Danielle Cover Photography

Choosing a wedding dress is stressful enough. Your thoughts are suddenly consumed by questions like, “What’s the most flattering bodice and neckline for me?” and, “Should I go with white, cream, or off-white?” The honeymoon and thank-you cards have become a distant priority to wedding invites, venue, and caterers. And you’re trying to channel your frustration against expensive photographers and flower companies that must not realize you have a whole wedding — complete with 150 guests — to pay for.

Relax. Because when it’s all over, you will spending the next few decades with the person you love. Unless, the wedding will be your last big ceremony together; the last time your families will come together in celebration of your love for one another. Suddenly you think that the white dress could use another layer of tulle and embroidery; every detail of the day should stand out like freshly bleached teeth which, by the way, you would spring for so that the wedding photos will come out nothing short of immaculate.

The irony of it all is that weddings plan for the future. The juxtaposition of a person who is terminally ill, who by situational happenstance must prepare for an ending, is almost too bittersweet. Compounding wedding expenses with hospital expenses; making a commitment to love each other forever, but not spend a lifetime together…the burden of a wedding makes the ultimate burden of saying goodbye to someone you love more palatable.

Danielle Cover Photography

In 2010, Liz Guthrie began granting wedding wishes for terminally ill patients and those facing life-altering circumstances through her nonprofit organization, Wish Upon A Wedding. With 20 chapters nationwide, she receives donations that provide airfare and hotel accommodations for family members who want to attend the wedding. Now having granted more than 25 wishes, the organization is expanding to receive donations online.

Wish Upon A Wedding’s latest fundraiser, “Bid Your Wish For Wedded Bliss” is accepting donations for honeymoon packages, bridal gowns, jewelry, photography, and event planning services. These items will be available in an online auction starting September 1, and proceeds will help grant wedding wishes in areas surrounding the 20 chapters.

In March, Wish Upon A Wedding sponsored a wedding for Dominique Dean, a mother of three battling Stage 4 breast cancer. The organization’s website highlights several other stories and videos like this one, recapping the narrative of couples who were granted storybook weddings with the charity’s help. One of the most touching stories is of a military wedding for Meredith and her husband Jake, a Marine Corps Corporal who would be deploying to Afghanistan for seven months. After receiving a letter from Meredith, Wish Upon A Wedding provided the vendors and volunteers for the couple’s religious ceremony in Maryland. In a moment that seemed blissfully surreal, Meredith and Jake took their vows with no thought, for that moment, of what their future would hold.

As the concept continues to take off, Guthrie plans to have 30 Wish Upon A Wedding chapters throughout the United States by 2012.