News, Culture & Society

Woman volunteers as ‘stand-in mom’ at same-sex weddings

When Marlee Castillo and Tabatha Cash decided to get married, Tabatha’s mother made it clear that she wasn’t going to attend the lesbian couple’s wedding.

So the women reached out to Sara Cunningham, a mother-of-two who volunteers as a ‘stand-in mom’ at same-sex ceremonies.

Sara became an internet sensation in July when she vowed to be there for members of the LGBTQ+ community on their special day.

‘PSA. If you need a mom to attend your same sex wedding because your biological mom won’t. Call me. I’m there. I’ll be your biggest fan. I’ll even bring the bubbles,’ she wrote in a post that was shared more than 8,000 times on Facebook. 

Marlee Castillo and Tabatha Cash called on Sara Cunningham (pictured center with them) to be a stand-in mom after Tabatha’s own mother refused to come to their wedding 

Sara was on hand to help calm Tabatha's nerves and put on her dress on her wedding day 

Sara was on hand to help calm Tabatha’s nerves and put on her dress on her wedding day 

Marlee and Tabatha originally reached out to Sara when they first got engaged and asked her to be their officiant at the wedding. 

But that changed when Tabatha’s mom decided not to come.

‘When my family wasn’t for sure coming, it was “Will you be my stand-in mom because I won’t have a mom there,”‘ Tabatha recalled to ABC.  

‘With the struggles that we’ve had with her mom, Sara is the type of person we want to have at the wedding,’ Marlee added. 

It was Sara who was there to help with Tabatha’s bouquet, made with flowers that were donated by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, and calm her nerves. 

She also helped Tabatha arrange her bouquet before she tied the knot with Marlee in Texas

She also helped Tabatha arrange her bouquet before she tied the knot with Marlee in Texas

Marlee and Tabatha originally reached out to Sara when they got engaged and asked her to be their officiant at the wedding. But that changed when Tabatha's mom decided not to come

Marlee and Tabatha originally reached out to Sara when they got engaged and asked her to be their officiant at the wedding. But that changed when Tabatha’s mom decided not to come

Sara became an internet sensation in July when she vowed to be there for members of the LGBTQ community on their special day if their families wouldn't 

Sara became an internet sensation in July when she vowed to be there for members of the LGBTQ community on their special day if their families wouldn’t 

'With the struggles that we've had with her mom, Sara is the type of person we want to have at the wedding,' Marlee (pictured with Tabatha) said 

‘With the struggles that we’ve had with her mom, Sara is the type of person we want to have at the wedding,’ Marlee (pictured with Tabatha) said 

And it was Sara who was there to help her get into her wedding dress, who watched with joy as she and Marlee had their ‘First Look’ ceremony.

Sara couldn’t help but shed tears as she watched the special moment.

‘I was just thinking about her own mother,’ she admitted. 

There was a point in her life when Sara struggled to accept her own son.

‘I thought I was okay with the LGBTQ community until our own son,’ she said. ‘He said “Mom, I met someone”. I didn’t take the news very well.’ 

There was a point in her life when Sara struggled to accept her own son Parker (pictured together) after he came out 

There was a point in her life when Sara struggled to accept her own son Parker (pictured together) after he came out 

Sara had been an active member of the church for more than 20 years, and felt as if she had to decide between her son and her faith

Sara had been an active member of the church for more than 20 years, and felt as if she had to decide between her son and her faith

‘That was the day he faced his biggest fear – that’s me. And that’s the day I had to face the reality, that I have a gay son.’  

Sara had been an active member of the church for more than 20 years, and felt as if she had to decide between her son and her faith. 

‘As I began to search the matter out, I got educated,’ she said. ‘And I realized that, as a Christian society, we have been duped.’ 

In 2014, Sara and her husband Rex attended their first Pride parade with their son Parker. 

The next year, she made a pin that read ‘Free Mom Hugs’. She gave hugs and high fives and listened to devastating stories from members of the LGBTQ+ community.

But after she educated herself, Sara's viewpoint changed. Now she serves as an officiant for same-sex marriages across the country 

But after she educated herself, Sara’s viewpoint changed. Now she serves as an officiant for same-sex marriages across the country 

Sara (pictured with Jamie Lee Curtis) also started Free Mom Hugs, a non-profit that aims to eliminate LGBTQ+ prejudice

Sara (pictured with Jamie Lee Curtis) also started Free Mom Hugs, a non-profit that aims to eliminate LGBTQ+ prejudice

That’s when Sara decided to start Free Mom Hugs, a non-profit that aims to eliminate LGBTQ+ prejudice, end conversion therapy, and spread love to the community. 

Sara, an ordained minister, also travels across the country to both officiate same-sex weddings and serve as a stand-in mom for people who might need one like Tabatha.

‘To not be accepted by your family is just devastating,’ she said. ‘Everyone needs acceptance from their mother.’  

Tabatha and Marlee tied the knot in November, exchanging their vows at Palo Duro Lake in Spearman, Texas. 

For Sara, watching the beautiful ceremony was ‘bittersweet’. 

Tabatha and Marlee tied the knot in November, exchanging their vows at Palo Duro Lake in Spearman, Texas

Tabatha and Marlee tied the knot in November, exchanging their vows at Palo Duro Lake in Spearman, Texas

For Sara, watching the beautiful ceremony between the happy couple was 'bittersweet' as she thought about her own journey to acceptance 

For Sara, watching the beautiful ceremony between the happy couple was ‘bittersweet’ as she thought about her own journey to acceptance 

‘I know the journey I took and the regret that I would have had, had I not accepted my son,’ she said. 

‘I was able to see him confident, healthy, vibrant, living authentically, and I’ve seen that in Tabatha as she has gone throughout this journey herself.’ 

‘I don’t have my blood DNA mom, but I can still have my mom,’ Tabatha said.

‘Love and acceptance, that is what everyone deserves to feel.’ 

'I don't have my blood DNA mom, but I can still have my mom,' Tabatha said. 'Love and acceptance, that is what everyone deserves to feel'

‘I don’t have my blood DNA mom, but I can still have my mom,’ Tabatha said. ‘Love and acceptance, that is what everyone deserves to feel’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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