As most of you ladies know I've been married to the love of my life for nearly four years now. I definitely recommend it!! I truly wish for all of you young ladies the same level of happiness that I have if not more. If you have that, you will truly be blessed!
This is NOT a planning thread. Mostly because I'm already married and we aren't planning a wedding. BUT!! I do need help for this renewal thing that we're thinking about, and I figure what better place to get opinions on all of my "stuff" than right here. And that's what I need this to be. My sounding board for where my head is at, stupid or otherwise! We're still a long way out. More than 6 months. But I'm trying to put it all in perspective and I'm hoping you ladies will help. I don't want over the top, but I do want special.
So... How We Met
So what you probably don't know is how I managed to end up with this special guy. Some days I still can't believe it! At my age? Nope. Def was NOT in the cards. As the saying goes.... never say never.
We met online. Yes - I joined the ranks of the internet daters, and I wasn't really happy with how it was working out. Anyway the very first thing Doug did was tick me off! He sent me a message with a comment that I completely misinterpreted and fired back a really nasty comment to him! Now he says that's when I hooked him, but I don't believe it. If anything he said he discovered that life with me is never boring! Our first date was after chatting online for 3 weeks and I figured it was safe to meet him in a restaurant. Well, we closed the place, after talking for 4 and a half hours. Turns out we went to rival high schools. He was a year ahead of me but who knows? Maybe I saw him at a football game or something. There were so many other things that we discovered that gave me goosebumps. Our second date 4 days later we talked for about another 6 hours. He invited me over the next day to watch the Nascar race - one of the things we had in common - and said he would cook me brunch and I think that's when I was hooked. A man that cooked!!! My sister was living in Georgia at the time and i had already planned to make the drive down for the nascar race but on a whim I asked Doug if he wanted to come with me to Atlanta. I thought well, with a 16 hour drive, we would either end up together or hate each other. The only thing my sister wanted to know was whether I was bringing an axe murderer to her place but I told her if he wanted to kill me he would have before then. As the saying goes... the rest is history.
Getting married was absolutely NOT something either of us wanted. We had both come from marriages that ended really badly. We got along like a house on fire and figured why ruin it? We had both "been there, done that and bought the t-shirt AND bumper sticker". So neither one of us bothered to go after a divorce. There was no reason to. We didn't want to get married again, and it can get really expensive. So we just didn't bother. We bought a house after 7 years together and as usual, there was a ton to do to get settled, one of which was to put shelving up in the garage for all of the "stuff" we had. There was an unspoken rule that neither one of us was going to get rid of anything. You know.... just in case. So we had in some cases more than two of things. Doug got the task of shelf building but pulled a muscle in his neck/shoulder doing it. He was miserable. He walked the floors at night from the pain. The doc put him into physio that didn't do anything, pain killers that didn't help. So they decided on further tests. A CT scan to see if there was something they were missing. Well it turned up more than we bargained for. A mass in his throat that they said was throat cancer. We were both smokers at the time so immediately.... well you get the idea. I got a phone call at work while I was in a meeting so didn't get it until I picked up my voice mail and it was Doug just sobbing on the other end of the line. I could hardly follow what he was saying. I called him back and got the gist of what it was. I honestly didn't know what to do. I called my brother in law to go stay with him and told him I was coming home. Then I went into the ladies room and burst into tears. They sent me home in a cab. Well, long story short it turns out my hubby has an extra set of tonsils!!!! Four weeks later the biopsy results told us what it was. That's when I cried and he couldn't figure out why!! lol He told me it was good news so why was I crying! lol Men!!!
What it all brought to the surface though was that if anything really had happened, that I wouldn't be able to do what was necessary if it came to that. It would have been his kids in conjunction with his ex. Nope. So not happening. I told him that I had changed my mind and I didn't want to have either of us have our life come to an end as just boyfriend and girlfriend and that I wanted it to be permanent. He wasn't overly thrilled I will say lol but i think he sort of realized that things can happen when you don't expect it. We went to Mexico about 7 months later and went shopping. I bought a necklace in Diamonds International and I just figured while my back was turned that he was just looking. We got out of the store and I asked him if he wanted to see what I ended up buying and he said sure, then he would show me what he bought. So right outside of the store he just opened the box. A diamond solitaire. All he said was "so you said you want to make it permanent?" Sooooo romantic! lol But he wouldn't let me have it!!!! First of all it was too big and we didn't have time to have it sized there so it had to come home and he told me he would give it to me on Valentines Day. What??? Are you kidding me??? Not a chance buddy. Well we went out for dinner and sure enough I ended up waiting. But it wasn't for two years before we actually started doing something about getting married. I wasn't fussy but I said city hall was ok and he said no. I said no to a church and he said he was thinking about a park somewhere. So I said why not a beach? It just went from there.
