
Mooney wrote her new song "I Didn't Know Cowboys Had Tattoos" for her groom. Even though she's from the South and he grew up in the Northeast, their values aligned. She was surprised.
"I was just thinking, 'You're not from the South,'" she says. "'You don't know our ways or anything, but you love Jesus, and you have the values and the morals that I do, which is pretty rare these days.' It was just like his heart was right out of Texas, even though he was from the north. And I'll be honest with you, I had a little prejudice about northern boys."
The couple met at the gym in 2021. Mooney wouldn't give Stone her phone number but shared her Instagram account. He slid into her DMs and asked her out on a date. She refused but told him he could come with her to church — not thinking he would show up. They agreed to meet at a coffee shop near the service, and Mooney forgot to stop. He texted her, and she turned around and went back to meet him. They've been together ever since.
"He's so genuine, such a good person," she says of Stone. "He loves my family. With Shay in the public, it's hard because people want to date me. I'm sitting here just naïve, and then they started being like, 'By the way, I have this song I wrote.'"
The couple got engaged Mother's Day weekend on Mooney's grandparents' front porch — the same grandparents who inspired Dan + Shay's hit "From the Ground Up." Stone proposed with Mooney's grandmother's engagement ring. She described herself as "a puddle" of emotion when he popped the question.
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"I didn't need a big, huge ring," she notes. "I'm a very sentimental person, more so than any kind of physical stuff. Right now, it's just a new season of what God is bringing us into. Me and Shay and [sister] Erica and [sister-in-law] Hannah, we talked about this the other day. We were like, It's nice to have stuff, for sure. But what we have as a family is just so special."
Following her health scare, Mooney moved her home base from Nashville back to Arkansas, and Stone went with her. Their faith inspired them to live in separate houses — with Mooney back in her childhood home — until the wedding. Stone went to work with her dad, Rick Mooney, in construction.
"I am telling you, something like this really jolts you back to reality and what's truly important," she tells PEOPLE of her health scare. "You can write country music anywhere in the country."
Mooney's recovery from her cyst and brain surgery has been a challenge, with her working to regain movement in the right side of her face. While she focused on getting better, Mooney handed wedding planning duties over to a family friend. She said she wanted neutrals, fall colors and fresh flowers.
Mooney went wedding dress shopping in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and she fell in love with the fourth dress she tried on — a vintage-inspired gown with long lace sleeves and a cathedral veil. She paired her dress with cream-colored knee-high cowboy boots and arrived at the ceremony riding sidesaddle on horseback.
The couple was married at sunset, and Shay sang "From the Ground Up" at the reception.
"Spending the day with family and friends celebrating the life Graylan and I are starting was incredible," Mooney says of the wedding. "I couldn't imagine a more perfect day! I can't believe I'm Mrs. Stone now. I couldn't be happier to be his wife, and I can't wait to write a million more songs about him."
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Read the original article on People.