They wanted to celebrate their special day with a ceremony as lavish as any of Hollywood’s elite stars, but all heads turned when the band stopped playing and the gathered crowd sat in silence, watching it all unfold. The bride wondered what she had done to deserve this? No one said a word, even as she clutched her stomach and buckled forward.
Taylor Sinclair was playing a game of minor-league baseball when he saw Samantha Carisch up in the stands, that’s when he knew he had to have her number. After two romantic dates, he had to suddenly leave for the beginning of the new baseball season. Would their relationship survive the long distance and time apart?
Happily, for Samantha and Taylor, it was meant to be. Taylor decided that the time had come for him to just take the plunge and relocate to California to be with Samantha permanently. Although they had been through a lot lately, “It’s just made us even stronger,” Samantha says. But something sinister lay ahead in their near future.
It took four years for Taylor to get down on one knee and ask Samantha to make an honest man of him. While on a romantic vacation in Cancun, Mexico, Sam accepted, with butterflies in her stomach, and immediately set about every girls dream; planning her fairytale wedding. Unfortunately, fairytales were out of reach for the moment.
Sam and Taylor decided, as a lot of couples do, to have the wedding back where it all began. No, not on a baseball field but rather in beautiful Cancun, where Taylor had proposed, it was to be a destination wedding. They had big dreams of being surrounded by all of their family and friends, but then overnight, tragedy struck.
But not everything had been easy for the couple. Leading up to the wedding tragedy stuck suddenly. As Samantha gleefully told her mother of all her wedding plans she felt something was amiss. Her mother was very quiet, not at all her usual self and Samantha’s heart sank when her mother told her multiple sclerosis had worsened. She would never travel again.
“Taylor immediately said, ‘If that’s the case, we’re abandoning that idea,’” Samantha recalled. They began to outline new plans with a wedding in San Diego, so as to be closer to her mother. Samantha’s hope restored that her mother would be at her wedding as she has always dreamed and everything was back on track, but catastrophe was not done with them yet.
During this challenging time of uncertainty, Sam tried to hold on to her now idle wedding plans. So she began to research cheap wedding ideas, even a courthouse or backyard wedding crossed her mind. She wanted to spend her life with Tayler but didn’t have time to plan much. None of the ideas were exceptional however, she stumbled across something that would change her life forever.
Sam found an online competition and showed her friends, they later told her that they had all nominated her for the “Win A Dream Wedding” competition. Everything would be completely taken care of, the food, venue… everything including the wedding expenses. She was relieved that she would be able to continue helping her mother, but little did she know that another huge obstacle was coming.
With a snowball effect, the votes for them came in, bringing her closer to her dream wedding. She even received an email from a woman in Australia saying that she was voting for the couple… There was one twist. If she did win the competition, would the terms and condition be worth a free wedding?
The gorgeous venue set in Chateau St. Jean winery in Kenwood, California, was most certainly a beautiful enough place for any wedding but the catch was this: every single detail, from the dress and honeymoon to the flowers, cake and bridesmaids dresses would be decided by the American public. America was given four options for each section to vote on. The highest would vote would dictate the wedding.
Finally, as one of six finalists from thousands of applicants, Samantha got the news that she had won the competition. “We’ve always said the most important wedding detail is each other, and everything else will fall into place.” With all the other weird things that would be part of the wedding she knew he would be enough.
Sam and Taylor chose the Country song, “Love You Like That” by Canaan Smith for their first dance number. This was the song that reminded them of their love for each other and made them smile when they were apart. As the melody of the song began they started dancing and something truly incredible occurred.
The band abruptly cut out before the song had even begun and one of the musicians declared, “You know what, we have a better idea,” to the couple, over the microphone. “Sam and Taylor, we have a special guest who’s here to sing you your first dance song.” Samantha’s heart stopped beating as she wondered what was happening.
Samantha slowly spun around and spotted Canaan Smith himself walking toward them, towards the dancefloor! The Knot had asked the country singer to fly out to California to sing a live version of their favorite song. Being a newlywed himself he couldn’t turn down the idea of giving the couple the surprise of a lifetime.
The newly-weds were frozen in disbelief and in that moment of sheer joy, Samantha hugged the singer as he came to take the stage and begin his special performance “Love You Like That”, just for them. They thought the part of saying ‘I do’ would be the most exciting part of the day, but they were very wrong.
“That was beyond our wildest dreams,” Sam joyfully recounted to the camera crew. She went on to explain, “We’ve loved that song from the second that we heard it…I showed it to Taylor and I said, ‘Taylor I think this should be our first dance song.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, absolutely.’” But not everything had been as easy as choosing a shared favorite song.
Sam remembers waking to a terrifying experience, “I got a phone call in the middle of the night, from my mom and sister,” Samantha said. Her mom, Kathy, had successfully battled stage 2 colon cancer the previous year. But now, moments before the wedding, it was back. Having gotten the worse news at such a critical time, what else could they endure?
Following the heartbreaking diagnosis, Samantha quickly quit her interior design job and began the move from the Redondo Beach, California, home she shared with her fiancé to Simi Valley, where her mother, as well as her sister, were living. She knew she needed to support and care for her mother, no matter what the cost.
It was only after they found out that they had won their dream wedding that the annual theme for the year was announced… It was to be, “The most high-tech wedding ever!”. Samantha remembers saying, “I can barely work a TV remote” yet her wedding would far more tech than a simple TV remote, some of the gadgets planned in the wedding were truly astonishing.
The “most high-tech” wedding included: A drone capturing pictures and live footage of the entire ceremony, Sam had a GoPro camera tucked, neatly hidden in her bouquet, and a production crew was assisting to live stream the entire event to thousands of viewers, including Sam’s mom. A robot bartender served the drinks, and the 3D printed cake topper was an exact mini replica of the bride and groom, Samantha and Taylor even wore Fitbit heart rate trackers to document what made their heart race.