An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

July 12 2018 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Lara Schneider

Thank you to the bride, Dani, for sharing this heart wrenching love story and the lessons we can all learn from it. This post is dedicated to Ben.

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis
Photos by Lara Schneider

Offbeat partner: Dani

Offbeat partner: Ben

Date and location of wedding: Friend's cabin near Seattle, WA — March 11, 2017

Budget: $2000

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

General theme/gist: We planned our wedding in two weeks and needed it to be intimate, authentic, loving, and real. We were on a tight timeline and a tight budget (more on that in a minute).

Due to circumstances beyond our control, our wedding plans changed in a major way. Ben and I had been together for 5½ years when he was unexpectedly diagnosed with stage IV melanoma in the fall of 2016. Ben’s illness put a lot of things in perspective for both of us and we got engaged a month after his diagnosis. We had originally been planning to get married in August 2017, but Ben’s care team cautioned us that he might not be feeling well by that point (they ended up being right about that).

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

During one particularly emotional day at the hospital in late February 2017, we decided that since the only things that were actually necessary for a wedding were a marriage license, officiant, the two of us, and a few witnesses, there really wasn’t any sense in waiting until August; we went to the courthouse following his treatment that day and got a marriage license. We initially planned to have a courthouse wedding, but we remembered that a friend of ours has officiated weddings in the past and might be willing to officiate our wedding, too. Lucky for us he agreed, and after speaking with him and a few other essential guests, we picked a date two weeks out and got to work planning our wedding.

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

Tell us about the ceremony:

We had a simple, non-religious ceremony on the beach. Our friends graciously offered their family cabin near Seattle, WA (in Quilcene, WA if you want to get specific) for the occasion and we had the entire beach to ourselves. Ben and I wrote our own vows and kept the ceremony short and sweet. We didn’t have any additional readings or music, but the sound of the Puget Sound provided a great (albeit LOUD) backdrop! Our weather was rainy, sunny, cloudy, and everything in between — at one point we even had rainbows and bald eagles.

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

Tell us about your reception:

Our ceremony was at 2:30pm, followed by group photos, dinner, cake, and a bonfire and games on the beach. We were limited to about 40 guests at our wedding due to the size of the cabin, but we were able to have about 15 people stay the night with us. Our decor and favors were minimal, but a friend made some great temporary tattoos of us and our pets and we had some family photos in the mix.

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

We crowdsourced a lot of our wedding and our friends all came together to help us provide a fantastic potluck burrito bar for dinner (complete with fried potatoes and secret sauce from the restaurant where we had our first date (Casa Que Pasa in Bellingham, WA). A friend baked an unbelievable multi-layer chocolate and peanut butter cake.

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

Once it got dark we had a bonfire on the beach and played several rounds of glow-in-the-dark bocce ball. It felt like a lot of our gatherings; the overall vibe was community, family, friends, love, and treasuring our time together. In the morning we had brunch, cleaned the cabin, took a walk on the beach, and headed home.

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

What was your most important lesson learned?

My husband died seven months after our wedding. The most important lesson I learned from our wedding is that when it really comes down to it, your marriage is more important than your wedding. I know from experience that it’s easy to get caught up in the little details; I cried at least three times during the planning process, and each time it was something pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things (but at the time it sure felt like the end of the world!).

What I want to share with other Offbeat Bride readers is that if you are lucky enough to have found someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with, the rest of details don’t really matter. It’s fun and also unbelievably stressful to plan a wedding, and I don’t mean to trivialize that. What I am trying to say is that none of us really know how long “the rest of your life” is going to be; for me and Ben, it was seven months. The best seven months of my life. And if we’d waited until we had more money, better weather, a larger venue, etc. it wouldn’t really have changed anything, because what was most important to us was taking this step to deepen our relationship, and we were able to accomplish that on an extremely tight budget and timeline. Cancer took so much from Ben and I, but it didn’t take our wedding or honeymoon from us, and I want others in a similar situation to know that it doesn’t have to take their dreams from them either.

An intimate bucket list wedding planned in two weeks after a cancer diagnosis

Vendors

Photographer: Lara Schneider (On a practical note, I would say that if you’re going to splurge on anything, splurge on a photographer. Ben and I loved our photos, and they are a great comfort to me now that he’s gone.) • Dress: ModCloth • Hair and Makeup: Kendall at Vine Hair Studio • Flowers: Rachel at Plantuary • Temporary Tattoos: Northwest Nina

Gallery

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. All I want to say is, I am happy that you had that time with your husband. I can’t imagine what you both felt at the time it was said, “ I now pronounce you man and wife.” If only we all would step back and really listen, learn and love each other for today. Give each other respect that we all desire and deserve. My heart is with you.

    2 agree
  2. This is my dream wedding, with the emphasis on the significance of the commitment between two people and the de-emphasis on the details of gown, flowers, favors, and all the things that don't matter in the grand scheme. We've been together 20 years, and one of the main reasons we are not married is I cannot tolerate the thought of planning a wedding. About two weeks is all that wedding planning really takes if we stay within our comfort zone and don't try to emulate the British royals.

    4 agree
    • That's right – KEEP the emphasis on the MARRIAGE – not the wedding ( which is just 1 day out of your lives ) >
      Keep things simple . I have read so many stories about people being invited to an engagement party , birthday celebration , childs christening , to find out when they arrived at the venue that the couple were about to get married.
      You do not need the big dresses, the fancy suits, retinue of attendants to have a meaningful day .

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.