Hi everyone –
You all know how I (Dan) love to write with Casper’s voice, and share his view of our crazy events, but I think this post will be a mix of all of our perspectives. The most important point for me today is to share with you all the details of the recent events; Including the one of the best days of my life, so far, June 14th 2015. The day I was finally able to officially make Lauri my wife. I’m sure Casper will add his perspective in here somewhere, but it’s already almost a week later, and I’m still feeling a bit drained. I need to share before time gets away. I may over share, but I want you all to know so many things, and just get others off my chest. This may end up being a long story, so go get your favorite beverage.
Life is a crazy mix of ease and stress; trying to remember to go with the flow, anticipation, and over thinking what will take care of itself without my interference, and interfering anyway. I feel lighter over the past few days than I have in quite some time. I found it amusing that so many people asked me if I was having pre-wedding jitters, second thoughts, or a whole host of other terms for me being unsure about this supposed huge step in my life. I really think some were surprised my definitive answers. There is no doubt in me, that I have found the woman who I will walk life’s path with. I know with my soul that this woman, and these daughters, are mine from here out. It may have taken me 38 years to find her, and 41 for me to get married, but so what! I have never done anything on anyone else’s schedule, so this is really no different.
Everyone that I’ve talked to say that planning a wedding is stressful. This is definitely true. It is in fact so stressful that I was worked up, and I did exactly NONE of the planning! Early on both of us knew what we wanted and agreed on what our wedding would look like, the time of year it would occur, and who would be invited. We wanted a fall wedding, Halloween fits me perfectly. We were going to do that for a while. Then we decided against it for several reasons, including the concern that kids would be attending and while we planned on making it fun, we didn’t want a costume party wedding. Then we wanted an April wedding, and decided against that because Lauri wanted to get her Masters degree and planning a wedding and being in school would be daunting. We talked about how to get all of this done at the same time. The next idea we had was to find a location that had a package, where we didn’t need to do all of the planning, find the catering, photographer, and on, and on. Lauri looked locally, and the options were, well, not acceptable to us. Branson, MO offered a few different locations and options for guests to have places to stay and things to do during down time for those that would be traveling distances to be our guests. We settled on this option, now we just needed to take a drive and see the venue we thought we wanted. Lauri and I took a drive one day, she was happy with the answers to her questions, the services provided, and the fact that the location was a bed & breakfast with guest cabins right on sight. They offered indoor and outdoor options for the ceremony, seating for the reception dinner, and a winery on-site. Lauri seemed super happy, and in my mind this is HER day so we took the next step. I never spoke up, but my intuition screamed “NO! Find somewhere else!” I didn’t like the location from the time we hit the driveway, but I told myself it will be fine, and it helped that the pricing seemed acceptable. I moved on. What followed was what seemed like a battle of wills. The package we bought fed somewhere around 50 guests. Our guest list was closer to 30, so I asked Lauri to see if they would adjust the menu and pricing; they wouldn’t. Next, our package did not include a DJ, so I asked if we could have a DJ over bringing CDs. The answer was no, unless we bought the next level package. The next package included too much food, and would cost too much money. Every step there was resistance, including allowing early check-in so we could get ready for the ceremony on-site. We forged ahead, right up until we asked them to keep their cats indoors during the ceremony so Casper didn’t get distracted. This also was an issue for them. We had email and phone conversations about ADA law, and the responsibilities of parties evolved.
The law states, in summary, that if an off leash animal causes a distraction and the handler, service animal, or bystander is hurt then the owner of the off leash animal is at fault. We are not the type to take legal action, we simply wanted to inform them of their rights, and ours. The response was colorful, and I was told that they are now “afraid” and wanted to talk to their lawyer. Apparently they did and must have been told we were correct. Within the next day or so Lauri received an email offering to break the contract and provide a full refund. This was funny to me, because the contract we signed allowed them to keep the down payment for any reason. For them to offer a full refund a week before the wedding told me that I was no longer welcome. If we declined the offer and something “unforeseen” happened this would open us up to having less of a legal advantage. Why would we want to be somewhere we’re not welcome? Lauri and I talked and agreed to take the offer. Great, we’re getting our money back.
Now, after months of planning, guests with airline tickets, reservations and who knows what else. We didn’t have anywhere to hold a ceremony, welcome our guests, or even have a meal. It was time to put a ceremony and reception together in record time. I was amazed! Lauri had a plan less than 24 hours later. I thought we’d have to tell our guests we were not getting married, at least not in Branson on the day we thought we would. Then magic happened, another bed & breakfast for our wedding night, and they agreed to allow us to use their back yard for pictures and a ceremony as long as we left the space the way we found it. Next, she found a restaurant with a private room that was more than happy to welcome us for dinner after the ceremony, and they didn’t even charge us extra to use the space. I couldn’t believe we faced so many weeks of issues, and literally over night, others were so welcoming and positive.
The ceremony was short, sweet and perfectly executed. My bride was beautiful. My best man, Casper, did his job like the true professional he is. We had stairs with no rails that we traversed with ease. We took pictures, and introduced our families to each other; everything moved along so well.
After the ceremony we headed to our reception. We were welcomed as friends, with the room setup especially for us. They even made us custom Bride and Groom menus! We had our own wait staff of 3 for our party, and they ensured everyone was well tended to. They even allowed us to bring in our own gluten-free cupcakes which we already had ordered for the day.
The day really could read as an epic wedding day fail; I’d rather see it as an epic success! Sure there are more stories we’ll tell in the coming days, there are more ups, downs, and stories to come. Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier with the way everything happened. We have stories to tell, and I have my wife and family. I couldn’t ask for more.
**More photos to follow (with Casper in them!) once they are received from the photographer.**