When Kolbie Sanders broke up with her fiancé, she resolved to turn her heartbreak into something good.
The 24-year-old University of Texas at Tyler student decided to call off her wedding to Skylar Cotton, an oil worker, a week before it was scheduled to happen. The couple had been together for four years and engaged for one and a half, but according to Sanders, the passion had left their relationship, and she felt it wasn’t right to go through with the wedding.
“I woke up one day and realised I didn’t want to marry him,” Sanders said. “It was short notice, but you can’t get married if you feel it won’t work out in the long run.”
Sanders spent $US3,500 on the would-be venue, Belle Vue in Tyler, Texas, which is known for its weddings and receptions. After Sanders decided to call off the festivities, Belle Vue told her she could keep her booking if she decided to get married in the future – but Sanders had something else in mind.
“By that point I thought, ‘I’d like another couple to enjoy it,'” she said.
Ex-fiancé Cotton was on board with idea, so Sanders took to Facebook to find a couple in need. The catch? She only had 24 hours to find a couple that could get married within the week.
Soon enough, Sanders was bombarded with hundreds of messages from grooms and brides-to-be, all vying for her venue. She stayed up until five in the morning, sifting through the entries, whittling it down to 45 couples and sending follow-up questions.
“I reached out to them all to make sure they were 110% sure that they could get married in a week,” she said.
Once she finalised the list, she placed all the couples’ names into a hat and randomly picked one – it was a lucky day for soon-to-be bride and groom Halie Hipsher and Matthew Jones.
The surprise was especially meaningful for Hipsher, whose grandfather is terminally ill with pancreatic cancer and is not expected to live much longer.
“As he is nearing the closing of his chapter this donation will put us a year ahead of schedule and he will be able to attend,” Hipsher wrote in her entry to Sanders. “This is more than a love story between two love birds, but also a love story between a girl and her pawpaw.”
The winning couple will also get free catering, photography, floral arrangements, and hair and makeup – all donated by people and companies that were inspired by Sanders’ generosity after her Facebook post went viral.
Hipsher and Jones also share a 7-month-old son, Riley, who will be attending the wedding at Belle Vue. But the real guest of honour? Kolbie Sanders, the original bride-to-be.
“She invited me and I am going to the wedding,” Sanders said. “I wanted to see it followed through. I want to see her get married – it will make me feel complete.”
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