Surprise dream wedding for couple living with lupus

Published: Nov. 5, 2014 at 2:36 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2014 at 2:36 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Emotions overflowed as 12 On Your Side surprised a dying woman with a dream wedding. Generous viewers helped make this special surprise happen.

"I never thought anything like this would ever happen to someone like me," Erika Schoonover said. Schoonover and her fiance Josh Wilberger have had to put off their wedding for years. Schoonover has lupus, and she's already lived past the life expectancy for someone with her disease.

Initially, NBC12 talked to the couple about the burden they faced because of college tuition costs. Then NBC12 asked to meet up with the couple for a followup story.

After seeing NBC12's original report, local wedding planner Martha Stewart coordinated with her fellow wedding vendors and offered surprise after surprise. Orange roses--Schoonover's dream bouquet; wedding planning, photography, a venue, a limousine, the list goes on and on. The bridal boutique where NBC12 surprised the couple even gave them a dream dress.

"It was so pretty. It was so perfect," Schoonover said. "And it was everything I never thought I would have."

Schoonover and

Josh Wilberger

thought they would just go to a Justice of the Peace after


graduates in December. Schoonover thought maybe she would wear a cream suit. But not anymore.

"I'm still just like, 'Whoa, what just happened to me?'" Schoonover said. "Because this stuff just happens to other people. It doesn't happen to me, so."

Life hasn't been easy for the couple. Because of Schoonover's lupus, each day for her is a gift. She's struggled through chemotherapy and needing a cocktail of drugs.

"We really cherish every day we have. Like, it's not some cheesy soap opera for us. It's every day," Schoonover said.

That's what Stewart said she saw in this couple from the start. "You can tell when you see a couple who really, really love each other and are in it for the long run," she said. "And that's just shone with them.

It's still sinking in for Schoonover. "I never thought I would find anyone who loved me as much as he does," she said. "And he just means the world to me and I just love him more and more every day. And I'm going to get married!"

They sure are. Now they need to pick a date.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.