“Today was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, the day I married my forever,” Nikki Salgot wrote Oct. 14 on Facebook.
But her fiancé, Collin Rose, a Wayne State University police officer in Michigan, was shot and killed in November 2016. He had stopped a bicyclist while investigating a string of thefts near the Detroit campus when he was shot in the head, ABC News reported. Rose died the next day.
As their planned wedding day crept closer, Salgot had an idea. She called a former classmate, Rachel Heller of Rachel Smaller Photography, and arranged a solo wedding shoot in the woods, in the dress she had already purchased for her marriage to Rose.
The photos capture Salgot posing somberly with the U.S. flag she was given at Rose’s funeral and his hat, but also images of her smiling and laughing during lighter moments.
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“She captured images that still vividly show the pain left behind; images that show I am still able to laugh, smile and be me; images that show this loss has not and will not destroy me; and my favorite, images that show I am still just as fierce as ever and refuse to let this define me,” Salgot wrote on Facebook.
It wasn’t until after Heller delivered the finished photos to Salgot that she revealed a secret – she had interrupted preparations for her own impending wedding to organize the photo shoot.
“She was so excited for me,” Heller told Today. “So collected. It was so generous of her to be happy for me. It really put things in perspective.”