Kolbie Sanders had made the difficult decision to call off her wedding. In time, though, she realized that there was a silver lining to her heartbreak. Ultimately, then, the young woman logged onto Facebook and made a stunning offer to the world.
Hailing from Lindale, Texas, Sanders considers her family to be among the most important aspects of her life. She also loves children, which spurred her to study for a degree in education, and she envisions a future teaching elementary school.
And while Sanders had met her future fiancé in the fall of 2012, the pair didn’t start their relationship until three years later. Then, in January 2017 the couple were engaged – but the bride-to-be wouldn’t walk down the aisle as planned.
Instead, Sanders decided to call off her wedding – a tough decision but the right one, she thought. Indeed, in October 2018 the young woman would write on Facebook, “With my engagement ending, I’ve come to find tremendous peace in knowing that I did the right thing for the both of us.”
But Sanders had called off the big day just weeks before she was set to walk down the aisle. As such, she couldn’t get a refund for her $3,500 deposit on the venue, Belle Vue Tyler, which she had booked for her October 20, 2018, wedding. Her decorations had already been purchased too.
Staff at Belle Vue Tyler offered Sanders a great back-up option, though: they would keep her place so that she could reserve the venue again in the future. But she turned them down, instead proposing a surprising plan of her own.
On an October 2018 appearance on Good Morning America, Sanders recalled, “I said, ‘Is there any way that I can still use that venue but donate it and let another couple use it?’ [Staff at the venue] were caught off guard with it.” But Belle Vue Tyler did eventually give Sanders the green light to give away her reservation to another couple – so long as they got married on the day that she had originally booked.
And Sanders told Today that this wasn’t a plan she had mulled over. “It just kind of came natural,” she said. There was a slight drawback to the whole bargain, though. Specifically, she would have to find a couple ready to get married in the following week.
So, the 24-year-old took to social media to share her story – and her offer – with those in the area who might be up for a free walk down the aisle. She wrote on Facebook on October 14, 2018, “I have decided to donate my venue… to a couple to use for their wedding day!”
Sanders went on, “The catch: I have 24 hours to find the couple. And they would need to be ready to get married… this Saturday, October 20! I have partnered with the venue and they are on board. And we are both excited to see if we can help a couple in need of making their wedding that much more beautiful with a free venue.”
To put themselves in the running for the free venue, couples would have to send Sanders private messages via Facebook. There, Sanders hoped, they would elaborate on their love story and how the gift of a free venue would help them in their wedding planning.
“This is for couples who can’t afford a fancy venue or couples who are spending too much money on their kids to be able to afford a nice wedding. This is for couples who love each other and will continue to choose each other for the rest of their lives,” Sanders concluded.
With that, the contest was on, and messages flooded into Sanders’ Facebook inbox. And after reading through hundreds of notes from couples who wanted the venue, she narrowed down the field to 45 candidates – all of whom had stories that had moved her.
Then Sanders took to Facebook once again to reveal the winner – this time via live video. The young woman had placed all of the names in a bowl and covered its top with a kitchen colander. She subsequently shook the bowl up, reached in and picked a name: Halie Hipsher.
And Hipsher’s sister subsequently called her sibling to give her the great news. “I was in shock,” Hipsher later explained to Today. Then, apparently, she had said to herself, “Alright, this is real, this is my name.” The bride-to-be also revealed that the ceremony couldn’t have come at a better time for her family.
Why? Well, Hipsher’s grandfather was fighting stage four pancreatic cancer; it was unlikely, then, that he would live long enough to see his granddaughter’s wedding in 2019. A ceremony on October 20, 2018, though? He could make that.
Hipsher’s story touched Sanders, too, since she had lost her own grandfather two years prior to her own scheduled wedding. “This was kind of like a big fate story coming together,” she said to Today. And Sanders was there to watch the culmination of all those meant-to-be moments: the wedding of Hipsher and her fiancé, Matt Jones.
Sanders did admit she had experienced a range of feelings on what was supposed to have been her wedding date. “It was overwhelming. I had so many emotions that day,” she revealed to Today. Still, the Texan woman would later admit on Facebook how “grateful” she was “to have been able to witness the best day of [Hipsher and Jones’] lives.”
And while Hipsher told Good Morning America that it had indeed been “difficult” to throw her big day together in a week, she had had help. You see, many businesses mirrored Sanders’ generosity by donating photography services, wedding cookies, flowers, hairstyling and make-up. And in the end, the whole occasion was perfect to the bride. “I wouldn’t want to change one second of the day, because it is all I could’ve dreamed of and more,” she said.
For Sanders, that was what it was all about. Indeed, after attending Hipsher and Jones’ wedding, she wrote on Facebook, “This is why everyone should show acts of kindness to their neighbors, friends, family members and especially complete strangers, because you can end up changing the outcome of someone’s entire life when you stop caring about the outcome of your own.”