When compared to their second and third dates, Linda and Jim’s first meeting was—quite literally—a walk in the park. After taking his dogs for a casual stroll, the couple kicked things up a notch when they embarked on a grueling hike near Donner Lake, followed by a picnic lunch. Their next get-together was for a home-cooked meal at Jim’s place, but nerves got the better of him and he cut his hand while prepping an avocado for a salad.
“Jim says he fell in love with me the first time he made dinner for me, as I was sitting at the kitchen counter and looked up and smiled at him,” Linda shares. “That’s what did it.” According to Linda, they were both “cautious” and didn’t want to rush into anything, but from the start, their chemistry was hard to deny.
After dating for more than a year, Jim decided to pop the question before taking Linda out for a romantic pre-Valentine’s Day dinner, but struggled to find a distraction-free opportunity. “My daughter was at the house the whole day doing some office work for me and her husband had been [there] off and on for several days doing some yard work,” Linda explains. “I didn’t know Jim had been trying to find the right time to propose.” With her children finally out of the house, the couple rushed to get dressed and Jim seized his first private moment of the day. “I really want you to wear this to dinner tonight,” he said, presenting Linda with an engagement ring.
Thanks in large part to Lora Ward of A Day to Remember Wedding Consultants, the bride and groom were able to pull off a two-day celebration bursting with “simple elegance” and heartfelt touches in just three months. From custom cocktail napkins (decorated to reflect the couple’s shared love of triathlons) and pet-themed dinner tables to authentic Guamanian and Italian cuisine expertly prepared by Jackson Catering and Events, every detail was the result of careful consideration.
In late spring, the couple hosted family members at their Auburn home for a casual, catered meal, which Linda says “allowed [everyone] to come together and visit without all the stress and time constraints of a wedding.” The following day, the group reunited to watch Linda’s son and daughter walk her down the aisle and exchange vows in a short and sincere ceremony the couple co-wrote with the help of their friend and officiant, Dave.
“We…adapted and included a ‘wine ceremony’ that highlights that the joys of life (white wine) and the sorrows (red wine) are easier to bear because of sharing them with your spouse, and that both the good and bad are intertwined throughout the marriage,” the bride remembers.
“We had so many people tell us how moving [it] was.”
First Dance Song
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Andrea Bocelli & Katharine McPhee
Philip Rice designed all the florals around our color scheme.
Anything else you’d like to share about your wedding?
One very special thing for me was having my son and daughter walk me “down the aisle.” It was just “the 3 of us” since they were 4 and 5, so it was very important to me that they gave me away. I had planned on having my father walk me part of the way, which would have been so special, but he was unable to attend (see later about my folks). We wanted to make our wedding specific to us and touch on things that are meaningful to us.
Food: we had food stations from each of our ethnic backgrounds: Guamanian, for me, and Italian, for Jim. The food, drinks, appetizers, and service was exceptional and everyone raved about it for weeks to come. Jackson Catering went above and beyond. Chef Chris enthusiastically accepted recipes from me for the Guamanian food and did multiple tasting and edits until it was perfect! Guamanian pork adobo, chicken kelaguen, Guam red rice, and finadene sauce – a true Guamanian fiesta! The co-owner, Evan Jackson, was on hand and even help pass appetizers. He was awesome and made sure to bring me a cocktail, water, and a “catch up plate” of appetizers, so I wouldn’t miss out.
Triathlons: one of the activities we love doing together. Lora and I found images for swimming, biking, and running and she had them printed on cocktail napkins along with our names and wedding date – very special!
Our dogs: Our 3 dogs, and a planned puppy, are a big part of our home. We decided to incorporate them in by naming each of the 4 tables after 1 of them and having a 4x6 framed photo of each on “their” table. I found a picture of a Springer Spaniel puppy online and used that for the upcoming pup.
The ceremony: we wanted the ceremony to be short, but sincere, and to reflect our faith without making people uncomfortable if they had different views. We co-wrote the ceremony, along with Dave, our friend and officiant, weaving our views of the sanctity of marriage and our faith into it. We also adapted and included a “wine ceremony” that highlights that the joys of life (white wine) are better and the sorrows (red wine) easier to bear because of sharing them with your spouse, and that both the good and bad are intertwined throughout the marriage. We had so many people tell us how moving the wine ceremony was. Thanks to Lora who provided the original version we worked off of.
Yes, let's rave about the amazing people that made this magical event all that it was:
Lora Ward, the wedding planner. You see, Jim and I got engaged in late February, 2014 and after looking at possible dates and realizing how important it was for us to have both sets of parents attend --- and that it was going to get harder and harder for my folks (in their mid to late 80s) to travel from Florida --- we decided on June 1st – only about 3 months away!! I work as a nursing professor and Jim, while technically retired, is constantly busy. So, we knew it was going to be impossible for us to plan a wedding on our own. Plus, we had a trip to Fiji planned before the wedding!! We also had the challenge of wanting to do the wedding at our home, and share part of us with our families. But….. while the property is gorgeous….. there is very little flat ground. We weren’t sure where we would be able to sit everyone for dinner. After interviewing several planners, we selected Lora. She was absolutely perfect --- able to “see the possibilities” of doing this event at our home. She saw our vision of wanting the event to be simple, but “nice.” I called it simple elegance…. I’m not sure what she called it, but she was magical in how she pulled it off. Her contacts and resources are huge. She was able to get very high level vendors to commit, even on such short notice. We ended up doing 2 separate events. On Saturday evening we did a casual, catered family dinner that allowed all the family from both sides to come together and visit without all the stress and time constraints of a wedding. Then on Sunday at the wedding, they already knew each other and it was much more enjoyable, I think. Of course, Lora was fabulous at orchestrating, while not being obtrusive at all. She just quietly floated around and made sure everything was being done at the right time and in the right way. She is worth her weight in gold!!
Jackson Catering was beyond anything I could have expected. Their food was mouth wateringly wonderful and they catered both the Saturday family event and the Sunday wedding. Their staff was exceptional, attentive, and professional. (more about the food later on)
Philip Rice Designs – Philip is a true artist and has a creative eye that is rare. He came to the house a few times to get an idea of where the event would occur and you could just see his creative brain working. He asked us lots of questions about colors and the “feel” we were looking for……..then he just took over from there. Once we agreed on a budget, he had free rein to “create.” He handled all the linen and table decorations, candles, flowers (of course), the wedding ceremony backdrop, decoration of all the tables for both events, candles, it just goes on and on. You can tell from the photos how amazing he is. Plus, I found out later that his van, with all our flowers, broke down on his way to the house on the morning of the wedding! He had to rent a UHaul van, transfer everything, and he still got here and made everything look fabulous!
Jennifer Gilchrist: Makeup and Hair. Well, I would just love to have her come and do my hair and makeup every day!! Everyone kept saying, “you look like your 20!” which people just tend to say to brides, but she still did an amazing job and I “felt” beautiful. We did a couple of trial runs so we could be sure of what look I wanted for the wedding. She’s awesome!
The photographers, Sam and his assistant, with Sharpe Photographers, were awesome. They did a great job of highlighting the natural beauty of the setting and trying to help us take good pictures ---- not an easy task at our ages and when neither one of us likes having our pictures taken! Sam did a great job making us feel comfortable. His photos speak for themselves in terms of his talents and artistic ability!
The DJ, Steve, was great! I’m sure he felt “constrained,” as we wanted minimal announcing and very low key music --- at least until the dancing started. He was very accommodating, however, and absolutely listened to what we wanted. When it came to dancing – he had his work cut out! While Jim and I were up for lots of dancing, it’s hard to get a group of only family to dance!! Steve did it, though!! He had the entire group out on the dance floor having a great time! And a shout-out to Jim’s Uncle Joe, in his 80s, who was the star on the dance floor and probably kept the dancing going much longer that it would have without him!!!! Thanks, Uncle Joe!!
We had several very important family members and events we wanted to recognize, so we figured out ways to do so.
My son-in-law, Michael, recently came home after 2 tours in Afghanistan as a Medic. He received a Purple Heart and an award for “giving life-saving aid while under enemy fire.” We recognized him during our toast.
At the last minute, my parents, who live in Florida, were not able to attend because my father was quite ill with pneumonia. It was very special that my brother, sister, and niece worked hard and figured out a way so that we were able to Skype my parents into the wedding and they watched from the front row via a computer. My dad and mom both got dressed up for the wedding just as if they were there. We also recognized their 64 years of marriage by having 3 framed photos of them displayed: 1 on their wedding day, 1 in their mid-years, and 1 from 3 years ago dancing at my daughter’s wedding.
The Saturday casual family dinner was also Jim’s parents’ anniversary – 62 years!!! Also, my dad turned 85 a few days before the wedding, so that evening we honored both events by having a tiramisu cake (Jim’s parents’ favorite) and a German chocolate cake (my dad’s favorite). We also had photos of my dad framed and on display (as a baby, as a young man, and a recent photo). We had photos of Jim’s parents framed and displayed also (on their wedding day, in their mid-years, and a recent photo). Since my folks couldn’t be there, we skyped them in and we all sang happy birthday to my dad.
Any tips you’d give brides and grooms planning their wedding today?
Be prepared to flex and flow as time goes on. Glitches come up and often times the “solution” is better than the original.
Delegate as much as you can – and then let them take care of it. Thanks to my brother and sister, and Jim’s sisters who took care of selecting, printing, and framing all the photos of our parents. I just told them what I had in mind and what sizes would work – and beautiful framed pictures just arrived on scene.
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