You might have heard this couple’s amazing story, and today it’s all coming full circle. Following the surprise visit from her military fiance – plus 4 months and 6 rounds of chemotherapy later- this unbelievably courageous bride married her beloved with one of the loveliest weddings we’ve ever come across. Dressed in a tulle skirted Tara Keely, she managed to steal the show, and Lady & The Lens was on hand to capture every bit. Pay a visit to the gallery and don’t miss the film from Wholehearted Wedding.
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From The Bride… It was almost 6 years in the making and August 31st, 2014 was the day we had been waiting for. My fiance Drew and I knew it was going to be such a special day with all of our family and friends traveling from all over the country to celebrate our love. My very recent cancer diagnosis made our wedding day even more meaningful. 4 months before our big day, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Adenocarcinoma which is a form of Colorectal Cancer, at the young age of 25. It was certainly something that we were not prepared for. Drew and I had been living apart for just a few short months before I received the devastating news. He was stationed in South Carolina for his work with the Navy and I was back in my hometown planning our dream wedding. Luckily, the Navy granted Drew military leave to move to Indiana to be with me as I underwent aggressive chemotherapy. AOL reached out and did a short story about my husband and I which you can see here.
The following months were a struggle as I continued to plan my wedding and receive a total of 6 rounds of chemotherapy. Thankfully, the chemotherapy I was prescribed did not make me lose my hair. I was so ecstatic knowing that I would be able to have my “dream wedding look”.
The big day came and it really couldn’t have been more perfect. It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend in my hometown of Valparaiso, IN which is a short drive from Chicago. I was feeling great physically as it was my “off” week for treatment. The weather was a perfect 80 degrees which was ideal for our short outdoor garden ceremony. The day started very early with hair and makeup at my parents house. We had to get an early start due to having 10 bridesmaids! 7 hours and a few mimosas later we were ready! The videographers (who generously donated their services ) arrived and it was time for my “first look” with my dad, Scott. I couldn’t have imagined a better reaction from my dad as the one I received that day and I feel so grateful to have that on camera to watch for years to come. It was raw emotion and lots of happy tears that I will never forget.
I chose a stunning Tara Keely by Lazaro gown. 3 years ago, I noticed a beautiful dress on Pinterest that converted into a short lace dress for the reception. I knew I had to have it as I have been a dancer since the age of 3 and I knew dancing at the reception in a huge ball gown would not go over well. I wanted to have the princess look with lots of tulle but still be able to dance/party at the reception. After an exhausting search, I finally located the designer and had it shipped to a store just outside of Chicago. The minute I stepped into the dress, I fell in love. At the reception, I decided I wanted to reveal my short dress in a fun, unique way. During the father-daughter dance, we stopped mid song, my bridesmaids surrounded me while I took off my tulle skirt and then started a choreographed dance with all 10 girls and my father to the song Brickhouse.
Aberdeen Manor was our venue of choice from the beginning. It has the charm and small town wedding feel that we were looking for. The venue has a small chapel on the property but we chose to have our ceremony in the garden which was right outside the reception hall.
The flowers and centerpieces were my favorite part of the entire wedding day look. I knew I wanted to chose a vendor that wasn’t your typical florist so I decided on hiring a local floral designer. We met several times before the wedding to ensure she knew exactly what I wanted. My vision was light neutral colors with hints of pink throughout. I requested her to use my favorite flowers which consist of hydrangeas, orchids, dahlias and roses. For all of the bouquets she traveled up to a dahlia farm in Michigan and handpicked them herself. Our bouquets complimented the floor length, champagne colored bridesmaid dresses perfectly. On our head table that seated 22, I knew I wanted something very romantic so we chose to have 70 lace wrapped candles at different heights to line the center of the long oval table with small hydrangea bouquets in mercury glass vases spread throughout. Our designer really took our vision to the next level and we couldn’t have been happier with the end result.
We decided to have cupcakes for our guests and a small cutting cake for the bride, groom and bridal party. Even though our cake was small, we had it suspended from the ceiling on a platform. Being that Drew is a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy, we cut our cake with his sword that he received when he commissioned as an officer in 2012.
The ceremony and reception was so magical from the minute it started to the minute it ended. The speeches from our matron of honor, best man and my father were the icing on the cake. The room was filled with so much love and happiness. The one thing that Drew and I cherish most from our wedding day is definitely our gifted video from the amazingly talented team at Wholehearted Wedding Film Co.
Even though Drew and I have been through very difficult times, we both feel it made our wedding day that much more unforgettable. In sickness and in health took on a whole new meaning and we really couldn’t be more blessed to have each other. I hope you enjoy our wedding photos and magical video as much as we do. :)
Photography: Lady & The Lens | Videography: Wholehearted Wedding Film Co | Floral Design: Intertwine By Kelly Lenard | Wedding Dress: Tara Keely By Lazaro | Cake: Designer Desserts | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bill Levkoff | Hair: Center Of Attention | Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse | Ballroom Reception: Aberdeen Manor | Bridal Jewelry: Kate Spade | Makeup: Krissy Vanderwoude | Outdoor Ceremony: Aberdeen Manor