It’s not every day that you hear about a wedding ceremony for an 11-year-old.
In fact, said ceremony would likely leave people feeling outraged. But for Josie Zetz, an 11-year-old girl from Murrieta, California, celebrating her wedding day at such a young age was a dream come true.
Josie’s father, Jim Zetz, was dying of stage-4 pancreatic cancer when a family friend and photographer extraordinaire took it upon herself to do something special for the father-daughter-duo.
Lindsay Villatoro of Love Song Events & Photography Inc., arranged a mock-wedding as to honor the father who would not live to walk his daughter down the isle when her big day comes.
She collected donations for Jim’s suit, Josie’s white gown, a wedding cake, catered food, and flowers for the ceremony. And she did it all in just three days.
“We didn’t really know what was going to happen –- she put it all together in 72 hours,” Jim’s wife Grace said. “She came in with three truckloads of decorations for my backyard!”
The ceremony, which took place on Josie’s 11th birthday, was complete with everything a Pinterest-Perfect wedding would have. Beautifully designed table settings, a photo booth and pretty pink cupcakes for the birthday “bride.”
Surrounded by friends and family, Jim walked his daughter down the isle, hand-in-hand just like it was her wedding day. At the end of their walk stood a pastor and Grace who looked on at the unbreakable bond of father and daughter.
For the ceremony, Jim gave Josie a token of his love in the form of a promise ring—a cherished gift she’ll keep close forever. Then the pastor pronounced them “daddy and daughter.”
Needless to say, there was not a dry-eye on the Zetzes lawn that day.
“Down the road, this will mean a lot to her,” Jim said of the wedding ceremony. “She will always remember it.”
Jim passed away a few weeks after the wedding. But not before he and Grace were able to take a cruise to Hawaii, paid for by donations from their Murrieta, California, community.
Photographer Lindsay Villatoro says she loves using her talents as an opportunity to change someone’s life for the better. She knows now that Josie will forever have a video of her father walking her down the aisle to play at her own wedding “as if he was physically there.”