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Terminally ill get dream weddings

Wish Upon a Wedding provides a day to remember for couples facing life-threatening illness.

Monica Richard has been a professional wedding planner for 16 years, but some ceremonies tug at her heart a little more than others. Especially when the officiant gets to that part about “in sickness and in health.”

As president of the Indiana chapter of Wish Upon a Wedding, Richard and other volunteers donate their time and talents to throw dream weddings for couples facing life-threatening illnesses.

Couples like Jenifer Doughman and Jeremy Smith, who were married last weekend while she awaits her second kidney transplant.

In a video on the nonprofit’s website, Doughman talks about the love of her life. “He feels like home. … That feeling of peace and happiness … and comfort. It just takes him wrapping his arms around me, and I actually don’t feel as sick as I am anymore.”

Everything from the venue and the caterer to the music and makeup is included in the wishes granted. And that takes money and in-kind donations from vendors.

On March 15, a fashion runway and bridal show at Community Life Center, 10612 E. Washington St., will help raise money for Wish Upon a Wedding.

The event, in partnership with, will feature trends in bridal decor, fashion, food and entertainment. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

Wish Upon a Wedding was founded in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2010. The Indiana chapter launched the next year and handles wishes from people in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Nationally, the group has granted 81 wishes; the Indiana chapter has granted six wishes for couples from Beech Grove, Fortville, Angola, Cincinnati and more.

“It’s a heart-wrenching process, and it happens very quickly,” Richard said, because of the serious illnesses involved. In fact, on two occasions, the groom or bride-to-be died before the wedding day, she said.

But another couple from Northern Indiana is celebrating three years of marriage and their second child after his cancer went into remission.

“To give a couple like that a wish and to see their beautiful family grow, it’s a beacon of light,” Richard said. “It’s important that we give these couples something beautiful and special.”

Couples can apply for a wedding wish at Donations also can be made on the site.

Call Star reporter Maureen Gilmer at (317) 444-6879. Follow her on Twitter: @MaureenCGilmer.

Bridal Show

When: Noon to 4 p.m. March 15.

Where: Community Life Center, 10612 E. Washington St.

Tickets: $10 (benefits Wish Upon a Wedding)., (317) 662-4933.

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