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Jen Bulik and her husband, Jeff Lang, tied the knot on July 27. Even though the bride has terminal lung cancer, she chose to use this day to celebrate life and love.
But she never thought it would turn out like this.
Bulik, 35, is a hair stylist from San Jose.
Diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer this past January, doctors have given the 35-year-old San Jose woman less than six months left to live. The news came as a shock to Bulik and her boyfriend of six years, Jeff Lang. Time has been slipping quickly out of her hands, but on Saturday, Bulik was finally able to stop and celebrate life.
Wearing a flowing pastel green wedding gown and clutching flowers in her hands, Bulik walked down the aisle with her head bared.
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The couple’s 120 guests formed a circle around the bride and groom during the ceremony, to symbolize eternal love.
“I had a wig that I was going to wear,” Bulik told The News. “But then I thought about it and when I look back at these pictures I didn’t want to feel inauthentic. I wanted to be totally me.”
Bulik and Lang were planning on having a simple backyard wedding, with fold-out tables and paper plates. But when wedding planner Erica Ota heard the couple’s story, she wanted to give Bulik much more than that.
Bulik and her wedding party walked from the ceremony at a park to a reception at her parents’ house. A New Orleans Jazz band escorted them, while neighbors lined the streets with balloons.
Ota was a hospital social worker before she dove into the wedding industry three years ago. The Brown University alumni decided to donate her time to this bride in honor of all the patients she had lost to cancer over the years.
Nearly everything at Bulik’s wedding — from the flowers to the table settings — was donated by Bay Area vendors.
July 27 is prime wedding season, a time when most wedding vendors have their events booked nine months in advance. But the vendors were so touched by Bulik and Lang’s love story that some decided to hire additional staff to make sure the event went just as planned. Nearly everything at the wedding — from the gluten-free candy bar to the bridal bouquet — was offered free of charge. In total, the donations came to about $52,000.
“I’m in awe,” Bulik said. “I just feel so supported and validated for how graceful the whole process has been for me — it has come with a lot of grace.”
Sixty-five Bay Area vendors donated a total of $52,000 in professional services to make sure Bulik had her dream wedding.
During the ceremony, the bridesmaids and groomsmen danced down the aisle to Blind Melon’s “No Rain” while Bulik chose to walk to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
Bulik said that her wedding photos look just like her Pinterest board — which is what wedding planner Erica Ota used as inspiration to plan the “rustic chic” event.
Using the bride’s wedding Pinterest board for inspiration, Ota planned a “rustic chic” wedding reception, complete with mason jars, twine and lemonade.
The bride used potted succulents as wedding favors, little plants that will continue to grow when she’s gone.
Guests were invited to create their own favors at a gluten-free candy bar.
She also wore three different wigs to the reception, giving guests a surprise each time she came out.
The couple’s first dance was to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.” Listening to the lyrics — “I’m on the edge of glory, and I’m hanging on a moment of truth” — Ota said there wasn’t a dry eye in sight.
Bulik’s brother, Ben Bulik, created a peanut butter and jelly gluten-free wedding cake.
“She was glowing,” Ota told The News. “She didn’t look like somebody who was sick, who was told they have a few months to live. She was so vibrant and radiant.”
Now that the wedding is over, Bulik said she is still trying to wrap herself around the next few months. It will be tough, she says, but life can still be beautiful.
“Cancer is not easy. It takes a lot to get up in the morning sometimes,” Bulik said. “I guess what’s important is to find that source of hope within yourself and the courage to keep going forward.”
Read more: Daily News