Friday, February 10, 2017

Our DIY Wedding

After my husband finally put a ring on it in August 2014, our next questions were:

1. How do an over-50 woman and and over-60 man celebrate a wedding without looking foolish?
2. How do we keep costs down?
3. What are our college-age children's schedules?
4. Should we just elope or go to the courthouse?

August 2014

We spent the next six months asking these questions over and over and then just dropping the subject!  Maybe just being engaged was enough! As Christians, we both knew that moving forward with marriage was certainly what God would want, but as older, previously married people we were overwhelmed. We both owned homes. We lived 80 miles apart. We each had a college-aged child who was not established. He was retired, while I was in the process of selling my business. I had family everywhere; he had a close family all within the DC area. Finances needed to be combined, we needed to decide where to live, decisions had to be made about insurance and other issues. It really was easier for a while just to drop the subject as quickly as it came up! 

But, but... WEDDING! We both had previously been married and had weddings. I have to admit that I was a bit hung up on having a wedding because this marriage was the one I was confident about. Marrying someone whom I had known for 30+ years and whose character at 60 was unchanged from when I'd first met him made me confident that a celebration was indeed in order! While he might have been happy to elope or go to the courthouse, we both felt that we wanted traditional vows before God. Three major factors pointed us in the direction of wedding - my daughter, his son, his 80+ mom. We wanted them involved - and my mother-in-law would have been disappointed not to be there. So, a wedding was needed.

I knew that I wanted to be married overlooking the water - either the Chesapeake Bay or the Patuxent River. I would love a sunset. So we started searching for venues knowing full well that we did not want to spend a lot of money. It's a lot different when you've worked all your life for your money - what you're willing to spend on one day! Still, I had a lot of ideas. Naturally, I created a couple of Pinterest boards and started pinning like mad to My Backyard Wedding.  We wanted to be outside in a natural setting with a laid-back, casual theme. We had quite a few discussions that ended with nothing resolved because the whole idea of paying for a venue and all that goes with that was daunting. We wanted to keep things under $5,000.00 and that did not look possible. Even that number had John gasping for air!

My house is in a small beach community on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay but my home is not crowd friendly, nor is it overlooking the water. On a fairly regular basis, we would be invited to have dinner with a dear friend who has a knack for putting together all the right ingredients for an incredibly fun dinner party. Always the right mix of people, food, beverages and conversation. On a fall evening sitting around the fire pit enjoying after dinner drinks she said, "Why don't you have your wedding here?" Immediately, we said no. My first thought was, "What a beautiful place for a small wedding," while my second thought was, "What an incredible way to kill a friendship!" There were a couple of weeks of conversation before we agreed. There had to be terms - and she had the perfect idea. Her house is on a bluff overlooking the Bay and there was a fairly decrepit "workshop" building at the bottom of the bluff set back behind the sand. She had toyed with the idea of making it into a fun, beach shack to store beach items and host small parties. The bluff was overgrown, and the shack was in need of repairs. In exchange for fixing up the bluff and the shack we would be married in her backyard - overlooking the Bay. I was overjoyed that my dream was coming true!

Amazing hostess and friend, Sonia Kay of Sonia Kay's by the Bay

The wedding date was finally set for June 4, 2016, and the work would begin whenever my fiance could get started. While settling on a venue is most important, there was still so much to be done. For the moment, though, I could breathe a sigh of relief.

This photo may have been taken that fateful Fall evening! 
Beautiful lush backyard at Sonia Kay's by the Bay!

On the Western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, we don't see the sunset ...
But just look how the sunset reflects off the water!