Woman shares 'wedding photos' of her dead groom and his ashes on their planned big day

Jaimie-lee Prince
Nov 23, 2018
07:16 A.M.
Share this pen

One bride's wedding day turned into a tributary event for her late fiance. A heart-wrenching photoshoot on what was supposed to be her big day has now gone viral on Facebook. 


In February 2018, Randy Zimmerman was riding his bike as he often did. When he approached an intersection, tragedy struck. An oncoming vehicle disregarded the stop sign and slammed into Zimmerman, killing him. 

Zimmerman's fiance Debbie Gerlach was hit hard by the loss. She and the "love of [her] life" were supposed to get married nine months after the incident occurred. 

Follow us on Twitter for more @amomama


On Facebook Gerlach shared her feelings of grief about the event. She also warned others to be more conscious on the road. If they did, she would not have had to take the type of photos she did on her planned wedding day. 

Yahoo! reported that Gerlach hired photographer Kristie Fonseca to take pictures on November 11, 2018, the day she was meant to marry her best friend, Randy. 

Fonseca, also a skilled photoshopper, was up to the daunting task. She has worked with others who want to preserve their loved ones via imagery. 


Fonseca says she worked with a daughter who wanted to remember her deceased father, but never a bride and deceased groom.

But Gerlach trusted her. So, on the big day, she went to Tuscon, Arizona desert to take the pictures. Some of them feature transparent visuals of Zimmerman. 

Others displayed Gerlach holding onto the container filled with ashes of her beloved. The photos went viral on Facebook. As of today, they have garnered 327k reactions, 40k comments, and 167k shares. 


Fonseca spoke about the shoot: 

"When I first spoke with Debbie, she told me her tragic story and asked if I was able to insert her fiancé into what should have been their special day. A special day that was carelessly stolen from her. After listening to her heartbreaking, story I just knew I had to do something very special for her.”

She continued: 

“It was supposed to be her day. It was supposed to be the day they expressed their love for each other. My thoughts were going a mile a minute coming up with ideas, poses, and images that would mimic her special day with him.”


The dedicated artist made it work. Gerlach, donned in her white wedding dress, showcased poses that allowed Fonseca to later insert Zimmerman into the picture. 

He held her arm, appeared to be kissing her cheek, and put his arm around her neck in various photos. Fonseca described: 

"She naturally posed for the photos as if he was standing right beside her. Her smile had a warmth as if he was talking to her. Even though he wasn’t there, she moved as if he was.”

Another bride-to-be did a similar shoot in October 2018. Jessica Padgett, 25, also lost her husband months before their big day. Kendall Murphy died when he was struck by a fellow firefighter as Murphy responded to a call. 


Instead of canceling all plans, Padgett decided to do a special photo shoot on September 29, 2018. She said she wanted to "Keep that day, knowing it's our day." 

Padgett's shoot featured transparent pictures of Murphy. She was also pictured kneeling at his grave. She said it was a "healing process" considering her loss.

Again in September, a young bride-to-be knew what life had in store for her before she got married. Nina Marino, 19, was suffering from health conditions after her engagement. 

Joey Williams, 21, stuck by her side throughout the ordeal. In early September doctors announced that Marino did not have long to live. So the pair happily relented and got married soon after the news. Marino sadly died just days later.