Caitlin & Mike

You guys, I’m not even sure what to say about Caitlin’s wedding graduate post, except that it is among the bravest posts I’ve ever read. It’s hard enough to live what she and Mike went through, but to write about it on the internet? That’s a whole other level of grit. And I’m quite serious in warning you that this might not be safe for work, in a sobbing kind of way. So I am beyond honored to bring you Caitlin’s story of loss and joy and grace, all mixed in to one.

Mike and I were married on August 21, 2010 in Cooperstown, NY. Mike left his job and went back to school full time for his degree in teaching just a few months into our engagement, and so we knew planning a wedding would be difficult on one income.  But a few months into planning we entered a “deserving couple” contest and, much to our astonishment, won an amazing windfall that included photography, flowers, a dress and a cake—things that were never in our budget to begin with, but were wonderful gifts just the same.  Because of this, much of our planning was made easier, and over time I thought that maybe my wedding graduate post would be about creating a wedding/life budget on one income (and a non-profit one at that), or trying to plan a wedding with friends who were all going through far bigger things than our wedding (divorce and babies on either end of the spectrum).  But, as it turns out, what I have to say is something that has been echoed in this community many times before.

Throughout the planning process I read from other brides here about losing parents, facing death during the engagement, moving forward with happiness when life was hard; and I empathized, shed tears, but still felt their words didn’t wholly apply to me.  I had both parents, plus a stepmom, and though we had lost Mike’s dad to leukemia three years earlier, the pain of his absence had eased somewhat, and we were comforted in knowing that he had considered me part of the family before he passed.  Then, in July, Mike’s mom told us she had cancer.  And it was advanced.  Everything changed.

I remember that first night clearly, hours after she told us, trying to fall asleep in Mike’s sister’s room and whispering to each other an imaginary timeline for when we would be ready to let her go.  It seems ridiculous now, but it made those first hours and days easier, gave us some control, to feel that we could deal with this if we could just have another year, even six more months.  But just three weeks later the call came that she was in the hospital, and that we should get there as soon as we could.  And only an hour after we arrived, we said goodbye, and she left us. It was the Saturday before our wedding.

Words are tricky things to find as I write this.  Bernadette was Mike’s mom, but also one of his closest friends.  She was not just my mother in law, but the woman I considered a parent for more than 8 years, whose house I lived in over countless weekends when Mike and I were long distance and he lived at home, for more Friday night cups of tea around the kitchen table than I can count.  She was an everyday part of our world, and now we were supposed to have a wedding when her death still felt absolutely fictional.

I worried about Mike and his sisters; I didn’t know how we were going to get through the next few days, much less a party in a week.

I thought we should cancel, but as soon as I uttered the words a wave of no’s from both sides of the family drowned out my hesitations.  We would have a wedding, but first we would say goodbye.

And so I sent an e-mail to our vendors telling them that we were signing off for the week, that we trusted them to handle any last minute questions that came up, and thanked them for everything they had done for us.  And that is one of the best pieces of advice I can share.

You hire people to help you pull this day off, tragedy or no, trust that they know what they are doing and have your best interests at heart.  We signed off for that last week (to be honest, we checked out as soon as we learned of the diagnosis), and when we finally came to, we were greeted by a beautifully prepared wedding.

Bernadette’s funeral was on a Wednesday, and on Thursday, after a frantic trip down to our apartment in New York City and back, we left for Cooperstown.  On Friday our families began to gather in town, and Mike and I tried to allow ourselves to feel excited.  It was a hard transition, but knowing that everyone in our lives was thinking of our family was such a tangible thing—we had never felt so loved.

Saturday began as a relaxing day, but as the hours went by I grew anxious thinking of how Mike and his sisters (who were two of my bridesmaids) were feeling, and I struggled to hold myself together.  I thought I would be calm and collected—I had been laid back about the wedding for our entire engagement—so it surprised me that before the ceremony a new, nervous person took over.  By the time the dress was pulled on, my hands were shaking so much that I didn’t think I could get my earrings in.  This feeling was so unexpected, and I felt ashamed that I wasn’t the breezy bride I thought I’d be—the one who rolls with the punches, is calm under pressure.

