Listeners to Atlanta’s “The Bert Show” generously donate services, products and every detail needed for couple’s September wedding
By: Rachel Pillow
Feature photos by: Loyall Hart of Knight Weddings
Special thanks to: Summer McClane, Wedding Planner and Owner of My Simply Perfect Events
Dede Daniel and Stephen Long knew after just a few months of dating that they were meant to be together and that they would get married. Around the 1-year mark of dating, they began seriously talking wedding plans and about the next steps for their blended family, with 7 children combined. It was around the same time, in December of 2015, that Dede was diagnosed with Stage 2, Grade 3 breast cancer. “I was scared of the burden it would be on Stephen,” Dede confessed. “He and his daughters had already been through so much stress when he divorced his ex-wife and I didn’t want to bring more stress back into their lives,” she continued. But, Stephen reassured her that he is in this for the long haul and was not about to let cancer stand in his way. “He told me, ‘I love you for you and we’re going to get through this; God has a plan.’” Stephen and Dede had already been discussing a September 2016 wedding, but knew that it would now be much harder to pull off with Chemotherapy treatments scheduled to begin in early 2016. Knowing where to start in the wedding planning process is stressful enough, let alone when you have 7 children to care for and cancer on your mind. Dede and Stephen knew they wanted to get married in an old, Southern-style home, but beyond that had no idea where to begin.
That’s when Dede got a not-so-crazy idea to reach out to one of Atlanta’s top morning radio shows, The Bert Show. With a heartfelt email to Kristin Klingshirn (one of the show’s hosts,) Dede explained her story and asked for advice on venues to reach out to. “I never in a million years expected the response I got,” Dede said. “If anything, I was just hoping that Kristin could refer me to some wedding vendors she knew in the area or have some ideas about venues to check out.” But, Kristin and The Bert Show went FAR beyond that. Kristin shared Dede’s email on-air and within seconds the calls started flooding in from wedding planners, venue owners, caterers, DJ’s, dress shops, photographers, florists and more! In less than 90 minutes Dede’s dream wedding had become a reality. Every single service, product and detail needed for this wedding has been generously donated by members of The Bert Show community and the outpour of support is still coming in today.
One of the very first callers that day was Summer McClane, Wedding Planner and Owner of My Simply Perfect Events. Summer has been a lifesaver for Dede: meeting her at Chemotherapy treatments for wedding planning sessions (with Dede’s favorite Starbucks drink in-hand), fielding the calls and inquiries that are still coming in from The Bert Show, managing all the vendors, scheduling appointments and photo shoots, and just making sure that the entire process is stress-free and fun. “What are we here for if we aren’t here to serve,” replied Summer, when asked what drove her to donate so much time, energy and resources into this wedding. “I really feel like service to humanity is service to God… Stephen and Dede are giving us the opportunity to serve and everyone who is part of this feels lucky to be doing it,” she continued.
Dede and Stephen have felt equally blessed throughout this entire process. “We actually feel undeserving of all of this,” confessed Dede. I was completely shocked when I found out everything had been donated. I could barely even talk when they brought me on-air! “This is truly a God thing!” Dede said. “God has given us what we need to move forward in this fight and we thank him everyday for the blessings we’ve been given,” she continued. Dede’s final Chemotherapy treatment took place on June 9th. Immediately after her last treatment, she and Stephen took the kids on a much-needed Florida beach vacation before it’s time to go back to the hospital for her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery on July 11th. Throughout the process Dede has been continuing to work at her parents’ Podiatry Clinic in Gainesville. Prior to her diagnosis she was in nursing school, but had to put that on hold temporarily. “Now I want to go back and finish and am thinking about being a nurse that works with cancer patients,” she said.
Dede and Stephen’s wedding is set to take place on September 10th at Four Oaks Manor in Buford, Georgia. The charming, historic farm home with a wrap-around-porch, outdoor fire pit and beautiful backyard garden is going to be the perfect backdrop for Dede and Stephen to start their long, happy life together. With their kids as their wedding party, they have made sure to involve them every step of the way. “Doing this as a family has been the most fun part about planning the wedding. It puts a lot of joy in a difficult time in our lives and gives us something to look forward to,” said Dede.