"For better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
for as long as we both shall live.”
We’ve all heard these vows a time or two. Those of us who are married have even said them out loud. But few couples actually get a chance to live out these vows - long before they ever make them.
Kayla and Austin had the beginnings of a traditional love story. High school sweethearts, they met at 16 and dated throughout their Junior and Senior years. They planned to go off to Auburn together for 4 years of college too. But one word brought all their plans crashing down. Cancer.
Kayla was diagnosed in May of 2013. She courageously went to Auburn anyway - and kept up with her classes while enduring treatment. But life looked a lot different than the carefree college days she and Austin had hoped for. Instead of just football games, band parties, classes and cram sessions, her days were full of surgeries, radiation, hair loss and hospital stays. But through it all - Austin was right by her side. We have all witnessed his love and dedication to Kayla, and we were thrilled when his title changed from “boyfriend" to “fiancé” this April, and then to “husband” in May!
Kayla and Austin planned a quick destination wedding in order to keep things intimate (and to keep costs down). On May 21st they said “I Do” on the beautiful beaches of Turks and Caicos, with their families and a handful of their closest friends. But those of us back in Birmingham were not about to let them miss out on the big celebration they deserved!
You see, Kayla has done more than just courageously fight her own cancer these past few years (as if that wasn’t enough?!) After she was diagnosed, she vowed to help find a cure. So she founded Open Hands Overflowing Hearts - a nonprofit that is dedicated to raising funding for research to find a cure for pediatric cancer. While going through treatment herself, Kayla has helped raise more than $1,000,000.00, hosted countless fundraisers, celebrated the survivors, honored the lives of those taken too soon, and encouraged so many others facing this terrible disease. She has given herself fully to her cause, and watching her courage, passion, and committment has been nothing short of inspiring.
So as soon as she shared her wonderful news, we knew we wanted to do something special to bless Kayla, her (soon-to-be) husband, and her family. (And we weren’t surprised to find out we weren’t the only ones who wanted to do something special for this incredible couple!) Kayla has been an inspiration to her whole community, and so many people wanted to help her celebrate this wonderful moment in her life. And so, in just a few short weeks, wedding planner Mimi Bittick had put together an extraordinary event - at no cost to Kayla, Austin, or their families. A hair and makeup artist, flowers, food, photography, music, ice sculptures, a get-away car and a beautiful event facility were all provided free of charge, so that Kayla and Austin could celebrate here in Birmingham with every single person who loves them.
It was a beautiful night. Every detail was absolutely perfect! And to see these two love-birds in all their happily wedded bliss… there are hardly words to describe it. Just look at how they look at each other! Isn’t it obvious how much they each are adored?
Once I pulled myself away from staring at the stars in their eyes, I realized Kayla was dancing on top of her husband's shoes. She did this, barefoot, all night long. Is there anything sweeter than that?
The whole evening was full of sweetness, and it was so much fun to capture. From the adorable kids who took over the dance floor, to the elated friends who gushed over the happy couple, and the utter JOY on their families’ faces - it was a special night.
In a world that is full of negativity… this event helped restore our faith in humanity. Throughout the night, we met person after person, and company after company who happily donated their services to make this event possible. Time and time again we were reminded there is still goodness, kindness, and generosity in this world. And if anyone deserves to be at the receiving end of goodness, kindness, and generosity - it’s this couple!
People say that marriage is about refinement… and that love isn’t really true until it’s been tested. But Kayla and Austin’s love has been tested and tried - and come through the fire as pure as gold. Mr. & Mrs. Funk - thank you for reminding us that hate doesn’t win… hardship doesn’t win… cancer doesn’t win… LOVE WINS.
*Thank you to each and every person who made this beautiful event possible!*
CREDITS :: Mimi Major Bittick (The Major Event), Park Crest Event Facility, RJackson Media, The Happy Catering Company, Shindigs Catering, Yellow Bicycle Catering Company, Kathy G & Co., RickyWhitley bridaleventsflorist, Savoie Catering, Apex Valet, Brittany B Massey, Rob Conrad's Classic Cars, Kim Sims, Donna Wilson, Robert Hill, Michael Park, Hothouse Design Studio, Event Rentals Unlimited, Amerson Events, and Ice Sculptures by Chef Dave.