Toronto bride’s rushed wedding for dying dad saved by stranger’s skirt

Amanda Dawson never thought her wedding would be saved by a complete stranger and her blush skirt.

The 29-year-old Toronto native originally planned on getting married this summer, but after her father was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer last year, she moved the wedding up to June 2016, giving her just two months to plan.

“We wanted him to be there,” she tells Global News. “We wanted a small wedding with just close family and friends.”

Amanda with her father Steve.

Artiese Studios

Dawson’s father Steve got to see his daughter get married on June 24, 2016. He passed away six months later.

Something borrowed

But Dawson also had another must-have on her big day. A blush skirt by designer Carol Hannah, a skirt that was only sold in one Canadian location.

WATCH: Minna Rhee looks into the act of kindness that will last a lifetime.

She called the store and was originally told the skirt would be ready in time for her wedding date. However, after she arrived to the store, the designer told her it would be impossible.

“I was crushed. It was just heartbreaking because I just wanted this beautiful day with my dad, my husband and the dress of my dreams.”

Amanda with her father Steve.

Artiese Studios

Leaving the store heavy-hearted, she didn’t give up.

She called multiple locations in the U.S. and reached out to seamstresses to see if they could recreate the skirt. Nobody had the answer she wanted.

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“I was almost ready to give up and I had this idea to call the wedding photographer [of] a bride named Katie who lives in Pennsylvania.”

Katie on her wedding day.

Douglas Benedict Photography


Dawson had originally seen pictures of Katie Kennedy’s wedding dress ensemble online and instantly fell in love with the skirt.

“I didn’t know her at all and saw pictures of her day and it reminded me of what I was picturing for our day.”

A stranger responds

Not expecting anything to happen, she reached out to the photographer who put her in touch with Kennedy. That same night, Dawson received the following email:

“I’m so glad you found my pictures. I’m sorry to hear about your father’s illness and I’ll be happy to give you the skirt. I just have one request. If you decide to wear it, I would love a picture of you in the dress so I could put it beside a picture of me in the dress,” it read.

When Kennedy first heard from Dawson, she says she was in shock.

“I was impressed that she was able to track me down,” she tells Global News. “As soon as I read her email and heard her story — I knew I had to give her the dress.”

Both brides in their blush skirt.

Douglas Benedict Photography/Artiese Studios

Kennedy adds that while the skirt is a reminder of her own big day, this was the right thing to do.

“I have photos from the day, I have the memories from that day… the dress is just an object,” she says. “You never really know what a person is going through and a little gesture can make a big difference in someone’s life.”

READ MORE: This wedding photo is so beautiful, even the photographer cried

Days later, Dawson received the skirt and did a happy dance.

“I still can’t believe she even did that without even thinking about it,” Dawson says. “She didn’t even think, ‘This is my special dress, this is mine.’ She gave it with her heart.”

The travelling skirt

After the wedding, Dawson sent Kennedy a photo of herself wearing the dress.

Amanda had sent this framed photo to Katie.

Courtesy of Katie Kennedy

In a caption on the frame, she quoted Amelia Earhart: “A single act of kindness throws roots in all directions and the roots spring up and make new trees.”

Kennedy got married in January 2015, in Bethlehem, Pa.

Katie on her wedding day.

Douglas Benedict Photography

And now that the skirt lives with Dawson in Toronto, the two have come up with a plan — they want the skirt to keep travelling.

“The dress is a little piece of cloth —; I would love for it to keep going, to keep changing hands. I’m sure there will be many love stories behind the dress,” Dawson says.

Amanda and her husband in June 2016.

Artiese Studios

Dubbing it the “sisterhood of the travelling wedding skirt,” (named after the famous book about jeans), the skirt, Dawson adds, has a life of its own.

“It’s beautiful to look at and touch — and to wear — it’s a dream but it has a life of it’s own because of the hands that it’s touched.”

—; With files from Minna Rhee

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