Jen Bulik, 35, was recently diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, and doctors told her she has four to six months to live. Still, the grim news hasn’t stopped her from living life to the fullest, as she married the man of her dreams on Saturday.
She and her groom, Jeff Lang, who attended Toll Gate High School in the late 1990s before relocating to California, planned to have a small backyard wedding in San Jose. But when San Francisco Bay Area wedding planner Erica Ota saw their story online, she contacted Bulik and Lang to offer her services at no cost.
Ota then connected with 30 vendors, gathering more than $50,000 in donated services.
“Erica has pretty much taken care of everything for us,” Lang said in a phone interview. “She said, ‘We just want you to be guests at your own wedding and sit back and relax.’”
Bulik said the experience has been touching, to say the least.
“I’m in awe,” she said. “I don’t have any words to pinpoint it. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it and how generous people are. I feel so supported on so many levels.”
On Friday, Bulik and Lang were working out final details for the wedding. Through the hustle and bustle, they said they remain focused on going forward and embracing life.
They also know their love story is captivating hearts throughout the nation, as several media outlets have contacted them for comments. That’s fine with them because they hope to reach as many people as possible.
“We want people to know what’s going on with us,” Lang said. “When they hear this story, it makes them stop and think for a second. It’s rough for both of us, but it’s made us rethink what we take for granted.”
And the tender loving care doesn’t hurt, either.
“It’s been such a great way to make all these things happen for Jen when we have an indeterminate future right now,” Lang said. “We don’t really know how it’s going to go three months from now and we need to fit in all of this living in a very small period of time. The more help and assistance we have doing that, the better.”
They might get even more assistance than they anticipated. When Ota found out the couple has been thinking about vacationing in Hawaii, she contacted Hawaiian Airlines in hopes of getting them a free weeklong honeymoon.
Whether that happens or not, Bulik and Lang would like to take both their families on vacation. If not Hawaii, they may visit Oregon or travel along the Pacific Coast.
“I’m just touched by how much support my family has given me and how much they’ve been there for me through the day-to-day stuff that’s just not pretty,” she said. “I’d really like to honor them by taking them on vacation.”
“They’ve been a huge part of this, too,” he said. “They’ve really suffered, struggled and spent emotional times and sleepless nights just being there all the time for Jen. We want to honor them and go away as a group and just have fun and forget about this for 10 days. We just want to relax, hang out and love each other.”
Loving one another is something they have been doing since they met six years ago. At the time, Lang was teaching yoga at a studio she went to.
“A friend of mine took his class and she was learning this new style of body work and asked if he could be her guinea pig,” Bulik said.
The friend, Anne Heffron, thought Bulik and Lang would make a great pair. She played matchmaker, suggesting he give Bulik a ring to set up a date.
“She thought he was really cool and said that all her eccentricities didn’t affect him and that my weirdness and tattoos would probably be OK,” Bulik said. “She told him, ‘I know this girl and think you should call her.’”
A week had gone by and Bulik didn’t hear from Lang. But he eventually called and they met for coffee. For the next few days, they enjoyed a series of dates.
Ironically, Bulik attended a wedding soon after and caught the bouquet. The stars seemed to align. It was meant to be.
Now, they enjoyed wedding bells of their own, with Heffron officiating the ceremony.
“My dress is not traditional; it’s a pale shade of green,” Bulik said. “My bridesmaids [wore] cream, with colored shoes, so they [had] a pop of color on their feet.”
And while she thought of donning one of the wigs donated to her, she opted against it.
“I thought I was going to wear one during the ceremony, but it [didn’t] feel authentic,” she said.
But their union is authentic to the core, as are Bulik’s emotions. She expressed her gratitude for all the assistance they received to make their day perfect, as did Lang.
“They went above and beyond what we’ve ever envisioned for our wedding,” he said. “Our simple backyard wedding to grand affair, which we’re so excited and happy about. It has just lit us both up and gave us faith that we can get through this and that the best is yet to come.”