Jerold and Mani Clay from Grand Rapids, Michigan, are battling homelessness to this day, but even during their toughest times in life, the one thing they wanted most was to finally become lawfully wedded.
Although many people grow up wanting the whole shebang—a white dress, delicious cake, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and dazzling weddings bands— the Clays were expecting a lot less. At most they wanted a wedding with a few friends and family and the paperwork that would finally make their marriage official.
Jerold and Mani had been together for ten years prior to finally setting a date to tie the knot, and three years ago they decided that they would get married.
From that point onward, the couple started to save as much money as they could so that they could afford their marriage. They saved just enough to become lawfully wedded, but by no means were they able to fund for any other wedding essentials.
Despite the low expectations the Clays had for their wedding day—given their financial circumstances and current living situation—Jerold and Mani Clay were pleasantly surprised and thankful for the forthcoming gifts they received from their local community.
Once word went around about the couple’s soon-to-be marriage, the local homeless shelter—Mel Trotter Ministries—found out and decided to make Jerold and Mani’s wedding day a memorable one. They supplied the couple with the wedding day materials that Jerold and Mani never imagined they would have.
“The couple’s actually been together since 2004,” director of community relations for Mel Trotter Ministries, Abbey Sladick, told Upworthy News. “It was just really important for them to have that day”.
Sladick also noted that because Mel Trotter Ministries is a faith-based organization, that Sladick and other members of the homeless shelter wanted to ensure an extraordinary event for the couple.
Mel Trotter Ministries set out to achieve their mission, which was to “enhance the memory” of the wedding for Jerold and Mani. They used their thrift stores to find a tuxedo and wedding dress as a means to accomplish this.
Mani also got her hair and makeup done by a local salon. By the time the wedding rolled around, the couple was dressed to the nines.
Jerald and Mani decided to get married at “I Now Pronounce You Wedding Services”, which is run by Ken Kibby. Kibby has wed over 100 couples over the past eleven years in his home, so he understands that every situation is different, especially when it comes to financing a wedding. That’s why when Kibby heard about the Clay’s financial situation, he decided to officiate for free.
Both Jerold and Mani were shocked. According to Fox 17 News, the Clays thought were amazed that they could save for something for so long and then just get the money back.
Needless to say, the couple was more than pleased with the unexpected outcome. When Kibby was asked about why he officiated for free, he told Fox 17 news that “He needs [the money] more than I do. It’s the right thing to do. These are two people trying to get their lives together, and God has blessed me with a lot. So I feel like it’s my job to return the favor.”
When the Clays were asked about their reaction to the wedding, Jerold responded by saying, “It felt like Christmas to me all over again. It made me feel wonderful, ready to go meet my bride.”
The wedding that they had anticipated for years surpassed their expectations, and the entire thing was put together in one day. Now that the Clays are officially pronounced husband and wife, the two are hoping for brighter horizons, and they are anticipating getting a home together in the near future.