Girl with Cancer Gifted Dream Wedding

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This article originally appeared on Yahoo Shine

High school sweethearts Leslie Rivera and Daniel Mendez tied the knot last week in California, but the ceremony was bittersweet. The 18-year-old high school seniors began dating last October after meeting at an anti-racism event at school, but six months later, Leslie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia.

While Leslie was able to attend her graduation with the rest of her class, she spent much of the final months of her senior year in the hospital — with Daniel by her side. Last week, with the help of the Make A Wish Foundation, Leslie's wish to marry her best friend, Daniel, came true. Here, our favorite pics from their special day.

Upon hearing that Leslie was a fan of David Tutera, celebrity wedding planner and the star of WE tv's "David Tutera: Unveiled," Make A Wish contacted him directly. Tutera immediately signed on to help plan the bride's big day and even surprised her at the dress fitting.

"This was my first time meeting Leslie in person and no one, not even the salon, knew I was coming," Tutera tells Yahoo Shine. "I was able to sit down with Leslie and get a feel for what she was envisioning for her big day, and really get to know her as a beautiful young woman and a bride."

bride with david tutera
Photo courtesy of: David Tutera

The couple’s whirlwind wedding was pulled together in just two weeks, says Stephanie McCormick, president and CEO of Make A Wish for Orange County and the Inland Empire, who noted that everything at the dream wedding, from the bride's make-up to the groom's shoes, was donated in kind, totaling a whopping $300,000 in goods and services.

bride on wedding day
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

According to Tutera, Leslie’s wish was to have a Twilight-inspired wedding. "I helped her to realize her dream by incorporating lots of natural textures and colors into the design. Everything from the wedding arch down to the printed materials was full of blush roses, earthy moss, and rustic birch wood,” says Tutera, who created the event at Rancho Las Lomas resort and zoological in Silverado, California. “We even had a musical trio playing the same music during the ceremony that was featured in the movie!"

wedding centerpieces
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

A little rain didn't slow down the groom, Daniel Mendez, on his way to the ceremony ... and wedding day rain is good luck!

groom
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

Instead of standing, Leslie and Daniel sat down for the ceremony, as did the officiant “He spoke about how Leslie and David demonstrated a great amount of courage and bravery, and as you can imagine, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” says McCormick.

wedding bridal party
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

Tutera surprised the couple with live butterflies during the ceremony. "Butterflies represent change, transformation and beauty," he says.

wedding ceremony
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

The newlyweds arrived at the reception clearly ready to celebrate.

wedding reception entrance
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

The bride and her father danced to “Que Me Alcance La Vida," by Sin Bandera. Loosely translated, the song title means, "I ask God that life will be long enough."

father daughter wedding dance
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

One of Leslie's special requests was a photo booth. Here, she hams it up for the camera with Daniel and gets a kiss from her dad.

wedding photo booth
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

“I’ve been to a lot of wishes in my two years here and this was sincerely one of the most heartwarming and the most heart wrenching,” says McCormick, who was particularly touched by Leslie’s gratitude. “Leslie said to me, “Thank you for making my wish come true. No matter where I am in my days to come, I will always have this memory.”

wedding dance
Photo courtesy of Ben Aguirre Photography

— Jennifer Carofano

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