The first time I met Randy I knew he was the one—he had bleach-blond hair, a tie-dyed shirt on and I'm pretty sure I saw a twinkle in his eyes. He was night and day different from the folks in my circle. And I liked my circle, but I was intrigued. He worked with his hands, he was a bike racer and he read Edward Abby. We were both in other relationships, but I knew that somehow I needed to make room for him in my life.
Fast forward to today and we’re closing in on 10 years of marriage which we’ll be celebrating this July—July 13th to be exact.
We didn’t rush into marriage.
Randy was concerned I might want a huge extravagant wedding. He knew this wasn’t my first go-around. The first time occurred in my mid 20’s in a small courthouse in Ohio. I had fallen for someone while living in South America in my early 20's. We moved back to the states and while the marriage was short, the cultural differences were long. Being very familiar with my outgoing personality, Randy apprehensively assumed that I’d want a re-do that was much bigger and louder.
Five years after we first met, Randy and I moved to Colorado. We were ready for new adventures and Colorado seemed like the perfect place to find them. We both fell in love with mountain biking, camping in the Rockies, and having very few adult responsibilities outside of maintaining our small ranch home and me keeping my boss happy.
On both sides our parents gently hinted at taking the next step. They expressed their thoughts that we might not want to wait too much longer for kids.
The bug didn’t hit then, but it did hit soon thereafter.
Randy proposed with an aquamarine ring that we’d picked out together. I loved that ring and wore it hard for 8 years. When the stone fell out I didn’t replace it. Instead I put a simple band of colorful New Zealand paua on my finger that my mom had gifted me years earlier. It had been sitting in a jewelry box collecting dust and now I admire its beauty daily.
Randy and I found ourselves engaged and excited to have kids, but hesitant about planning a wedding. This surprised my parents as they’ve known me to never shy away from a spotlight. They assumed that now that I had found the real Mr. Right I’d want an extravagant show with hundreds of my favorite people in attendance.
I told my parents that after being a bridesmaid 7 times—and although I thoroughly enjoyed all of the weddings I’d attended—I had evolved and that my thinking had matured. I have a feeling they high-five’d behind closed doors as they themselves had chosen a very simple ceremony in front of only 50 people.
In July of 2009 Randy and I took a trip from our home near Denver to Crested Butte, Colorado. We mountain biked, hiked, got massages, ate well, camped and stayed at a B&B during the week we were there. During one of our hikes we found a beautiful (and quiet) spot, put our camera on a tall rock, hit record and made vows to one another. Randy told me that he couldn’t imagine waking up next to anyone else and that he loved playing and doing life with me. I was so surprised by his eloquence that my memorized lines came out awkwardly and rushed. But it didn’t matter because Randy didn’t care and no-one was there to judge.
Did we feel like we missed out because we didn’t have an extravagant wedding?
Not a chance.
With our vows compete, we threw ourselves a party. In fact, we threw ourselves two—one in Colorado with new friends and another back in Michigan with old friends and our families.
The Colorado party was held on the outdoor patio of my favorite coffee shop. We gave the owners money and they figured it all out—food, live music and a fun ambiance. Three easy conversations later and we were in the midst of a simple yet elegant evening. It was perfect.
My sister-in-law Becky offered to plan the Michigan party. Her taste is sleek and sophisticated, so we eagerly accepted. At the party, my dad gave us a memorable toast. He teasingly mentioned that supposedly we had an earlier exchange of vows and then played up the philosopher’s conundrum, “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it?” Laughter drowned out his next question, “With no witnesses…?”
Note that Colorado is a state that recognizes a marriage even if there is no ceremony nor any witnesses. Once you register with the state you’re all set, if you choose.
I recognize that our very simple “I do” is not for everyone. A spectacular week in Crested Butte and the two beautiful parties cost us approximately $15,000—less than half the average cost of a US wedding. We paid cash and came out on the other end debt free. The three events filled me with joy and I don’t think my memory of them could be any sweeter.
Like any marriage ours has had both highs and lows.
We now have two kind, enthusiastic boys who are each other’s best friend. Their grandparents adore them and they add measurably to all our lives.
And yes, we also have our fair share of stressors.
But together we’re focusing on creating the moments that matter most—like saying yes to family mountain bike rides and backyard summer soccer—which make it all so worthwhile.