Every bride wants to be treated like a princess on her wedding day. Little did Olivia Sparks know that was exactly what would happen to her – and it completely made her day.
Olivia and her husband Caleb Sparks had just finished up their wedding ceremony and had taken a detour to Akron Falls Park before their reception to stop and take some photos with their event photographer. Suddenly, a small girl startled the couple when she ran up to Olivia shouting “Cinderella, Cinderella!”
The child that approached Olivia was 5-year-old Layla Lester. Layla, who appeared giddy and smiling in the photos and video released by WAFF News also has autism.
In a later interview with WAFF News, Layla’s mother, Jessica, revealed her daughter’s autism typically makes it hard for her to connect and interact with people in the right manner. She said this was especially true for strangers. So, when she chose to break out of her comfort zone and interact with Olivia it was quite an unexpected moment.
Despite her social skill struggles, Layla is a lover of Disney princesses and her mother believes this is what prompted her to approach the newlywed bride.
“When she sees a princess, she’s going to love them because she loves princesses,” her mother explained.
The couple’s wedding photographer, Nicole Wickins, had been standing by snapping photos of the couple when the encounter happened. Although no one knew the girl, the photographer saw an opportunity to capture a unique addition to the otherwise conventional photo shoot. So, she began snapping pictures of the brief but moving moment between Olivia and Layla.
“I was really caught off guard because there’s a little girl that none of us had known, so I wasn’t sure if I should take pictures. But it kind of just felt like the thing to do,” the photographer explained.
Jessica was amazed that her daughter opened up to a complete stranger and was elated the photographer captured such a beautiful moment in her daughter’s life.
The interaction only lasted a few minutes during which Layla told “Cinderella” she was beautiful and asked if she could touch her dress. Unfortunately, the couple only had a short while to finish their shoot and move on to the rest of the day’s celebration. So, Olivia told her new friend that she had to “get to the ball.”
Layla Lester loves to play princesses. In fact, nothing delights the 5-year-old more. So imagine the joy when Layla, who is autistic, saw one of her favorite characters come to life.https://t.co/GXeBg27obq
— KLBK News (@KLBKNews) October 28, 2018
A brief video of the encounter was captured and originally posted by the Nicole Wickins on her photography Facebook page. The video clip has since gone viral.
When asked about her interaction with the young girl, Olivia told WAFF News the little girl really made her wedding day extra special.
“I was flattered. I was, like, in tears that she thought I was a princess, and it just made my day absolutely more amazing than what it already was.”
The day after the wedding, the groom’s mother, Angela Sparks, posted about the occurrence on her Facebook page. She ended the post by asking all her friends and family to share the post because they wanted to find the little girl and give her mother some pictures from the photo shoot.
“Olivia and Caleb would like to find this mother and her daughter so that they can give her some photos from yesterday for this little girl to keep. Please share this with anyone you may know from Akron in hopes of finding her,” Angela penned in her Facebook post.
— Zero-One Design (@zeroonedesign) October 25, 2018
Angela’s post inspired the creation of a GoFundMe campaign titled “Help Send Layla to Disney World!” The fundraiser has generated more over $20,000 in less than two weeks.
Through the power of social media, Olivia and her family were able to locate and reach out to Layla. They arranged to meet again just a few days later in the same park. Layla was overjoyed to see her friend Cinderella again and the two have even set plans to have a lunch together soon. In response to the plan, Layla says that she is ok with it “as long as there are cookies.”
During an interview with CBS News – which can be viewed in the video clip at the top of the article – Layla’s mom opened up about how relieving it was to not have to apologize on her daughter’s behalf for interrupting the photo shoot. She believes Olivia is the “epitome of a princess.”