As many of you know, in my spare time I marry people. Not like random men who I meet in Vegas, nor am I on a mission to beat Elizabeth Taylor’s Guinness World Record — I’m a marriage celebrant.

In the last five years I’ve married over 100 Brisbane couples and I’m the proud celebr-Aunt of nearly 50 babies. It’s a wonderful job and often my heart is touched by the love I get to witness, the stories I hear and the memories I am a thread in the fabric of. It is a blessing to my life, and I hope I am somewhat of a blessing to those that I help on the path to holy matrimony.

But some stories just stand out — like Emma and Serge.  Emma and Serge’s ceremony started like this.

“Here are the rules of today! Emma and Serge want to focus on the fact that they are so lucky that they have found each other and have such a love for each other — something that some people spend a lifetime looking for. So let’s make today a celebration. This is a stand up and cheer wedding.  This is a clap your hands and be joyous wedding, if you cry, let it be for joy!”  

We had to start the wedding like that because underneath the great joy of the day, was also great sadness. Emma is 22 and has Stage 4 Melanoma. That’s terminal.

There is so much I could tell you about Emma Betts and what a good human she is, like how she has spent a good deal of her life doing charity work abroad, but I only have a few hundred words, so I’ll share her love story.

Emma and Serge officially met at her sister’s wedding. During the night her Dad mentioned to Serge that he still had one daughter to marry off… it’s funny how Dads just know. But it was a pavlova that sealed the deal – Emma, knowing he was coming over to dinner, wanted to impress him. Her first attempt failed miserably and she couldn’t have Serge thinking that she was a bit shit at cooking, so she whipped up another. He tells her regularly that the pavlova was a large part of the reason why he continued contact.

Serge and Emma fell in love and experienced a deep love for each other very fast, but not long after, her diagnosis shattered their long-term dreams — but not their short-term ones. On their honeymoon, taken before the wedding in Bali, they went to a temple for dinner and wrote down a wish that they sent into the sky attached to a lantern. They both wished to be ‘happy ‘however’ long’. They don’t know how long they have, but they are cherishing every moment.

In the words of Serge: “Love makes you strive to be the best person you can, and add warmth and colour to your day. You hear the birds, you see the stars, you hear the music and lose yourself in each other’s arms. This is life!”

Can I tell you, it was a tough wedding to do. I wanted to cry my way through it. I can’t believe such a beautiful couple, genuinely in love, have to fast track their life and plans. But it’s not about me, it’s about Emma and she is smiling every single day despite the sucky odds.

And so this brings me to an event I was more than happy to throw my hand up for, and I’d love you to come along and embrace Emma.

Emma is launching a blog called Dear Melanoma. At the same time, she is doing her best with the health she has left to raise money for the Melanoma Institute. A whole bunch of Brisbane writers will be at the launch to share tips on writing and anecdotes from the blogging world… and I’m led to believe there will be cake. If not for Emma, Melanoma or the writers…..come for the cake. Because it’s the little things in life that are the big things.

Just ask Emma.

Official Launch of  ‘Dear Melanoma’

Where: The Auditorium, St Aidan’s School, 11 Ruthven St, Corinda.

When: 10am — midday, Sunday 8th June 2014.

Tickets: $45 pp, includes a scrumptious morning tea.

To Book:  To reserve your place, email the number of tickets you want and the names of your guests to, then do a direct deposit to the following bank account:

  • BSB:   124028
  • ACCOUNT NUMBER:   22171470
  • ACCOUNT NAME:  Emma Kate Betts Supporting Melanoma Institute Australia

All proceeds from the event will go to the Melanoma Institute.