A couple of weeks ago I was contacted about a last minute wedding that would take place at the end of April. When I knew I was available we negotiated a contract and started to plan, at which point I was told there was something I needed to know.
Finding out that Shannyn had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had been given a finite amount of time changed my perspective monumentally. There is always a bigger picture – this I know, but sometimes the picture is so much bigger than me that I don’t even know where to start.
On the day I arrived to find Dannielle absolutely beaming with a smile that would shine all day long. She was having her hair done as her beautiful mum Lorrell took me aside to show me her dress. I asked how everything was and she told me everything had come together so spectacularly despite the fact they had only started planning weeks before. She explained that, upon receiving a quote for the wedding from a nearby venue, they had almost given up on the idea of a wedding. Lorrell, a local business owner, had conveyed the situation to a regular customer who happened to be nearby and the two agreed that the money would be better spent on The future care of Dannielle and her the couple’s two children. Then something extraordinary happened. Lorrell’s beautiful customer came back to her and offered the use of his large, stunning property for the wedding. He offered to put on a wedding, to find catering and decorations and everything else. He and his family put every detail together to throw this couple an amazing wedding.
When I met Shannyn just before the ceremony it was immediately clear how sick he was. Despite this he went out of his way to make me feel welcome, to show appreciation and to allow me to continue my work. He was gracious, kind and incredibly generous. All day, in fact. I saw him interact so warmly with everyone, to let everyone who wanted a photo get one, to allow their hugs to last just a little bit longer. How exhausting that day must have been for him is something I cannot fathom and I don’t know that I would be nearly as selfless in a similar situation.
Shannyn waited patiently for his family to walk down the aisle and of course was taken first by the overwhelming beauty of his little girl as she scattered flower petals along the way. A moment I loved was when Shannyn’s father watched Shannyn watching his daughter walk toward him, both of them stopping time for just a moment to savor the people they love. Finally Dannielle was walked by their son who proudly accompanied his mummy to his daddy at their wedding (later he would tell me that walking mummy down the aisle was his favorite part of the whole day). Then, with their children, Dannielle and Shannyn married (their son watched their every move to make sure).
After a few hugs and well wishes we were chauffeured around that beautiful property for some photos. As the sun began to set, the horses came forward and brought calm and magic I’ll never forget.
Later as guests were happily fed and simply enjoying themselves, everyone who had donated time and more to that day gathered to chat about the day. They were tired but did not complain. They asked me questions about my life and shared stories about theirs. They had donated an entire wedding to a couple facing the impossible and they were so happy to have had the opportunity to do so.
People are beautiful. People are so, so beautiful. This is something I’m so lucky to be reminded of regularly, but on this occasion especially so. The group of the people who came together to put on this wedding – beautiful. Dannielle, smiling brightly through the storm – beautiful. Those incredible kids with their gorgeous smiles, big hugs and quiet understanding – beautiful. Shannyn, preparing for the impossible – absolutely beautiful.
The beauty of the story in this case eclipses that of the beauty in the photos – I am very aware of that.
There are so many people who contributed to making this magical day happen and I can’t thank them enough for allowing me to be part of it x
Entertainment – Nick Read Entertainment, Libby Keating
Hair/Makeup – Diamonds Makeup and Hair Mobile Service