Every parent dreams of seeing the day their child walks down the aisle and marries their true love.
However, for 20-year-old Jony Lee, her mother was unsure if she would see her daughter’s big day.
Jony and her husband, Alistair, have known each other since they were 5 years old. However, they only started dating three years ago.
Going to the same primary and high school in the Auckland suburb of Flat Bush, Jony said she had had a crush on Alistair since year two.
However, as a young Alistair was very popular at school, Jony never dreamt he would speak to her.
Two years ago Jony’s mother, Luna Macapagal, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her health has been up and down since.
Jony described her mother as a fierce warrior who, despite her poor health, continued to work while going through treatment.
Jony told the Herald her mother said she’d love to see the pair marry, often joking about it.
“She would rather see it now rather than when it’s too late,” Jony said.
After three years together, at the age of 20 years old, Alistair proposed to Jony on October 21 at Auckland’s Botanical Gardens.
The couple told the Herald they both knew at some point in their lives they would marry, but did not believe it would be this soon.
Before proposing, Alistair asked Luna for her permission
Jony said her mother was very happy.
“He [Alistair] asked my mum for her permission and she was like, ‘yes let’s do it’.
“Alistair and her [Luna] talked about it when he asked for her permission and they thought a month would be fine, it would be right after her 50th birthday.”
After the proposal, the pair married exactly a month later at Alley Estate on November 21.
“The number 21 is special to us … he asked me out on February 21 and then he proposed on October 21 and then we married on November 21.”
Three weeks before the wedding, the engaged couple approached photographers Pia and Anaru Church of Songbirds Photography.
“From the initial meet we knew these two [bride and groom] were pretty special, especially after they explained the plans for the wedding day,” Anaru told the Herald.
The couple explained to Anaru and his wife the reason for getting married so quickly.
Lee and Alistair then let Anaru and Pia into a little secret.
During their wedding reception, the newlywed couple planned to surprise their guests by shaving their hair in honour of Lee’s mother.
Anaru said: “Even in the initial meet we were like balling our eyes out, I think we cried like three times during the initial meeting because we were so blown away by these two.”
Jony said it was her husband who came up with the idea to surprise their guests and shave their hair at the wedding.
“When Alistair proposed to me he was like why don’t we do it at the wedding.”
When he told her his idea, Jony said her she was all for it.
When the big moment came on their wedding day, Jony said “there was no anxiety or no bad thoughts”.
After their first dance together, guests including Jony’s parents thought the couple would do a traditional Filipino dance where guests would give the couple money.
But that was not the case.
The wedding MC said the couple had an announcement, with Jony making it clear to the guests that she was not pregnant.
“I said ‘we are not doing the dance we are actually doing something different’.
“I said whatever money you were supposed to give us in the traditional Filipino dance we will be giving it to the cancer society and then everybody was confused.
“Then the wedding co-ordinator came up with the shaver and I was like now we are going to shave our heads.
Guests then had the opportunity to donate money which would then be given to the Cancer Society.
“We just sat down and Alistair started shaving his head.”
At that moment, Jony said, everyone in the room was in a state of shock.
While the pair’s hair was being shaved, Jony said she was happy.
“Everyone was crying but I’m the kinda of person to find the good out of what was happening.”
Both of Jony’s parents felt “very proud”.
Photographer Anaru said their was a lot of emotion in the room, calling it an “infectious atmosphere”.
“You had the shaving of the head, you had mum crying in the background, you had all the relatives cheering, crying ruffling through their wallets to find money.
“There was emotion happening at every angle,” he said.
Pia Church was also brought to tears.
Despite the tears from guests, Anaru said the feeling in the room was of “joy” and “triumphant”.
After the couple’s hair was shaved, Anaru said the room then turned into a “pure celebration”, with everyone starting to dance.
On the wedding night, the coupled raised $1400 for the Cancer society.
Days later guests continued to donate, bring the amount raised to $2000.
Jony created a Givealittle page so others can donate to the charity which personally helped Luna during her treatment.
The fundraising response from guests, friends and family was “overwhelming”.
“With my mum, everyone who has helped us with her journey has been so kind if they need more [money] to make the experience for future people or people now better.
“It’s amazing that we were able to reach out to them [guests] and make them proud.”
Luna was also able to walk her daughter down the aisle, which Jony said was “really special”.
“I want my mummy to walk me down the aisle … the wedding was kinda her idea, she had an input into it so I thought why not put her in the show.”
Not only was Luna able to see Jony get married, but Jony’s eldest sister also married two months prior to her wedding, which her mother was able to attend.
Although Luna is still unwell, Jony said her and her family are “happy she is still with us”.
Luna is “over the moon” that she was able to see both her daughter walk down the aisle.
The young newly weds are both studying to become chiropractors and still have a few years of study left.
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