Miracle Matrimony

After overcoming a tragic experience, paralyzed bride Rachelle Friedman of Virginia Beach gets dream wedding thanks to 1-800-Registry

Their story starts in the usual way of girl meets boy. The girl, Rachelle Friedman, a Virginia Beach native, met the boy, Chris Chapman, at East Carolina University. The two friends eventually became inseparable, and love blossomed soon after. This love saw them through four years of dating, then another year of being engaged. It would be this same love that would see them through a terrible tragedy.

In May 2010, just a month before her impending wedding, Friedman was celebrating with friends at her bachelorette party when the unthinkable happened. A seemingly harmless, playful shove into a swimming pool caused Friedman to suffer a C6 spinal cord injury, leaving her paralyzed.

A life-altering accident like this would change anyone’s outlook on life. Friedman refused to give in to the depression most people would succumb to in a similar situation.

“It is hard to pinpoint just one thing,” Friedman said of what motivated her to get through those tenuous first weeks in the hospital. “I had to stay the same person for Chris and my family. It was hard enough dealing with the physical changes; Chris didn’t deserve to see a different person, to marry a different person.”

So she moved forward, with her fiancé, family and friends by her side. A desire to do some of the same things she did before the accident led Friedman to adaptive sports like wheelchair rugby. She and Chapman had always been believers in athletics, and she was adamant that it stay that way.

One thing that had to change was the couple’s wedding date. With Friedman’s extended hospital stays and consequential bills, the wedding was postponed. “I wasn’t sure I would ever have a real wedding,” Friedman admitted.

Friedman’s story caught the eye of 1-800-Registry, a full service wedding planning solution. “We were floored by the tragedy but inspired by her positive feelings,” says Jennifer Glatt, Wedding Planner Manager for 1-800-Registry. The company was so inspired by Friedman’s story that they are giving the couple their dream wedding and honeymoon.

Needless to say, Friedman and Chapman were thrilled. “[Now] I am the one deciding everything,” Friedman said gleefully.

With so many resources at her disposal, Friedman was looking forward to doing things she would not have been able to initially do. Invitations were changed, a new location was selected, and a better cake, band, and DJ were chosen, along with better flowers.

One thing Friedman did not want to change was her wedding dress. Luckily, Glatt, who is also one of Friedman’s wedding planners, was able to get in touch with a tailor with the help of Friedman’s second planner, Erin McLean. The tailor was able to rebuild Friedman’s dress in order to accommodate her wheelchair, much to the bride’s delight.

With the wedding days away, Friedman is as excited as ever. “I can’t wait for people to see everything and experience it all.” The wedding will take place July 22 at the Fearrington House in Pittsboro, NC. When asked if she was worried about anything going wrong on the big day, Friedman calmly replied that it didn’t matter.  “[What matters] is that I’m marrying the man of my dreams.”

Though the accident has changed some things about their relationship, the important aspects have remained the same. “[The accident] has made us stronger,” Friedman explained. “It changed what we do, but not how we feel. Our love never changed.”

To learn more about Rachelle’s story and to donate to her cause, visit her website here www.rachellefriedman.com. To learn more about all that 1-800-Registry has to offer, visit their website www.1800registry.com for more information.


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