The Scoop: Many couples dream of a picture-perfect wedding day, but sometimes those dreams are deferred by a serious health crisis. Fortunately, a group of professionals in and out of the wedding industry have united to create joy and celebrate love in times of hardship. Wish Upon a Wedding is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving couples the happily-ever-after wedding day they deserve. With help from partners, donors, and other Wish Granters, Wish Upon a Wedding has funded and arranged over 141 wedding and vow renewal ceremonies in the last 10 years and plans to keep inspiring special moments for couples facing a life-threatening illness.

A few years ago, a family friend in her mid-30s was training for a national bicycle marathon when chronic headaches brought her to the hospital. The doctor told her it was brain cancer, and it was spreading fast.

The diagnosis shocked everyone, including her long-term boyfriend who immediately took action. He bought a ring and proposed that same week, and they rushed to the courthouse to say their vows in front of their parents and close friends. A little over a year later, he held her hand as she passed away.

The Wish Upon a Wedding logo

Wish Upon a Wedding is a nonprofit that makes it possible for couples to find beauty in hardship.

Planning a large, beautiful wedding can take a long time (and a lot of cash), and not all brides and grooms have time on their side. So they end up skipping the pomp and circumstance and making do with a simple civil service. It’s quick and affordable, but it doesn’t exactly scream romance.

When faced with a serious illness, some engaged couples may wish that they could throw a bigger celebration, and Wish Upon a Wedding is there to make those dreams come true.

The idea for Wish Upon a Wedding started in 2009 with wedding planner Liz Guthrie. She began raising money to help a deserving couple have the wedding of their dreams. She used her connections in the wedding industry to pull off a grand ceremony and reception without burdening the couple with a high price tag.

Today, Wish Upon a Wedding is active in all 50 states and has put on 141 weddings for couples impacted by a life-threatening or life-altering illness.

“Wish Upon a Wedding’s main mission is to celebrate the love between two people and give them the strength to keep fighting,” said Nicole Fauls Maitland, Vice President of Wish Upon a Wedding. “Marriage should be a celebration, and oftentimes the last thing couples are typically thinking about is planning a wedding.”

Over 1,500 Wish Granters Have Helped Hundreds of Couples

A wedding is a fundamentally hopeful and joyous occasion. It’s a promise for the future and a declaration of endless love and devotion. Making their vows can mean a lot to couples who are just starting out together — and it can mean even more for couples who are facing a life-threatening diagnosis or chronic illness.

Wish Upon a Wedding has celebrated the love of hundreds of couples by planning and throwing wedding ceremonies and vow renewal ceremonies paid for entirely by donations.

The nonprofit organization is backed by over 1,500 WishGranters, which include wedding vendors and industry professionals willing to give their services to a good cause. Of course, you don’t have to be a professional wedding planner to make a donation to Wish Upon a Wedding and contribute to its work with deserving couples.

“Wish Upon a Wedding is a predominantly volunteer-run organization,” Nicole explained. “Our Board of Directors consists of individuals across the U.S. from different backgrounds coming together to celebrate hope and love with our couples.”

In 2009, Wish Upon a Wedding embarked on an altruistic mission that requires many talented individuals to lend a helping hand and work in harmony, and the end result has been absolutely breathtaking. It’s moving to see so many couples come together despite health challenges and choose to be together through thick and thin.

Any couple can apply for a wish online and tell their story to the Board of Directors. Applications must come from couples, caretakers, or hospice workers — you cannot apply on behalf of a friend or family member.

Wish Upon a Wedding grants wedding wishes and vow renewals to couples regardless of age, sex, race, location, orientation, or religion. The organization makes a point to be inclusive of everyone. Some Wish Recipients are in their 20s and newlyweds, while others are more advanced in years and celebrating their 40th anniversary. These couples face all sorts of challenges, yet they share a deep bond that keeps them smiling, fighting, dreaming, and wishing.

By removing the financial burden of wedding planning, Wish Upon a Wedding invites couples to enjoy their time together and create happy memories that will last a lifetime. These special moments can be a great comfort to couples during difficult times.

Such Heartfelt Moments Mean Everything to Newlyweds

I remember bawling my eyes out when I saw “A Walk to Remember” in theaters for the first time. If you haven’t seen/read it, the love story follows bad-boy Landon Carter as he falls for Jamie Sullivan, a quiet, bookish girl who turns out (spoiler alert) to be dying of cancer. The title is a reference to the memorable scene when Jamie walks down the aisle in the church where her parents got married.

You may think such an intensely emotional and touching romance can only exist in fiction, but some couples have lived out a similar story in the real world.

Photo of Danielle and Brandon on their wedding day

Wish Upon a Wedding helped Danielle and Brandon forget their troubles for at least one lovely day.

Wish Upon a Wedding has been there for hundreds of couples who find strength in each other and never lose sight of the bigger picture. Their enduring love stories are inspirational, and many tears are shed at Wish Upon a Wedding’s ceremonies.

“Every Wish Day and every couple will be in our hearts forever,” Nicole said. “It is such an honor that these couples trust us with planning a milestone event in their lives.”

Danielle and Brandon met when they were 14 years old and started dating when they were 20. Then, when Danielle was 28, she was diagnosed with stage-4 breast cancer. As her health declined, the couple wished to renew their vows and have the big wedding ceremony they didn’t have in their early 20s.

Wish Upon a Wedding granted this wish and threw a big celebration in July 2019. The big day included a dessert station, photo booth, mocktail bar, and plenty of much-needed laughter.

Sharn and Anthony were engaged when her cancer diagnosis shook the couple to their core. After going through a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, Sharn just wanted to dance with Anthony and enjoy her wedding day. Wish Upon a Wedding helped to make that happen.

“For someone facing cancer and an uncertain future, having such an exciting event to look forward to and having such a beautiful wedding to celebrate, gave me hope,” Sharn told the Wish Upon a Wedding team in a thank-you note.

These weddings bring tears of laughter and joy when such special moments are in short supply, and that can mean the world for brides and grooms who don’t know what the future holds — but they know they’ll love each other no matter what.

Wish Upon a Wedding: A Charitable Effort to Spread Joy

My friend didn’t let her cancer diagnosis slow her down. If anything, she sped up in pursuit of her dreams. She still completed her bicycling marathon and kept training for as long as she was able. She married the man she loved, and he stayed by her side in sickness and in health until death did they part.

Wish Upon a Wedding is on a mission to assist couples, like my friend, who are dealing with serious and chronic illnesses yet still find the hope and strength to reaffirm their commitment to one another in a wedding or vow renewal ceremony. Such couples choose love in the face of tragedy, and Wish Upon a Wedding helps them share beautiful moments they’ll never forget.

Over the last decade, Wish Upon a Wedding has been there for hundreds of couples, and the nonprofit plans to be there for hundreds more as its continues to grow its network and influence. In 2019, Wish Upon a Wedding will celebrate its 150th Wish and host its 10th annual Blissful Wishes Ball in Chicago.

Every inspirational love story and remarkable wedding day has spurred the team on and given them hope for the future. “With the generous support of our Wish Granters, our couples can receive the wedding of their dreams without worrying about any of the details,” Nicole said. “Our organization partners with top-notch local vendors to make our couples’ wedding dreams a reality.”