Light Up The Night – A $10,000 Wedding In Reverse

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

I thought we’d end the week on a sweet note. This wedding is the perfect antidote for feeling burned out by all of the spend, spend, spend associated with the modern wedding. Dianne and Chuck met online, and had only been dating a few months when she was diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma. When she told Chuck that it he should run away he told her “When God gives you a gift, you don’t give it back,” and proposed to her at her hospital bedside.

Which brings us to the upcoming nuptials. The couple is getting married in their backyard, and the next night they are asking all of their wedding guests to walk with them at the Leukemia and Lymphoma society’s annual Light the Night Walk. Their goal is to raise $10,000 for blood cancer research with their wedding, instead of spending $10,000 on their wedding.

In the midst of the intense narcissism that sometimes surrounds weddings, this story is so refreshing, and touching. It reminds us to be careful and thoughtful about how we spend our wedding dollars, because the money we spend on our wedding is very real money that we should be using to make a small difference in the world, whether that is supporting vendors we like and trust, or starting our marriage with this kind of profound tzedakah. You can give a donation to Dianne and Chuck’s goal, here, if you feel so moved (remember teeny tiny donations help too). Think of it as a small rebellion against the madness of the wedding industry.

Best of luck to Dianne and Chuck! They have promised to update us after the wedding, and I for one am rooting for them.

Photo via Apaoli’s Flickr stream

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit #NASTY

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  • That is such a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it, and also making the distinction between charity and tzedakah! I’ve always thought it’s a really lovely difference.

  • Oh wow! What an awesome story. It brought a little tear to my eye because it was so beautiful and meaningful!! Seriously – thanks for sharing. And once again reminding us what all of it’s about. ;-)
    Have a great weekend!

  • What a fantastic idea.

    I try not think ‘can we afford this?’ but rather ‘does it make sense to spend this money in this way?’ and this is an excellent reminder of why the answer is so often no.

  • Genevieve

    So touching! It sounds like my story. I was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and I gave the guy I was dating a “not sure you want a date a girl with cancer” spiel. Afterward we both cried and he said, “You’re my friend, and I wouldn’t leave a friend at a time like this.” Four years and seven months later, we were married. So our wedding was a real celebration, of life, of survivorship and love and getting through all its tests. My best to this couple!

  • Done! Thanks for sharing this lovely project and giving us the opportunity to help…. When I think about all the purchases we justified because of the wedding (even a super-budget wedding like ours), a small donation was a no-brainer in comparison!

  • Desaray

    well done, ms practical.

  • super excellent idea. just not sure about their choice of a tzedakah. i looked it up on charitynavigator and see that they have an annual budget of over $225,000,000 a year!

    also, they employ more than 500 people full time, and another more than 100 part time.

    their total management, administration, fundraising: $62,000,000 — about 30% of their total budget.

    and their excess for the year is over $4,000,000! excess!

    and lastly, their director earns almost $500,000.

    so, while i am sure that they do good work, i also believe that there are better recipients who would make this fantastic couple more proud.

    $10,000 could be used in so many ways to make so many cancer people in need happy……

    just my two shekels…

    arnie draiman

  • Meg

    Well Arnie, as a former nonprofit fundraiser, I hear what you are saying, though those numbers do not raise any large red flags to me. That said, I’m not sure this is quite the right way to respond to this couple’s choice of charity. They are giving with the best of intentions, and giving should always be encouraged, not discouraged. So, let’s drop the subject as unhelpful, and focus on the positive.

  • Anonymous

    This is Dianne (happily of Dianne and Chuck) and I just want to say thank you so much, Meg, for sharing our story with your readers. And I have to say a grateful and heartfelt thank you to everyone who made a contribution this weekend to the Light the Night effort. I’m truly blessed by your kindness and care. May we all have weddings that celebrate life and love!


    PS – Anyone who is interested in reading more about our story is welcome to visit