Never underestimate the power of a stranger’s kindness. When Dulce Gonzalez and Ariel Gonzalez Mass arrived at the scenic location for their beach wedding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on June 30, the day was sunny and promising.
By afternoon, however—hours before their romantic ceremony—storm clouds had rolled in, threatening to pour down upon the white folding chairs, the floral-embellished altar, and the long white petal-strewn carpet Gonzalez, 24, was meant to walk down.
The bride-to-be sat in tears in her mother’s car on what was meant to be the happiest day of her life, trying to wrap her head around her ruined wedding.
“I was trying to hold my tears,” Gonzalez told The Washington Post. “I’m about to have a panic attack, I’m asking my mom, ‘What am I gonna do?’”
That’s when a woman, Cynthia Strunk, knocked on the car window, offering Gonzalez and her loved ones to hold the ceremony in her nearby home. Strunk, 67, and her husband Shannon, 53, had been watching all the wedding preparations take place that morning, and they were dismayed that it looked like the weather was going to get in the way of the couple’s happy, holy union.
“The bride’s mother started crying at that point and [Gonzalez] said ‘thank you’ and she had tears in her eyes,” Strunk said. Once Gonzalez and her mom agreed to the generous offer, Strunk hurried back to her home, and she and Shannon hurried to ready the space. They prepped the downstairs “gallery” space, a large, square room, to hold the guests for the ceremony and cleared out the vestibule to act as an impromptu altar for the bride and groom.
Luckily, also, Strunk told The Post, they have a large extended family, and so had roughly two dozen extra chairs stashed away in the house ready to accommodate for Gonzalez’s guests. The couple set up the space the way they would “if it was my daughter” getting married,” Strunk said.
When the wedding guests were finally ushered into the home and Gonzalez saw her new wedding venue for the first time, she was stunned.
“They had everything set as if we actually planned it,” she said. “It was perfect. I told my husband that [the Strunks] were little angels that God sent us.”
The rest of the day went off without a hitch: Gonzalez and Ariel, 30, had windows on either side of them when they stood at the makeshift altar to exchange vows, a small, but important, detail. (The newlyweds had spent many days at the beach flirting and getting to know each other at a beach in Pascagoula when they first started dating, hence their insistence on having a beach wedding). The wind and rain whipped about outside the windows, but inside, the bride and groom and their guests were happy to share in the love and good vibes of the day.
Afterward, Gonzalez’s father asked the Strunks to come forward so he could thank them formally, speaking in Spanish as the bride’s best friend translated.
“The father was just so appreciative and they were just such gracious, wonderful people,” Strunk said. “We were just happy to do it—and to us it was no big deal.”
The newlyweds and their friends and family held their reception at a nearby restaurant—the same one where they got engaged—as planned.
Days later, when Strunk posted about the serendipitous ceremony on her Facebook page, the story went viral. Her humorous takeaway from the incident? “[I] highly recommend impromptu weddings,” she wrote.
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