Just over a year ago Steve and Laura Monks had every intention of saving up for a house. "We just wanted a little small cottage, something cozy, we didn't want anything grand and big. We just wanted a home to call our own," Laura told The Telegraph.
But when they found out Steve had stage three bowel and liver cancer last October they had a severe change in plans. "We wanted to [buy a house] before we got married but everything changed when we got Steven's diagnosis," Laura said.
The couple wasted no time in shifting their focus to wedding-planning. Simultaneously Steve had his bowel removed and began chemotherapy.
"As soon as Steven was diagnosed with cancer we knew we wanted to get married straightaway," Laura said. "We all wanted to have the same name and we wanted to be proper family."
With the costs of wedding-planning and Steve's treatments piling up, a nurse informed the couple about Gift of a Wedding, a UK charity that provides free weddings to couples dealing with terminal illness.
"It sounded amazing. I called the charity straightaway and filled in an application form, and days later the founder called us to say our wedding had been approved, and we have been busy planning our big day ever since," Laura said.
To Laura and Steve's surprise, their wedding in Manchester, which occurred last Friday, was entirely free. Everything including Laura's wedding dress, flowers, photos, and music was donated on behalf of Gift of a Wedding.
The beautiful ceremony followed a pink and white color scheme and even featured the couple's 3-year-old daughter, Lydia, as the flower girl.
"We couldn't believe how kind strangers were being," Laura said. "We told our friends and family about us finally getting married and no one could believe it. They couldn't get over a charity like this even existing. We are so grateful to them for making this happen."
"Steven is currently on palliative care and we don't know what the future holds, but the kindness of strangers made our day completely unforgettable," Laura said.
To learn more or donate to Gift of a Wedding, visit: http://giftofawedding.org/get-involved/