Monday, September 13, 2010

The Art of Giving

The title of this piece should really read the selfless art of giving - because that is the spirit being fostered by the organization I want to talk about today.

Wish Upon A Wedding is a non profit wish granting organization providing weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation.

The world's first organization of its kind.

Over the course of the past two months or so I've been immersing myself in what they do and how they do it - and to say that it takes my breath away would be an understatement of the first order.

Launched in California in January of 2010, the organization has fired the imagination of the wedding industry and inspired wedding professionals all over the nation to offer their services.

Founder Liz Guthrie says, "we want to celebrate the courage, determination and spirit of these couples by granting their dream wedding wishes. Our hope is that chosen recipients can inspire other couples facing similar situations to find hope and strength."

Over the past eight months, six wishes have been fulfilled - and several more are close to being so.

Launch parties are taking place every month (tonight it's Las Vegas) as new chapters form all over the country. It is projected that there will be 25 of them by January 2011. With thousands of Wish Granters to their name.

Auction items are being accepted through September 15th - and on October 1st the organization will start to auction off the donated products and services in 46 cities across the United States. The auction will run through November, when the major chapters will hold a Blissful Wishes Ball.

All of the relevant information (about the above as well as the organization) can be found by following the links and visiting Wish Upon A Wedding's Facebook page (each chapter has its own page). You can also follow their blog.

What I'd like to use this space for today is to get a bit more personal, and go behind the scenes a little.

Ali is the President of the Chicago Chapter - which comprises eleven board members and many amazing volunteer committees. Over the course of two telephone conversations, Ali was kind enough to explain to me how wish granting works.

Each chapter maintains a database of Wish Granters - based on twenty different vendor categories. When a wish is received in the area, the coordinators call upon their Wish Granters to donate their professional goods and services; enabling us to provide the Wish Recipient's dream wedding. We will provide everything from the gown to the cake, the flowers to the venue, and the music to the decor. The couple does not have to do anything but to enjoy the day with 40-50 of their nearest and dearest.

Of course all of this led to the question of how Ali got involved with the organization - and here's what she had to say.

I got involved with Wish Upon a Wedding because I knew I could help give back to people in need and I related to the Mission of Wish Upon a Wedding. To be able to help those facing terminal illness and life altering circumstances and give them a little happiness in their day was something I really wanted to be a part of. I had read about the organization in December when Sasha Souza (National President) announced it on her blog. I submitted my interest in an email for the Chicago Chapter, and a couple of months later Sasha asked me to be the president of the Chicago Chapter. We are a passionate board of people in Chicago. Not all wedding planners and not all of us in the wedding industry. We work together as a team to organize the wishes, get the word out to potential wish granters, and reach out to the medical community to raise awareness. We want people to know we are there for them, but also want cancer support groups and doctors to know we are there for their clients. We also are working on our November 1st Blissful Wishes Ball - which is our first annual Gala in Chicago.

The first wedding wish to be granted by the Chicago chapter was for Beth and Nick.

The wedding took place in Joliet, IL on Sunday, April 18th 2010 - and was the second wish the organization granted.

More details about the wedding can be found here.

Ali had the following to say:

Beth is an amazingly strong woman who is fighting urachal adenocarcinoma. I was so impressed by her courage and how happy and positive she was every time I talked to her - even though she was in and out of chemotherapy during the weeks leading up to her wedding day.

After the wedding, she gave me a gorgeous heart necklace with a pink diamond so that I would always remember the first wish that the Chicago Board granted. I wear it to the weddings that we have and plan on wearing it at every wedding and renewal of vows wish we plan in Chicago.

What's next for the chapter, I ask - and Ali tells me about the upcoming renewal of vows for Debra and Wally on September 23rd, and the wedding ceremony on October 11th for Nick and Bahar.

Special ceremonies for strong and amazing people.

And in spirit of this sentiment, I leave you with a touching video montage from the wedding of Ed & Erwin - celebrated earlier this summer in Washington DC.


  1. Fantastic organization! Great article about who they are & what they do. Cinderell4aday is proud to say that we are sending in our donation to Wish Upon a Wedding this week!

  2. Li'l Inspirations is proud to a National Sponsor for Wish Upon A Wedding. Custom wedding handkerchiefs are created for each couple.



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