A terminally ill single mother married her platonic best friend on Valentine’s day so she could experience her own wedding day before she dies.
Mother-of-three Kerry Kenworthy, 34, told Sian Higgins, 29, that she didn’t want to die without wearing a wedding dress at least once, after learning she had 12-18 months to live.
The following day, Sian ‘proposed’ to her best friend, and the pair from Bury St Edmunds began planning their wedding day.
The pair set a date for Valentine’s Day, where they ‘wed’ at Gamlingay Eco Hub, South Cambridge, with Kerry’s children as well as Sian’s two children present.
Developmental psychologist Kerry, who has been diagnosed with incurable cancer in her spine, said she was ‘so grateful’ to be able to experience the ‘magical’ day while she enjoys the time she has left.
Kerry was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in September 2021 after a smear test revealed abnormal cells in her cervix.
She underwent two months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy before doctors said she was in remission, and by August 2022 she was given the all-clear.
However, just months later in November, Kerry began to suffer with chest pains and was referred to Bedford Hospital. Tests revealed the cancer had spread to her spine and doctors were unable to cure her.
‘I was shocked, I thought I had beaten it,’ Kerry said. ‘I still had so much to do, and the doctors said I had just 12-18 months left.
‘I wouldn’t see my kids get married or even myself. I wanted that special day I had heard so much about, and to wear the dress and be the bride. I wanted a day of fairy tales.’
Days after receiving her diagnosis, Kerry spoke with her best friends, teacher Sian and teaching assistant Claire Olivia, 40, about her ‘deep sadness’ that she would never walk down the aisle.
After joking around about possibly marrying each other, Sian went over to Kerry’s a week later, and proposed, in January 2023.
Recalling her decision to ‘pop the question’ to her best friend, Sian said: ‘I didn’t want her to miss out on such a fun part of life.
‘We had met through mutual friends over three years and hit it off. Kerry is kind and funny. We both had kids so we went to parks and hung out.’
She added she has promised to look after Kerry’s daughters Lily, nine, Mia, 12 and Violet, six, when Kerry is no longer around.
Speaking about the ‘wedding’, Sian said: ‘I know some people might not understand it but she’s my best friend.
‘It felt strange when I’m already married, but friendship is more important.
‘My husband loved it and supported everything, he even helped with the planning. And how to do my tie for the special day.’
With only three months to spare, they set about planning the big day, with a small group of friends.
Local businesses heard about the wedding and gifted the venue, cake, food, decorations, and invites.
The bridesmaid dresses were donated by Rose’s Bridal Boutique, Bedford.
Kerry’s £475 lacy wedding gown was bought from the same shop with money raised between Sian and her close friends.
The weekend before the big day, Sian even threw Kerry a ‘hen party’ to celebrate the upcoming nuptials, where she sat down to have afternoon tea with a close group of friends.
On 14 February, the two friends were ‘married’ at Gamlingay Eco Hub, South Cambridge, with all their five children around them.
Kerry, from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in September 2021 after a smear found abnormal cells- after two months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy she was given the all-clear.
But in November 2022, Kerry, who had never previously married, felt extreme chest pains and doctors at Bedford Hospital quickly found the cancer had spread to her spine leaving no treatment options.
Kerry, a developmental psychologist, said: ‘It was magical and I’m so grateful that I could experience what its like to walk down the aisle.
‘We had cake, rings and a first dance.
‘Everything felt truly authentic and I’ve never felt happier.
‘I appreciate everyone that helped out setting up the day and fundraising.
‘I’m not scared about dying, I’m scared about leaving my daughters behind.’
On Valentines Day, Kerry and Sian was married in front of 70 guests by family friend, Don Simpson, 62, at the Gamlingay Eco Hub, as Kerry’s daughters stood beside their mum as her bridesmaids.
Sian, whose husband was her best man, said: ‘Kerry deserved to have a special day, and I wanted to help her.
‘My husband was so supportive, and even helped me with my tie for the day. He was my best man and I got to marry my best friend as well.’
After the ceremony, they cut the cake, and had their first dance in front of their guests – and Sian even surprised the bride with a solo performance of ‘Hero’ by Mariah Carey.
The newlyweds are now trying to plan a honeymoon through GoFundMe.
Kerry, whose ex-partner will bring up her children once she’s gone, said: ‘The whole wedding was magical. It was like a fairytale.
‘I may not have married a man, but I did marry someone I love. I had everyone who loved me and that’s all that matters.
‘It was so nerve-wracking, but when we weren’t crying we were laughing. I felt so beautiful for the first in a long time.
‘Sian promised to look after my daughters in her vows. I could never ask for a better friend, and now my wife!’