Florida Couple's Canceled Wedding Is Bringing Happiness to Hospitals—One Bouquet at a Time
Even the most carefully planned wedding is subject to things going wrong. Take for example, Justin Murphy and Katherine McKoy, who had been planning the perfect destination wedding for months. Justin and Katherine knew they wanted a beachside ceremony on the sandy shores of Clearwater Beach, but Hurricane Irma threw a monkey wrench in their plans.
Just as the pair was all set to say their "I dos" in front of 150 invited guests on Saturday, September 9, Hurricane Irma was barreling its way towards the Florida coastline, ravaging homes, businesses, and crops in its destructive path.
Although the couple couldn't plan for something as unexpected as a severe storm, they were prepared for it, with Justin alerting family members and friends on Wednesday, September 6, that the wedding was canceled for safety reasons. But the storm didn't stop the two from tying the knot altogether. Unfortunately, they just had to do it without all the fancy decorations and attire. Of course, it also meant they wouldn't have the picturesque backdrop of the sun, sand, and water to frame their nuptials as well.
The couple made things official at the Pinellas County Courthouse on Thursday, September 7. However, there was just one tiny little hiccup: the wedding flowers. What would they do with nearly $2,000 worth of gorgeous bouquets?
They decided not to let the flowers go to waste by finding a good home for them at nonprofit organization, Random Acts of Flowers (RAF). The charitable group obtains recycled and unused flowers, delivering them on a weekly basis to various places in the community like nursing homes and hospitals. It's RAF's belief that the sight of beautiful blooms and pretty petals may help to lift the spirits of the elderly, sick, and injured.
Justin and Katherine's flowers amounted to 170 bouquets that were distributed by Random Acts of Flowers the following week after their wedding.
"We are so glad to see a tough and sad situation turned into a positive one," Justin wrote on the nonprofit's website.
Not only did the couple's wedding flowers put smiles on the faces of the recipients, but their donation allowed RAF to achieve an incredible milestone—completing their goal of 50,000-donated bouquets. On September 18, the organization delivered its 50,000th bouquet to hurricane evacuees at Florida Hospital North Pinellas.
"I couldn't imagine coming to the 50,000 mark in four short years," said RAF's Monica Kok.
One woman, whose grandmother was in the hospital, said the flowers made her grandmother "smile like a ray of sunshine."
"It was bittersweet," said Katherine. "I knew it [donation] was going to people who would greatly appreciate them [flowers], but it was still hard to watch them go."
"Our message to all recipients would be that we send you these flowers from our hearts," Justin added. "We sent them to you in love and as a symbol of the love both Katherine and I share together. The picture-perfect dream wedding we set out for will occur sometime in 2018. For now, we focus on getting our lives back together, sharing the moments and memories that surfaced during such a challenging time, and celebrating our special love that will endure for all time."
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Random Acts of Flowers will host a fundraising event on October 27 to allow them to continue to hand out donated bouquets to people in Tampa Bay, Florida.