When Ashley signed up for Skillpoint’s Gateway program, she expected to learn valuable skills and have the opportunity to advance her career as a Certified Nurse Aide. What she didn’t expect was for the experience to end with a wedding.
Cody and Ashley were childhood friends, and first met because their families attended the same church. They lost touch growing up as the families went separate ways, but reconnected through Facebook as adults. A new friendship flourished and eventually led to love.
While they were dating, Ashley began pursuing her RN degree with help from Capital IDEA. Last spring, her counselor with Capital IDEA recommended she go through the Gateway program to become a Certified Nurse Aide as a way to further her career. She enrolled, and spent four weeks learning the technical and soft skills needed to be successful in the healthcare industry. At the completion of a Gateway course, Skillpoint celebrates with its students by offering a graduation ceremony. Ashley’s graduation was set for April 17th, just three days after her birthday.
Unbeknownst to Ashley, Cody had purchased an engagement ring on her birthday and was planning to propose that night. But, wanting Ashley’s family and friends to be included in the special moment, he decided to pop the question during her graduation reception.
“Cody kept trying to get my attention, and I was busy trying to talk with employers. He kept saying he needed me to talk with him, and I finally figured out what was going on,” Ashley recalls. “He got down on one knee, and everyone got really quiet. He pulled the ring out from behind his cowboy hat and asked me to marry him. Everyone cheered after I said, ‘Yes.’ It was really special.”
Soon after, Gateway’s Employment Coordinator, Sara Burnett, called Ashley to check-in on how she was doing post-graduation and to see if Ashley would be interested in a special opportunity. Ashley remembers Sara’s exact words to this day:
“She said, ‘I know you just got engaged at our graduation, and I was just curious if you were interested in a free wedding?’ And my response was, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
The timing was perfect – Jen Sanregret of Sanregret Weddings had just reached out to Skillpoint with the desire to donate a free wedding, and was wondering if the organization knew of anyone who may be interested.
Jen and Ashley met, and the wedding planning was on. Sanregret Weddings took care of everything; they planned all the logistics, found the vendors, decorated, and even helped ease Cody and Ashley’s stress leading up to the big day.
“It felt like I was in a dream. That type of kindness and compassion isn’t around as much in the world anymore, and I’d rarely gotten to experience it. Our lives haven’t been easy. Since our relationship started there has been stress, frustration and money issues. This experience changed my perspective on life,” Ashley said.
At Skillpoint, we believe every single person who comes through our program has value and deserves dignity. We care about each of them, not just as students, but as people. Ashley and Cody’s wedding was beautiful, and we are so grateful to play a small part in their story.
“I don’t know how to put into words how much I love and appreciate everyone who did this for us.” Ashley says. “They’ll never know what it means to us. For someone to do this for us was an incredible, incredible thing. It was amazing and felt like a dream come true.”
A special thanks to all of the vendors who made this a truly special day for Ashley and Cody!
Venue: Austin Wedding Chapel
Planner: Sanregret Weddings
Décor: Beelavish Event Rentals
Cake: Hillcountry Cakery
Photography: Joyful Impressions
Lemonade: Austin City Lemons
Wine: Cali Girl Wines