Six questions with Philanthropic Photographer Cheryl Ungar

Having a dream wedding is certainly a cliché. But it doesn’t mean that’s it’s impossible. Dreams can come true. Cheryl Ungar is there to ensure it.

Ungar is a Colorado wedding photographer and a 21-year survivor of breast cancer. In 2010, she officially launched The Wedding Pink, an annual wedding giveaway for a couple impacted by breast cancer. Vendors from across the state contribute their services to give the couples their dream weddings. The Wedding Pink’s first couple celebrated their one-year anniversary this spring and the second wedding—for a very sweet couple: Roxanne, who has breast cancer, and Joseph—took place in Beaver Creek in May.

It’s quite an astonishing concept: Countless wedding professionals giving their time, talents and resources to create a very special day for a couple that truly deserves it. But Ungar says the pleasure is all hers.

How did you get the idea for The Wedding Pink?

I got the idea for The Wedding Pink because I just started thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great to help somebody who is going through what I went through, wouldn’t it be great to give a wedding to someone struggling with breast cancer.” I guess I just ran with it, and it turned into something.

That was two years ago. …It’s an amazing journey and it’s something I wish everyone could experience.

 

How do you choose the couple?

We have a submission period through the summer months. The two basic criteria are you need to be engaged and your life needed to be affected by breast cancer. More often then not it’s the bride. But it doesn’t have to be. They just need to be deserving of a $30–40 thousand wedding cost free.

 

What was the highlight of putting together the first Wedding Pink wedding?

It was an interesting journey. I think the wedding was just beautiful. What touched me as well was once we got the vendors on board, everyone embraced the couple and bent over backwards to make the couple feel comfortable. They were doing it for the couple as well as for me. You know, I’m the vision, but without everyone else, I had nothing. I was so moved by everyone’s generosity.

 

What are your aspirations for The Wedding Pink?

I have a lot of aspirations. Right now, we are set: It’s an annual event in Colorado. But I want to move it around. I want to give different groups of people opportunities to apply for the wedding. It’s chance for different vendors to be involved, so we will continue to move it around the state. And long-term, my goal and dream is to have one wedding in Colorado and have a second wedding a year in another part of the country.

 

What is the couple’s reaction to all this?

There are different layers to that. It relieves the stress—emotionally and financially—of planning a wedding. But more importantly, it creates a silver lining. It offers hope and positivity for those who have been through a difficult time. It’s like a ray of sunshine for someone who has really struggled. It’s hope. My gal this year, Roxanne, it’s the perfect ending for a story of survival. It’s her fairy tale wedding.

 

And what do you get out of it?

I’m changing people’s lives. How cool is that? It makes me feel good. I’ve met great people. I’ve made long-term relationships. It’s an amazing journey. I can’t really describe it. I receive a lot of personal joy from it. … It’s as much of a gift to me as it is a gift to my couple.

 

Learn more about Cheryl Ungar and The Wedding Pink at cherylungargives.com.

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