A Day Defying the Odds

Compiled by Chelsea Sherman

Photography by Chelsie Darling Photography

Who: Sarah Swaim, preschool teacher at The New E3 School, and Patrick Rostock, French teacher at Ocean Lakes High School.

When: Oct. 29, 2016.

Where: The Rose Garden and Rose Hall at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.

Guest List: 212 guests traveled from Washington, D.C., Illinois, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.

Where They Met: At age 14, Sarah was diagnosed with leukemia. The next year she attended Camp Fantastic, for kids with cancer. Patrick’s mom was a volunteer at the camp, and she and Sarah became friends. A year later, Sarah met Patrick at a family weekend. “My mom was there with me, and she said that when we said ‘Hello’ to each other, she just knew something special had taken place,” Sarah says. The two were only 16 at the time and were living in different states, so they decided if it was meant to be they would come back to their relationship later. Two years later they reconnected in college and have been together ever since.

The Engagement: Sarah and Patrick both volunteer with the same organization that runs Camp Fantastic. Patrick proposed to Sarah around the campfire, surrounded by their friends, at a camp family weekend. “It was so special because camp is where we met and where our love grew,” Sarah says.

Wedding Wishes: The Rostock’s wedding was a day to celebrate their love, and also a day to celebrate life. “Patrick and I have been through so much together the past eight years, and I just wanted to be able to soak in the glory of celebrating our love that day,” Sarah says. All of their guests have played a special part in their relationship. “Whether it was giving support, laughing or crying with us, their role in our relationship has meant so much to us. I hope they had a blast and could feel how much we appreciate them!”

What’s Next: In December, Patrick and Sarah headed to Disney World for their honeymoon. Patrick is finishing up his licensure for French education, and Sarah is growing her career as a fundraising consultant.


WEDDING PARTY: Patrick’s best friends Brian and Tony Alba stood by his side, along with Brittney’s husband, Kendall Goodin. Sarah also had "bridesman" John Schreiber, a “her friend since first grade.

BRIDE: Gown—BHLDN, Anthropologie’s Bridal Shop in Chicago. Veil—Pure English. Flower crown—New Leaf Florist.

GROOM: Suit—Men’s Wearhouse.

LEADING LADIES: Sarah’s sister Kate Rosch flew in from Chicago to be her matron of honor, and her best friend Brittney Goodin stood by her side as a bridesmaid.

FLOWER POWER: During leukemia treatment, Sarah had to undergo bone marrow biopsies. Leukemia cells found in the biopsy were called weeds and healthy cells were referred to as flowers. Flowers have become a symbol in Sarah and Patrick’s life of growth and health.



MIRACLE GIRL: Sarah met Abby Furco two years ago at Camp Fantastic and the two formed a beautiful friendship. Last summer, Abby was given 48 hours to live because of complications from her cancer treatment. Abby defied all odds and was able to walk down the aisle for her friend’s special day. Now, Abby is a 2017 Ambassador for St. Baldrick's Foundation, a non-for-profit helping children with cancer by raising funds to find cures. Read more about Abby's inspiring story here.

FOOTWEAR: Sarah and her mother were both members of Alpha Omicron Pi in college. The panda is the sorority’s mascot.

RUSTIC TOUCH: The boutonnieres were made of wheat, thistles and spray roses, giving them a rustic flare.

TEARS OF JOY: “There would have been a hole in my heart if Abby hadn’t been there for this day,” Sarah says. Sarah told Abby she didn't have to walk the whole long way down the aisle, but Abby insisted. “She’s so stubborn in the best way,” Sarah says.

WOODSY WHIMSY: “The Botanical Gardens is such a diverse venue. One minute you’re in a garden and the next you’re surrounded by trees near a lake. I could not have picked a more perfect venue,” Sarah says.

ONE THOUSAND CRANES: According to ancient Japanese legend, folding 1,000 paper cranes grants you a wish from the gods. Sarah’s mother helped her fold most of the cranes. She also brought the paper to family weekends at camp, and her friends helped with the origami. “It turned into this wonderful labor of love,” Sarah says.


Hair: Andrew Walton, Wink Salon
Makeup: Alana Manning, Bella Vita Artistry
Caterer: East Beach Catering
Florist: Norfolk Wholesale Florist
Music: Hey DJ Bobby
Rentals: Distinctive Event Rentals

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