But I did get the earrings in, and the photos of me getting ready only show me smiling as I see myself in my dress for the first time.  And I thought:  “this is alright, this is just how I am feeling before I get married, this is just how I am going to do it.”  And I reminded myself that most people would be nervous before getting on the stage that is a wedding ceremony, with or without the week we had experienced.  So I had some champagne, took some deep breaths, and thought of Mike waiting for me outside our Inn.

And so we had a wedding. And that’s what mattered. That in the midst of the saddest week of our lives, we were joining our families and friends to say: this is hard, but there is still joy.  The day after Bernadette passed, we lost my grandfather as well.  The dual losses brought our families together in a way we never could have expected.

I have glimpses now of Mike twirling his two sisters around the dance floor as I danced with my Dad, of his uncle high-fiving the band singer after a great number, of my mom’s sisters talking with my Dad’s sisters who they hadn’t seen in decades, of my brother singing us our first dance song and then a surprise rendition of Stand By Me later in the night, of my cousins and our work friends hanging out at the bar like everyone was an old friend.  The images we have from those hours are enough to help heal the sorrow that is our life without Bernadette.  And we’ve learned that a wedding is not just “your day,” it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build.  I am so thankful we were there.

Photos By: Justin and Mary Marantz

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  • holy mackerel…caitlin, you are one tough woman. you are obviously wise, and your words are so true.

    i love this.

    And we’ve learned that a wedding is not just “your day,” it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build.

    thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Yes!! That line ran so true to me I could hardly hold it in…

      Beautiful, strong words from an incredibly strong and beautiful woman.

    • Ceebee

      I absolutely cry when I see the last passage. I always do and feel a sense of grief not knowing how that feels. I come from a large family but we built so little that I never understood how it feels to be thankful for people that got me here, because I always felt on my own.
      I always wanted just an elopement because I never did see the point. My ex fiance gave me his family that I was too afraid to admit is true because good is so unreal. I couldn’t build a new life because I didn’t know what family is.
      But stumbling across posts like this changed me, no matter what I came from somewhere. And someday i’m going to thank a family for making the man I would marry.
      And that day, I know it all started here. From all of you.

      • Class of 1980

        CeeBee, you’d be surprised how many people feel just like you do.

  • Lauren

    Amazing. Thank you for underscoring what’s truly important in life on this rainy Thursday morning.

  • Caitlin, Thank you for sharing. Your story, your strength, are amazing and inspiring.

    And this is gonna sound really shallow after you shared something so moving and brave, but uh, I really like your hair.

  • Hypothetical Sarah

    “And I’m quite serious in warning you that this might not be safe for work, in a sobbing kind of way.”

    I’m not usually one to cry but… yeah.

    “And we’ve learned that a wedding is not just ‘your day,’ it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build.”

    Yes. I have a feeling that line is going to be quoted over and over again today. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Thanks for the warning, Meg- I’m glad that I read this at home as there are tears rolling down my cheeks. What a brave and honest post- thank you so much, Caitlin.

  • Can’t imagine. Simply. Can’t. Imagine.

    Thank you to you and your husband for your willingness to share your post here. It was full of perspective.

    And I don’t know if I’ve seen a more flattering wedding gown on any bride before. Perfection!

  • An absolutely beautiful post.

  • Moz

    This is an incredibly moving post Caitlin and thank you for sharing your wisdom and your story. I am so sorry for the losses you and Mike have suffered this last year. But most of all congrats on your marriage xx

  • Kim

    Wow. I rarely post but your story was so moving and so beautifully written, Caitlin. I just had to say thank you for sharing. You and yours are in my thoughts.

