Amanda Jude has two big hopes for her wedding day.
One is to not trip going down the aisle.
The other is that all the people who donated to make her dream day a reality will be able to see it come together.
Jude will say “I do” to her U.S. Army fiancé on Aug. 12, when he returns home for four days to get married.
They’ll exchange vows in front of family, friends and folks they’d never met until after Jude settled on a courthouse wedding.
Local wedding vendors have since rallied together to provide a wedding ceremony and reception for the 21-year-old Army bride and her military man, Brian Chambers, 22.
Jude, who works at a local Starbucks, mentioned to a co-worker that she wouldn’t be able to afford the wedding she’d been planning.
That friend told her mother, Natalie Roth, a Forsyth County cake designer, who offered to provide the wedding dessert centerpiece for free.
But Roth didn’t stop there.
She told Jude she would make a few calls, and within hours the courthouse ceremony was history.
Jude was floored with the news. Within a couple weeks, every vendor needed for an American wedding was on board.
“An entire community [is] pulling together behind one couple that nobody even met,” she said. “Everybody [who’s donating] was like ‘Wow, he risked his life for his country, and he can’t even afford a wedding.’”
Roth had that reaction when she hit the phones to rally donations, and the other vendors jumped on board right away.
“I think everybody is trying to do something to support the troops,” she said. “I think people want to do something without sending dollars to some unknown agency.
“For them to be hands on and be able to put together a wedding with their talents, I think they’re excited to do it.”
She’s since given a name to the endeavor, titling it “Weddings for Warriors,” and Roth hopes to award a wedding to a military couple each year.
Local businesses provided photography, flowers, food, rings, salon services and more for the Jude and Chambers’ affair.
Jennifer Goodin, who’s donating time to coordinate it, said she was amazed at how much people were willing to give.
“She went from thinking she’s going to get married at the courthouse, to now it’s probably close to a $20,000 wedding,” Goodin said. “She’s just really blown away by that.”
Even when the date had to be moved up two weeks because Chambers couldn’t leave the base, Jude said all the vendors were “miraculously” able to stay on board with the new day.
She’ll also be getting married at the wedding venue in Buford that she originally selected before the financial restraints surfaced.
“If that’s not a sign from God, I don’t know what is,” Jude said.
The couple started dating about two years ago when Chambers was deployed in Afghanistan.
They’d briefly met once before, but a mutual friend who saw a potential match got them reconnected online. Jude said she’s always liked tall men in uniform, and Chambers fits that bill. They clicked instantly.
“We always kind of felt that instant feeling that I could be with you forever,” Jude said. “I’ve never had butterflies before. I think that’s how I knew he was the one.”
He was in Afghanistan at the time. Then it was Germany for about four months. After a month at home, Chambers is stationed at Fort Polk in Louisiana.
The two video chat, talk on the telephone and text as much as possible. “Twelve hours without talking to him feels like a week,” Jude said.
She awakes each day to a text message with words like “Good morning, beautiful.”
“I tell him every day that’s he’s my hero,” she said. “I could never do what he does.”
The couple got engaged Dec. 23. Jude was working when Chambers popped the question. She was caught off guard in her apron, but no less thrilled.
Now that she’s earned her associate’s degree, Jude plans to move this fall to live with her husband on the base, where he’ll be stationed until 2016.
His next deployment is late 2013, for nine months in Afghanistan.
The couple won’t be able to enjoy a honeymoon after the ceremony due to Chambers’ schedule. But Roth hopes to find someone who can donate a place to stay without knowing the specific dates the couple may be able to take the vacation.
Whether on the Army base or an island paradise, Jude is ready to spend the rest of her life with the man that makes her “never not smile around him.”