For better or worse: Terminally ill man marries soul mate
IT WAS a bittersweet moment for Lachlan and Alisha Summers as friends and family cheered loudly when the Casino couple were pronounced husband and wife.
It was not unlike other weddings - elegant, emotional, beautiful.
But when it came to the vows, the meaning behind the brave couple's words held an unspoken message.
"When I say that I love you more ... I mean that I love you more than the bad days ahead of us," Lachlan said to his new wife.
"I love you more than any fight we'll ever have and any obstacle that could try to come between us because I love you the most."
The groom was recently diagnosed with stage four terminal metastatic melanoma.
"Lachlan, when you cry I promise to wipe away your tears, when you are scared I promise to hold your hand, when you laugh I will laugh with you, when you hurt I'll take the hurt and make it mine, when I say I love you I mean I love you forever," Alisha replied.
Instead of focusing on his terminal cancer, Lachlan chose to celebrate life yesterday when he married Alisha on a sunny afternoon at Shelly Beach in Ballina.
My Wedding Wish, a national charity that gifts weddings to terminally ill people, was touched by the couple's story.
Together with the generosity of local businesses, they made Lachlan and Alisha's dream wedding happen.
The newlyweds said their special day felt like "a long time coming".
Lachlan said getting married "sealed" their love after a seven-year engagement, and it was important to show their six kids "mum and dad are married".
Getting married at the beach was what they had always wanted - it is a special "go-to family place".
"We met in high school and were in the same year, but met a fair few years down the track at a friend's New Year's Eve party," Alisha said.
"He's my soul mate.
"(The diagnosis) changed everything. It just makes you think the things you thought were important are not important any more and you just focus on living each day with family to the most we could."
The couple thanked the community for putting together such a special day, and said without them it would not have happened.
"It's nice to see the small community of Casino and surrounding towns can get together and provide us with a wedding that we wouldn't have been able to afford," Alisha said.
My Wedding Wish co-ordinator Kath Murphy said the community support was inspiring for the first ceremony of this type on the Northern Rivers.
A wedding organised by My Wedding Wish relies heavily upon the generosity of professional wedding suppliers who are registered with My Wedding Wish Australia, alongside invaluable community fundraising efforts
"It's a very special moment at the best of times but today was particularly special," Ms Murphy said.
"To be able to gift something like a wedding you can't even put a price on it ... they do have a lot of expenses ahead of them so to be able to take the financial and organisational stress away from them, while also working closely with them to tailor their special day was a lovely thing.
"They were blown away and seemed incredibly overwhelmed by everyone's generosity. I had no shortage of people coming forward to offer to help.
"It shows when it gets tough we come together really well as a community."
Ms Murphy said couples or people on behalf of a couple put in a formal application supported by medical reports and doctor's interviews to ensure the integrity of the charity.
"It may be as small as a simple bedside ceremony or it could be all the bells and whistles like we tried to produce for Lachlan and Alisha," she said.
"When you get a terminal diagnosis it's all consuming and to be able to focus on something positive and beautiful and to be surrounded by love and generosity I think is incredibly important."
The wedding was made possible by:
- Kerry Thomson - Alstonville Florist
- Amy Lowe - Feathers & Lace Photography Group
- Anita Loneragan - Friday Hut Studios
- Debbie Stark - DJ Deb Lismore
- Ally Deegan - K & E Makeup and Lashes
- Jade N Geoff Stevens - Jade Stevens Special Event Hairstylist
- Kaye Adam - Kaye adam creative hair & make up
- Sharon Roberts 'Tritton' - Boho Limo Event Hire
- Nadine Mckenery-Fry - Light It Up Event Hire
- Vicki Higgins - A Touch of Elegance Wedding & Party Hire
- Casey Jones - Rainbow Conception
- Kristy Saad - Affordable Beauty
- Jacinta Fahey - The Suit Up Den
- Casey Withers - Bliss Bridal & After 5
- Felicity Jay - Black Tie Photobooths
- Polly Esta Face Painter & Kids' Entertainer
- Casino Golf Club
- Amanda Butler - The Fitting Specialist
- Ramada Hotel & Suites Ballina Byron
- Kath Murphy - Married by Kath - Celebrant