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Saanich designer organizes free weddings for couples facing terminal illnesses

Saanich, B.C. -

It was no surprise that Lily Kennedy grew-up to create custom wedding dresses for a living.

“I love love,” the designer says. “I’ve watched true love my whole life.”

Not only did Lily’s parents fall in love at first sight; days later, when her mom Susan left for a trip, her dad Nicolaas wrote Susan letters every day until she came home.

They were engaged six weeks later.

“My whole life, he would say, ‘Look how beautiful [your mom] is,’” Lily smiles.

Nicolaas expressed countless caring words to Susan over the decades, until Alzheimer’s robbed him of all of them, but three.

“The only thing he says now is ‘I love you’ to my mom,” Lily says, fighting back tears.

Which brings us to when Lily happened to hear about Kandy and Donnie — an engaged couple too overwhelmed by cancer treatments to say ‘I do’ — and contacted them.

“I said, ‘I don’t want to overstep at all,’” Lily recalls. “‘I wondered if you wanted me and everyone I know to put on a wedding for you?’”

“And I was like in tears,” Donnie Musgrove remembers, before telling his fiancée Kandy Harry, who was in hospice care in their home. “It was a release of all the doom and gloom and there was hope.”

After Donnie and Kandy said yes to the offer, Lily put out a call to her wedding community for help. A team of professionals agreed to donate all their goods and services, and stage a ceremony for the couple in just four days.

“Everything else was forgotten about. It was amazing,” Donnie says. “That was something [Lily] gifted from her heart.”

While Kandy died a month later, Donnie says the joyful memories their family made that day endure.

“I just want to see other people happy,” Lily says.

Lily has organized three more free wedding since then, for couples in the same situation. She and her team have condensed years worth of planning into days, and donated countless hours and thousands of dollars so people can celebrate their love in a big way before it's too late.

“If you can help somebody and make somebody’s day amazing,” Lily says. “Why wouldn’t you?”

That's why Lily is now committed to continuing to spread the kindness. She launched Anna’s Angels, a venture named after her late sister-in-law, to officially produce special events for people who are terminally ill.

“They don’t have every day to look forward to,” Lily says. “So they just need one special happy day.”

Which brings us back to Lily’s dad who, moments before taking his final breath, somehow found a way to say not just three words to his beloved Susan — but four.

“I love you forever.”

And because of Lily Kennedy, despite a couple’s darkest days, their brightest wedding memories will last forever too. Top Stories

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