An engaged couple who met on a movie set and grew closer during a cancer battle found a happy ending in the form of an incredible surprise wedding, thanks to a merry bunch of pranksters.
Cinema buffs Mario and Elaine Lantigua fell in love after meeting on the set of a zombie movie she was filming. But shortly after she accepted his marriage proposal, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks the immune system.
In an effort to take care of her, Mario quit jobs and postponed the wedding. Mounting medical bills and the passing of six years complicated matters further. "You don't know the pain it is to see a loved one going through this, and there's absolutely nothing I could do," Mario said.
Teaming up with Prank It Fwd, Mario surprised his wife with what she thought was going to be a typical movie date in Jersey City, New Jersey. As Mario ducked out of the theater — supposedly to use the restroom — Elaine was left alone to watch a trailer that happened to chronicle a familiar love story: her own.
Elaine watched an actress in the custom-made trailer play a zombie-flick director who asks a man to be an extra in her film. As if that weren't enough of a cue that something was up, the trailer's announcer remarked, "Their lives would change forever when, finally, on an ordinary date to the movies, Mario would get up to go the bathroom, and Elaine would see a weirdly specific movie trailer that is clearly about her own relationship."
The voice-over then introduced the real-life Mario, who was accompanied by string musicians as he tearfully said, "I love you with all my heart. We've been through thick and thin, and you've always been by my side. We've been through so much. I want to know if you will marry me. Right now. Right here."
After Elaine replied, "Yes, of course," they kissed and embraced — and that's when Prank It Fwd host Greg Benson emerged to help with the event, whose attendants included the couple's family and friends.
While getting her hair and makeup done, a "speechless" Elaine was fitted for a gown picked out by her sisters. Meanwhile, Mario's groomsmen outfitted him in a tux and popped some champagne. And the string orchestra returned to play a wedding march as Elaine walked down the movie-theater aisle to meet her husband at the front.
"I never expected you to be there for me through thick and thin," Elaine told Mario during the ceremony. "And when you stayed through everything, I just knew you were the one. I love you."
Prank It Fwd also provided the couple with a wedding reception that included catering, a photo booth, a wedding cake and music — but even Mario didn't appear to be ready for two more surprises that Benson presented to the newlyweds: a trip to Hollywood, California, and $20,000. In response, the couple cried tears of joy.
Added Benson, who posed with the happy couple, "This is one of the best weddings I've ever been to."
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This article was originally published Mar. 31, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. ET.