An RMHC Wedding Story

Did you know the first SWFL Ronald McDonald House wedding was Thursday, May 26, 2022? Yes, you read that right! We celebrated the wedding of Manuel and Julia, a sweet couple staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Fort Myers, all the way from Germany! The couple vacationed in Cape Coral for their babymoon sometime in April. Shortly after their arrival, Julia went into premature labor, and twins Marla and Matilda were born a couple of months early. This caused the couple to have a much longer stay than anticipated.

With their wedding date quickly approaching on May 7, the couple had to make the difficult decision to cancel. In a casual conversation with Volunteer Manager Illeny Farese, they expressed their sadness about not being able to get married. They joked about getting married in Florida and having RMHC plan it! Well, anyone who knows Illeny knows she will do anything in her power to make magic happen for a family! So, after a chat with staff, we decided we had to make this happen! We called Lee Bellamy, the general manager of Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs and a long-time RMHC board member. He immediately agreed to help Manuel and Julia’s dream wedding come true at his venue!

Tracy Stein, Director of Sales at Shangri-La, sprung into action by securing donated food, flowers, hair + makeup, photography, and more! Generous Macy’s staff came together and donated a handsome suit for Manuel. The team at RMHC SWFL purchased the cake. It was all really coming together!

Golisano Children’s Hospital staff who were caring for the twins joined the RMHC team at Shangri-La on May 26, 2022, to watch the beautiful union of Manuel and Julia! Even one of the fathers staying at the Ronald McDonald House attended to show support. It was the perfect day for a perfect couple!

We cannot express how incredibly honored we were to help Manuel and Julia tie the knot! Without the generosity of our community, it wouldn’t have been possible. With so much sadness going on in the world, this day full of happiness was much needed by all.

Manuel and Julia came to Florida as an engaged couple, but they’ll return to Germany as a married couple, with twins Marla and Matilda in tow! Plus, they’ve gained quite the extended family of Floridians.

Our sincerest gratitude to the following teams who helped make this wedding possible by donating their services/products:

  • Venue/Spa- Shangri-La Springs
  • Food: Artichoke & Company
  • Flowers: Heaven Scent Flowers of Bonita Springs
  • Hair/Makeup: Brenna Bartholf, Bsquared Studio LLC
  • Photography/Videography: Jim Jett Photography
  • Groom’s Suit: Nancy Boye + Staff, Macy’s
  • Cake: RMHC SWFL
  • Media Coverage: WINK News

UPDATE JULY 7, 2022: Manuel, Julia, Matilda, and Marla arrived safely back in Germany! Each twin flew on their own jet with their medical team from Fort Myers to Canada, then Canada to Germany. While they had to spend a couple weeks in the hospital, as of this week, they are officially HOME!

Twins Marla + Matilda


Watch more about this family’s story here: