It has been great being back home for a number of reasons. When you are away, you know that you will miss out events both big and small and that is just part of the sacrifice. But, when events happen (like a baby, for example) and you are home, it is fun to be a part of the fun moments that you would have missed out on, like today, for example.
Sam Mullen is a young man who I had gotten to know through the college ministry during my first year in Bellingham. Though he was going to W.S.U., we often met together during his trips home and enjoyed a great friendship despite the distance. So, you can imagine that I was pumped when Sam, now a college grad, knowing I was coming home, asked me to do the premarital counseling with his fiance, Amy. During the counseling, as we were talking about wedding details and what they were looking to do, the idea of a wedding in the midst of their crazy schedules was overwhelming. In passing we talked about doing a surprise wedding, but I didn't really think it was something that they were going to do.. Well, he called me a month ago and said, "We want to do a surprise wedding!" He only told myself so I could help organize the script of the wedding for his dad who was going to officiate the wedding and his brother who lived in Houston. The rest of the people knew that their was going to be a surprise birthday party for Amy. It was brilliant. Sam could talk to all his friends and family about the surprise, he could talk to his wife about the surprise, and everyone, but Amy, was going to be surprised! Sam organized a casual football throwing, outdoor beach BBQ, where everyone else brought the food and BBQ and chairs (and God provided the sun).
After everyone arrived, Sam sent the father in law to get Amy at the Ferry Terminal, where on the walk back, she broke the news to her dad that he was going to walk her down the makeshift aisle in about 15 minutes. And then Sam and I told Marc, his dad he was going to officiate the wedding in about 15 minutes as well. I gave him the service outline with the vows that Sam and Amy wanted and said, "Here ya go!" Then Sam told the mothers... "Surprise! I am getting married:)"
He gathered the 70 or so family and friends together and then shared the "surprise" and the reason why he chose to do this. He shared some personal things about family and then he said this:
"We love our familes and friends, and we have you all here with us today. We love summer, and despite the weather this is the last day of summer. We love fun, and barbeques are fun. And we love surprises, and I think this is a surprise to all but 3 of you. But mostly, and this is the big one, we love each other. We love each other and we don't want to wait until the stars perfectly align to get married. We've planned this out for about 2 months now, Amy and I together, and it has been a lot of fun. We want you to know that nothing is wrong, if we had to have waited until January we would've been just fine, we just didn't want to. This is our elopement, and we're happy to be able to share it will all of you.
On that note there has been talk of a December/January wedding. That is going to happen. This is our wedding, and that will be our reception. Unlike most receptions it will feel an awful lot like a wedding. We have a beautiful location picked out that Amy's mom found, and it will let us do all of the things we want. There will be a marriage sermon from my dad who will have much more time to prepare, a renewal of vows and a rededication of us in front of all of our friends and families, cake, dancing, karaoke, and car decorating. We will leave on our honeymoon from there, and it will be similar to a normal wedding, but without all of the stress. We will send out formal save the date cards and invites. For all practical purposes we are the luckiest people in the world, we get the two weddings we've always wanted."
The wedding was sweet, emotional and intimate. Other than my grammatical error from my outline in which Marc asked Sam to take Kari (his sister-in-law, which I had copied from Marc's previous officiated wedding) instead of Amy, it was perfect. Marc did an amazing job officiating the wedding considering the surprise... Overall, it was a great day and probably the only surprise wedding that I will ever go to in my life. What a joy to be back for occasions such as these...