When Deborah Simmons of Signature Occasions heard Liz Guthrie speak at the Association of Bridal Consultants annual conference, she knew she had stumbled upon something remarkable.
Guthrie spoke about her belief that everyone should have the opportunity to have the wedding of their dreams; and through Wish Upon a Wedding, the nonprofit wish-granting organization she founded in 2010, those dreams were coming true for many people all around the country.
Prior to the creation of Wish Upon a Wedding, Guthrie was working on a dream-wedding giveaway in San Francisco. Through public voting, Vanessa Muza Teskey won the celebration she had always hoped for. Teskey was battling Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma while her fiancé, an officer in the United States Air Force, was deployed overseas. This love story was the inspiration for Wish Upon a Wedding.
This now nationwide organization seeks to provide weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illness and serious life altering circumstances. The vision of Wish Upon a Wedding is to celebrate the courage, determination and spirit of these couples by granting their dream wedding wishes. By the end of 2012, Wish Upon a Wedding will have 30 chapters across the United States.
“I had been looking for some sort of way for Signature Occasions to give back,” Simmons said. “There were a few things that we discussed, but it never felt right. That is, until I came across Wish Upon a Wedding. I knew this was it.”
Once Simmons decided that Mississippi desperately needed a Wish Upon a Wedding chapter, she called her friend Lynda Jungkind with Premier Bride to get her on the bandwagon.
“I was familiar with the organization and always had it in the back of my mind, knowing that it would be great to have one in Mississippi, but had never pursued it,” Jungkind said. “When Deborah called, I told her immediately to count me in. This organization is a great way to give people a dream wedding that may not have much more time together.”
At that point, Simmons and Jungkind rallied their contacts in Mississippi’s wedding industry and got the ball rolling on forming the official Mississippi Chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding.
“Weddings are such a big deal in Mississippi, and there are so many people and vendors that just do it all so well,” Jungkind said. “Plus, we have a heart for giving here, so it makes sense.”
Wishes are granted to unmarried applicants 18 and older, where at least one individual has been diagnosed with less than five years to live. Special Circumstance Wishes are also available for a limited number of couples that have endured serious life-altering circumstances. Vow Renewal Wishes are also available to qualifying married couples. Applicants must apply online at wishuponawedding.org, where applications go through the national office and are then referred to local chapters.
The Mississippi Chapter has a goal of raising $25,000 in 2012. Premier Bride’s annual bridal show, happening January 8 at the Jackson Convention Center, will donate one dollar from each ticket sale to the Mississippi Chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding. For more information on the Premiere Bridal Show, visit thepremierebridalshow.com.
On January 26 at the Old Capitol Inn, a Wish Upon a Wedding Launch Party will be held.
“The party is to announce the formation of our chapter and to acquaint the community with Wish Upon a Wedding,” Simmons said. “We are in the early organizational stages of our chapter and want to educate the public about the fact that there is an organization giving the gift of a dream wedding to someone who is terminally ill.”
The event will be from 6-9 p.m. and will feature music from Jackson’s own MoMoney and food from caterers all around the metro area. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. Partygoers will also have the opportunity to sign up to get involved in Wish Upon a Wedding as a volunteer or vendor.
“The whole organization and process really spoke to my heart,” Simmons said. “We have so many vendors that are thrilled to be a part of Wish Upon a Wedding. When faced with something like a terminal illness, the last thing someone needs to do is worry about paying for a wedding.
“It’s about having a day for these special people to forget about what’s going on in their life and just celebrate love and encourage others who may be going through similar situations.”
Save the Date: The Wish Upon a Wedding Launch Party
Jan. 26 • 6-9 p.m. • Old Capitol Inn
For more info: