Sarah Lutz’s father helped her plan for the moment he had waited a lifetime to see — her New Year’s Eve wedding. But a few months before the big day, he sadly lost his battle with cancer. “He loved — and approved — my dress, and had been working on his welcome speech for a while,” says Lutz, 26, events manager at Mariano’s.
Her brother stepped in to honor their father’s memory: He took over the speech and, on New Year’s Eve, walked her down the aisle toward Elvis Oliveric, 27, principal analyst at risk management firm Standard Model Partners, as Lutz carried a photo charm of her dad in her bouquet.
A snowstorm raged outside when the Chicago couple — who met in October 2013 — said their vows at Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan. “It was special to hear our vows out loud and have them come from the heart,” the bride says. “Elvis put in little touches like, ‘I’ll always take [our dog] Taylor on a walk when it’s below 32 or you’re not feeling well.’ It meant a lot to me.”
They infused some of Oliveric’s Serbian customs into the ceremony, like when his parents gave them bread and salt as a wedding gift. “It’s an Eastern European tradition to show you’ll never go hungry and will withstand the hardships,” Lutz says. As the clock struck midnight, the newlyweds and their 150 guests raised their Champagne glasses, toasting a new beginning. “I know my dad was there with us in spirit.”