Kolbie Sanders appeared in a Facebook Live video, vigorously shaking a bowl filled with strangers' names and then choosing one at random.
The 24-year-old, from Tyler, Tex., explained earlier this week that she had ended her own engagement in the weeks leading up to her wedding, so she decided to give away her reserved venue and decorations to help out another couple. When local businesses heard what she was doing, they wanted in on it — donating photography services, food, flowers as well as a makeover for the bride.
Sanders asked couples on social media to send her a message with their backstories. Then she put their names in the bowl and pulled one out.
She held up a card reading, “Halie Hipsher.”
“When I chose her name, I was really excited,” Sanders said about Hipsher in a phone interview Thursday with The Washington Post. ''I immediately remembered her story, so I was really happy for her."
Sanders said that after she ended her engagement last month, the venue’s owners told her that she could keep her reservation for a later date, but “I wasn’t interested in using the venue for myself.”
So she decided to give it away to a stranger.
Sanders posted an announcement Sunday on Facebook, explaining that she would give her wedding venue, worth $3,500, to a couple willing to get married within a week, on Oct. 20.
“With my engagement ending,” she wrote, “I’ve come to find tremendous peace in knowing that I did the right thing for the both of us. With that being said, now I want to do the right thing by others and let some good come out of this decision.”
Sanders asked people to share the post — and it was shared more than 4,000 times.
Soon, she said, others started sending her messages, wanting to help — a wedding photographer donated her services. A bakery agreed to bake cookies. One person donated a bouquet and a boutonniere. Someone else offered to do the bride’s hair and makeup for the big day.
“It became a chain reaction of essential wedding donations,” Sanders told The Post.
Sanders said she also received hundreds of messages from couples as well as people who knew them and wanted to see them get married. She said she read their stories and wrote down the ones that touched her, then she loaded them into a colander and did a live drawing.
Sanders said she wrote down Hipsher’s name because she wanted to try to help.
Sanders said Hipsher told her that her grandfather was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and she didn’t know if he would make it to see her walk down the aisle next year. “She ended up telling me how winning this wedding would let her pawpaw attend her wedding,” she said.
Hipsher could not immediately be reached for comment by The Washington Post.
But she later appeared in her own live stream, thanking Sanders and telling her that she is welcome to attend the wedding. “Thank you so much for entering me into a drawing and for picking my name,” she said.
Sanders’s Facebook post has drawn hundreds of comments from people not only nominating couples but also praising Sanders for her generosity.
“What a wonderful thing you are doing. Bless you and the happy couple,” one person wrote.
Another person said: “Kolbie, you are a such a blessing to someone. You have the best soul.”
Sanders said the response has been “overwhelming.”
“I feel like it’s not as big of a deal as people are making it out to be,” she said. “I think that if you have it, you can give it, and I had this and I didn’t want it to go to waste. It felt natural to give it to someone who could use it.”