  • Carbon Girl

    Wow, Caitlin. You are so strong. It looks like you even held it together during parts of your day and had a smile on your face. You also have my favorite wedding graduate post quote ever, “And we’ve learned that a wedding is not just “your day,” it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build. I am so thankful we were there.”

    We are dealing with a parent and cancer right now. It is a terminal diagnosis but it is a slow one with lots of scans and waiting until we get the call that there is a tumor that can’t be removed. I can’t imagine having only three weeks to prepare yourself for something so horrific.

    The best to you and your husband in this life you are building.

    • Caitlin

      The waiting and the wondering is awful, I kept it together re-reading the words I had written above until I saw your comment. It’s just not fair, and I’m sorry you have to go through this.

      And to your strong comment, the thing is, at the time I didn’t feel like I was that strong. We all took our time, had our moments, where we had to step away from the dancing or the food or the party to just find a spot to be quiet for a bit. But then it was also a pretty amazing thing that there was also all this joy around. I don’t know how it found it’s way in to what could have been such a sad day, but there was laughing and smiling amidst it all. We just knew that the last thing she would have wanted was for us to miss out on this day.

      Thank you everyone for your comments, I can’t tell you what it feels like to see our faces up here after so many months of reading other people’s thoughts and being so grateful for this community. I found Morgan’s post about loss from last Spring after we learned of Bernadette’s cancer and it helped me so much. I hope no one has to lose a parent as young as we are, but with any loss or struggle, I just wanted to share something here to remind us all that we are stronger than we think.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      • I wasn’t really weepy before, but your comment here just hit me- “remind us that we are stronger than we think.” You were stronger, and we are all stronger.

        I am so, so grateful for this community, Team Practical. When I was freaked out and anxious and dealing with wedding crap, APW helped me stay sane and healthy and happy, even if I wasn’t dealing about anything as bad as cancer. I’m glad you were able to find solace and support in this community, and I’m proud to be part of this amazing group of people.

      • You may not have felt strong, but even in your grief, I’m sure you were a pillar of support, for which I’m sure your husband and sisters-in-law were incredibly grateful.

        Joy can be so incredibly healing, and a reminder that in spite of the deep grief, we are still able to feel something so amazingly good. We are still capable of celebration, which . . . can be surprising, especially in your case, when there isn’t much time in between the lows and the highs (and the lows again).

        I’m so sorry to read of your losses, and I know how hard they can be. And yet — I’m so happy that you both have your families and you both have each other. That will transcend oh so much over the years. I don’t know you, but . . . can we hug?

      • After losing my father several years ago, I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment. We are stronger than we think!

        Caitlin, thank you for this beautiful and utterly moving post. And I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • What a beautiful story Caitlin. You make me cry!

  • I’m so glad you all pulled through and had a beautiful day. Thanks for sharing this today – my wedding is a week on Saturday and my brother in law has just had a heart attack – thankfully he seems to be OK but everything is still very unclear. Try to stay positive and your post has really helped.

  • Jo

    I’m all sorts of impressed that your family rallied so well. My heart goes out to you.

    And yes, the crying!

  • clampers

    I really need a cup of coffee right now but can’t go get one because my eyes are beet red.

    You are a beautiful bride, Caitlin.

  • Jennifer

    I feel so fortunate to have taken the “wedding is not just “your day,” it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build” approach early on in the planning. I’ve known all along that our wedding will bring together many generations, and family friends that have not seen each other in decades. To use our wedding as a family reunion fills my eyes with tears of joy and excitement that while they will be celebrating our love, they will also get to catch up with long lost relatives. In a way, it takes the nervous edge off that we won’t be the center of attention for the whole day.

  • I so badly want to say something, because your description that her death ‘still felt like fiction’ has my stomach churning over.

    I don’t think there’s anything I could possibly say, other than congratulations and well done for holding it together and coming out the other side with a super-charged awareness of what life, love, family – what it means.

