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Bride & Groom Pull Together A Backyard Wedding In One Week After Life-Altering News Derails Their Plans

Photo: offbeatorbit / TikTok / Instagram
bride and groom, wedding, backyard

Weddings usually entail months or even years of planning and preparation, as there are so many factors that make up the big day. 

However, one couple proved that wedding prep can actually move much faster than you’d expect, as they tied the knot with friends and family present after just one week of planning. 

Their story of how they managed to pull off this extravagant celebration in such little time is astonishing as it is bittersweet. 

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The couple decided to get married in their backyard after the groom’s cancer prognosis took a turn for the worst. 

Ashley Reese, a politics and culture writer met the love of her life, Rob Stengel, a Brooklyn Law student on the dating app OkCupid in 2014. 

From their first date at a Williamsburg bar, the two became inseparable and after a few years of dating, moved to an apartment in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. They spent their relationship traveling and exploring New York City. 

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However, in 2019, their lives took an unexpected turn when Stengel was diagnosed with cancer called peritoneal mesothelioma. 

Although originally declared cancer-free after surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy, the disease returned in the spring of 2022. 

“The treatment wasn’t working as well as any of us hoped, and the side effects led to chronic pain and massive weight loss,” Reese said in an interview with Vogue late last year. “Rob decided to stop treatment and try to be as comfortable as possible at home for the weeks or months he has left.” 

Despite the devastating news, the pair decided to make the best of the limited time they had left, which included a wedding celebration. 

“After a lot of crying, I figured, hey, let’s finally get married, ASAP. And by ASAP, I meant in one week,” Reese said. And she wasn’t kidding. 

In a TikTok video, Reese shared how she and her fiancé managed to plan and execute their wedding in just one week. 

“My boyfriend’s cancer was progressing, so we said eff it, let’s get married at our Brooklyn apartment ASAP,” she explains in her video. 

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Luckily, a friend of theirs was a wedding coordinator and she offered to plan everything out for the couple free of charge. Another friend tracked down a caterer, and Reese was able to hire a local DJ. 

Before the big day, her friend took her to get her nails done and then to a shop in Williamsburg to pick up her engagement ring. 

“Luckily, they were able to expedite the resizing process and the ring is beautiful,” Reese says as she shows off her new bling. 

Although Stengel had lost a significant amount of weight during his cancer journey, their friend was able to make alterations to his suit. 

A wedding cake was ordered from Costco and friends came over to spruce up the apartment and place furniture in the backyard where the ceremony and reception would be held. 

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“On the day of, my friend and makeup artist, Mollie Gloss did my makeup, which was great cause I can only do a cat eye,” Reese says. 

A fellow student from Stengel’s law school provided the couple with floral arrangements. 

When it was time to walk down the aisle, Reese looked stunning in a white dress with a rose pattern sown into it as she walked down a set of stairs toward her husband. 

“Somehow I didn’t fall!” she rejoices. 

She shares that despite the circumstances, her wedding was “absolutely beautiful,” and commended her friends and family for making it all happen. 

“Friends flew out on a week's notice to come to celebrate us,” Reese says. “We’re lucky enough to have friends in creative industries, friends who could pay for photographers, friends who could make a Costco cake look [amazing].” 

She emphasizes that her wedding day was “a community effort,” and it could not have been pulled off without friends picking up dry cleaning, organizing furniture, moving boxes, and borrowing equipment. 

“Our community showed up for us at a dark time,” Reese says. “That’s the only way we pulled this off.” 

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Rob Stengel passed away nearly two months after the wedding. 

Reese shared the heartbreaking news on December 8, 2022, via an Instagram post dedicated to her late husband. 

“I got to spend nearly nine incredible years with Rob, and I’m forever grateful for them,” she wrote in her post’s caption.

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“I’m mad at how much this cancer took from us, and how it destroyed Rob’s future, body, and spirit, and how it traumatized the h–l out of me,” she admitted. “But I'm always reminding myself that by the end Rob was ready to go, and he wanted me to know that I’ll be okay and that I deserve to be happy.” 

Despite the devastating loss, Reese will always be able to look back on their magical wedding day and how it all came together. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.  

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