For many young women (and men), the idea of their wedding – where it will be, how big, what the dress will look like – is a dream many years in the making. Ask a 10-year old girl and she probably will tell you all the details of “her” dream wedding, sans the groom!
However, this dream can be derailed by the harsh reality of a devastating diagnosis or other life-altering circumstance. With medical bills and other concerns being the priority, how can the dream of a wedding ever take center stage again? Enter a new, non-profit organization sweeping across the nation: Wish Upon A Wedding (“WUW”).
On Tuesday, January 18, 2011, the New Jersey/New York Metro Chapter of WUW had its launch party at the Estate at Florentine Gardens in River Vale, New Jersey. Despite the weather, nearly 300 wedding professionals attended the launch to learn about the organization and how to become involved, including as “wish granters.”
President of the Chapter, Candice Benson (founder of The Finishing Touch Events in West Orange), welcomed everyone by saying “We’ve changed the history of our industry. In our industry, we celebrate joy and happiness, but when you can touch the lives of someone who is terminally ill, it changes you forever. We can give that person, and their family and friends, wonderful memories and a happy reason to join together and truly celebrate life.”
Benson shared her personal story of being at the helm of a wedding donated by members of the New Jersey branch of the Association of Bridal Consultants in June 2010. The bride passed away from breast cancer just 5 months later.
“Her family is grateful to have had that day,'' she said. "And we here at Wish Upon A Wedding are looking forward to helping people in need have their special day.” After Benson’s remarks, a very moving video was shown that detailed WUW’s history, mission and highlighted a few of WUW’s wedding recipients in the United States.
The launch party exceeded all expectations. The venue, catering, music, flowers, photography, favors, linens and other services were all donated by more than 60 vendors. Florentine Gardens owner Tom Daidone donated the venue for the launch and for a future WUW wedding.
“This hit us right where the heart is,” said Maria Daidone, general manager of the banquet hall, who also spoke at the launch. Attendees were asked to make a $20 donation; in total, over $3,000 was raised for the NJ/NY Metro chapter.
In addition to Benson, the other members of the NJ/NY Metro Chapter’s Board are Vice President Jenny Orsini, Pampered Bride Weddings and Plush of Springfield; Co-Coordinator Christine Hyder of Christine Hyder Events LLC of West Orange; Co-Coordinator Scott Present of Entertainment Xtreme of Jackson; Fundraising Chair Andrea Ceaser of Paper Works and Events LLC of Englewood; Marketing Director Marni Gold of Creative Custom Card Boxes of River Edge; Event Planner Lori Battista; Treasurer Sue Nairn Smith of The Romantic Garden/S. Nairn Events of Morristown; and PR Chair Lisa Marie Blinn of Something Blue Inc. of Long Island.
Founded in 2010 by California wedding planner Liz Guthrie, WUW currently has 16 chapters nationwide, and its mission is to provide weddings or vow renewal ceremonies to couples facing terminal illness or other serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation.
WUW does not give a couple money. Instead, the chapter mobilizes participating vendors who donate services to make the wedding possible and to allow the couple an opportunity to enjoy the special day without the stress of planning.
If you, or someone you know, could benefit from this organization or you would like to help as a wish granter or make a donation, please go to http://wishuponawedding.org/.