Last weekend, thanks to the contributions of more than 40 local vendors and one extremely driven wedding planner, Bulik was able to have an "amazing" ceremony and reception — "like everything I wanted it to be."
"It was a magical day for not just me but for everybody," Bulik said of her wedding, held July 27 at Saratoga Creek Park in San Jose.
She married Jeff Lang, a Mountain View yoga teacher, in the park where she played as a girl. She had her wedding reception in her childhood home, just a short distance away. "That was my dream."
That Bulik, who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in December of 2012, can talk about magic and dreams in the face of such bleak prospects is humbling.
Outside of her family and close friends there may be no one who understands this better than Erica Ota, who took it upon herself to use her connections in the wedding planning industry to bring Bulik's dream wedding to life on an incredibly rapid timetable.
In just a few short weeks — after reading about Bulik through a mutual Facebook connection — Ota was able to organize a wedding that might have taken close to a year to plan under normal circumstances.
Ota pulled out all the stops, tearing through her Rolodex to recruit florists, caterers, decorators and bakers to donate their services for the wedding and reception, which she described as "rustic chic."
"It was just amazing," Ota said of the generosity she encountered when hitting up vendors for free services. Many people told her they had lost a loved one to cancer, or that their life had been touched by the disease, and that most were happy to help. Others took some more convincing.
Ultimately though, the wedding came together, and judging by Bulik's reaction, it was a success. The bride said it was wonderful to have so many family and friends in attendance to see her walk down the aisle.
"There were just so many smiling faces," Ota said. "It was just an honor to be a part of it."
Donna McCord first met Bulik at a meeting of local business owners organized by the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce. The two became friends over time, as Bulik would regularly come to McCord's house to style and color her hair.
McCord said she thinks of Bulik as a "healthy, vibrant person," and said she was "floored" to learn that the hairstylist had been diagnosed with cancer. "It was hard to believe," McCord said. "It was a real shock."
Bulik's wedding stayed true to the bride's positive nature, said McCord, who attended ceremony. "It was so Jen — it was definitely her personality."
Knowing how much Bulik and her husband care for one another, McCord said it was "heartwarming" to see them get the wedding they wanted.
No one talked about Bulik's sickness, McCord said, noting that the wedding was simply a celebration of Bulik and Lang's love. "I was so thrilled that she was able to have the wedding in the way that she had always wanted," McCord said. "It was very encouraging and uplifting."
Members of a local news team were invited to the wedding and Bulik's story has received lots of attention from local press outlets. According to Bulik, it wasn't her intention to share here tale, but now that she has an audience she is hopeful that some good may come of it.
Before more traditional media outlets began contacting Bulik for interviews, she said that she was already active in social media — talking to other cancer patients and survivors, sharing her story and listening to the stories of others.
Talking to others about what they have gone through and how they continue to struggle on helped her greatly, Bulik said. "I just feel honored to be able to be that person who can share that hope and that inspiration with others."
A fund has been set up to raise money for her medical costs, which are significant. Anyone who wishes to donate can go to giveforward.com/fundraiser/25q2/jen-s-wedding-wish-cancer-fund.