When a community comes together, amazing things can happen. In order to have her ailing mother attend her wedding, New Jersey bride Erica and her fiance Darrell Meyer decided to plan a courthouse wedding in just two days.
Local wedding photographers Abigail and Andy Lydick of Abigail Gingerale Photography received a call from Abigail’s sister Rachael, who works with the bride, about photographing the couple’s wedding at the courthouse. The Lydicks agreed, but felt like there was more they could offer the soon-to-be newlyweds. With the help of the community, they were able to turn a courthouse wedding into a fairytale ceremony and reception for the couple on Thursday, March 3.
“Erica’s mom has had ovarian cancer since 2013 and was in remission for a while. The cancer popped back up in November of 2015,” the wedding photographer couple told The Knot. “A week or so before they called us, her mom was sent home on hospice with weeks to live.”
“Erica wanted to just get married and get a few pictures so her mom could see her get married. She didn’t care where it was or what it looked like, she just wanted her mom there,” Abigail and Andy explained. But when they heard the couple’s situation and decided to help, they wondered who else in the community was available to lend a hand too.
“We felt like I had the opportunity to to give them something that they could remember forever,” the Lydick’s said, quickly posting their request for vendors in wedding professional Facebook groups. After reaching out to Jess from Pearl Event Planning they had secured a beautiful new wedding venue, limousines, and a make-up artist, and from there the resources and volunteers just kept pouring in.
“Once we found the venue, everything blew up after that,” Abigail and Andy told The Knot of the speedy wedding planning process. “I think cancer has affected a lot of families. I think everyone knows someone who has been affected. So when you tell this story to people, they immediately want to help.” They had a bi-lingual translator for Erica’s family, flowers, caterers, the works, all in a matter of a couple days.
“Much like ourselves, the wedding vendors who were involved LOVE the wedding industry. They don’t just do it to have a job, for a paycheck. They do it because they love what they do,” the photographers said calling the outpouring of swift wedding planning assistance “overwhelming.”
Throughout the speedy, 2-day wedding planning process the photographers, Erica and Darrell were in contact multiple time a day. “They had an idea of what the day was going to look like,” they said but they kept a few things, like Cat Limo rides to the Rose Garden wedding venue in Hamilton, New Jersey, a surprise.
“Abigail went out to local shops and got jewelry donated, restaurant gift certificates and a one-night stay in a local hotel for after the wedding. We handed that to them in a basket towards the end of the day,” Andy told The Knot.
As Erica and Darrell prepared for the wedding in different locations, the photographers said, “all the girls were giggling and there was a lot of excitement” upon their arrival on the morning of the wedding.
“Erica didn’t know that we had gotten a limo to take her to the venue. When I told her that, she started crying because she was overwhelmed by everything people had donated. We all laughed and say, ‘No, No! Your makeup! Don’t cry!’” and were fanning her,” Abigail and Andy shared with The Knot.
“The groom was all smiles,” too, helping with some of the venue set-up before the ceremony took place. “Every time we walked past him before throughout the day he would give us hugs a say ‘thank you, thank you guys so much,’” the photographers reminisced, adding that the groom cried only once during the ceremony.
Thanks to the fervent wedding planning efforts of the Lydicks and their community, the Meyers exchanged traditional vows and were married by Mitch the Minister in a lovely ceremony and shared every moment leading up to their fully decked-out wedding reception with an intimate gathering of 25-30 of their family and close friends. The couple’s first dance was Brian McKnight’s “Still in Love,” and the romantic moment kicked off a great party for the newlywed’s “very lively family,” Abigail and Andy said.
“Erica’s mom was weak, but you could tell she was happy. That was a lot of physical activity for her and she just sat and watched for all of it, but you could tell she was happy,” the photographer couple told The Knot.
It seems that every wedding vendor, volunteer and wedding guest felt the love on Erica and Darrell’s wedding day, coming together in a matter of 48 hours to provide a stunning ceremony and celebration for the deserving couple.
“If you ask anyone who know Erica what she’s like, they would tell you that she’s the most selfless person you know. She constantly sacrificed for her mom and took her to every single appointment. Darrell is a soft spoken guy with a good heart and gives good hugs,” the photographers said of the newlyweds.
When asked if they would get into wedding planning and create a whirlwind wedding like the Meyers’ again the Abigail Gingerale Photography duo’s answer was a resounding yes!
“We would. We think that when we have the opportunity and ability to make a difference in someone’s life, then we have an obligation to. Abigail and I both love and are so passionate about the wedding industry and we love what we do.”
A special thank you to everyone involved, and congratulations to Erica and Darrell Meyers! A full list of fabulous wedding vendors, donations and volunteers can be found on the Abigail Gingerale Photography blog.