Langford father with terminal cancer has gift of 'absolutely magical' wedding

A Langford couple facing a ­terminal cancer diagnosis ­married on Monday, after a dozen wedding vendors came together to give the pair a ­special ceremony with just three days of planning.

After a whirlwind weekend, Melissa and Josh Nelson had an “absolutely magical” wedding with each of their three children present and an officiant, said Melissa, whose two sons walked her down the aisle. “We probably couldn’t have even planned it any better.”

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The couple were engaged last summer, and, like many during the pandemic, decided to put wedding plans on hold.

Josh had stage four stomach cancer diagnosed in May 2018 and was told at the time he likely wouldn’t live until Christmas. When his health started to deteriorate about a month ago, he and Melissa decided to postpone indefinitely, thinking a wedding might not be in their future.

Melissa called a boutique last week, days before the impromptu wedding, to ask about putting her wedding dress on consignment. Before she had time to follow through, she got a call asking if she still wanted to have a wedding.

It was Josh’s cousin, Brittany L’heureux, who had contacted custom wedding gown designer Lily Kennedy to ask for a miracle for a couple she sees as the “dream team.”

“These last few years is the happiest I’ve seen Josh,” she said.

Kennedy, who has some experience making wedding dreams come true for couples — she helped to organize a wedding in February for an Esquimalt woman with weeks to live — quickly said yes.

“It’s just a thing that I have to do. I just get a lot of happiness out of creating happiness for other people,” she said.

Kennedy immediately reached out to her contacts in the wedding industry, and within hours had gathered vendors to donate a venue, flowers, a wedding cake, a suit for Josh, hair and makeup for Melissa and photography to capture the day. Kennedy donated her time to hem and fit Melissa’s dress. She plans to start a foundation to organize ceremonies for couples who are facing terminal illness.

“She made sure that we really didn’t have to do anything. It was really all about us,” Melissa said.

L’heureux watched the “fairy tale” ceremony on a livestream for family and friends who couldn’t attend due to the pandemic. “I was so happy. They just made the day so beautiful,” she said.

The couple first met in 2003. Despite an immediate attraction, they didn’t get together until 2015. They’ve been inseparable since their first date, sparked by an out-of-the-blue Facebook message from Josh.

“When I first met her, I knew that I had to be with her. I didn’t know why, but I just knew that I had to be with her,” Josh said.

After years of cancer treatment, Josh recently decided he didn’t want to suffer through more chemotherapy and has been set up with hospice care. The couple are focused on enjoying the time they have left together.

“I know this last week has been just wow for them. All this right now is putting a big smile on Josh’s face,” L’heureux said.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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