As if planning a wedding wasn’t already stressful enough, the recently engaged Samantha and Taylor have been through a lot lately. In fact, they even had to cancel their dream wedding venue in Mexico after hearing some terrible news about the bride’s mother regarding her health.
Luckily, Samantha and Taylor didn’t sign the contract for the venue yet and were able to cancel before they finalized the deal.
At the time, Samantha couldn’t wait to share all of the details with her mom Kathy, but she noticed that something was off when she told her about the wedding in Mexico.
“She’s the happiest, most spirited person you will ever meet, but she wasn’t as excited about it as I thought she’d be,” the soon-to-be bride told PEOPLE.
“Taylor immediately said, ‘If that’s the case, we’re abandoning that idea [of having the wedding in Mexico],’” Samantha recalls.
The two then decided to refocus their efforts to a wedding more closeby. They picked San Diego as a location, as Samantha went to college there.
The wedding planning could start all over again, and the two lovebirds were about to sign a contract for a new wedding venue.
“I got a phone call in the middle of the night, from my mom and sister,” she told.
Her mother had to be hospitalized in the middle of the night because of excruciating pain. Just a year before, Kathy was dealing with stage 2 colon cancer, and Samantha feared that the disease had come back.
“The doctor came in and said, ‘It looks as though her colon cancer has metastasized to her liver.’ I still remember it, because of how the doctor delivered it: ‘The prognosis doesn’t look good.’ It felt like my whole world was upside down.”
Once again, the wedding plans were put on hold.
“It’s a whole new realm of life,” she told. “But I can’t think of doing anything else. I have to be here with her.”
Even though the wedding was temporarily shelved, Samantha wanted to make sure that her mom would still be able to witness her special day.
“It’s something I worry about, if she’ll make it. But her outlook on being there is, ‘Absolutely, I am going to be there in the front row. I’m going to see you tie the knot.’ Regardless of her physical condition, the fact that she’s mentally motivated and staying positive is great. It’s given us something to focus on other than what’s hard right now.”
Samantha and Taylor knew that their love could overcome everything. The two lovebirds first laid eyes on each other at a baseball game. Taylor was playing, and Samantha decided to cheer and root for him. They exchanged numbers, went on a date and the rest is history.
“It’s just made us even stronger,” Samantha says. “I feel like in these challenging moments, it solidifies more than anything that we have a strong relationship. We’ve not wavered in the least.”
The future bride was looking for all sorts of quick ways to get married on Google, and she accidentally came across a competition held by The Knot. The grand prize was an all-expenses-paid dream wedding, and people could nominate a couple to receive that whopping surprise.
“I thought, ‘Is this really happening right now?’ ” Samantha told. ‘This is what you need to do and we’re nominating you,’ her friends said to her. “I was brought to tears.”
It didn’t take long before the couple’s story spread and they ended up being one of the six final competitors.
“We delved into everyone’s stories and they were all so worthy.”
As fate would have it, Samantha and Taylor eventually won the grand prize – a dream wedding where everything would be taken care of perfectly.
“It’ll be a unique wedding story to tell our kids someday,” Samantha said. “It’s fitting for our whole situation. And we just want to get married. We’ve always said the most important wedding detail is each other, and everything else will fall into place.”
The couple had a perfect first song choice in mind, the country hit “Love You Like That” by Canaan Smith.
“We chose a song that’s very catered towards us as a couple… not one of the traditional first dance songs,” Samantha told. “Just listening to the song makes us both smile and reminds us of each other and our love for one another,” Taylor added.
When it was finally time for the first dance, Samantha and Taylor were surprised to see that the band was behaving very strangely. They went ahead and performed the first few bits of the song, but then suddenly stopped. “We have a better idea,” they announced.
When Samantha turned her back, she saw none other than the country star Canaan Smith, who hopped on an airplane with his wife to crash the wedding and share this beautiful moment with the newlyweds.
Despite all of the earlier struggles and difficulties, Samantha and Taylor experienced the most beautiful day of their lives. A dream wedding indeed!