Knowing he won’t be around the day his 11-year-old daughter eventually gets married, a terminally-ill father walked his little girl down the aisle in a surprise California wedding ceremony.
Lindsey Villatoro is a photographer and founder of Menifee, Calif.-based Love Song Photography who offers photography sessions for clients with terminal and serious illnesses. She was referred to the family of 62-year-old Jim Zetz, who is battling stage-four pancreatic cancer.
Villatoro intended to go to Jim and Grace Zetz’s home to do a photo shoot for their daughter, Josie, on her final birthday with her father. But she soon got a better idea—to turn the celebration into a full-blown “wedding” ceremony.
“I have an 11-year-old daughter and knew Josie’s birthday was coming up,” Villatoro told the Press-Enterprise. I also knew it would be the last birthday with her dad. If I was Josie, this would be the best gift anyone could give.”
With the help of friends and business associates, Villatoro created a dreamy wedding scene in the Zetzes backyard for young Josie. Hairstylists and makeup artists primped Josie, who wore a lacy white gown.
After Jim Zetz walked Josie down the aisle and placed a promise ring on her finger, Pastor Gary Galbraith pronounced them “daddy and daughter.”
“They want to get his story out, to let people know Jim and to feel a part of his family,” Villatoro told the Huffington Post. “There is going to come a day very soon when he’s not here. So, for everyone to see those moments inside their family and connect with them is a really big thing for them. They feel very blessed … The goal when I do these things is to preserve that person. Most people focus on the death and not the beauty of that person, who they were and the memories they leave.”
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond