“We met in 1987 when I responded to an ad in a neighborhood periodical. It was at a time in our life when we were both looking to meet someone. I had been divorced five years. Rich too, was starting a single life anew. He lived in Flemington but was commuting by trains two hours each way to his work location in New York City. So, long before social media and hand held cell phones, he decided to try a shopping paper ad. Our first date was on February 14, 1987 at a charming restaurant on the Delaware River (Black Bass Hotel) in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Our courtship lasted 28 years through several phases of life, though we lived separately.”
“The early years were the child rearing years. At that time my daughters were 12 and 10. Rich had a son and daughter ages 11 and 13, respectively. We grew closer as the years progressed sharing our times and “family” times together and navigating the child rearing years through the raising, education, courtships and marriages of our children, and the beginnings of their families. Then came 10 years of caring for my live-in mother with Alzheimer’s Disease, followed by my own bout with third stage Ovarian Cancer diagnosed six years ago treated by surgery and Chemo treatments, which I am still on. At the beginning of my cancer treatments, Rich proposed to me and we made promises that we would get married. One night in October 2014 on our way home from dinner after being out for the evening I said to Rich …”you know Valentine’s day falls on Saturday night next year”. (We had been trying to decide on a wedding date.) Rich said “That’s it. Let’s do it!” We were familiar with the Bernards Inn, having attended a 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration there. I checked with the Bernards Inn, and fortunately February 14, 2015 was still open. We booked it immediately without telling anyone.”
“So 28 years later we finally “tied the knot” as some would say. We wanted this event to be special, not only a wedding, but a wedding and a celebration with dear friends and family of our 28 year journey. We ordered our invitations and sent them out without our kids even knowing. The theme was an easy pick for Valentine’s Day, “Hearts and Flowers”. Rich’s brother’s wife (sister-in-law) is an assistant minister with a church in Rochester, New York. She graciously accepted our wish for her to be the officiant for the ceremony. A sanity check with our kids (my two daughters and Rich’s son and daughter), when told, gave an enthusiastic “thumbs up, we’re all in”. Planning with the Bernards Inn guidance was a snap since only the two of us were the only two decisions makers (with an open ear to our kids). Since our own parents are deceased and we are (two spring chickens?) on social security, the formal wedding party truly became a family affair. Rich prepared the ceremony program using Microsoft Word and inserting a picture on the front page of the program, edited to the shape of a heart, taken on our first date, February 14, 1987!”
“Rich’s Son in Law (daughter’s husband) and 1 ½ year old grandson led the entourage carrying a “Here Comes the Bride” sign. Rich’s son and daughter escorted him down the aisle first. Then Rich’s son’s wife and my eldest daughter’s husband were next, followed by my other daughter and husband. Rich’s granddaughter (10 years old) and grandson (8 years old) were the ring bearers, and my granddaughter (3 years old) was the flower girl, sprinkling rose petals down the aisle before my entrance. Then for the processional, the escorts giving me away, representing my deceased father and brother, was my brother’s son, along with my eldest daughter. Tears of happiness and love from our 70 guests flowed when Rich’s 10 year old granddaughter sang with key board accompaniment “Ava Maria” preceding our exchange of vows.”
“The ambiance in the historic Bernards Inn was “Over the Top”, everything we could have imagined and more. My words pale in describing the awe of our guests reporting back about the style, intimacy and elegance of the wedding, food and celebration. We had some fun with our grand entrance to the ball room to begin the evening’s festivities. Even after 28 years, we both are young at heart, active and do pretty good keeping up with all the family, who often refer to us as the “Seniors”. For our entrance song to the reception ball room, Rich picked up a cane for himself and a walker for me to “spoof” our “Seniors” standing; and we started the party entering with our walking apparatuses with the band playing one of our “Bee Gee’s” favorites: “Staying Alive”!
“Execution by the Bernards Inn was flawless from the gathering of arrival guests in front of the field stone floor to ceiling glowing fire place, the wedding ceremony in the chapel, the cocktail hour in the Silver Vault Room and dinner and dancing in the ball room. The curtain drapings, table settings, candles, flowers and red up-lighting set the mood for a lovely Valentine evening rolled out to a “Big Band” sound. Our first dance song “All the Way”(appropriate for capping our journeyed story), the wedding party dance song “What a Wonderful World” featuring all of our extended family (wedding party) on the dance floor, and another vocal with the band by Rich’s young granddaughter, “All I Ask of You” supported the theme of “Hearts and Love”, setting up the Night Club mood for great food, wine, dancing and good times by all.”
“Our evening was a celebration of our marriage and the journey of love. As Rich said in his welcoming remarks using a quotation from an unknown author: “WE ARE SO OFTEN CAUGHT UP IN OUR DESTINATION, THAT WE FORGET TO APPRECIATE THE JOURNEY, ESPECIALLY THE GOODNESS OF THE PEOPLE WE MEET ON THE WAY. APPRECIATION IS A WONDERFUL FEELING, DON’T OVERLOOK IT.”
“Our evening was a “Daily Double”, a chance to include our friends in the marriage celebration and a chance to celebrate our 28 year journey with friends we met along our way. I would like to include in that the vendors that were so helpful in bringing together all the wedding details, the Oncology Doctors and Nurses at the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center (Morristown, New Jersey) for their caring love and support over the last six years, and God of course!”