We Planned Our Wedding in 40 Days So My Mom Could Be There

Her terminal diagnosis put my inspiration boards into perspective

July 16, 2016, was not the original date we chose for our wedding, but it turned out to be the best one. Grant and I had been together for eight years when he asked me to spend the rest of our days together. We had been dating since high school, and we had known for years that it wasn’t a matter of if we were going to get married, but rather when.

Even after our engagement, we didn’t have any strong feelings on when we should get married, so a bit arbitrarily, we chose a date in April 2017. My Pinterest boards quickly flooded with wedding inspiration from across the Internet. I followed every wedding planner, photographer, and florist I happened across on Instagram. I spent hours on end pouring through beautiful images of glowing brides, luscious florals, and picturesque tablescapes. With our wedding nearly a year and a half away, every idea felt within reach. We had plenty of time to save money, and plenty of time to accomplish all of the elaborate DIY projects that I was bookmarking.

A couple of months later, my mom received a diagnosis that left her with three to four months to live. As I wept in her arms, my mom assured me that in the time she was given, she would help us to plan a beautiful wedding, and made us promise not to stress over the wedding for her sake. It wasn’t her help planning the wedding that I needed, though. What I needed was for her to be there on my wedding day: getting ready together, walking me down the aisle with my dad, and tearing up the dance floor with me at the reception.

In the days that followed that heartbreaking news, things quickly came into perspective. We made the decision to move the wedding, and I called our venue, photographer, and DJ—the only three vendors we had booked at the time—to explain our decision. When I told them we wanted to get married within the next two months, I did not expect the outpouring of support that we received. Within a matter of hours, our wedding date had been changed to July 16, 2016. A dueling sense of peace and exhilaration washed over me when I finally slowed down to count that we had exactly forty days to plan our wedding.

The months of collecting wedding inspiration quickly came to an end. Decisions needed to be made quickly, and too much inspiration made for indecision. I ignored the wedding checklists prompting me to begin my exercise routine, send save the dates, and hire a calligrapher. The shortened timeline was a blessing in a sense—we chose what we liked, and we didn’t have time to second-guess those decisions. Ultimately, with the help of our family, friends, and some truly amazing wedding vendors, we had a beautiful wedding, and most importantly, our loved ones were there to celebrate the beginning of our marriage with us.

Looking back on our wedding, I sometimes find myself comparing it to the weddings I see when I’m scrolling through the “highlight reel” that is my social media feeds. Styled photo shoots and the unlimited budgets of the celebrity wedding planners I followed when we first got engaged started making me feel badly that our wedding did not look as picture-perfect. Should we have spent more on flowers? Chosen different centerpieces? Hung more twinkle lights? I let myself fall victim to the comparison trap, and for a while, I let it cast a shadow over our perfect wedding day.

I am thankful every day that my mom remained well enough to help me pick out my wedding dress, walk me down the aisle arm-in-arm with my dad, and celebrate on the dance floor with us at the reception. I struggle to find the right words to capture the spirit of our wedding, but there was no denying the pure love and bliss that radiated amongst us and filled the room that night. Everyone was subtly reminded that life is precious and these are the moments worth celebrating… and celebrate we did!

Almost three months ago, just weeks before that April wedding date that we had originally chosen, I had to say goodbye to my mother. I was reminded once again how grateful I was to have those moments with my mom on my wedding day. The reality is, it wasn’t the flowers, the centerpieces, or the twinkle lights that made our wedding so beautiful. Instead, it was the overwhelming joy that we all felt. You can’t add that to your Pinterest board, and you don’t capture that in a perfectly styled tablescape.

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