Ten years ago on my wedding day, I sat on a bar stool with a friend at Eleven Winery on Bainbridge Island and raised a glass of wine in honor of my last hours as a single girl. If you’ve been a faithful reader, you know what happened next. My friend’s cell phone rang. She got a distressed look on her face and “What should I tell Beth?” was what I heard her say until she got off the phone and told me our wedding officiate had been in a car accident, was on medication, and would be unable to take the ferry over from Seattle and perform our ceremony.
Sarah, one of the winery’s owners, offered me another glass of “whatever I wanted.” Then she crafted an email which quite literally saved our wedding. She posted a note on IslandMoms, a Bainbridge chat group, which read Urgent! Officiate needed in 3 hours. Miraculously, a guardian angel (Debbi!) responded to Sarah’s post, just in the nick of time, and made it to Morgan Hill Retreat where our ceremony would be held.
I’ve told this story ten times now and each time it boggles my mind. A trifecta of trouble! Six months before our wedding, the site where we’d planned to hold our ceremony and host our family cancelled due to a rarely used city ordinance pertaining to hosting events at a B&B. Then, only a month out from our wedding day, the B&B where we’d hoped to spend our wedding night cancelled when they suddenly decided to get out of the business. And on top of it all—this!
Despite the obstacles, our ceremony was lovely indeed. Afterwards we went for a row in the little boat (with only one oar–oh the irony), on the tiny pond, beside the cedar tree under which we stood as we said our vows. Inside the boat was a bottle of champagne. We raised a glass and toasted—to us—because we were married. Well…not quite.
You see our former officiate—the one who never made the wedding—also had our wedding license in her possession and we weren’t officially Mr. and Mrs. until that piece of paper was signed. For whatever reason, she was not answering her phone. In fact, she’d blocked all incoming calls.
We left for our honeymoon two days later and raised a few more glasses as we made our way from Florence, Oregon up the Oregon coast, stopping at wineries along the way, collecting bottles to be opened on our first anniversary and all our anniversaries leading to this one, our tenth.
Returning home to Seattle we got the news our wedding license was no where to be found, which meant we had to visit the court house one more time and ask for our license to be reissued. The clerk was in disbelief as we shared our tale. He said it was “the second worst wedding story he’d ever heard.” License in hand we took the ferry back to Bainbridge and met Debbi at Eleven Winery, my wedding gown stuffed into a backpack. What a relief to finally sign our license! Then we raised a glass to celebrate. We were now husband and wife. For real. If you look at our wedding license, it reads “joined in lawful wedlock on the 28th of July” and “witnessed on the 11th of August!”
When you take vows of marriage you make big promises to do all sorts of really important things. To be faithful. To be there for each other in sickness and health. To stand by each other for richer or poorer. But in that moment there’s no way to foretell the years to follow, no way to know if you’ll keep your vows, continue to love and cherish each other, or what fortune and misfortune you will face as a couple.
Over the past decade, we’ve had some wonderful adventures. Trips to China, Tibet, Baja, Hawaii, Paris, Amsterdam and London. The discovery of pursuits we enjoy (photography!). We’ve hiked and dined and explored. There’s been a lot of love, and we’ve each learned a lot about ourselves and each other.
Of course we’ve also had our share of hardship. Two close friends, two beloved cats, two of our parents, and one sibling have all passed away. There has been pain, literally, confronting bodies that age in unforeseeable ways. And let’s not forget major life transitions, like parenthood, that unfold unpredictably. Raising our daughter, an adopted child with unanticipated special needs, has brought its own set of challenges, challenges we never imagined when we took our first steps as husband and wife.
We’ve survived living in our dining room for four months with one elderly cat and without a working shower while our house was being remodeled, and endured enormous grief when our first attempt to adopt fell through at the last moment. When we said ‘I do,’ I know neither of us imagined the entirety of what we just signed up for!
Our marriage has been tested and tromped on, yet here we are ten years later. Together for better and worse.
Today, on our tenth anniversary, I will raise a glass to my husband, a good man who has stood by me and his commitments, even though I know there have been plenty of times when he sure wished he were somewhere else. And you can bet I’ll be raising a glass to us, to our marriage, to who we’ve become. As my husband has said on more than one occasion: We are a force to be reckoned with!
Here’s to ten years!
July 28, 2007-July 28, 2017
It’s all about the journey,