Standing at the altar wearing a black suit, white dress shirt and red tie was Marjorie’s longtime fiancé Richard Willams.
It was 4 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, and the West Queens Recreation Centre in Port Mouton was filled with about 240 guests. They were there to hear Marjorie and Richard say, “I do.”
When Marjorie was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January, there was no question. She and Richard were going to get married.
At Christmas, Marjorie went to the hospital because she didn’t feel well. In January, a doctor told her he was 90 per cent sure nothing could be done.
“They went ahead and put the stint in,” says Marjorie’s sister-in-law Corina Huphman.
Then Corina took Marjorie home. It was a Thursday. The following Monday, Jan. 16, Marjorie was ill again and went to Queens General Hospital. She was dehydrated and the stint wasn’t working, says Corina.
The following day, Marjorie went by ambulance to Halifax to have her plastic stint removed and a metal one put in.
“At that time the oncologist came to see her …” says Marjorie. “He came over and told her what was going on, and that’s when he told her soon-to-be husband Richard that she only had five to six months to live.”
A few days before the wedding, Marjorie and Richard sat side by side on a sofa in Corina’s living room.
Richard says he never saw himself as married, but when he found out about Marjorie’s diagnosis, he proposed to her.
“Excited,” is the word Marjorie keeps coming back to. She says she was excited about the proposal because she never thought she would be married to Richard.
The dress Marjorie would walk down the aisle in was a loan, and she says when she tried it on and saw herself she felt excited.
When Corina saw Marjorie in the dress, Corina told her sister-in-law she looked like a princess.
It was around Christmas when Marjorie and Richard got engaged seven or eight years ago. Marjorie recalls putting a booklet with rings in it on the table as a hint.
Then, when Richard proposed years later, it was around Christmas again. Richard asked Marjorie to marry him on New Year’s Eve.
The two first got together when they were 17 years old, having met at a party. For about 10 years, Marjorie and Richard weren’t together but kept in contact.
Initially, Marjorie and Richard were going to get married at home with a justice of the peace and two witnesses.
“I thought, ‘No, if she’s dying, she’s going to have a wedding,” says Corina.
So Corina talked about it with the couple, and what began as a small ceremony quickly grew when people found out.
Corrina says she contacted family and friends, and there was a meeting on Jan. 23.
People brought wedding decorations, some donated money, and businesses stepped in to help as well.
“They (Richard and Marjorie) don’t have to do anything,” says Corina, referring to the wedding preparations.
A fundraiser at the West Queens Recreation Centre on Feb. 5 raised about $3,500, says Corina.
“She’s up over $4,000 now because people keep dropping off donations at the house,” says Corina.
“I was about as nervous as anybody could be,” says Richard, about standing at the altar.
But Marjorie wasn’t phased, and she says it felt good to walk down the aisle with her father.
“My maid of honour, she started to cry on me. I said, ‘You can’t do that to me,’” says Marjorie.
A long table at the front of the hall was covered with plates, bowls and crock-pots with food. At the back, by the altar, the head table was decorated in a Valentine’s Day theme. There were heart-shaped plates and champagne flutes with wine at each setting.
The room looked ready for a party.
After they said their vows, Marjorie and Richard signed the register.
Following the marriage, many photos were taken, and then Marjorie and Richard sat at the head table to eat a full meal. Then there was music by the band ‘Low Key.’ There was dancing, too. Marjorie and her brother shared a dance.
Richard describes the wedding as one of the most beautiful he’s been to.
“I don’t know. Because it was mine, I guess,” he says with a laugh.
“It was really organized,” says Marjorie.
Richard says he and Marjorie hadn’t expected such a big event – neither the number of people nor the amount of food.
When everything wrapped up, the night for the newlyweds wasn’t over. Marjorie and Richard were escorted to their surprise honeymoon location - The Best Western.
If it hadn’t been for Corina, it wouldn’t have happened. She did it all, says Richard.