Lola and Hemsley Johnson have been married since 1979 but didn’t have the money to have a big wedding at the time. Almost forty years later, they decided to have the lavish wedding they always wanted.
Unfortunately, a huge fire broke out at the apartment complex they lived in. The fire destroyed dozens of apartments, displacing almost two dozen families. The Johnson’s lost almost everything in the fire just weeks before their wedding date.
Lola was at work when the fire started and her husband made it out of the building safely. According to the Associated Press, over 150 firefighters worked to put the fire out and at least nine people were injured.
While Lola said she was grateful for her family’s safety, she was “devastated” when she realized she might not be able to have her wedding.
But Lola and Hemsley’s children were determined to give them their special day.
“We really still wanted to plan this for my mom and dad. We’re definitely concerned that they need a place to live … but we were like, ‘In all of this cloud and rain, let’s give a little bit of sunshine,’” one of the Johnson’s daughters, Octavia, said. “We still wanted to celebrate family, and still wanted to celebrate their love.”
There were just a few shorts weeks until the big day arrived. So wasting no time, Octavia and her siblings got to work. According to Octavia, the events that occurred during their frantic planning were nothing short of a miracle.
To replace her mother’s destroyed wedding dress, Octavia reached out to online bridal boutique Azazie and explained her mother’s situation. After learning of the disaster, the company donated Lola’s wedding dress. It was exactly what she wanted and the Johnson’s children saw that as a sign to keep going.
A local Men’s Warehouse donated a new suit for Hemsley to wear on the big day. And the family even managed to book the massive ballroom at Castle Royale in Yonkers, which was three times bigger than the original location.
So with the help of their family and friends, Lola and Hemsley got to be one of the 2.4 million couples that get married every year in the United States.
Photos of the wedding day featured Lola and Hemsley surrounded by family and friends, all with big smiles. Lola said her favorite part of the special day was when she approached the aisle to see her children and their families.