Derek and Grace Heflin’s wedding on Saturday, was the usual festivity of friends and family – small children on laps, excited sisters, proud parents and lots of tears.
What made it unique is where the wedding took place and that the entire wedding with dress and all the trimmings was under $150. The wedding was held on historic Sutter Street at American Visions Thomas Kinkade Gallery of Folsom on Thanksgiving Day weekend.
On Saturday morning, as Sutter Street shops were opening for the day, guests arrived and stood outside the gallery as the last minute touches were finalized. The ceremony went smoothly as guests sat in chairs set in chapel like rows. The bride wore a lovely satin fuchsia dress as a local pastor performed the ceremony and everything went smoothly. NewsBlaze came to film the event with only a few hours notice.
But the 3 years leading up to the wedding were not as smooth. According to family, they were pleased to hear Grace was beginning to “look up” again. And when she asked her sister, Lydia Thompson of Citrus Heights to help her plan a simple wedding, she said the “family was unwavering in their commitment to help.” Lydia’s first task was to find a wedding location “that would be intimate, remind everyone of good times and yet be a place they could afford.”
Grace and her family had gone through more than their share of trying times and her sister took her job seriously. Grace’s first child, a son named Jay, requires 24 hour care and has been in and out of Shriners Hospital for Children since he was shaken as an infant by his father, Grace’s first husband. After divorce and a new relationship with Derek Heflin, the couple had a girl, Nora who soon after died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Since then the mounting hardships have taken a toll on the family and the wedding plans they had once talked about it, seemed an unreality.
But in mid November, Lydia was determined to help her sister and scouted for location possibilities that met the needs. She visited a number of galleries to see if using a gallery as the setting was an option. When Larry Murman, Art Consultant and Senior Advisor with American Visions Galleries was approached, he told her he thought it would work. They spoke to the gallery director, Gabriella Stark who was also open to the idea and thought it might be interesting for the wedding party as well as the gallery staff.
With the final decision to hold the wedding in the Thomas Kinkade Gallery of Folsom, Gabriella told Lydia she was flattered “because we worked so hard to make it a warm, comfortable space.” To the gallery staff it was very clear this wedding meant a lot to Lydia.
They said it was touching, because it was obvious to them that Lydia “wanted to create something very special for her sister and that encouraged staff at the gallery even more to help make the wedding something special.”
Larry said later he was touched by the fact that the bride-to-be and Lydia had grown up with the Thomas Kinkade Winter cottages their mother would set up each year. He also learned of the economic hardship and trials of the family and knew the gallery would be pleased to offer their support. “After all,” said Larry Murman, “this is Folsom, where people are always glad to come together to have fun and support each other.” In preparing for the day, the gallery director called more than a dozen galleries in California to see if they had any suggestions for setting up the wedding. But none had ever had the request or had the experience in their galleries.
So with Lydia, the staff developed a plan. Staff rearranged all the Thomas Kinkade paintings so that those displaying fall burgundy color would be on the walls closest to where she would stand. “We wanted to coordinate the paintings to complement the color of the bride’s dress.” said Gabriella, adding that they were pleased it came together well. “A few other things had to be moved out of the way, “but everyone was in such a good mood. The hardest part was moving the 8 foot wooden carved Pinocchio we keep in the gallery to highlight our Disney pieces. He kept flopping over as if he didn’t want to leave his spot, but we made it” she said.
A man who was stopped at the door as he tried to enter the gallery, smiled, stood by and watched. So did a few other shoppers. “Nice to know that love is alive – even in these worst of financial times,” said one of the spectators.