news

Stephanie Scott's family should be preparing for a wedding, not a funeral.

There is no sense and no justice to the fact that while this writer got to hug her parents on her wedding day, another the same age will never get that privilege.

Stephanie Scott went shopping for wedding supplies on Sunday.

The brunette dropped into Griffith to buy cufflinks in preparation for the big day, and also picked up some new bathers for her planned honeymoon in Tahiti.

The English and Drama teacher then drove to her workplace to hand over to a teacher who’d be covering for her during her time off — ensuring everything was in order for the start of her married life, which she was openly ecstatic about.

Stephanie Scott counted down the time until her wedding– commenting on Facebook that it was “not long now” and texting her sister to say she was “so freakin excited”. (Photo: Facebook)

Like many brides-to-be, 26-year-old Steph was counting down the time until her wedding– commenting on Facebook that it was “not long now” and texting her sister to say she was “so freakin excited”.

On her hens’ day wine tour last month, the Leeton High School teacher looked relaxed, bearing a goofy grin alongside the veil-and-sash combo typically donned by Australian brides-to-be across the country.

Stephanie and her mother on Steph’s hens’ day last month in Canberra.

It’s the classic bachelorette-party combo I wore myself just weeks ago — because Stephanie Scott was my age, and we were planning weddings within weeks of each other.

We’d both crafted our own decor for our respective receptions; Steph painted names of guests on flower pots for the table settings and designed her own black and bronze invitations, as her sister told the Daily Mail.

We’d both spent the last 12 months planning big country ceremonies and receptions; hers was to start fewer than 48 hours from now, with a gathering of about 100 people at a function centre in Eugowra, NSW.

We’d both been tirelessly confirming and reconfirming with vendors, with the ever-organised Stephanie emailing the bus company she’d hired at 1pm on Sunday.

Stephanie and Aaron were due to be married on Sunday at the Eat Your Greens function centre in Eugowra, NSW.

But while I went on to hug my parents in a big white dress, totter down the aisle surrounded by my loved ones and toast to many thousands of days ahead with my partner, Stephanie Scott will no longer have that chance.

Because today — just two days before her nuptials were due to begin — the young woman’s red car was found at a rural property in Wamoon, 8km from Leeton.

Related content: School cleaner charged with Stephanie Scott’s murder.

And today, a local man by the name of Vincent Stanford was charged with her murder; it’s alleged that police found pictures of a burned body on the 24-year-old school cleaner’s phone, as well as blood inside his Toyota ute.

ADVERTISEMENT
Nine News tweeted this picture, believed to be Stephanie’s car, from the the air.

Now, instead of making the happy journey out of town to watch Stephanie wed her childhood sweetheart, 24-year-old abbatoir worker Aaron Lesson-Wooley, the young woman’s family and friends will be making the devastating, almost unbelievable, journey to her funeral.

It’s a loss that must be almost unbearable for Steph’s mother Merrilyn Scott, who shares her daughter’s warm eyes.

It’s a loss that must be beyond painful for Steph’s dark-haired sister Kim — who affectionately called her little sister “silly sausage” and “soul sister,” and who knew something amiss when Stephanie didn’t get in touch on her birthday on Monday.

It’s a loss that must be inconceivable her Steph’s friend Bec — for whom Steph was herself a bridesmaid earlier this year, and who has been faithfully posting concerned updates for her “bestie” since she went missing.

Stephanie Scott (right) with her friend Bec. (photo: Facebook)

It’s a loss that none of the Australians in the small NSW Riverina commuity of Leeton, population 6700, should have to bear: Not the teenagers Stephanie taught, not the friends who described Steph online as “bubbly outgoing person”, and not the local touch footy players who tirelessly scoured the town for signs of Stephanie’s red Mazda 3.

And it’s a loss that her devastated fiance Aaron, who’d known Steph since childhood and who calls her the love of his life, will have to live with for the rest of his days.

Stephanie and Aaron. (Photo: Facebook)

It’s not fair that instead of throwing confetti as the childhood sweethearts are announced husband and wife, those loved ones will lay flowers on her grave.

It’s not fair that instead of taking time off from his work at the local beef plant to lie on a beach with his beautiful new wife, Aaron will now be helping with funeral arrangements he never contemplated having to make.

It’s not fair that instead of living her life safely, a beautiful young woman is lost to this world.

Stephanie Scott. (Photo: Facebook)

So today, Australians across the country are united in wishes for Stephanie in her family: wishes that whoever took her life is brought to justice swiftly, wishes that Stephanie has found peace, and wishes that those who loved her can one day find peace too.

Because this week, they should be planning for a wedding, not a funeral.

Our thoughts are with Stephanie Scott’s loved ones. School cleaner Vincent Stanford, 24, has been charged with Ms Scott’s murder and remanded in custody.