We got married October 20, 2011 at Gran Bahia Principe Jamaica in Runaway Bay. Gorgeous resort. We loved it and fell in love with the Jamaican people. We were supposed to have had 16 people with us but that all fell apart and it was just the two of us. (That's another story) The wedding coordinators signed our marriage licence and we had a reception at home 2 weeks later. The one thing you ladies will find out as you get older and you have children and they grow up, is that it starts to get very difficult to get a group of people together. Both of our parents are elderly. My mom passed away back in 1973 and my father never remarried. He'll be 94 in May bless him. Our children are grown now with lives of their own and kids of their own. Now they're doing the soccer, and tball and dance classes and gymboree stuff that we did with them all those many years ago. And all 4 of our kids live far away. My family are almost all in the UK and most too elderly to travel. Same with Doug's family. And I've said this I know to most of you - there isn't anyone as happy for you as you are. It's no reflection on you. It's just life. Even more so when you get to our age.
We settled in to a routine and our first year went by quickly. I had a mild health issue 7 months after we got married but nothing that concerned us. Until a 9 days before our first anniversary and in some ways our world fell apart. I was rushed into emergency surgery with a massive infection, completely septic.Four hours of surgery later and time in intensive care, the doctor told us how very, very lucky we had been. He said one more day, if Doug hadn't called the ambulance when he did, he said no surgery or antibiotics would have been able to change the outcome. A week later and the infection was back with a vengeance and they did another procedure but punctured my left lung in the process. That brought on the cardiac team. After 3 weeks I went home but was back 2 weeks later with what's called a pulmonary embolism. Back to the cardiac team again. Our first wedding anniversary was celebrated in the hospital. The nurse wrote "happy anniversary" on the board in my room! lol I was off work for 4 months but 3 months later they got rid of my position. I was off work until a month before our second anniversary so no anniversary trip that year either. We swore that for number 3 we would go away back to Jamaica like we planned. God has a funny way of teaching you lessons sometimes though. In January of last year, infection reared its ugly head again. I spent two months on antibiotics trying to clear it up. Doctor said more surgery and I said no. We played the game and he finally put his foot down. I didn't want to lose the new job that I had. But of course there are always consequences for waiting. It was supposed to be a simple procedure. An hour and a half and back to work in about 4 weeks. Yeah right. It turned into four more hours of surgery. And more than a week in the hospital. I was home 6 days and back in again for more infection that ruptured at home. Another ambulance ride. We were just thinking we were on our way and I was back in the hospital again with another pulmonary embolism, this time bigger than the first that completely blocked off the airways of both my lungs. Four days again in the cardiac unit. I was off 10 weeks this time.
While all of this was going on, I had started talking to Doug about getting away. I just wanted to go south. Running away doesn't help but I figured if I could just get some breathing space to get my head around everything. So I started looking at places to go. Jamaica was to be saved for our anniversary. And I missed Mexico. We hadn't been for a few years. When the doctor dumped the surgery news on us last year Doug and I were talking and I asked him flat out if even with everything we had been through, if he would still marry me again and he said yes of course! So I told him that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to marry him again because I was still here to be able to do it. I told him I wanted to celebrate the fact that we could still have a life together. His first question was did I think anyone would go with us? I told him I didn't care. If it's just the two of us again, that's fine. He asked me about Jamaica and I decided no. We had tried for 3 years to get back there and maybe we just aren't meant to. I told him I missed Mexico very much and that's where I wanted to go. So, the journey began. But everything hinged on the outcome of the surgery. It was either going to be this year or for our 5th anniversary in 2016 and we wouldn't know until December until we had test results what the next steps would be, if in fact there were going to be any. There is still more surgery ahead but it's minor and it can wait. I have tests I have to have in September this year, and then again next year and if the results are good, then I get to wait 3 years for the next round after that. So this year it is. In October. On our anniversary. And hopefully God says "ok" this time and we don't get any more surprises!
