A Toronto bride is thanking a total stranger for making her wedding dreams come true.
Jacqueline Stein, a globe-trotting blogger and business owner, met and fell in love with Fidel Gamboa while on vacation in Cuba in 2016.
After months of navigating a long-distance relationship, the pair became engaged in March of this year. When immigration issues put a wrench in the couple’s plans for a wedding in Canada, the pair chose to invite friends and family to Cuba instead.
Although the couple tied the knot in a romantic ceremony outside of Havana in August, two of the most important people in Stein’s life were unable to attend.
“My grandmother is very sick with a very serious illness,” Stein told Yahoo Canada. “There was no way my grandfather was going to leave her. I’m the oldest grandchild and we’re very close. My grandfather is my best friend; to have them miss my nuptials was heartbreaking for the entire family.”
When she returned to Canada, Stein began planning a special wedding photoshoot with grandparents, 92-year-old Hy and 89-year-old Diane Granofsky.
“I wanted them to feel like they were a part of my wedding, even though they couldn’t travel,” she explained. “I told them that when I came back I would come visit in my wedding dress.”
Stein took to Bunz, an online trading community, to source a photographer for a special request for “wedding” photos with her grandparents.
“The Bunz community is filled with such talented and generous people,” she said. It was there that she came across the work of Jessica Salemme of Whim & Willow Photography, who was offering her creative services for trade. Stein reached out to Salemme and explained the circumstances surrounding the photoshoot.
Salemme says Stein’s request resonated with her immediately. Like Stein, Salemme is very close to her grandparents, and was even walked down the aisle by her grandfather at her wedding last year.
“I couldn’t imagine my grandparents not being at my wedding,” Salemme told Yahoo Canada. “I knew that if I was in her shoes, I’d want to try and create some memories, too.”
Instead of accepting payment, Salemme travelled to the Granofsky’s retirement home outside of Toronto as a gift to the bride and her family.
“Jacqueline radiates so much positivity and powerful femininity,” Salemme said. “She’s just a really nice person and I’m so happy that an experience like this allowed me to meet someone so wonderful.”
Salemme happily took photos of the bride and her grandparents and members of their family. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Salemme put on one of the songs that was played at Stein’s wedding so that the bride could share a dance with her grandfather.
“She could not have been more wonderful,” Stein said of Salemme. “Not only is she incredibly talented, but she’s also one of the most generous and kind people I’ve ever met. We live in a big city, but there’s such a strong sense of community here, filled with people who are open to helping other people.”
Stein says she is grateful for the photos of the two people who she calls “the loves of her life.”
“I’m 33-years-old and I’m so blessed to still have my grandparents in my life,” Stein said. “These people are my everything– I look at these photos and my body just beams. I know I’m going to look back on these photos in the future and be so happy that I was able to have these memories. ”