Cardwell died from cancer in December, nine months after she and Eldridge Toney tied the knot in an intimate ceremony following her stage 4 diagnosis
In an exclusive conversation with PEOPLE ahead of Friday's premiere of Mama June: Family Crisis, Eldridge admits that he's been unable to watch back his wedding to Anna without getting emotional.
After learning of her stage 4 adrenal carcinoma diagnosis in March 2023, the couple, who had been dating for six years, decided to get married. Nine months later, her mother Mama June Shannon announced that Anna had died from her cancer in an emotional post shared to Instagram.
The premiere of the family’s reality show and the documentation of the Anna and Eldridge's wedding comes two months after her death.
While he hasn't seen the episode all the way through, Eldridge tells PEOPLE that he "teared up like a baby" after watching the "first few minutes."
“I have mixed feelings about it," he says of seeing their nuptials unfold. "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 you know, seeing how happy and healthy she was then opposed to her final days."
He adds, "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.“
On the premiere episode of Mama June: Family Crisis, Anna tasked her sisters Lauryn "Pumpkin" Efird and Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson with planning an impromptu wedding after she and Eldridge decided to tie the knot upon learning of her diagnosis.
While Mama June went grocery shopping to make Anna's favorite foods and Jessica "Chubbs" Shannon picked out flowers for the big day, Lauryn's husband Josh got ordained online to officiate their wedding.
Later, the girls accompanied Anna to a boutique to find her perfect dress. For Anna, that dress was ideally something "simple" that isn't too "dramatic" but shows a little "cleavage."
When it finally came time for the big day, Anna's friends and family watched with teary eyes as she floated down the aisle with her father David. Up at the altar, she grew emotional as she exchanged vows with Eldridge.
"I'm glad that me and you met, and you're helping me with the girls, and I wish they didn't have me going through what I'm going through now," she said through tears. "And I really do love you."
Eldridge replied with his own vows, saying, "I love you and I just want to let you know that I appreciate everything you do for me and I promise to be by your side through thick and thin and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us."
After the ceremony, the couple got ready to have their first dance in their backyard wedding reception. Cardwell mouthed "I love you" to her new husband as they slow-danced in front of their loved ones.
As night fell, the couple continued to rock back and forth and later had Anna's daughters Kylee Madison and Kaitlyn Elizabeth to join them for a dance.
When Anna asked Kaitlyn, "Are you happy for Mommy?" she replied with a quiet, "Yeah."
"Eldridge, he's your stepdaddy now," Anna told her daughters after the new family of four shared a group hug.
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Mama June: Family Crisis airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on WE tv.
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