Your wedding day is mean to be the happiest day of your life. But sometimes life – and tragedy – gets in the way of that, and everything goes all wrong. Or it could, if people with compassion don’t take that opportunity to rise to the occasion.  

For Jillian Hanson and Max Allegretti, it took a village – and their love for each other – to get them to their special day.

When I was diagnosed, I gave him an ‘out.’

“But he told me that he would never leave my side, and he never has,” said Jillian, a bride who took part in LLG Events’ second annual Pro-Bono Wedding Of The Year that took place this weekend in New Jersey.

Jillian’s story is full of strength, not just her own, in battling breast cancer, but also the strength that she found in her fiancé (now husband!) Max.

Max and Jillian’s love story was years in the making

Max and Jillian met in college during their senior year. Jillian was trying to be more outgoing and make new friends, and while signing the whiteboard to join a dodgeball team, “this incredibly handsome guy and his roommate walked up behind me,” she said in a blog post.  

The couple that met that day and exchanged numbers — for strictly platonic and dodgeball reasons of course! — and instantly became best friends.

After graduation, Jillian moved. She and Max lost touch for a few years, before she decided to move back to New Jersey, where they had first met.

Jillian decided give Max a call: “When I asked if we could all get together, he inquired about my relationship status. He asked me if he could take me to a movie when I was back in town and the rest is history!”

He proposed on her last day of chemotherapy

They have now been together for four years. “I knew he was the one after a month of us dating. I never usually move that fast, but something about him was different.”

In 2017, Jillian was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Her journey back to health took a mastectomy, 16 rounds of chemotherapy for 5 months, plastic surgery, and 25 rounds of radiation for 5 weeks. Finally, they had reached the end of treatment – with an even happier ending than Jillian could have expected.

“He proposed to me on my last day of chemotherapy in front of all my family and friends!”

Planning a wedding after chemo was simply too much

Of course, after all they had been through, wedding planning was a struggle, and the cost could easily have been prohibitive. Max and Jillian didn’t know where to start!

That’s when LLG Events, which had heard of Jillian and Max’s story through the Breasties organization (which Jillian donates her time volunteering for) told Jillian and Max that they were gifting them their dream wedding.

Upon hearing their emotional love story, LLG Events selected Jillian and Max to receive their full-service luxury wedding planning, which typically costs $30,000. They also gathered free services from other pro-bono vendors as well, with Palermo delivering the wedding cake and Kenneth Winston providing Jillian’s dream wedding dress.

A celebration in every sense of the word

Every couple deserves the wedding of their dreams, but Max and Jillian’s story really puts things in perspective.

They showed their true commitment to one another long before their actually wedding, with unconditional love and support through Jillian’s fight against cancer. Their wedding was a celebration in every sense of the word: not just of the love they share, but of determination and will to survive, and of the incredible things we can accomplish for others when we all band together to chip in.

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