Category Archives: charity

Wish Upon a Wedding’s Blissful Wishes Ball

Wish Upon a Wedding is the world’s first nonprofit wish granting organization that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness or other serious life-altering circumstances. Less than one year old, the organization has 16 active chapters, and will have granted 12 wishes by the end of 2010.

During the month of November, they are hosting several fund raising galas and auctions throughout the country, and would like to invite you to participate.

Whether you are a bride or groom to be, a wedding industry professional, or you simply love the concept behind their mission… YOU can help make Wedding Wishes come true, while raising crucial funding needed to sustain this wonderful, new nonprofit organization.

Here’s How:

Attend The Blissful Wishes Ball
A Gala Celebration to Benefit Wish Upon a Wedding

Chicago November 1

LA November 4

San Francisco November 10

Houston November 11

Charlotte November 12

Orlando November 14

St. Louis November 14

Baltimore November 17

Portland November 18

Atlanta November 21

The Blissful Wishes Ball is a festive way to support Wish Upon a Wedding. Enjoy a nice night out on the town with an elegant dinner, entertainment, music, dancing, and incredible auction items.

Buy your tickets today!

Art and Artist Facebook Challenge 4: Frida Kahlo

When Miriam asked me to base an event on Frida Kahlo’s, “What the Water Told Me,” I have to admit my first thought was, “How in the world can I made a wedding or any event out of a painting that illustrates Frida’s personal tragedies?” With a good deal of brain storming, I had it: a fundraiser for the Neuropathy Action Foundation. It is suspected that Frida also had spina bifida in addition to the injuries sustained from a horrible accident and a bout with polio. All of those physical tragedies left Frida in horrible pain and neuropathy. This event celebrates Frida Kahlo as well as her culture. My idea for the sugar skulls pictured is that celebrities and well known personalities would decorate sugar skulls to be auctioned off.

Copper Charger | Decorative Accessories
$139 –

Red Devil Sugar Skull
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Rodrigvitz Style:

Art and Artist Facebook Friends Challenge 1: Edvard Munch, “The Scream”

I issued a challenge to my Facebook friends: Who is your favorite artist or piece of art? Let me know and I will do an event set inspired by it.. Here is the first set requested by Jed: Edvard Munch’s, “The Scream.” This would be for an event to raise money for a local art museum. I have called it the Blue and Orange Ball and the dresses you see would be part of an auction.

Parties by Kristen

Helpful Hints


Wish Upon A Wedding: This is why I became involved

A new non profit organization, Wish Upon A Wedding, was formed at the end of 2009 by Liz Guthrie with the goal of becoming “The Wedding Industry’s Charity of Choice.” “Wish Upon a Wedding provides weddings & vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness and other serious life-altering circumstances, regardless of sexual orientation.’”

I became aware of Wish Upon A Wedding via the WeTV show, “Get Married.” At the end of the show, a brief mention was made regarding Wish Upon A Wedding and I immediately went to the organization’s website. What I saw was an amazing organization that I really wanted to get involved with. I signed up to be a Wish Granter and am now part of the Colorado Chapter’s Fundraising Committee.

To give you a glimpse in to what Wish Upon A Wedding provides, please take a look at the video link below. If you are inspired to help, please go to Wish Upon A Wedding’s Website.

For my Mommy: Liver Cancer Gala

Cholangiocarcinoma…I hate that word. Unfortunately, my beautiful mother has been diagnosed with it. What you read about it online is frightening, but I know my mother and I know her faith and the power of healing that faith can cause.

A little over five years ago, my father had bladder cancer and was told he was going to die. Note to doctors: NEVER tell a Sherman the end is near or that we can’t win, because we are a family of faith not to mention stubborn as all get out. So, my father’s kidney (only has one functioning kidney due to a childhood illness) was in failure, his blood was completely septic from the cancer that had filled up over 90% of his bladder. Had he needed it, I was planning on giving him one of my kidneys (thank goodness for spares…lol), but his kidney returned to normal after dialysis and transfusion.

My father is truly a “Daddy.” He brings his sense of humor, love of his family, protection, devotion, and his unwavering faith to our family. He knew without a doubt that he would be healed and with his faith, prayer and through the skills of the doctors, he made it. Then, with prayer and treatment, my father was healed and this is what we are prayer for with regard to my mom.

