WEDDING FOR A CAUSE
As we began to plan our wedding, there was a long list of exciting decisions to be made. However, there was one decision that we made early on that has shaped our big day. We are very excited to share the idea that we've been developing and why it is so close to our hearts. Please continue reading to learn more about our story and how our passion to help others inspired our "Wedding For A Cause!"
On August 14th of 2014, I was visiting Chicago for a girl's weekend. We were out in Old Town at a bar called Benchmark and "one more drink" turned into bottles of Champagne and endless rounds of Fireball shots. As we were sipping away, I noticed an extremely handsome man across the bar. I began staring pretty noticeably. So much so, that he could feel it and eventually he turned his head and we locked eyes. I began walking towards him, not breaking eye contact, and feeling this pull as I got closer. I walked right up to him, put my hand on his heart, and started kissing him! I think everyone's jaws dropped as they watched our chance encounter, and while they stared in bewilderment, AJ and I got lost in a kiss. No handshakes, no names, no introductions ... just an incredible kiss. My friends let this go on for about 10 seconds, and then they promptly grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the bar.
The next day, AJ and I could not stop thinking about what had happened the night before. But with no names, phone numbers, or ways to reach each other, we each thought that the kiss would be all we’d ever know of each other. That night, on a completely different side of town on the streets of River North, in a city filled with nearly 3 million people, the world brought us back together. AJ was sitting with friends at a patio table at the incredible country bar, Bub City, and my friends and I were headed there for drinks and dancing. He was telling the story of what had happened the night before as I went walking by. He interrupted his story to catch our attention and as soon as I turned around and caught his eye, everything from the night before came rushing back to me. We shared a laugh or two, followed by an official introduction and handshake, and we proceeded to spend the rest of the night out with friends getting to know each other. We believe that serendipity brought us back together and that we were meant to meet for a reason. A short six months later, we found out why …
We started texting and having hours of long-distance phone calls, and then we made a few trips back and forth to see each other. In February of 2015, after spending only 10 days together in person, we received life-altering news. AJ was diagnosed with non-Hodkin’s B-cell lymphoma and our world stopped turning. Suddenly the distance between us seemed trivial and as soon as AJ told me the news, I knew I was in love with him and that I had to be there for him. In the weeks to come, we were thankful to learn that AJ had caught the cancer early and was in Stage 1 with a positive recovery expected after 18 weeks of chemotherapy. I quickly made the decision to move to Chicago and help him through his four months of treatment and we decided to fight this together. The silver lining to all of this was that AJ and I were able to spend every day together and grow our relationship to heights we couldn’t have imagined at the time. We learned so much about each other and we became an incredible team. The friendship, support, and love that blossomed during this time brought so much happiness to our lives and ultimately led us to where we are today. AJ faced cancer with the strongest and most positive attitude that I have ever seen and it was truly inspiring to be by his side through it all.
In July of 2015, he completed his treatment and his doctors announced that he was on his way towards remission! Two months after this incredible news, AJ packed up his bags, sold almost everything he owned, said goodbye to friends and family in Chicago, and headed west with me to start a new chapter in Newport Beach, CA. Shortly thereafter, on December 12, 2015, he made me the happiest girl in the world when he got down on one knee and asked me to spend forever with him!
Since cancer played a large role in our relationship, we wanted to honor that with our wedding and have our special day be more than just a celebration of our love story. We wanted to be able to give back and help others facing cancer be able to fight it and beat it. So, we came up with the idea to host a “Wedding for a Cause” and we found an incredible partner in the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF). AJ’s oncologist connected us with the organization and they have helped us develop a platform to raise money and donate through our wedding. We are so thankful for the entire team at LRF and all of their support in helping us build our idea into something so much larger than we could have imagined!
We will be raising funds in two different ways: through our wonderful wedding vendors and through all of our supportive friends and family. Every vendor that is involved in our wedding has been generous enough to make a donation to LRF. They have all made in-kind donations by discounting their normal services, and we have directly donated these savings to LRF. Additionally, we are asking that all of our guests attending the wedding donate to LRF in lieu of purchasing wedding gifts. The only item on our registry will be donation requests to LRF and we want to thank everyone in advance for their generosity. It is our hope that we will be able to raise over $30,000 through our wedding and make a sizable donation to this incredible cause!
Our wedding will celebrate our love story and the commitment we are making to each other while also helping others around the world. Our dream is to build a day that is everything and more to us while still raising awareness and a significant amount of funds to donate to lymphoma research. These donations will be able to help so many continue their lives and their love stories just as AJ and I have been fortunate enough to continue ours!
Please follow the link below to visit our donation platform on the LRF website and if you have friends and family that would be interested in joining the cause, we would so appreciate you sharing our story. Every dollar helps! Please visit ...