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Married for the First Time at Fifty (Week 1)

WEEK 1 (Feb 17, 2018):

(Beach photography by Joe Guarine Photography )

We have a lot in common. We were both club kids who grew up during the 1980’s alternative music scene. We are amazed that we didn’t meet sooner.

Many times we could have crossed paths, between the night clubs, and later during the mid-nineties church revival meetings.

But we didn’t meet until now.

God’s timing.

God’s wisdom.

Our wedding was not easy to plan so quickly with two people who had completely different ideas of the big day.

Dean huffed. “But I don’t need all those people at our wedding.”

We were at odds with size and location.

It was a war of the wills.

Dean and I considered an indoor wedding, but he’s a life-long surfer and wanted the beach.

He HAD to have the beach.

I don’t care for the beach. It’s hot and makes you sweat and sand sticks to everything. I’d grown up going to the beaches in Virginia, and learned to surf in Nags Head, North Carolina before moving to Louisiana, where we’d enjoyed many weekends on the lake. During the summer before my senior year of high school, my father got transferred to Hawaii.

We spent many days boogie-boarding at the beaches of Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, near the North Shore. The 6 to 8-foot average waves slammed me onto the shore. I’d tried my best to stand up before the next wave assaulted me—not easy to do with a bathing suit liner full of wet sand.

A beach wedding? No, I don’t like sand in my every nook and cranny, and my cellophane skin burns within thirty seconds without SPF 1,000.

“If I were marrying any other woman,” he said, “we’d get married at the beach with our toes in the sand.”

I’d dreamed of a large wedding in a church with all our friends, family and co-workers. Everyone.

Absolutely everyone!

It most definitely was NOT on sand.

I did eventually acquiesce to an all-in-one beachfront venue to avoid our multitudes of guests traveling a half-hour to the beach for the reception. I imagined a lot of our out-of-town friends and relatives wanted to attend—if not for a reunion, just to see a sight nobody thought would ever come. For their convenience, I agreed.

One and done. Easy-peasy.

I was certain I could keep the ceremony on solid ground. After all, you can’t wear beautiful strappy heels on the sand.

We looked at three beachside venues. The first, a hurricane damaged hotel with a beachfront gazebo, and an unobstructed view of the water for $14K, plus a few extras like a photographer and music … never mind the dress, shoes, suit, etc.

(The Dave Ramsey girl in me was starting to sweat.)

Next, we toured a two-story beachfront house with a stone-paver ceremony area overlooking the Atlantic Ocean … unless you were sitting. It was pristine. And for a pittance of $20K before extras. (I was really starting to sweat the expenses.)

Finally, we considered the beachfront Officer’s Club at Patrick Airforce Base. They had an oceanfront wedding gazebo on a wooden deck, but the higher level was closed due to Hurricane Irma damage. We’d be stuck at the ground level with dunes and lots of vegetation between us and the water. With a choice of a two event rooms, it was the least expensive choice at about $8K.

We made our decision, like the final moments of House Hunters on HGTV.

“I love the house venue, but we’d have to cut out forty guests.” I said. “And I’m not sure I want every guest and their children at the hotel passing by our reception in their swimsuits and floaties.”

It was the worst possible scenario!

Dean agreed about the openness of the hotel venue. “Also, my mother and aunt aren’t going to like going upstairs and downstairs for every dance, dinner and toast at the house venue. We’ll have at least ten relatives that will have trouble with the stairs, if for any reason the elevator was out of commission.”

I attempted to appeal to his frugal side. “I think the O-Club will work best. Besides, we’ll save a good ten-thousand dollars going for the club.”

We settled on the O-Club with a limited view, but we could get to the beach easily for pictures. Well, maybe not so easily. We’d have to walk half-way down the parking lot to a beach access deck that wasn’t damaged.

Then came the debate on guest numbers. I’d waited decades for this event. I wanted everyone. Dean wanted only a handful. I NEEDED the ballroom, but Dean tried to sell me on an upstairs room that sat only fifty guests. It had ocean window views the length of the facility.

It was breath-taking, but I presented my case. “You won’t be able to see the beach an hour after the ceremony. It seems ridiculous to squeeze into that small area all for an hour of a great view. Never mind the dance floor is a ten-square-foot area in a corner. With low ceilings, florescent lighting and bland design, the split-room setup was more suited for a corporate event than a wedding.”

No, that was not going to work.

Dean huffed. “But I don’t need all those people at our wedding.”

Ignoring him, I pushed for the recently renovated ballroom on the first floor with no ocean view. Dean surrendered. We left the facility carrying brochures.

And frowns.

Later, we discussed the guest list and knocked it down to about 138.

After a few more days of seeing Dean’s frown and the rising expenses, I relented on the number of guests and location. “Let’s just run to the beach with a few family and friends and get it done. We won’t have to wait until April or May, we can do it next month.”

A smile crept onto to the corners of his mouth. “We don’t have to have our toes in the sand. My 90-year old mother can’t walk on the beach anyhow. We could get one of the pavilions. I’ll let you know what area and you can check with Brevard County Parks and Recreation to see what’s available and when.”

Since we’d save thousands of dollars, the financial coach in me was thrilled.

In fact, I always knew I only needed the dress, shoes, and great food.

A Spessard Holland North Beach pavilion in Melbourne Beach was available right away, so we picked a date only a few weeks out. Our families had little time for travel arrangements. I barely had enough time to get the dress and shoes. (Thank you, Dillard’s!) I ordered an evening dress online and it only needed to be hemmed.

The only extras I sprang for in decorating the beach pavilion were 10 bouquets of flowers, (for less than $100 total, thank you, Sam’s Club!), and Dollar Store vases with glass stones and seashells in the bottom to anchor them in the windy location. (Later, we used them for center pieces at the restaurant.)

I also popped for a professional photographer. (Joe Guarine Photography)

We came early to get most of the wedding pictures out of the way before the others arrived.

Our head pastor was traveling on that date, but we were thrilled that the men’s ministry leader, James Fontenot, was able to do it.

We had a short wedding service, where I only screwed up Dean’s name once. (That's me laughing about it!)

Afterward, we did a sand ceremony.

When I ordered the kit, it arrived with one main container and three smaller ones. I asked around and the general consensus was that the main one represents God. Two of the smaller ones are for the bride and groom.

The third represents the children in blended families. Since neither of us had children, I purchased gold sand to represent Holy Spirit. It turned out well, I think.

They took more photos with the group while we waited for our reservation at the restaurant.

Dean volunteered to handle the restaurant and hotel. He’s far pickier. I liked public school food as a youngster. Later, while I served in the Army, enjoying the mess hall food, he served fine cuisine in an upscale restaurant—he knows how it should be. My standards are much lower.

I like red meat, tater-tots and French fries; he prefers chicken, fish and salad. He says I eat like a three-years old, referring to both my palate and method. I eat first whatever tastes worst cold, often eating one item at a time; rotating my plate in a circle.

With relief I left the culinary decision up to him. He decided on the upstairs room at Djon’s Steak and Lobster House in Melbourne Beach—a short drive from the wedding.

While dating, we did the Myers-Briggs personality tests. He was extremely close to the descriptions of his Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Sensing (ISFP) category, according to David Keirsey’s book “Please Understand Me II”. Keirsey indicated Dean’s personality type, called the adventurer, often needs a nudge to commit to final decisions. With Dean that sometimes includes what to eat for dinner on regular nights. We’ve learned to narrow our choices down to three and make a final decision.

I was shocked when he chose the perfect place for the reception, thankfully without any input from me. We had the entire second floor. They served appetizers on an outdoor deck overlooking the river.  Inside, the meal was flawless.

Everything was impeccable.

The staff had helped us narrow the menu to three dinner choices. Even with fish and chicken on the menu, most of our group chose filet mignon. Real meat-eaters. Dean’s eyes reflected panic and dollar signs as they passed out filet after filet, the more expensive item, but the bill ended up within fifty dollars of our budget.

When Dean said his cousin, Keith, was a professional photographer, I thought, “Sure, isn’t everybody?” I didn’t quite understand then that Dean wasn’t using the word ‘professional’ lightly. We had Keith Roberto do the pictures for the reception, along with Dean’s sister-in-law, Karen.

I might have just one regret—we should’ve had Keith do the photography for the whole day. We were very happy with the guys we hired, but Keith needs to keep busy. His river shots were my favorite.

When all was said and done, we’d spent less than $5K (on everything!) Although we wished all of our friends and family could’ve joined us, we could not be happier with how it all turned out. We don’t feel that we sacrificed anything.

Nineteen people attended, including the two of us, the pastor, and his wife.

We spent our two-night honeymoon at a local beach hotel suite, then went home Monday with Keith still at the house for one more night. He left Tuesday and we had that evening together … alone.

With a pre-scheduled conference that week, I explained to him, “I don’t have to go, if you’d prefer I stay here with you.”

But Dean said, with a little too much enthusiasm, “No, go!” Then with a big sigh of relief, he explained, “I’ll use the time to acclimate and decompress.”

Dean says, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” He used this a lot when we first started dating, asking me out only once every week or two in the first couple of months. I’d reply, “Out of sight, out of mind.”


I left Wednesday for a 5-day writer’s conference, so the first week of our marriage went swimmingly.

I attended the event with business cards in hand introducing my new last name, and I won the made-up award of Newest Married. (Thank you, Eva Marie Everson!)

So there we were, married for the first time at fifty, (or close enough). He likes to remind me that he’s four and a half months younger and was only forty-nine on our wedding day. He turned fifty the next month. I’d prayed all those years that God would send a man at least one day older. In His wisdom, He did not. I will now suffer with age jokes from my husband for the rest of my life.

Having spent the previous 7.5 years living with my mother, I’d hoped it was good training for living with another human being, perhaps even a husband. I imagined hearing every married person out there laughing at me, “We’ll see, won’t we!”

Esther 4:14 “… for such a time as this” (KJV)



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