The Charity Wish Upon a Wedding is a truly unique organization that has managed to touch my heart and of course, the hearts of many others. Liz Guthrie, the founder of the World’s First Non-Profit Wedding Wish Granting Organization, tells us what makes Wish Upon a Wedding such a one-of-a-kind organization, and explains the logistics behind the organization. Cinderella may have said that “A dream is a wish that will come true,” but that is clearly debatable. There is one thing that is for certain, however, thanks to Wish Upon a Wedding: A wedding is a wish that will come true.
1. What is Wish Upon a Wedding?
Wish Upon a Wedding is the world’s first nonprofit organization, dedicated to providing weddings for individuals facing a life-threatening illness, regardless of sexual orientation. We currently have 16 chapters available to grant wishes, all across the United States, with more opening throughout 2011.
2. What is its purpose?
The purpose of Wish Upon a Wedding is to: * Provide weddings for individuals facing life-threatening illness regardless of sexual orientation. * Celebrate the courage, determination and spirit of these couples by granting their dream wedding wishes. Our hope is that chosen recipients can inspire other couples facing similar situations to find hope and strength.
3. How does it work? Please describe the process.
Each chapter maintains a database of “Wish Granters,” based on 20 different wedding vendor categories. When a Wish is received in that area, the Volunteer Coordinators will call upon their Wish Granters to donate their professional goods and services, enabling us to provide the Wish Recipient’s dream weddings. We will provide everything from the gown to the cake, the flowers to the venue, and the music to the décor. The couple does not have to do anything but enjoy the special day surrounded by those who matter most to them.
4. Where did the idea for Wish Upon a Wedding come from? How did Wish Upon a Wedding start?
We believe that health issues shouldn’t get in the way of someone’s dream to marry their best friend. Our Founder, Liz Guthrie, a wedding planner in San Jose, CA, came up with the idea to grant weddings to terminally ill individuals, while she was producing a nationwide wedding giveaway contest. The San Francisco Dream Wedding Giveaway was a community project, where over 40 bay area wedding and hospitality vendors came together to donate a high-end wedding to a deserving couple. Liz felt it was sad that only ONE couple would benefit from the generosity of so many businesses in the wedding industry. She said getting these vendors to donate was really easy, once they knew it was for a good cause. Along with the eagerness of the wedding industry to give back, Liz noticed several couples entering the contest had been affected by terminal illness. By starting a nonprofit organization with the wedding industry in mind, she was able to merge these two concepts. The wedding industry wanted to give back, and there were people in need of our help. Wish Upon a Wedding was born.
5. Who is eligible for a wish? Who can have a wish granted? How does someone apply?
The guidelines are simple. Applicants who are at least 18 years or older, legal US Citizens, unmarried, where at least one individual has been diagnosed with less than three years to live are encouraged to apply. To receive an application, email [email protected] or call 877-305-9474.
6. How can people help?
If you are in the wedding industry, please visit our Chapter Locations page at http://www.wishuponawedding.org/ and fill out a short online form to become a Wish Granter. Those not in the wedding and event industry can also help in many ways. Cash donations are needed to cover the cost of bringing in family members for the event, as well as paying for their hotel accommodations. There are other miscellaneous items we may need funds to cover in cases of an urgent wish, or where we are unable to secure a total donation. For couples who are about to married, Wish Upon a Wedding accepts donations in lieu of gifts or favors. We also need donations of new and unused products, Airline Miles, & Hotel Room Nights. For a complete list of how you can help please visit the HOW TO HELP tab on http://www.wishuponawedding.org/
7. What is the purpose of the Annual Gala? Tell me about the Online Auction.
Every November, we will host the Annual Wish Upon a Wedding Gala, which is our biggest fund raiser of the year. The Galas will coincide with our online auction. The money we raise from these events will help us bring families together, by covering the costs associated with airfare, hotel accommodations and other miscellaneous goods and services for our Wish Recipients. This is a nationwide fund raiser, dinner and auction that will take place at ALL of our active Chapters. We encourage the wedding industry, the general public, and engaged couples to attend. Couples currently planning their weddings will find everything they need to get down the aisle in style, either AT any of our events, OR online. The online auction will run during the months of October and November, in 46 cities, and will primarily feature items needed to fulfill a total wedding production. Everything from the gown to the invitations, the cake to the catering, and the flowers to the honeymoon will be available for bidding.
8. What are the long term goals of Wish Upon a Wedding?
It is our hope that we never have to turn away a qualified applicant, which means we will one day grant hundreds of wishes. We hope to bring happiness to as many people as we can. We hope for the continued support of the wedding industry. We also will be granting wishes for same sex couples, and would ultimately like to see a change in the laws surrounding same sex marriage. Wish Upon a Wedding is also looking forward to one day expanding on a global level, with chapters throughout the world, so we can help couples in other countries.
9. To some, having a life threatening illness is a sad concept to grasp. What would you say in response to that?
Some people have a hard time with death and are afraid to talk about it, but this is a chance to bring joy into the lives of people who are struggling with health issues. We provide these couples with a wonderful way to celebrate life and love, a way to leave behind the worries of medical bills and doctor’s appointments. This is a chance for them to be surrounded by those who have meant the most to them throughout their lives, and to celebrate their relationship.
10. What separates your non-profit from others that may be designed to carry out similar functions?
There is no other organization in the country specifically designed to grant wedding wishes to terminally ill patients. Wish Upon a Wedding is filling a unique void, relying on the generosity of wedding professionals’ donated time and services.
11. What are you doing to get the word out?
All of our chapters are hosting Launch Parties, which are open to the public, before they begin granting wishes. The purpose of this is to introduce Wish Upon a Wedding to the local area, but also to begin securing Wish Granters (the vendors who will ultimately make these wedding wishes come true). Every November, we host cross country Galas. For two months surrounding those Galas, we invite the wedding industry from over 45 cities throughout the nation to donate their goods and services for our Live and Silent Auctions. These auctions will take place both online and at each Gala. This is a totally new concept being introduced to the world of wedding planning. Our Wish Upon a Wedding Auctions allow engaged couples to shop for everything needed to plan their own weddings, with all proceeds helping us to make wedding wishes come true. For up to date information, we maintain a Facebook fan page where we post frequently, as well as a Twitter page for shorter pieces of information. Our website features a blog, with stories of our past wedding wishes. Please visit our website at Wish Upon a Wedding to find out all the ways you can be involved and to learn even more about Wish Upon a Wedding!
12. What else should we know about Wish Upon a Wedding?
Everyone should know that these are smaller events, usually less than 50 people and can take place any day of the week. It is best for wish applicants to be flexible with their date. Wish Recipients must agree to one thing: Let Wish Upon a Wedding take care of all the details. They should be ready to relax, enjoy this special day with their family and loved ones, and know that they are in the best of hands. They will be pampered!