Special Events: What is Wish Upon a Wedding?
Sasha Souza: It is a nonprofit organization that provides weddings at destinations throughout North America for individuals facing terminal illness, regardless of sexual orientation. It was founded in January and now has 16 chapters.
Wish Upon a Wedding started when founder Liz Guthrie was working on a dream wedding giveaway and saw that there were hundreds of applicants who were facing life crises. She contacted me in late 2009 to be president of the national and founding board. I now help manage the chapters as well as act as president of the Northern California chapter.
Q: How does the program work?
A: Couples need to meet the following criteria to be considered: Over 18, not currently married, and have a doctor-verified terminal prognosis of less than three years. Once they are approved, the chapter volunteer coordinators go about contacting their chapter Wish Granters to secure the vendors.
Q: How many wishes have you fulfilled?
A: We are currently on our third wish. Our first wish was granted in Sacramento, Calif., on March 13, where we granted a wedding to a 39-year-old woman with stage IV breast cancer. Our next wishes were in San Francisco, for a groom who is in renal failure, and in Chicago, for a bride with cancer.
We grant three different types of wishes: Urgent Wishes are for fewer than 10 guests and are performed bedside for the gravely ill. Boutique Wishes are for couples with a year or less prognosis and are limited to 25 guests. Romantic Wishes are for couples with a three-year or less prognosis and are limited to 50 guests.
Q: How can event planners and vendors get involved?
A: Anybody who services the event industry can sign up to be a Wish Granter on our Web site. We need talent in every single category — lighting, catering, floral, decor, cakes, wholesale flowers, wedding gowns — you name it.
We also offer a 1 percent give-back campaign, where we are asking our peers to donate at least once 1 percent of their profit. Donations are tax-deductible, and donors receive a badge to use on their Web site.
For more information, visit www.wishuponawedding.org.