Engaged Couple Pays Forward Their Happily Ever After
"We met at a coffee stand. She played extremely hard to get [and] it took me forever to get a date with her," explained John Larsen of his now fiance, Katy Sedlacek.
SPOKANE, WA. - "We met at a coffee stand. She played extremely hard to get [and] it took me forever to get a date with her," explained John Larsen of his now fiance, Katy Sedlacek.
And although it took Katy a while to warm up to John, her mom, Donna, liked him right away. When she met John, she guessed right off that bat that John might someday propose to her daughter.
"I think I loved John before Katy did," explained Donna. "He's her Prince Charming, he's certainly my Prince Charming...he takes good care of all of us."
Katy's father, Mike, was also very fond of John.
"My dad loved him," explained Katy's sister Missy. "It's the first boyfriend he ever approved of right away."
Missy said John was planning on asking Mike for Katy's hand in marriage, but Mike passed away suddenly, close to 2 years ago, before he got the chance.
John only knew Katy's dad for a few months, but in those months Mike, a committed volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Yakima, made a big impact on John.
"My dad was all about giving back and blessing, no matter what," said Missy.
"The kind of person he was - you don't find those people," said John. "[Mike] was never a stranger. He could come into the room and talk to every single person."
So, when John was getting ready to propose to his girlfriend, he knew an momentous event like that would certainly make Katy miss her father even more.
"She [Katy] was daddy's girl," explained Missy. "She always wanted dad to walk her down the aisle...so it's been hard to think of this."
But, as John proceeded with planning his proposal, he met Pam Terpstra, wedding coordinator at Belle Gardens in Deer Park, who wanted to help John and Katy make their wedding completely joyous, while also honoring Katy's late father, Mike.
Pam was giving away a proposal photography session through Facebook. She had an overwhelming response from men looking to pop the question, but when she met John, she instantly knew he would be the one she picked.
"What resonated with me most is how much he loved his fiance-to-be and her family," remembered Pam. "He went into how much he adored Katy's father...he just lit up when he talked about him...and it just hit me that this was special."
After talking to John for a few hours, Pam decided she wanted to take this not 1 but 2 steps further.
Because of her strong belief in how important a couple's wedding day is, Pam decided she wanted to give John and Katy their entire wedding - something she does for one couple at Belle Gardens every year.
And, because she was so moved by John's love and respect for Katy's family, Pam wanted to find a way to honor Katy's dad, Mike, who unfortunately will not be at the wedding.
Pam and John decided that since the wedding will be fully funded - as of now, local Spokane vendors have donated $30,000 worth of wedding services - gifts should be directed towards Habitat for Humanity to honor Mike. And, the plan is that John, Katy, and their friends and family will build a Habitat house for a family in need with the donations they receive at the wedding.
"This event, will show how amazing Spokane is wanting to give back to people and keep paying it forward," said Missy.
"I'm excited to draw attention to [Mike's] charity of choice," echoed Pam.
John proposed to Katy at the Italian Kitchen in Downtown Spokane. KHQ was there behind the scenes - capturing not only the proposal (she said YES!) but also when Pam presented Katy with the fact that only was her wedding was completely paid for, but also that they would be honoring her father through Habitat as well.
Friends and family waited behind closed doors at the restaurant, ready to congratulate the happy couple as soon as Katy learned all of this news.
"It's hard to get married without my dad here," she said emotionally, "but it means a lot to honor him."
There will be no replacing Mike's presence at this wedding, which is already set for September 13, but honoring his legacy will be a beautiful way to honor his memory.
"I think he's [Mike's] probably smiling down on us right now," said Donna with a grin. "I think he probably had a lot to do with orchestrating this. He's watching over us."
And, we will continue to follow not only John and Katy's upcoming wedding, but also the start of their Habitat build.