I can sympathize with all of you ladies. Picking a resort started out to just be a "hmmmm where should we go" type of deal. But when we decided that we would renew our vows, I went around and around over several resorts and just when I thought I had a short list, I would find something I didn't like and it would get tossed off the list. I read reviews everywhere I could find them. I knew what I wanted and I wasn't going to compromise but I also figured if anyone did decide to make the trip with us, I didn't want it to break the bank. It's ok for us but I wanted something reasonable for anyone else. And I wanted to be as close as possible to Playa del Carmen. I love that place. We've been before and that's where I got my ring so I wanted to go back. We stayed at Catalonia Royal Tulum, which is now an adults only resort but Doug doesn't want to got back to the same place. I finally got 3 finalists. Azul Fives, Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla and Ocean Maya Royale. But I also knew from reading everything I could that a small group, or just the two of us isn't something the resorts like. And when I started looking at costs and seeing what the ladies here go through I knew it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted something simple. No sand. No beach. But a nice location all the same. And I realized that a resort likely wouldn't be able to help out too much with that. I showed the resorts to Doug and he picked Azul Fives. The restaurants were a big draw just because it gives you variety. So wow - we had the resort!
When I contacted the travel agent that helped us with our wedding and explained things to her, she right away went on the assumption of a group rate. When I told her we didn't have a group, she recommended waiting for a while before booking. She said the rates right now are really overinflated for October and we should sit tight but that she would watch the bookings for us and if it looked like it was filling up quickly she would let me know.
From reading these forums I reached out to Joyce at Dream Weddings at the end of the summer last year. I told her the situation and she was great. She made some suggestions that were just what we needed and were perfect for what I was thinking. We couldn't commit though and needed to wait until test results were good. I confirmed to Joyce in January that I wanted her to work with us. But we still didn't have a location.
Back to Where?
Joyce has been super busy and I didn't hear from her for a while so I went ahead and booked Azul Fives for October 20th. Or at least I thought I had. I didn't hear from them for about 2 weeks and when I did it was with a "confirmation" and a link to my booking site. I logged in and it was all wrong. The time. The location. I immediately sent them an email to find out what had happened. Several days later a phone call. After week I heard and that was to say that the system shouldn't have allowed me to book the beautiful Pier that I wanted so it had stuck me into the garden gazebo at 2:30 in the afternoon. Nope. Not a chance. But that should have been my first tip off. Since then it has been a battle for the where and when. Everything I ask about is already taken. We got the Zky terrace finally for 5 pm with special permission because there is another wedding immediately before and they didn't think they had time to set up. But because we're literally by ourselves, they said they would do it. In other words, there's no set up to do for us. That's ok. It was a compromise. But then I found out that we couldn't get anywhere near the pier or the sky deck for pictures. They're chock full of weddings that day. Even doing pictures before our ceremony time at 5. In between all of this the time change in PDC happened and I went back to AF to try to get 4:30 for our ceremony just as a cushion for pictures before the sun sets. Nope. Can't do that either again because of the wedding before.
Last week I emailed Joyce with an SOS and desperation. I think we might finally have a where but I'm just waiting for confirmation. I don't care if I lose the deposit I put down. AF is just too much aggravation. I know it isn't our wedding but this is almost more special and that's what I want it to be. I'll compromise on certain levels but only so far.
I started emailing photographers just before I went into the hospital at the end of the summer to get info. I thought I had made a decision on one that I really liked. They had a good deal but totally sucked at returning messages. I was set to meet with them and they cancelled. I know we aren't a big group and I'm not in for spending $3,000 but I still want some nice photos. One of the ladies here suggested Samuel Luna (thanks calgarybride). I emailed him and looked at his website and pricing and was in love with what I saw. So we've booked him to do pictures for us. I was reminded today that a bride here with a very imminent wedding coming up also has him booked so I'm now super anxious to see what he does for her. I'm hoping for good things! (yay Marina!)
Hair and Makeup
One of the things I learned sort of the hard way was about hair and makeup. I had both done at the spa at our resort in Jamaica and I regretted it. It was so hot in October that I opted to have my hair up. Big mistake. And makeup was a huge disappointment. After just 2 hours the eyeliner was smudgy from the heat and we have pictures that really look awful. I made up my mind that I wanted something much more professional for the renewal. I emailed Styling Trio again at the end of the summer and they replied super quickly. They're expensive but after going through their website and seeing the reviews here, it made up my mind. I'm not 100% certain yet if I'm going to have Adrian. That might be a bit over the top since it's not a wedding. But it's tempting. I opted to go to their location in PDC to avoid the vendor fee at Azul Fives but if we're going to have another location I might rework that if the opening is still available.
So that's about it so far. This is a lot harder than you ladies make it look!! Please stick comments in anytime. I'm open to ideas. Not saying I'll follow them but I'm definitely open to them. I know flowers a small cake will be done through Joyce and we're going into PDC to a restaurant for a private rooftop dinner after our ceremony, wherever that ends up being! More on that later!