When Her Dad Got a Life-Threatening Diagnosis, She Put on a Wedding Dress

Every girl dreams of that moment her dad sees her in the wedding dress. The moment he walks her down the aisle. The moment they share a father-daughter dance to their special song. It was precious moments like this Emily Millay knew she might never get when her father’s illness took a tragic turn, so she decided to plan the ultimate surprise. Wearing a replica of grandmother’s gown, she met him on the steps of the Cleveland Museum of Art for a “wedding day” first look, photo shoot, and father-daughter dance. The day resulted in photos she’ll cherish forever, and in honor of her late father we invite you to see the truly beautiful moments captured.

From Emily MillayA girl is never too old to play dress up with her daddy. When our family learned that my father’s illness was getting worse and time was limited, there were a few things that instantly crossed my mind. One of them being that I might not have my dad to walk me down the aisle or to see me on my wedding day in a wedding dress – these beautiful moments that I photograph weekend after weekend for so many of my brides.

This thought absolutely broke my heart. He is a father of three girls. Three girls that, like every other, look forward to those moments. How could it be possible for him to miss out on such a day and many other milestones in our lives. But this one stuck with me. So I thought, why not make it happen? Certainly a crazy thought at first, but now I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

We played dress up for the last time. -Emily

I wanted a replica wedding dress of my grandmother’s made, and we did just that. We played dress up for the last time. I simply told him to meet me at the art museum – I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. After the “first look” I had one of my favorite Irish bands, Mary’s Lane, play a song for us to dance to so my father could experience that moment, as well.

Other special details include great grandmother’s forget me not pin as “something blue”, a pearl bracelet that was my mother’s “something borrowed”, and my grandmother’s mother of pearl ring as “something old”. The freesia boutonniere was selected because my father’s nickname when he first met my mother was “The Freesia Man”. Also, the 28 buttons on the back of my dress were taken off my grandmother’s wedding dress. I chose a handful of photographers to help me with this photo shoot, each one playing a different part in the day. 

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with these photos at the time. However, my father passed away in the beginning of February, I thought now I would share these photos with everyone. Perhaps it will be a reminder to be grateful for the people who are with you on your wedding day, and every day. 

See their special father-daughter dance!

A Father-Daughter Dance to Remember
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A Father-Daughter Dance to Remember
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Photography: Nick Edmundson | Photography: Emily Millay Photography | Photography: Studio Elle Photography | Photography: Lauren Gabrielle Photography | Floral Design: Fair Rarity Flowers | Wedding Dress: Olivia Guzman | Makeup : MKleinman Artistry | Hair: Lather A Salon | Museum : Cleveland Museum Of Art

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Jstyle Weddings Bridal Event + A Giveaway!

If there is one thing we love here at SMP, it’s a reason to celebrate.  Think drop-dead gorgeous weddings, glittery gold anything and, of course, the Jstyle Weddings Bridal Event happening on April 10, 2016 at The Westin Cleveland Downtown.  It’s the city’s most intimate bridal experience, complete with yummy treats, insanely gorgeous inspiration and a never-ending lineup of seriously talented wedding experts. It’s going to be sooo awesome.

Whether you are a modern couple planning your dreamy rooftop wedding or a romantic duo who can’t wait to say “I do” in a garden surrounded by lush florals, the Jstyle Weddings Bridal Event has everything (and I mean everything) you’ll ever need to plan your perfect Big Day.  I’m talking Cleveland’s most sought-after vendors joining forces with an entire 4 hours of dazzling inspiration and supporting sponsors Catering by Heinen’s and L’Nique Linens.  Plus, each and every stunning moment will take place at The Westin Cleveland Downtown, a hotel that knows everything there is to know about throwing an amazing party.  It’s Planning 101 with vendors who will all make it happen seamlessly.  And we couldn’t be more excited.

So what are you waiting for, loves?  Mark those calendars for Sunday, April 10, 2016 from 11 am – 3 pm. You’ll mix and mingle with the best in bridal salons, cake design, floral design, photography, catering, event design, entertainment, cinematography, health + beauty, wedding planning… and more.  Plus, you’ll receive an ah-mazing gift bag, have the exclusive on event-day discounts AND be automatically entered into some fabulous giveaways.  Oh, and did I mention the bubbly and dessert? Don’t miss out.

Register for the Jstyle Weddings Bridal Event here and be sure to follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. #JstyleWeddings


What: The Jstyle Weddings Bridal Event is giving one lucky SMP reader a (1) complimentary overnight stay at The Westin Cleveland Downtown with breakfast for (2) and complimentary valet parking ($300 value)!

How: Simply leave a comment below telling us what you are looking forward to the MOST at the Jstyle Weddings Bridal Event! (Ex: I can’t WAIT to chat with all of the amazing cake designers! Yum!)

Who: One lucky winner, chosen completely at random, will be announced right here on SMP on Friday, April 1, 2016!  For terms and conditions, click here.  Good luck, loves!

Photography (Top to Bottom): Jstyle Weddings (Photos 1,7) + Lauren Gabrielle Photography (Photo 2-6) + Catering By Heinen’s (Photo 3) + Genevieve Nisly Photography (Photo 8) | Event Planning: Kirkbrides + A Charming Fête | Florist: Blooms By Plantscaping + Molly Taylor and Co. | Catering: Catering By Heinen’s | Hotel: The Westin Cleveland Downtown | Bridal Magazine: Jstyle Weddings | Country Club: The Country Club | Linens: L’Nique Linens


These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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Organic + Ethereal Beachside Wedding Inspiration

On the shores of Lake Erie, A Charming Fete created an elegant, organic wedding wish come true, with Borrow Rentals‘ pretty pieces and not one, but two, beautiful gowns. Inspired by the blue-hued beach pebbles, shells and sparkling water, Emily Millay captured a scene that I could get quite comfortable in – and that’s what I’m happy to do today in our VAULT – join me right here!


From A Charming Fete… The rocky shell and pebble covered beach of Lake Erie was the inspiration and backdrop for this newlywed styled shoot. We wanted to capture the story during the cool blue and foggy gray light of the early morning. Beautiful flecks of light started to shine through as the sun rose. Waves rolled onto the shore where we created a water inspired sweetheart table with clear Lucite napoleon chairs, vintage whitewash table, slate colored napkins and tons of vintage sterling candlesticks. White clematis vine draped onto the simple yet elegant tablescape. Fresh floral and vines decorated a minimalist cake set atop a wood and marble cake platter. The blue moody calligraphed stationery pulled in the color tones of the shore. Our model dipped her toes into the shore and plunged a little deeper into the open water. She changed into a second dress, a mist blue/gray gown with sheer sleeves and high front slit, her long wavy hair blew with the breeze. Her airy neutral bouquet of garden roses, clematis, astilbe and lisianthus wrapped in draping hand-dyed silk ribbons washed ashore.

Peruse more Midwest weddings + inspiration here!

Photography: Emily Millay Photography | Event Design: A Charming Fete | Floral Design: Molly Taylor And Co | Wedding Dress: BHLDN | Cake: Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes | Stationery: Rose Gold Studio | Makeup: Beauty Therapy | Hair: Lather A Salon | Venue: Rocky River Beach | China + Chairs: Event Source | Second Blue Dress: Joanna August | Veil: The Mantilla Company | Vintage Table: Borrow Vintage + Eclectic Rentals

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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