The alabaster gown made of delicate lace hugs model Danielle’s curves. The v-neck bust and buttons trailing the back add a touch of seduction to the traditional. Looking at her gleaming smile, you’d never guess this dress wasn’t hers. The dress belongs to Michelle Swanson, another beautiful bride who faced tragedy shortly after her wedding day.
Photos by Karen Ann Photography from “Pretty In Paris” Styled Shoot. Model Danielle McKeown.
Michelle and her husband Bill were married on June 11, 2016, after a blissful 11 years together. Michelle, who was married before, says Bill wanted to make their wedding day special for her because previously she had eloped.
“Bill always wanted me to have a big wedding and he gave me that. It was the most amazing weekend. We had family from all over the country fly in and it truly was a celebration of life, friends, and good times,” says Michelle.
The day before the wedding she and Bill discovered that his hemoglobin levels were low but didn’t pay it much mind. The Monday after the wedding, Bill’s doctor said he needed to get a colonoscopy immediately. But they were leaving for their honeymoon. Bill told the doctor he felt great, scheduled the colonoscopy for after the honeymoon, and he and Michelle flew off to Hawaii.
On July 5, 2016 Bill was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer. On July 18 he had surgery to remove the cancer. On January 19, 2017, Bill passed away at age 53.
Michelle says that in hindsight, she believes Bill knew something serious was going on with his health, but he didn’t want to spoil the wedding or honeymoon.
Through her grief, Michelle realized she wanted to not only remember Bill, but raise awareness and money for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. She organized a golf tournament (golf was one of Bill’s favorite pastimes) that raised more than $15,000 for the Alliance in it’s 1st year. The tournament is held every year through Turner Construction Co. in Bill’s honor.
And now, she wants to sell her wedding gown so that it will be a beautiful part of someone else’s fairytale. When I asked Michelle to tell me a little about the day she originally purchased the dress, she said, “My sister came down for a last minute visit in July. I tried on three dresses and the 1st one was it. I love it, I just felt a princess which is what Bill always made me feel like. To top it off my best friend and sister were with me. Once I know what I am looking for and find it I go for it. My sister and I celebrated that night with a great dinner and a glass of wine. It truly was a special evening.”
“I hope that someone else can enjoy this dress and have an amazing day like I did. I believe in karma and paying it forward. This dress had so much love around it that day,” she says. “My brother officiated the wedding my sons walked me down the aisle. It truly was beautiful. There are so many things I can do with this dress, but I would really like to sell the dress and have the money go to the Colon Cancer Alliance in memory of Bill.”
“Bill was my knight in shining armor. He was my protector and I loved him for that. He gave me the world, the courage, and strength to be the best women I could be,” Michelle says. “Through our ups and downs we made it and I loved him more the last two years than I ever thought possible. Not many people have that in their life, so I am forever thankful and blessed that I did have my fairytale—even if only for a moment in time.”