The idea of an arranged marriage probably sounds less than romantic to many people. But for David and Elizabeth Weinlick, it was the beginning of a fairy tale love affair spanning 19 years so far.
The two scarcely knew each other when they tied the knot in front of a throng of shoppers at the Mall of America in Minnesota back in 1998. However in the years since, they fell in love and had four children together.
Friends helped with arranged marriage
It all started with what sounds like an elaborate practical joke. David set a wedding date of June 13, 1998, despite not having a fiancée. He enlisted friends and family to help him find a bride-to-be. His loved ones launched a full-on search, including a commercial, advertisements and television interviews. They screened hundreds of women and eventually landed on Elizabeth.
The couple says accepting each other, flaws and all, is a key component of their lasting union.
“Finding a good partner for life is about working with people as they are, not insisting that … people have to be the perfect person for you,” David told the Associated Press. “You’re not going to find somebody carved in a statuary that’s perfect for you.”
A sad twist in the fairy-tale ending
Now, the couple is facing what could be the end of their fairy-tale love story. In March, they got devastating news that David has inoperable, terminal stage IV colon cancer. The couple is attempting to laugh through the pain, another strategy they say has kept them together all these years. While they don’t know how long David has, they’re determined to make the most of what time they have left.
— Greg Laden (@gregladen) March 19, 2017
They plan to renew their vows at the same spot where they originally married, the Mall of America. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the Angel Foundation, which helps families suffering from cancer with financial assistance and free camps for children.
The Weinlicks plan to spend the upcoming months much the way they’ve spent the rest of their lives: enjoying simple pleasures together like family gatherings, a high school reunion and watching TV shows.
Still, the prospect of living without David is deeply saddening for Elizabeth.
“The hardest part for me is knowing that there are going to be things that I’m going to miss about Dave in the future and knowing that there’s nothing I can do right now to make up for that,” she told the AP. “When our first grandchild is born, he’s not going to be there. What would have been our 25th wedding anniversary, he probably won’t be there.”