  • Caitlin, thank you so much for sharing your story. What an emotional experience. But from the pictures, it looks like everyone at your wedding was just so happy to be together and share such a strong sense of love and family. Even with the tragic loss of beloved family members, it’s so inspiring to see that loved ones can come together and support each other and continue to make beautiful memories.

  • Wow what you guys did takes real strength, I would have never pulled it trough…

  • Zan

    What a family! Both the one you’re building and the you’re building upon. I hope this doesn’t sound insensitive, but I can’t help but think that you both are so lucky to have such wonderful people all around you.

    Three cheers to both of you — my heart goes out to Mike — for being so brave (and looking beautiful while doing it!)

  • Caitlin and Mike,

    I clearly don’t know either of you – but all I want right now is to reach through the computer screen to give you both the biggest hug ever. I am so sorry for what you had to go through – but so impressed and inspired by your strength. It is clear that you both come from incredibly strong and supportive families, and I am sure you will now be building a strong and supportive family of your own.


  • carrie

    Amazing. I’m definitely crying this morning. Thank you for sharing this with us, Caitlin (and Meg). And thank you for reminding us what is truly important and that wedding is about joy, no matter the circumstances. You are amazing.

  • Karen

    Caitlin, thank you so much for posting your story, which — yes — left me sobbing. But not just sad sobbing, as I’m sure everyone here can understand; I hurt so much for your loss, but at the same time I’m crying in wonder at the way everyone came together to celebrate joy in the midst of sorrow. If that makes any sense, which it might not. I fear finding myself in a similar situation — we’re in our forties, and our older generation is getting older by the minute — and I know I’ll come back to your post for strength if and when I need it.

  • Marley

    The two of you are certainly a “deserving couple”. They way you handled all the things life threw at you with such dignity and strength is truly awe-inspiring.

  • And we’ve learned that a wedding is not just “your day,” it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build.

    Amen, sister. Thank you for sharing your story, Caitlin, and thank you for making me weepy at my desk. Congratulations on your new, beautiful, baby family.

  • What a wonderful reminder that weddings are a part of life, which doesn’t stop for us. Our marriages are part of the bigger story of our lives, and as amazing as that one day at the beginning is, life keeps moving us forward where it will.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Jen M

    whoa. that was a doozy. a beautiful, heart-wrenching doozy.

  • cartascartas

    caitlin, i am so, so sorry for your losses. people are born and they die every day and they fall in and out of love every single second and yet every single time it is like the first time. pain and joy always pierce our hearts like we are the first to experience them and i can truly say i experienced both with you, through your story. i am very moved to notice how obvious it is that your wedding truly marked the official beginning of a new, strong, loving, wonderful family that endures. congratulations on your wedding and i wish you the very best in your marriage.

  • Wow, what an incredible story. I am so choked up now.

    I LOVE THIS: “And we’ve learned that a wedding is not just “your day,” it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build.”

    You two are an amazing couple. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.

  • WOW. This was so gorgeous. I was warned, I know…didn’t listen, and read the post with students in the room: DUMB IDEA.

    This post exemplifies my feelings that weddings are about the family unit as a whole, and not only joining two people, but two families. I don’t even know what to say, this was just so moving in so many ways. I am also very close to my Future MIL, and I can’t ever imagine getting married without her…you are all so brave and strong. Congratulations on a beautiful day.

  • SarahMama Kate

    Okay, Sarah’s Mama over here, crying into her coffee! This is just so beautiful and it feels so right and so full of love, thanks so much for having the courage to write.

  • “That in the midst of the saddest week of our lives, we were joining our families and friends to say: this is hard, but there is still joy.”

    and this comment:

    “We all took our time, had our moments, where we had to step away from the dancing or the food or the party to just find a spot to be quiet for a bit. But then it was also a pretty amazing thing that there was also all this joy around. I don’t know how it found it’s way in to what could have been such a sad day, but there was laughing and smiling amidst it all.”

