May 20th couldn't come soon enough for high school sweethearts Sarah Smarr and Jody Smith.
"We were more than just significant others, we were best friends," said Smarr.
Shortly after they got engaged, Smarr found The Grand Magnolia House in Marshallville and knew instantly it would be the perfect place for them to tie the knot and start their next chapter together.
She had the place, the dress, and many of the other wedding essentials, but the most important of all, her groom-to-be, was taken from her last December.
Officer Smith and his best friend and best man Officer Nick Smarr were shot and killed responding to a domestic call in Americus on Dec. 7.
"It's still a shock," said Sarah, "to have your wedding planned and the perfect place and then to have it all ripped from you in the matter of a day."
They always knew this was a possibility, but they never thought it would become their reality.
"We had actually talked about it two weeks before because it had just happened in Peach County." Sarah says Officer Smith told her that he loved his job and was willing to take the risk.
Sarah says not a day goes by without her thinking of the man she's loved since they were 16 years old, but she's found strength in the memories they shared and in the support of family, friends, and even their wedding venue.
The Grand Magnolia House has offered to donate money from each booking in the month of May to the Smarr and Smith Foundation, which raises money for equipment, training, and scholarships for law enforcement in Sumter County. The venue is also offering discounts to all law enforcement, first responders, and military members.
"It's a bittersweet thing," says Sarah. "I'm glad that the other officers are getting the equipment and stuff that they need, but it's heartbreaking because it took losing two to get to that point."
Now more than ever, Sarah knows the importance of "backing the blue" and not just the person wearing the badge.
"It wasn't just a police officer killed in the line of duty. He was a fiance, a best friend, a brother, and an amazing man."
It's something she hoped to sum up in one photo of her in her wedding dress holding her officer's flag.
"I wasn't sure if I wanted to share it because it's so personal, but I'm so glad I did."
On May 20, she won't be wearing her wedding dress, but Sarah still plans to be with family and friends to celebrate a love story she says ended too soon but was filled with so much.
"I try to just know that he spent the rest of his life with me. He was happy, I was happy, and some people search a whole lifetime for that kind of love."
Sarah says, even though he's gone, Officer Smith continues to help others to this day. His organs were donated to people in need across the country, some in Georgia.
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