This is such a romantic story I have to share with you!
On September 9, 2000, at 2:30 in the afternoon at the historic Horace Williams House in Chapel Hill, I officiated the wedding of Joy and Jason. I remember it so well. It was down on the lawn in front of the big, and I mean big, magnolia tree. The tree is so big that Jason and I and the best man waited for the wedding to begin underneath it completely shielded from the guests. Then when it was time for us to enter, we stepped through the low ground-touching branches to take our places in front of the guests. Joy's father was supposed to escort her down the aisle but not long before the wedding began we found out he would not make it. So, it was decided that Joy would walk herself from the house across the lawn to the back of the chairs. When she got there, then Jason who was with me in front would start walking toward her and they would meet in the middle.
And so that is how it happened except that when Jason reached Joy, he knelt down on one knee, in the midst of all their guests standing around them. Then when they walked together to meet me, tears were streaming down her eyes. It was a magical, Camelot moment! I have told that story to so many couples and so many have decided to enter that way too. I always wondered what Jason said to Joy when he knelt down. He is from Australia. They had met somewhere, Tahiti, or somewhere like that, and had fallen in love. They came back to the States to marry. I believe Joy had been a student at UNC and that is why they chose Chapel Hill as neither her family nor his lived here. I regret that I have no photos of their wedding. It was long before I started taking a camera to weddings.
Well, a few weeks ago, out of the blue, I got an email from Jason. He wanted to know if I could perform a renewal of vows on their tenth anniversary. He wanted to surprise Joy and have it at the Horace Williams House on the tenth anniversary date and time to boot! I was thrilled to be a part of this wonderful surprise for Joy. I could not find my copy of their ceremony so he transcribed it from a DVD of their wedding and sent it to me. I then used it to create a renewal of vows using the same vows and some of the same words I spoke at the wedding.
When Marty and I arrived on Thursday for the ceremony, we found Joy's mother, Lynne, the only parent present at their wedding, and their adorable 2 1/2 year old daughter, Sidney, waiting for us. After Joy and Jason moved to Cary from Australia, Lynne moved down to Cary from Connecticut to help with Sidney and be involved in her life. It was good to see her again!
Sidney looks just like Joy. She is so cute. Jason had gotten her a white dress for the occasion and tried to find white shoes too but had to resort to her pink sandals. He had also gotten two bouquets. What a romantic guy! Above we are standing underneath/inside the huge old magnolia tree waiting for Jason to arrive with a blindfolded Joy.
Joy told me she had no idea what was up. When they approached the tree, I stepped out and said "Hello, Joy!" She lifted the blindfold and squealed "Kayelily!" Then she put two and two together and figured out what we were doing. After hugs all around, Jason took off his ring and Joy hers and handed them to me and we began the ceremony.
Sidney stood with them and kept saying "we're getting married!" What a sweet moment to be standing in the very same place as 10 years ago. How often in your lifetime does that happen?
They exchanged rings and said the same vows to each other. I proclaimed them recommitted to each other!
They sealed their vows with a kiss as Sidney watched.
They are expecting another daughter in November and so I suggested that we do a baby blessing ceremony the beginning of next year and include Sidney too. I am so excited about keeping in touch with this wonderful couple and their family after all these years.
Joy and Jason, what an honor and privilege to be a part of your wedding and your tenth anniversary renewal of vows. Your marriage has stood the test of time and it is refreshing to witness. I wish you all the best and I will see you early next year.