So, this is the third type of cancer my mom has had in the past year. She has been through endometrial cancer, gall bladder cancer, and now the aforementioned Cholangiocarcinoma that has put a tumor the size of an orange on her liver. I have told her that if she just needed to be the center of attention, I would gladly have lavished her with the attention she so richly deserves.

Let me tell you a bit about my mom. She is a southern lady with all of the charm and grace that her mother imparted to her. She is a rock of faith and is one of the most loving, compassionate, caring, nurturing, faith filled people I know. My mother is more than a “mom,” she is my best friend. Living over 1,000 miles away from my amazing parents is very hard at times like these. We don’t go a week and rarely more than a couple of days without talking on the phone to one another and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just wish I could be there every day taking care of them as they loved and took care of me.

This set is for my mom who is truly the best mom in the whole world. This set is for my dad who is set in his devotion to her and is there taking care of her right now. Mommy, Daddy, I want you to know that I love you more than I can express in words. You mean the world to me and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are the greatest parents in the world. Thank you so much for loving me, accepting me just as I am (even when I came home from college with fuchsia hair and an eyebrow ring wearing combat boots and a doggie choke chain latched around my neck with a safety pin), and for making me in to the woman I am today. You both are my heart and I love you so very much.

FYI: Green is the color for cancers of the liver and whatnot.

Hope Plaque
$20 –

Unique Centerpieces

Classic Party Rentals :: Charlottesville

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Glitter Butterflies

Brides Gold Cake

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Glitter Butterflies

When ‘till death do us part’ has added meaning


New charity Wish Upon a Wedding helps terminally ill people fulfill dreams, celebrate
by Laura T. Coffey

Time: Shelly Sundstrom knew she didn’t have much of it. Days, hours, minutes were slipping away — but Sundstrom knew what she wanted to do.

She wanted to marry Jay Ellison. And he wanted to marry her.

But when? And, more problematically, how? Neither of them had the stamina to plan a wedding. Shelly, 48, had advanced lymphoma, and her doctors had given her mere weeks to live. Jay, also 48, had serious health issues of his own; he had been battling multiple sclerosis for years.

A friend of the Seattle couple placed a call to Wish Upon a Wedding, a new charity that grants weddings and vow renewals to people diagnosed as having fewer than five years to live. Volunteers with the charity blasted into action — and three weeks later, Shelly was walking down the aisle and exchanging wedding vows with Jay.

Every last detail of the tasteful event, held May 2 at a mansion in a Seattle suburb, was handled by Wish Upon a Wedding; Shelly and Jay just had to show up. The dress, the tux, the flowers, the venue, the music, the limo ride, the minister, the catered meal for 50 close friends and family members — all of it was donated by vendors who wanted to help.

Volunteers also put thought into how to accommodate Shelly’s needs in her weakened state. Her parents helped her walk down the aisle, and she was able to remain seated for most of the ceremony.

“It’s just amazing there are so many people who care,” Shelly told a local television news crew at the wedding. “It’s like a fairy tale. Like a fairy tale.”

Three weeks later, she was gone.

‘Such a need’
Wish Upon a Wedding was founded by Liz Guthrie, 40, a wedding and event planner who saw a need: To make weddings possible for terminally ill people who are too consumed with health issues, medical bills and other anxieties to take on the stress and expense of planning such events themselves.

She spoke with friends in the wedding industry and suggested starting a nonprofit that would grant wedding wishes to deserving couples. The concept exploded. Dozens of vendors stepped up, wondering how they might be able to donate their time and services.

Since the charity’s first fledgling chapter began in the San Francisco Bay area in January of this year, 15 more chapters have opened in major cities around the United States. The organization is on track to have 25 chapters by its first anniversary.

So far, the charity has coordinated four weddings in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Sacramento, Calif. Charity officials hope to grant dozens of wedding wishes each year, with the possibility of that number climbing into the hundreds.

“There’s such a need out there,” said Wish Upon a Wedding president Sasha Souza, 41, who has run a national wedding-planning business for years. “To get to meet these amazing people, to talk to them, hear their stories, see the strength they have. This is their wish. This is all they want — to have a small wedding for 50 people. I think it’s such a small wish to grant.”

