At first, when 35-year-old Jen Bulik developed a cough that she couldn't shake, doctors diagnosed it as pneumonia. But when it still didn't go away with treatment, further tests showed the fateful diagnosis: Stage IV lung cancer.
Last month, after five months of treatment, Bulik received the dreaded news from her doctors: Even with continued treatment, she had less than six months to live.
"So when I heard that, I said, 'Let's get married,'" said Bulik, who had been dating longtime boyfriend Jeff Lang for six years. "Because I wanted to focus on life."
With time running out, Bulik and Lang chose to plan a simple, small wedding with close friends and family--barbecue food served on paper plates in Jen's parents' back yard.
Instead, thanks to the help of strangers, Bulik got the wedding of her dreams. Thirty Bay Area wedding vendors donated $50,000 worth of goods and services to make Bulik's wedding dreams come true.
NBC Bay Area's Garvin Thomas, who reported on this touching story, attended the wedding Saturday.
The ceremony was just as the couple imagined--outside, under sunny skies, with lots of live music, smiling faces, and a giant cheer as the groom kissed the bride.
Afterward, the couple said the term dream wedding was no understatement.
"For me, this whole process has been really difficult and today was easy," Bulik said. "We just showed up and did our thing, and it just gets more and more magical with every moment."
As for the barbecue reception, what were once pictures on a Pinterest board and hand-drawn maps sprung to life in Bulik's parents' backyard.
Wedding planner Erica Ota was on hand with a walkie talkie, making sure everything went off without a hitch.
The newlyweds say they hope their pictures can someday provide inspiration for the next couple planning their dream wedding.
Donations to Bulik and her family for a post-wedding vacation and to cover her increasing medical expenses can be made at: this link. At last check nearly 500 people had donated more than $28,000.