By the end of Sandra Schollum's dream wedding, her mother was paralysed in hospital and a family friend rushed away in an ambulance.

The happiest day of her life became her saddest after a terrible string of coincidences.

Mrs Schollum - nee Flessak - is now trying to raise $60,000 so her mother, on her first visit from Brazil, can get the treatment needed to fly home before her visa expires.

Mrs Schollum and her husband, Tony, met on New Year's Eve five years ago.


They spent the next couple of years travelling between Tauranga and Auckland every weekend before they moved in together and became engaged.

But Mrs Schollum's family in Brazil had never been able to afford to visit. The couple entered a competition with Mangapapa Petit-Hotel, in Hawkes Bay, for a $30,000 dream wedding - to use the savings to fly the family over.

The hotel's general manager, Catherine Hobbs-Turner, said their story had stood out among the applicants.

"It was a very beautiful story... You could just tell how in love they were," Ms Hobbs-Turner said.

The pair spent 11 months last year preparing, including making their own rings.

Mrs Schollum looked forward to her family being able to see the life she had built for herself in New Zealand after 11 years and share her wedding day with them.

Her parents arrived in December to help in the build up to the wedding.

On the day before the wedding in early January, Mrs Schollum's mother, Elizabeth Flessak, was with her daughter.

She suddenly collapsed and was rushed to Hawkes Bay Hospital suffering from a series of strokes.

It became clear that she had been paralysed down the right side of her body and struggled to see and speak.

The day of the wedding came with bright sunshine and all the preparations in place at the hotel, but Mrs Schollum was still at her mother's bedside at 11am. Mrs Flessak was in pain and stuck in a foreign hospital. But she managed to tell her daughter that, no matter what, she wanted her to get married that day.

Later that afternoon Mrs Schollum walked down the aisle and exchanged vows with her new husband.

"It was glorious - it was really, really lovely," Ms Hobbs-Turner said.

A close friend of the Schollum family took the hand of Mrs Schollum's father and sang You'll Never Walk Alone" - a tribute to the newlyweds and the bride's ailing mother.

But the family friend crashed to the floor at the end of the song. As the wedding guests looked on in horror, he suffered a massive heart attack and stopped breathing.

Nurses, a doctor and two police officers among the guests gave him CPR until ambulances arrived and he began breathing again.

Mr and Mrs Schollum still somehow completed the ceremony and made their way to the hospital in their wedding outfits.

Mrs Schollum's mother is now being looked after by the newlyweds - but without insurance or the necessary funds she cannot pay for her care.

Immediate treatment is needed before any airline will agree to fly her home to Brazil - and the couple are concerned that her visa will expire before her recovery, hindering any future visit to New Zealand.

To donate

• ANZ account 01-0685-0233850-00

• LOVES Trust

c/- PO Box 907

Napier 4140

New Zealand

(Cheques to Lifesaving Overseas Visitors Emergency Support Trust)