An anonymous woman in California turned the unthinkable into the unforgettable last month when, instead of cutting a cake and tossing a bouquet, she donated her wedding reception to charity.
“I was incredibly touched that a bride, facing an extremely stressful and difficult situation, was willing to look past her own pain and consider how to use the significant financial deposit for the wedding to bring joy to others,” Maria Daane, executive director of Parents Helping Parents (PHP), the San Jose-based organization that received the donation, told Fox News Digital.
The bride-to-be had to call off her wedding due to something she learned about her fiancé, NBC Bay Area reported.
But the venue and other rentals — totaling around $15,000 — were nonrefundable.
So the woman decided to turn what should have been her own happy memories into an unforgettable night for some special kids and their families.
PHP decided to use the already paid-for space to host “a party for people with disabilities 0 to 100.”
It was named the “Ball for All” — and it offered food, music, dancing and a photo booth.
Daane said she got a phone call from the family of the bride two weeks before the event.
“It took us 24 hours to figure out that our staff could make it happen [and] another two days to work with the catering manager to nail down all the event details,” Daane said.
Organizers sent out invitations — unsure of how many would come — and had all 100 seats reserved by two days before the event.
“It was hectic, but it was all worth it — watching the young adults with special needs dance to DJ Bryan in that beautiful ballroom was a wonderful way to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season.”
PHP provides support to children and adults with special needs, and also their families.
“The family of the bride shared that our agency, Parents Helping Parents, provided services for the family in support of the bride’s sibling, who has special needs,” Daane said.
“Our agency supports thousands of families each year on their parenting journey.”
The dance took place at Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Gilroy.
“It makes me feel grateful for the resilience and kindness of people — that this bride could do something so generous and thoughtful in the face of her own sadness is inspiring.”
“Nearly everyone [there] was a young adult with special needs, their parent or a member of the care team,” Daane said.
“Some of the special moments included the smiles on the faces of our VIP guests with disabilities. Their joy and delight really told the story about how special and unique this event was — the moment the ballroom was opened, and we all filed into a beautiful candlelit room with tables draped in white linen,” she added.
Guests enjoyed appetizers and a dessert bar, a photo booth with props and “indoor fireworks” to celebrate the night.
“I continue to relive the energy and joy of the evening,” Trudy Marsh Grable, whose daughter Lauren is a PHP participant, told Fox News Digital.
“It was a celebration of diversity and the gift of full acceptance,” Marsh Grable added.
“Our sons and daughters delighted in every moment. Enjoying such a special event with our children is a rare opportunity only understood if you live our lives. It was the highlight of our year.”
Theresa Oller, whose daughter is also a participant, said she was “so excited” when she heard about the ball.
“My daughter loves to party,” Oller told Fox News Digital. “She loves going out to dinner and loves music and dancing. She had a blast and danced to almost every song. It’s wonderful to see her so happy, to see everyone having a good time. We are so grateful to the family who donated such a wonderful evening.”
Daane said the generous act from the anonymous bride took her by surprise.
“I imagine weddings are canceled now and then, but never have I heard of one turned into a community party for those with disabilities and their families,” Daane said.
“It makes me feel grateful for the resilience and kindness of people — that this bride could do something so generous and thoughtful in the face of her own sadness is inspiring,” she added.
Daane, who said she has worked for nearly her entire career in the nonprofit sector, said one of the great things about it is watching people perform beautiful acts of altruism.
“We watch those with limited means make financial gifts, incredibly busy people donate time for others, those who are hurting provide comfort and solace,” Daane said.
“Though it is very unusual for someone to donate her wedding reception, it reinforces that any of us, regardless of our circumstances, can do something beautiful for others.”