Just a few weeks after Tara Foley bought her wedding dress, her 102-year-old grandmother began receiving hospice care.
Stasia Foley, Foley’s grandmother, told hospice workers in Naples, Florida that she wanted to go to her granddaughter’s wedding that summer.
In an interview with PEOPLE, 37-year-old realtor Tara says, “I knew she wouldn’t be able to make it back to Texas for my wedding.” When I heard that, I said, “I had to go to her.” Please let her see me dressed as I am. And I’m doing my best to carry out her final request.
Tara told her parents on January 28 that she would be traveling to Miami with her boyfriend, 41-year-old Matt Bars, for professional reasons. Instead, she touched down in Fort Myers. (She didn’t bring her fiance since she didn’t want him to see the dress before the wedding.) Tara told her aunt and uncle that she needed to ask her nana a few more questions in order to finish the legacy film she had started in September.
Tara arrived at her aunt and uncle’s condo with her hair and cosmetics done. She learned about Tara’s grandmother’s guest.
The woman turned to face me and said, “I thought it was going to be you,” Tara says.
Tara hurriedly made changes to her Stella York bridal gown and then sprung a photo shoot on her Nana in the condo’s clubhouse.
I yearned so badly for her to see me dressed up, Tara says. She didn’t even touch the fabric or tulle of my outfit. She kept taking simultaneous glances at my clothes and me.
Tara was described as a beautiful bride, to her praise.
Tara acknowledges, “I became quite emotional.” She did not frequently cry. She too broke down in tears.
Even the photographer acknowledges that she shed some tears while taking the pictures.
The Fort Myers and Knoxville, Tennessee-based photographer Marie Kamp described it as “very sweet.” It tasted quite sweet.
Makeup artist Michelle Weaver started crying after her first phone call with Tara. It was one of the sisters’ most treasured photo shoots, in her opinion.
Weaver says to PEOPLE that “it will remain in our hearts forever.”
Following that, Tara took off her wedding-day makeup and tied her hair back into a ponytail. She established a covert pact with her grandmother.
Tara claims, “I wanted to keep all the images a surprise.” She said, putting her finger to her chin and looking out the window, “I’ll tell them we went dancing.
Less than a month later, on February 23, Tara’s grandma passed away. She was three months shy of turning 103. Even so, Tara waited until the morning of her wedding on June 1 to reveal details about her photo shoot. I’m really good at keeping secrets hidden, Tara boasts.
At Hidden Falls Ranch in Spring Branch, Texas, where she and her bridesmaids were getting their hair and makeup done, Tara surprised her family with framed photos from her secret photo shoot.
“My father thought I had used Photoshop to merge two photographs. He was just extraordinarily moved by the vision. He didn’t think that was true, Tara says. “At that very moment, tears began to pour. Simply said, everyone was genuinely shocked and moved to tears.
Her wedding photographer captured the moment, which, in her opinion, is unusual for most of her weddings.
Misty McLendon, a photographer based in Austin, calls it “more sensitive and intimate.” “I’d never be able to accomplish it. That’s a secret I could never keep for that long.
Tara’s photo session with her grandmother received over 1.7 million likes and shares on social media.
“The pictures have moved everyone incredibly. “Everyone was so gracious and friendly,” adds Tara. “People are telling me how amazing the planet can be despite the negative content on social media, which is a strange place. Everyone is being so kind right now. The stories that everyone is telling me about their grandparents are all amazing.
One of the pictures was canvas printed by Tara, but she’s having difficulties picking which picture to frame for herself. She claims that she simply adores too many of them.
Photographer Kamp is astonished by the success of her photos. After losing her 212-year-old daughter to a heart ailment in 1994, Kamp is aware of the importance of collecting images of a lost loved one.
I love gifting things to folks, says Kamp.Photos are really important. Sometimes it’s the last thing you have.