Josie Zetz is 11 years old. Her father, Jim, has stage IV pancreatic cancer, which means he might not see her next birthday, much less her wedding.
With the knowledge that Jim would likely not be around to walk Josie down the aisle, local photographer Lindsey Villatoro decided to make a lifelong memory for the pair on Josie’s 11th birthday. With support from friends and strangers, Villatoro put on a special “daddy-daughter” ceremony, complete with a wedding cake, presents and a bridal dress for Josie.
At the climax of the backyard ceremony, Jim, 62, walked his daughter down the makeshift aisle and placed a ring on her finger.
“Your dad may not get to see you get married, but he is here to walk you down the aisle today,” pastor Gary Gilbraith told Josie, according to the Press-Enterprise. “The daddy-daughter relationship is one of the most special relationships in life.”
Villatoro first met the Zetzes when she shot them for a family portrait. Hearing how Josie was upset by the prospect of her dad missing the important moments of her life, the photographer, who has an 11-year-old daughter herself, hatched a secret idea.
“One day [you] wake up and realize you’re given the opportunity to change someone’s life for the better,” she wrote after the ceremony. “You get an idea, don’t think twice, and run with it.”
At the end of the ceremony, Jim and Josie ducked out of the backyard to share some private moments and conversation.
“Down the road, this will mean a lot to her,” Jim told the Press-Enterprise, crying. “She will always remember it.”
[IMAGE “4” “” “std” ]See Villatoro’s video of the ceremony below:
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