    Caitlin, I am moved to hear how you, Mike, and your families encountered joy even in the midst of grief. Though such a difficult thing to experience, I think living through that space where deep joy and grief meet and intermingle somehow distills life to its most essential and raw. You and your families showed remarkable courage and strength in how you decided to handle this, acknowledging the importance of mourning the loss of those deeply loved and also recognizing the need to celebrate love and the beginning of your new marriage. I wish you and your families all the best.

  • I’m crying!!!!!! This is a beautiful, brave post with a wonderful message. We faced the diagnosis of a dear loved one with advanced cancer months before our wedding & I count my lucky stars that she made it to our wedding. I don’t know that I would’ve mustered your strength & courage. I hope you & Mike are continuing to find some peace & comfort as life goes on. I wish you the best!!

  • Cass

    This was a much-needed, and well-timed post. I lost my own grandfather this week. And I am hoping that sending out the invitation for my wedding just two weeks later won’t seem like a faux-pas, but a reminder that although my family just experienced a loss, our family is growing, too.

    This reminds me of the age-old philosophy that although there is deep sorrow, it is so that we may also experience bounding joy.

  • This is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful, touching, amazing posts I will ever read. Words can so simply bring back thoughts and emotions of ones we have all lost…. Really, there are no words here. Just a great, huge, gargantuan thank you for sharing….

  • Thank you for writing this. You are both amazing. I am crying, I’m sad for you and uplifted by how you’ve come through this. You are an inspiration.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope you know how strong and inspiring you are. I lost both my parents five years ago, and every family wedding I’ve gone to since feels all the more joyful because we’re seeing each other for reasons other than a funeral. So I found your experience oddly relateable, even though I haven’t lived through it.

    I’m so sorry for your losses and I wish you and Mike continuing strength and peace.

  • EmilyJH

    Caitlin I want to give you a big hug. Thank you for sharing your story. You are so strong, and an inspiration to us all. Your story gives the rest of us hope that no matter what happens between now and then our weddings will be a wonderful experience.

  • Andrea Marie

    Beautiful. This post will be in my heart for quite awhile. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Maggie

    Sooo glad I read this AFTER my midterm this morning. This is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve read here, and the photos are gorgeous. Good luck to you and your husband, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • “it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build.”


  • McPants

    I honestly can’t fathom how difficult this must have been for everyone involved, and the grace with which you weathered it is just beautiful. Thank you for the strength and honesty you showed in sharing this with the world. This really moved me (and clearly, lots of other APW-ers) and inspired me to treasure this wedding process. The very best of wishes to you and your new baby family.

  • This post was so beautiful and sad but moving and powerful. Thank you so much for sharing. I have tears in my eyes after reading this.

  • Thank you so, so much for this post, for sharing your story. Having these stories of joy in the face of loss are so important, and it’s hard to find them anywhere except APW.

    You write beautifully and simply and you’re right – we don’t know how strong we are until we are tested and realize we can hold up.

  • I have no words, just tears. From someone who’s been there… you did good. You did great. Strength and grace. Best wishes for you and your families.

    • Caitlin

      Morgan, your words gave me strength in July when we learned about Mike’s mom, I came back here to find your posts and so it feels full circle to read your words here. Thank you.

      • Aww! *internet hug*

        It’s comforting to know that your words can help others. At least some grace comes out of the mess, right?

  • On strength – no one has this kind of strength before they need to use it. You develop it when things go to hell. It’s a note of grace forged at the worst of times. And it’s all the more beautiful because of it.

  • Class of 1980

    This post resonated for me more than it usually would. A few months ago, my ex (we’re still friends) told me that my ex-sister-in-law was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Chemo was done just to give her one more year to live. Last Friday, after declaring the chemo a success, she unexpectedly died from a blood clot.

