Clare Gordon was glowing at her wedding which came together perfectly at Orewa beach last Sunday.
No-one would have guessed the event was organised in just one week, after she was diagnosed with cancer.
The 29-year-old Stanmore Bay woman married Steve Gordon and celebrated with family and friends with a reception at Orewa Rotary House after a flurry of organisation that week.
Clare had been sick with a cold for 14 weeks before finding out she has a cancerous tumour in her sinus, pushing on her brain and eye.
"After a third course of antibiotics my eye was swollen and was getting pushed and I was getting severe headaches. My doctor referred me to an ear, nose and throat specialist and after some tests he discovered I had a huge mass in my sinus area," Clare says.
Tests confirmed it was cancerous.
Clare and Steve had been organising their wedding and had planned it for January 27 next year, but with the news that treatment was urgently needed everything was up in the air.
Friend Corrin Hand of Manly Beach says: "A few of us friends met Clare and Steve to talk about how we can support them and their two young children during treatment.
"Their wedding also came up and Steve suggested they bring it forward. They didn't know at the time but friend Sam Mothersole and I had been talking earlier about how we could help put a wedding together for little or no cost for them. So we let them know that we wanted to do it for them."
Steve called later that day and said they had decided to marry the next weekend, before the treatment.
"We were very surprised but we said ‘yes' and that's when it all started."
Clare says she was surprised and overwhelmed at her friends' offer.
Corrin, Sam and another friend Gemma Casson met and started calling on contacts, friends and putting requests on Facebook.
Help came from everywhere, Corrin says.
"Sam is a photographer so she did that and her husband Trin is a chef and took care of organising the food with donations from Austin's caterers. In the end we had a videographer, singer and harpist, DJ, hire equipment, waiters, wedding cars, a hairdresser and make-up artist, and donations of food including seafood, desserts, and cupcakes - all for free. People offered everything.
"It was the most amazing feeling knowing it was done out of love for them, everyone working together."
The generosity of friends and people they did not know was a shock to the couple.
Hickeys Pharmacy and a Hibiscus Coast resident both took up the challenge to supply bubbly, with people dropping donations off.
"We ended up having around 45 bottles of wine. We didn't get through it all so we are auctioning it to help fundraise," Corrin says.
Clare went shopping with her bridesmaids and the first dress she tried was perfect.
"The only thing we didn't have was a reception venue as it was such late notice. Orewa Rotary Club came on board and offered Rotary House," Corrin says.
The wedding went ahead without any problems. About 63 family members and friends came.
"Everything was so perfect you wouldn't know it was thrown together in a week," Corrin says.
"It was a really special day. No-one could manage a smile in the last couple of weeks but on Sunday everyone was so happy, the ‘c' word was forgotten.
"Even the weather played ball, rain holding off until after the ceremony and photos were finished, Corrin says.
"It was perfect," Clare says.
Her chemotherapy starts today.
Friends want to continue supporting the family and will put together a fundraising event in the next few months.
"So we are still taking donations and items that can be auctioned off for the couple," Corrin says.
If you have something to donate or wish to support the family visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/helpingclare.
Clare says: "I want to say a big thank you to everyone. We are just amazed."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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