A father’s duty never ends, but at his daughter’s wedding, the symbolism of a daddy giving his little girl away on her wedding day is a treasured tradition that has spanned centuries. It is a father’s duty to symbolically, lovingly give the care of his precious little girl to the groom.
Jim Zetz , who is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer, knows that he has little time left with his family and that he will not have the opportunity walk his little girl down the aisle on her wedding day. Knowing that time was short, he and his wife, Grace booked a last family portrait session with photographer, Lindsey Villatoro.
Lindsey, who owns Lovesong Events and Photography, is a wedding and portrait photographer who, in her spare time, teams up with charities and cancer organizations to photograph terminally ill patients to help them tell their stories through photographs. Among the charities Lindsey partners with, Michelle’s Place, Never Give Up and City of Hope, Lindsey does rare, heartbreaking sessions, with families that have recently lost a loved one, families that are facing the death of a loved on and also anencephalic baby sessions. In these particular sessions, she documents the maternity session, delivery and funeral for a family whose baby have little chance of survival outside of the womb.[REWIND: PHOTOGRAPHER HONORS SISTER’S MEMORIES IN RECREATED WEDDING PORTRAITS]
After her session with Jim and Grace, and their 11 year old daughter Josie, Lindsey posted on her website, as she often does for these families, a request for donations to make Josie’s birthday, which was a few days away, extra special. It would be the last one she would celebrate with him.
Grace had mentioned to Lindsey that Josie was “so emotional about her dad not being there for memories down the line, so I figured we would make some now,” recounts Lindsey, which sparked an idea. She wanted to surprise Josie with a special memory that Josie would be able to carry with her when her daddy was gone. In 72 hours, Lindsey brought together a hair stylist, makeup artist, pastor, wedding cake, dress, flowers and even a promise ring. Lindsey with the help of Grace, kept the secret until the day of Josie’s 11th birthday, March 14th. Jim would get to walk her daughter down the aisle.
‘Down the road, this will mean a lot to her,’ Jim said. ‘She will always remember it.’ Josie told her mother the next day that it was the “BEST day of her life.”
“The goal when I do these things is to preserve that person. Most people focus on the death and not the beauty of that person, who they were and the memories that they leave,” says Lindsey.
Watch the beautiful video, “Walk Me Down the Aisle Daddy” from the special ceremony below.
To see more of Lindsey’s work, please visit her website.
And special thanks to the vendors who donated their services to make it all possible, The Mill, Nothing Bundt Cakes, elyseREUBEN Custom Couture Gowns, Sears, Murrieta VIP Florist, Finicky Flowers, Gary Galbraith, Allie’s Party Rental, Touched By Time Vintage Rentals, Art By Kelly, Craftalicious Mama, Helen Saragosa, Michelle Washington, Salon O, Friar Tux Shop.
CREDITS: All photographs by Lindsey Villatoro are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.