    She was 63, which is a fairly young age to die in our modern world. She left behind a husband and 18-year-old twins she adopted when she was 45. I always thought I was aware of the fragility of life. But her death still feels like “fiction” to me and it’s opened up a whole series of questions that never seem to happen until someone close to you dies unexpectedly or too soon.

    Caitlin, you have learned about the transient nature of life earlier than I did. I am convinced that this knowledge helps a person to appreciate life and grab opportunities for happiness and joy even more. Not to mention asking ourselves what our priorities are and what we will leave behind.

  • Class of 1980

    Also, Caitlin … your wedding pictures are beautiful and full of heart.

  • Oh, damn. Crying in the office.

    And Caitlin, if it’s alright….would love to use that kickass last line in our own ceremony….

    • Caitlin

      wow, Kate, of course you can use the line, I’d be honored to have it passed along and used in a ceremony. We are bit blown away by all of the love and goodness floating around here right now, but of course we shouldn’t have expected any less from this community. Mike and I have been reading the comments (and emailing some of them to each other, and calling each other to read them over the phone) and feel very grateful to have so many amazing people reaching out. It has been a hard few months, but reading your words is incredibly moving.

      • Awesome. Thank you.

        You guys have one heck of a powerful story — honored to have been able to read it, and to share your words with others, as well.

  • Stephanie

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this.

  • I totally disregarded the “NSFW because of crying” warning. As a result I ended up crying at work.

    So beautifully written, and so touching. You are so strong, and you give brides a good name.

    • Katy

      Yeah, didn’t expect to actually be crying at my desk. How wrong I was….

      But the post was simply beautiful and so touching. Of course you thought about canceling the wedding, anyone would have, but I’m sure the chance for a celebration, for a coming together, was exactly what both families needed right then. It was almost like a gift–giving people more time to be together and enjoy each other and celebrate your love. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Emery

      I did the same thing!

  • What a beautiful and touching post – thanks for sharing, Caitlin. Sending you and your family lots of love and happiness.

  • This was absolutely beautiful. I am so sorry for all of your losses. Thank you for sharing such a difficult story with so much wisdom and grace.

    And this floored me: “And we’ve learned that a wedding is not just “your day,” it is a day to celebrate the lives you were born into, the ones you’ve made, the ones you continue to build. I am so thankful we were there.” Exactly, exactly, exactly.

  • Jen

    I am sobbing. I should have taken seriously the recommendation to not read this at work.

    You are an amazingly strong woman. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Kristin


    Your post is so powerful and beautiful. Thank you for it, and congratulations on your wedding. I’m getting married in 2.5 months, and my grandmother just passed away, who was in many ways, closer to me than my parents. I am devastated by her loss and concurrently helping plan her funeral and my wedding. It is a strange time and an emotional rollercoaster.

    It’s very inspiring to read your post and that you continued with your wedding, despite the timing. I’m sure that is what your mother-in-law would have wanted — a celebration of life and your love.

    Congratulations again!

  • This just popped up in my google reader, and it just seemed right.

    “It will never be okay that she lost her mother. And the kindest most loving thing you can do for her is to bear witness to that, to muster the strength and courage and humility it takes to accept the enormous reality of its not okayness and be okay with it the same way she has to be. Get comfortable being the man who says oh honey, I’m so sorry for your loss over and over again.” “But compassion isn’t about solutions. It’s about giving all the love that you’ve got.”

    • Morgan, thank you for this.

      This was so meaningful to me, as were your and Megan and Caitlin’s posts. Ever since my father died, I feel like I’ve joined some bizarre club of people … not a fun club to have to join, and yet I appreciate the solidarity and solace I gain from the wisdom of other members.

  • mags

    Wow. I’ve never posted before but I just wanted to thank you Caitlin for sharing. I read in a comment somewhere on this site a few weeks ago that you can be happy and it doesn’t mean that you’re not sad – i.e. you’re not a bad person for taking the opportunity to feel the joy. I take comfort in that as my wedding approaches and my grandmother is very ill.

