When Gabriel Fisz was first diagnosed with Leukemia, his thoughts immediately went to his girlfriend, Linda Perez.
She had just spent the last few years by her nephew’s side during his battle with cancer, and Fisz, 42, didn’t know if he could ask Perez, 30, to go through the emotional pain of doing so one more time. But when he told Perez about his diagnosis and his worries, she had the perfect response: “Shut it, we are going to beat this!”
And fight the couple did. However, the cancer returned about a month after Fisz asked Perez for her hand in marriage. By April 6, 2015, they received some welcome news: Fisz was officially cancer free.
On November 6, the couple proved that they did more than beat the cancer; they celebrated life with 50 of their closest family and friends at their wedding in San Diego, at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort in Carlsbad, California.
“Gabriel and I are both from Chicago and moved to San Diego in 2016, so we wanted to have a beachy, palmy, ocean view wedding,” Perez tells The Knot. Their wedding, which was donated by Wish Upon a Wedding, featured all of the fun elements that made Perez and Fisz’s relationship uniquely theirs, with several nods to pool, their shared passion and the reason why they met.
“We both met playing in a pool league on opposite teams,” Perez says. “So we put our wedding bands on my cue stick!” The couple even had a pool table at their wedding reception for guests to let loose and have fun.
“The entire planning process was so easy breezy,” Perez says, noting that they “had an amazing gift of a donated wedding through Wish Upon A Wedding and they found an amazing planner, Shelby Owens, who let us sit back and be guests of honors at our wedding. We barely lifted a finger and with a little help on what our dream wedding would be, she created a fairytale wedding!”
The big day went off (mostly) without a hitch: Perez says the only minor panic came about when it seemed that her $10,000 Vera Wang gown might not arrive on time. Ultimately, it did—at 10 a.m. the day of the wedding. “The dress was worth the wait and it was just fashionably late!” Perez says.
Other memorable elements from the wedding included a special performance by L.A.-based singer Kylie Hughes (who sang newlywed Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” in place of a traditional bridal march) and even a special karaoke surprise for Fisz. “It’s such a wonderful opportunity that, while I am having my own bridal experience and on my own romantic journey, I get to connect with another bride and give a gift on her wedding day,” says Hughes. “We’re both in such a unique time in our lives right now and I’m honored to be part of her dream day come true.”
“The bridesmaids were in on a little surprise for Gabe,” she says. “The last part of my speech were the lyrics leading up to the chorus of the Savage Garden song ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply,’ in which the bridesmaids and I sang the chorus in our terribly karaoke voices to Gabe. He couldn’t top that!”
“Life is different for us,” she says of dealing with Fisz’s cancer diagnosis, “but the love we had for each other held us together like gorilla glue!”
The pair exchanged vows at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort in Carlsbad, California, which they selected specifically for the view of the water.
The dress was a stunning $10,000 lace and sweetheart style by Vera Wang. “The dress was donated by X-Games hostess and actress Gretchen Pleshaw in honor of a family member of hers who battled cancer,” Perez says, adding that “the talented seamstresses Nedra Michalek and Kathleen Argerake added extra touches to make it my own. They added off-the-shoulder curled satin and a lace-up corset in the back.”
The newlyweds were gifted with their wedding thanks to Wish Upon a Wedding—not to mention a fairy godmother in the form of wedding planner Shelby Owens. “We barely lifted a finger and with a little help on what our dream wedding would be, she created a fairytale wedding! So, the entire planning process was so easy breezy, with hints of what the day would be like!” Perez says.
In keeping with their laid-back, waterside theme, the pair opted for an untraditional altar, with “palms and tropical flowers overlooking the ocean.” Their florist, Blooms by Bressa Lee, helped to create a memorable look and feel for their big day.
“Gabe and I are from Chicago so we had to enter to the Chicago Bulls theme song,” Perez says of their grand entrance into the reception. “We had an amazing live band from Encore Entertainment who blew everyone’s minds, singing songs from Prince and nailing the vocals.” The couple and their gathered 50 family and friends danced the night away.
Perez and Fisz wanted to keep things relaxed for their guests, and opted for a buffet dinner with an on-site carving station. “We really enjoyed everything!” Perez says of the meal, catered by Bekker’s Inc.
The cake was a lovely three-tier white cake with a beautiful golf palm detail up the front, created especially for the pair by Sweet Cheeks Baking Co.
“Gabe has such a genuine disposition that shows how caring he is. He is the sweetest man I have ever met and treats me like a queen! I feel like such a woman with him,” she says. “When he gave his speech, and said how he felt fulfilled and couldn’t be any happier than he is now, he made me cry. I could see how much he truly loves me and to see him very nervous was such a sweet touch of his personality. He wanted it to be perfect. And it was!”