Amanda and Rick were officially married, no frills, on August 9, 2013. Ten years later, after a devastating diagnosis and Amanda’s health deteriorating, the couple was hoping to have the “real” wedding they didn’t get the first time. With the help of some generous local wedding professionals, this deserving couple was gifted the wedding vow renewal of their dreams.
Rick and Amanda’s Story
Although they had been friends since middle school, romantic sparks didn’t begin to fly for Amanda and Rick until sometime around 2011. They married a couple of years later in 2013, and Rick legally adopted their daughter, Aislin, in 2021, which he says was long overdue and the most beautiful moment.
The couple tells us, “We did not have a wedding at all when we got married due to our personal circumstances at the time. We also didn’t feel it was necessary to move forward with uniting as one in love and figured we would have a wedding vow renewal someday when we could afford it or the time was right.”
In June 2020 everything changed. Amanda was diagnosed with stage 4 Melanoma or skin cancer. The couple knew there was no time to put off their hopes and dreams any longer. Rick was right there to support her.
“Given Amanda’s health and the severity of her diagnosis, we began working through wishes and bucket lists. One of which was to have a dream wedding ceremony and reception where we could share our love in front of our family and friends, have Amanda’s dad walk her down the aisle, allow our daughter to participate, take photographs, video, and core memories,” Rick shares.
Weddings are expensive and by this time Amanda was no longer working. Combined with the medical expenses for treatment, a wedding vow renewal still wasn’t affordable. They sought non-profit support only to learn that there are none in Florida specifically for weddings.
Finally, A Lead!
With their 10th anniversary approaching, the couple refused to give up. In June of 2022, Amanda reached out to a friend in the wedding industry, Jenn Warrington with Party Shots Orlando, to see if she knew of any local organizations that could help out with their wedding vow renewal.
Jenn tells us, “Amanda and I were friends in high school. We remained friends after high school touching base with each other periodically. As with life, we both got busy with jobs, husbands, and kids and then became “social media friends”.
When Amanda reached out I didn’t know how bad her cancer had gotten, but I knew God put it on my heart for a reason. I was meant to help in finding a way for her to walk down the aisle.”
Jenn was initially denied by a local wedding organization as well. Then, on August 12, 2022, Amanda and Rick received the reply from Jenn they’d been praying for.
Alright…let’s give you a wedding!
“I mentioned it to Shannon Tarrant and Christy Subler. Both were instantly on board and I knew Amanda was in the BEST hands. Shannon hit the ground RUNNING! She absolutely understood that time was precious and she didn’t waste any of it! Between Shannon and Christy, they had the whole wedding vow renewal planned and donated,” Jenn says.
Little did anyone know, Shannon had a personal connection to Amanda’s story, making her the perfect candidate for this task.
Shannon shares, “What neither Jenn nor Amanda knew was that I lost my father at 17 years old to Melanoma. So, I could see myself in the eyes of Amanda’s daughter, Aislin, and her family and friends. I was there as my dad was living out some of his dreams in the last year of his life.
I knew what it would mean to have the opportunity to celebrate their love, bringing all of the most important people they loved together in one place before it was too late.
I believe in the power of signs and this felt like my dad brought Amanda and Rick right to me so I could help her shower Rick with love.”
As you can imagine, Amanda and Rick were thrilled (and a little shocked) that they were going to get the wedding vow renewal they’d been hoping for!
“When Shannon reached out it was surreal. Shannon was so charismatic about it and just like, “We’re having a wedding!” It didn’t feel real pretty much the entire time, but oh how exciting it was nonetheless!
When we told our family and friends they freaked with excitement! We didn’t even tell our parents for a while because as previously mentioned, it seemed surreal and we wanted to make sure everything was actually going to go forward before telling our loved ones.”
Planning the Wedding Vow Renewal
When we say “wedding vow renewal” you might be imagining a quiet, simple ceremony. This was anything but quiet and simple! The team Shannon and Christy put together went all out. They followed a full wedding day itinerary starting at 8:30 am with hair and makeup and ending the reception at 9:30 pm complete with a sparkler exit.
A full-scale wedding requires lots of planning. Shannon shares how they made it happen so quickly while incorporating as many personal touches from Amanda and Rick’s vision as possible.
“Amanda and I met over Zoom in the fall of 2022 so I could learn more about their story and her vision for the wedding that she never had. I wanted to make sure that we would be able to accomplish her dream before we committed to moving forward.
She was so laid back and appreciative of us even considering helping. While she liked a boho style, she was completely open to ideas and willing to sacrifice if needed to make it all work.”
“We are VERY blessed at Wedding Venue Map to have an amazing group of high-quality Trusted Vendors. We all believe that working in the business of love is a gift, getting to be there on the most important day of a couple’s life.”
The first step was to find a venue that not only matched Amanda & Rick’s style and location needs but also had a weekend date still available in January or February 2023. Shannon’s first call was to Holly, the owner of Bending Branch Ranch.
“When she heard their story, she immediately opened up her calendar to us and gave us a few dates,” Shannon says.
Next was to reach out to confirm the wedding planner. Christy with Anna Christine Events has participated in a wedding giveaway for a couple in need in the past so it made sense that Shannon reached out to her first to confirm her availability.