Of the four weddings granted thus far, three of the brides have had cancer, and one groom had an advanced case of lupus nephritis that was attacking his kidneys.

“For me, watching it as a wedding planner, I’ve never been to a wedding that is that emotional,” Guthrie said. “Knowing that someone is making a lifetime commitment but not knowing how long that life is, it’s incredibly emotional. To see them surrounded by their loved ones and see them sharing a celebration of their lives, it’s just incredible.”

How the application process works
To qualify as wedding recipients, couples must be willing to sign Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) forms giving doctors permission to communicate directly with Wish Upon a Wedding.

“This way their doctor can give us the definite diagnosis and prognosis,” Souza explained.

While most weddings will be granted to the terminally ill, Wish Upon a Wedding expanded its policy this week to make weddings available to even more people. The charity now plans to provide a limited number of weddings to “those faced with other personal burdens, such as serious emotional, physical or other debilitating issues.”

The organization also helps couples who already have been married for years but who, due to life-threatening diagnoses, are preparing to say goodbye. Couples in that situation can apply for vow-renewal ceremonies.

Once approval is granted for a wedding or a vow renewal, a wedding planner and local vendors kick into high gear and try to make the event happen within six weeks. (Shorter time windows are possible in more urgent situations, as was necessary in Shelly Sundstrom’s case.) Absolutely everything happens on a fast track. Photos and videos are delivered to the couple within four weeks of the wedding.

To make life a bit easier for wedding planners and vendors, Wish Upon a Wedding tries not to hold weddings on peak days of the week — Saturdays, for instance. It’s often simpler to arrange for Sunday and midweek weddings at nice venues.

Vendors provide everything for the couple’s big day, including dresses and tuxes for the bride, groom and wedding party. (One exception: Couples must provide their own alcohol for wedding receptions.) The charity also flies up to four people in for the wedding and puts them up in a hotel for two nights.

“That takes money and [airline] miles,” Souza said. “But this is what we do. I swear, I can do a wedding in a week if I have to. It’s so easy when you have a team of people already in place who are so eager to join your cause.”

A time to celebrate
In some cases, “married status” can hold added significance for couples facing the specter of end-of-life decisions.

When Christian Steller, 36, and Rehanna Hanif, 35, got married on April 15 with the help of Wish Upon a Wedding, they were grappling with enormous stresses. Christian has lupus, and his kidneys were failing. Shortly before the wedding, Christian learned that his sister wanted to donate a kidney to him. Surgery was scheduled just 12 days after Christian and Rehanna’s wedding date.

“I told Rehanna, when she was debating it: Wouldn’t you rather be my wife before this transplant?” said Christian, whose surgery was a success. “You’ll have every say in the world versus just being a girlfriend or a fiancée.”

The next pair to be helped by the charity will be a same-sex couple in Washington, D.C. The two men have been together for 10 years, and they have two adopted sons from Guatemala. One of the men has been battling lung cancer since 2008, and he has been given just months to live. Their wedding is set for August.

“We grant weddings regardless of sexual orientation,” Souza said. “We want families to be able to have this special time together while they can.”

The wedding ceremonies and receptions give families an outlet to be happy together, take photos together, laugh together and dance together — precisely the kinds of moments that can fall by the wayside in the midst of a grueling health crisis.

Shelly Sundstrom, the bride mentioned at the outset of this story, was quite ill at her wedding — but on that day, she was profoundly happy. One of her surviving daughters thanked Wish Upon a Wedding with these words:

“For everything you did for her and Jay, I truly thank you. Your gifts could not have been bestowed on a more deserving woman. She passed peacefully, as Shelly Lynn Ellison. Thank you for making that possible. And I hope everyone else you touch finds the same happiness my mom did.”

To learn more about Wish Upon a Wedding, visit its website by clicking here.

Shelly Sundstrom and Jay Ellison got married on May 2 with the help of Wish Upon a Wedding.

Volunteers with Wish Upon a Wedding pulled Jay Ellison and Shelly Sundstrom's entire wedding together in just three weeks.

Rehanna Hanif and Christian Steller wed while Christian was dealing with kidney failure.

Happy memories: Jay and Shelly Ellison posed together in their donated limo on their wedding day.