    Caitlin, I am so sorry for your loss and wish you all the very best.

  • meredythbyrd

    This is the first wedding graduate post that made me start tearing up. We just got back from a week of family visits as my intended meets my brother, his wife and kids and we got to spend more time with my mom and stepdad. He is a minister who was considering my request to marry us (that’s another story) and so there was a lot of discussion of what marriage means. His father, my step-grandfather, had just passed away a couple of days ago and seeing my step-grandmother without her husband of 59 years was so hard. They are an example for me as I prepare to marry and so the emotional core of your post touched me in a sensitive spot right now.

    I’m so sorry for the losses your families suffered, but you write beautifully about how life is filled with sadness and joy in equal measure. Congratulations and what beautiful memories to have as you look back on your mother-in-law’s passing. I wish we were all so lucky as to have a beautiful event full of caring friends and family when grieving the loss of a loved one.

  • don’t mind me, blubbering idiot over here. we got married the exact same day. what an incredibly poignant, beautiful post.

  • Mike

    Just wanted to say how much all of your words mean to us. I came home from work and sat at the computer to look through them all again and it was comforting to know that there were all of these people here thinking of our family and sharing such heartfelt messages. Thank you.

  • Didn’t think I would cry, but I did (I sometimes have a hard time not crying while photographing my clients wedding vows). Glad you made it thru your wedding and trusted your vendors to have everything ready for you. Good luck in your future plans. Karen

  • Renee C

    Caitlin, Mike,
    Isn’t it amazing how sometimes you can feel you are being brave, and other times you feel just like a little scared child? What matters is getting through, and putting the events in perspective, and growing rather than shrinking in the end. You have so clearly done that.

    You may have a tough road ahead. It sounds like you know that grief is not easy or brief….but what a strong foundation you’ve laid for your marriage.

    Thank you so much for sharing, and best wishes to you both.

  • Lorraine Lupinskie


    I had no idea. Only saw the pictures and thought, “what a beautiful day” . . . I still think that, even more now!

    Lorraine Lupinskie

  • Brianne


    Thank you very much for this post. My fiance and I got engaged this Christmas, and decided to get married this summer. Rushed in terms of wedding timelines, but my father his esophageal cancer, and, despite being on uneven terms with him, it was very important that he be there. We as a couple, and as a part of our larger family have found our strength in each other and our relationships, and I am looking forward to our wedding as a moment to share. The wedding will be at my parent’s house, my childhood home, and I hope it will be a celebration, as you said, of who we were, who we are, and who we will become together.

    Bless you for your strength.

  • Oh, Caitlin. I just want to scoop you and Mike up into the biggest hug I can manage. I had to put off reading this for a few days, to gear myself up to make it all the way through without becoming a complete sobbing mess. (I’m just a sniffly, gently weepy mess now.)

    That feeling of fiction? I know what you mean. And that strength that you find but don’t know from where it came? I know what you mean there, too. You had a beautiful wedding, and I’m so glad you had all that support during such a difficult time in your lives. I hope you’re all doing a little bit better. xoxoxo

  • …And officially crying at work. Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us to remember the important things in life.

  • This made me cry my face off.

  • Melissa M.

    Thank you for sharing your story. This touched me deeply, and I admire your strength and ability to celebrate your love for each other at such a difficult time.

    Your words about it not being just “your day” really resonated with me. I’m in the home stretch for my wedding, and this story really helped put things in perspective. Again, thanks for sharing.

  • Alexandra

    My goodness. I’ve had over a decade to adjust to life without my father; I can’t imagine losing mom so suddenly.
    Caitlin and Mike, thank you so much for sharing your experience, your sorrow and joy, with all of us. Beautifully written and photographed, and helpful for many people, I’m sure. [and have seen in comments.]
    Best Wishes to you in the years ahead, and Congratulations on your marriage.