“Christy’s calm demeanor and amazing ability to help plan an entire wedding in a short timeframe made her a top choice,” Shannon explains.
With the planner, venue, and photobooth company committed – it was time to find a date that worked for everyone. Sunday, February 12th ended up being that perfect date.
From there it was just a matter of going category by category through the Wedding Venue Map member list and reaching out to the companies that would not only match the couple’s vision but go above and beyond to make their wedding vow renewal just perfect.
Shannon recalls, “Only one vendor we asked wasn’t available on the date. Other than that, every single company was an enthusiastic “yes”! They all jumped into action working with the couple to bring their vision to life.”
As for Amanda and Rick, what was once a bucket list item turned surreal moment, was now their firm reality. They jumped into the wedding planning process with gratitude and excitement, so much so that it was really difficult for them to choose a favorite moment.
“All of it!” they said. “Meeting the lovely humans who made this possible, planning with our family and best friends, dress shopping for Amanda, etc. The most important thing was just to be with our loved ones, create memories and document it all via photo/video.
We tried to be very mindful of everyone’s generosity and did not want to be too over the top, so we tried to be super flexible with everything.”
Were there hiccups along the way? Of course. Rick shares that at one point close to the date of the wedding vow renewal Amanda was dealing with some less-than-desirable side effects causing her some concern about her appearance from certain angles.
The team was so understanding and accommodating. Amanda felt beautiful despite the aforementioned side effects.
Shannon, who had the pleasure of being part of the team on-site on the wedding day, shares a few of her favorite moments from the process:
- Dress shopping with Amanda, her daughter, her mom, and a few of her friends. I was there with them at The Bridal Finery to see her choose the perfect dress.
She texted me afterward and thanked me – saying that she forgot she had cancer that day.
- While getting ready, Amanda and her teenage daughter Aislin had the whole morning together to just connect.
- The look on Rick’s face as Amanda came down the aisle – you could actually feel the love.
- Watching Amanda dance like no one was watching!
“From the bottom of my heart, I’ll never be able to thank these wedding vendors enough for stepping up and donating their time and energy.
Amanda kept asking me how much things would cost. Every time I connected her to the next vendor, I told her it was FREE! She could not believe everyone’s generosity,” Shannon says.
The couple incorporated some personal touches into their big day. Amanda’s style of elegant boho with greenery and soft blushes was brought to life and they chose a few special songs including a violin performance by Gary Lovini- The King of Strings who learned to play Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” at the couple’s request.
Videography by Northwood Films
Their wedding vow renewal was officiated by Dr. Larry Linkous, Pastor, and Founder of New Life Christian Fellowship. “We were able to include our pastoral family in the officiation and blessing of our vow renewal. Recommitting our lives before Christ was very important and special to us,” the couple says.
“Every single thing was perfect and special in its own unique way. The team did an incredible job bringing it all together,” Amanda adds.
We can all learn something valuable from Amanda and Rick’s beautiful love story. They remind us to live in the moment and be present with our loved ones. They are a reminder that love, in all its forms, is powerful.
We are also reminded that our community, like this group of wedding professionals, can make a difference and restore our faith that there is so much good to be found in the world.
A special thank you to the venue, vendors, and individuals who contributed to Amanda and Rick’s wedding vow renewal.
Wedding Venue: Bending Branch Ranch
Wedding Planning: Anna Christine Events
Photos: Cona Studios
Wedding Dress: The Bridal Finery
Bouquet & Boutonniere: The Flower Studio
Bar Service: Beck ‘N Call Bartenders
Cocktail Hour Display and Hors D’oeuvres: Confectionately Confections
Buffet Dinner: Mission BBQ
Table Chargers; Design One
Centerpieces: Wedding Day Flower Rental
Table Linens: Connie Duglin Linen
Invitations and Signage: Christine Kirby Studios
Cocktail Hour Music: Gary Lovini Violinist
DJ, Lighting & Cold Sparks: Press Play Entertainment
Hair and Makeup: M3 Makeup
Photobooth: Party Shots Orlando
Wedding Cake: Sweet Miss V’s
Videographer: Northwood Films
Officiant Dr. Larry Linkous
Amanda Darlene Hunt passed away on March 11, 2023, surrounded by loved ones. Amanda’s obituary tells the story of a woman who was so much more than just her battle with cancer.
She was a wonderful mother to her daughter Aislin, the embodiment of faith in God, a loving wife, daughter, and friend, a successful attorney, and a passionate writer who turned her diagnosis into fuel to educate and support others suffering from Melanoma around the world.
Amanda leaves these words of advice,
“Listen to each other and communicate often. Talk through important topics such as finances, raising children, etc., and never go to bed angry. Always lead with love, even during disagreements.
Stay true to your commitment–in sickness and in health. -Amanda Hunt
Support each other’s dreams. Engage in separate hobbies/interests. Never revert to name-calling (the tongue holds the power of life and death). Take lots of photos/videos. Recognize that this all ends–sometimes sooner than we’d like–so never take each other for granted.”
For more information about Melanoma and how to properly protect yourself, please visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.
You can read more from Amanda on her personal blog Love and Sunblock.