When Max Van Gorder and his fiancee Lydia were planning their 2018 wedding, they wanted a special way to honor someone dear to them both. You see, Max’s sister Vanessa had died in a car accident several years earlier. She was very important to Max and Lydia, and they decided to release butterflies in her honor during the wedding. The name Vanessa means butterfly.
During the ceremony, held at a scenic Pennsylvania farm, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” played and Max’s parents released the lovely monarchs into the air. But some of the butterflies didn’t seem to want to leave. Instead, they hovered near the family in a moment that photographer Jessica Manns called “the most emotional thing I’ve witnessed at a wedding.”
Mann later told HuffPost that the family was completely in awe of the butterflies’ behavior. “There was just a lot of emotion as they thought of Vanessa and her spirit,” she said.
One of the monarchs perched on Max’s father’s finger during the entire ceremony. And right after the couple had exchanged their vows and were walking down the aisle, two of them landed on Lydia’s dress. Then, as people were giving their speeches during the reception, a single butterfly flew into the barn and landed on Lydia’s neck.
Mann said that the monarch “stayed on [Lydia’s] face for the remainder of the speeches. It was pretty remarkable since the reception happened hours after the ceremony inside an enclosed barn that was a good distance from the ceremony spot.”
In a guest post on lovewhatmatters, Max remembered the special day. “This barn had a lovely garden, flowers and intricate stonework, and a beautiful path to a place I imagine heaven looks like…. Everyone was present, even my sister, Vanessa, my beautiful little butterfly.”