After calling off her wedding just a few weeks before she was going to walk down the aisle, 25-year-old Jenny Ly of Long Beach, California hosted a cancer fundraiser called “Lemons to Lemonade,” inspired by Beyoncé's latest album, at the venue instead — and raised over $3,000 for Relay for Life.
In August 2015, Ly became engaged to her on-and-off boyfriend of five years. Though she knew the relationship had some problems, she was in love and hoped the two could work through their differences during the engagement.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. “It got to a point where we were constantly bickering,” she told TODAY. “Other things going on in our lives did not work well with the issues we already had … People say once you get married, those issues only get worse.”
In early July — just a few weeks before the wedding, which was scheduled for August 7 — Ly made the difficult decision to cancel. “We no longer knew how to love each other as we should,” she explained. She gave back the rings and took over payments for the wedding, for which they had already put down several non-refundable deposits.
“I was locked in a contract for the venue and had to pay for it anyway,” she said. “I began thinking about other things I could do … Everyone was saying just throw a huge party, but I wanted something good to come out of it.”
Ly had her aha moment while attending a Relay for Life event the following week. Having attended other Relay events in nursing school and lost relatives to cancer, she contacted the organization about hosting a fundraiser.
Relay representatives were thrilled, and helped to spread the word and sell tickets. The venue, La Mirada Country Club in Los Angeles, was also extremely accommodating, allowing Ly to postpone the date to August 28 and up her package to accommodate additional guests.
They named the event “Lemons to Lemonade,” a nod to making the best of what could have been devastating circumstances.
The event was a success, with five comedy performances, a DJ and a pasta buffet, all to benefit the American Cancer Society. The non-bride wore a white cocktail dress and a veil.
There were even signature cocktails with tongue-in-cheek names like the "Lemons to Lemonrita" and "Jenny's Blackout."
“I wanted it to be light and fun,” said Ly. “There’s no point in dwelling on the bad. We can all do a little bit of something to make things better for others and ourselves.” And she sure did — the event raised a total of $3,203.
We'll drink a Lemons-to-Lemonrita to that!