About five and a half years ago, I was sat in my office chatting to a very good friend over a cup of coffee when she told me about a young man she knew aged 27 who had cancer of the brain. She then went on to tell me that he had just been given 14 months to live and that he wanted to get married. As a wedding planner I knew I could help, so without hesitation I offered to plan his day for him. What I didn’t know was the young man in question had not worked for a long time so had no money. Did that put me off…NO! In fact I saw it as an interesting challenge that was not going to defeat me. Ha! If you believe that last sentence you’ll believe anything. The truth is I thought OMG what am I going to do, this dying man needs me to magic a fantastic wedding out of thin air!
Once the panic had faded, I though “come on Patricia, you can do this, just think outside of the box.” So with lots of determination, my natural Manchester charm and a bit of cheek, I decided not to ask for money but instead to ask for something more precious…PEOPLE’S TIME in the form of their skills and services. To my relief my instincts were right, people where so much more willing to donate what they could do and were so honoured to be asked.
The most interesting thing that happened however was everyone I’d asked to help automatically went to their contacts to ask them to help as well, which meant the word spread like wildfire and offers started to flood in. Unbelievably within 10 days we had everything we needed totally free of charge. Without meaning to, I’d accidently stumbled on a great idea, I’d discovered that there were lots of terminally ill people who needed the help of the UK weddings industry and that there were lots of UK wedding professionals who did not have a way of offering their skills and services to people who needed them. A lightbulb went off and Gift of a Wedding was born.
“I could never have imagined five years ago that I would have set up a charity, it has been the most fulfilling and challenging thing I have ever had the pleasure to do. It’s been an absolute honour to create lots of beautiful wedding days with my team of dedicated volunteers, for some extremely deserving people.” – Patricia Harrison, Founder, Gift of a Wedding
Here are a few things you might wish to know about the charity.
WHAT IS GIFT OF A WEDDING?
It’s a distinctive non-profit charity that gifts wedding services to people living in the UK with a terminal or life shortening illness. The charity is based in Greater Manchester.
HOW DO WE DO WHAT WE DO?
Generous wedding and hospitality professionals and gifted members of the public donate their products, skills and services to terminally ill people wishing to get married.
WHO CAN APPLY FOR A WEDDING?
- UK resident
- 18 +
- With a terminal or life- shortening illness
- Who wish to marry and marry in the UK
- Are unable to finance or devote the time to organising their own wedding day.
*Our wedding service is available regardless of age, gender, race or religion
“We consider ourselves to be the wedding industry’s charity of choice” – Patricia Harrison, Founder, Gift of a Wedding
As “the wedding industry’s charity of choice”, we hold the bold ambition to one day give all couples affected by terminal illness wishing to get married the opportunity to say “I do”.
GIVE ME SOME MORE INTERESTING FACTS
- In the past 3 years we have gifted 131 weddings
- We have spent 15,000 hours planning those 131 weddings
- We have secured over 1.2 million pounds worth of donated goods, skills and services
- 3000 extremely generous wedding and hospitality professionals and some gifted members of the UK public have helped us create our special days
- Over 10,000 guests have attended one of our weddings
COULD YOU HELP US TO GIFT A WEDDING?
We hope you agree that what we do is worthwhile and look forward to your support if you consider you have a service or skill you could donate to one of our special days please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We look forward to hearing from you.
Image courtesy of Struth Photography. The wedding of Craig and Joan Lyons, April 15 April 2016. Craig has since passed away.