I don’t write in the blog often. Mostly because I think about things a lot, but rarely take the time to put my thoughts in writing. According to my Mom, I have good stories and should write more! This time, I’m writing because I’m excited, blessed and also because I want to capture the moments.
When your child is born, you dream of the moments they’ll have in life. Learning to crawl, walk, ride a bike, first crush, learning to drive…. Then, for a girl, we inevitably get to the wedding and dreams of her gown and her finding incredible love that comes with marriage. Well, our dream came true with Laura and Chad and them sharing their love with everyone on April 5, 2019.
Let me start by saying that Chad is an amazing man and we are very blessed to now have him as our Son. And, together, he and Laura are an amazing couple that love and understand one another so well that it just makes you happy to be around them!
Laura and Chad were engaged last year, and then chose Cleveland, in April, for the wedding. We were a bit skeptical :). Really? Cleveland in April. Leading up to the wedding, we visited Chad and Laura in Cleveland for Christmas and immediately understood why they love the city so much and wanted to have the wedding there! It is an amazing city with many things to do. It’s clean, friendly, great transportation and the venue they chose is so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. (You can read my Christmas Blog for more on that)
Preparing for the wedding was an amazing experience. It started with flowers…. Given we live in our coach full time, we try to generally plan which part of the country we will be in at various times of the year. Our original plan was to be in the Great Lakes and Cleveland in the summer/fall of 2018. Laura got a new job that required her to be in San Francisco for 3 months. So, our original plan to head to the Cleveland was changed and we went to San Francisco in the fall for a couple of weeks with her. Of course, she was working, so we could only see her on weekends and some nights, but it was a great opportunity to meet up “on the road”.
Many of you know that Laura is an artist, so in planning the specifics for the wedding, she wanted to make as much as possible herself and use her talent. This started with making the bouquets! In San Francisco she and I went to the “Fantastico” warehouse… yes, Fantastico. It is one of the largest silk warehouses in the country and we loved it! We bought flowers for bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages. Then, we’d spend time together working on them and we made some great memories!
With the flowers mostly done (I’ll write more about that later), her returning to Cleveland, and us continuing to our next destination, we began planning and coordinating long distance. Laura was a pleasure and so thoughtful in her decisions. Her and Chad spent many hours talking about what they wanted. They decided to each have three attendants that included Bella, Victoria (Laura’s college friend), and Catherine (her cousin). Chad chose Logan, Keith and Ry (his Brothers).
We invited over 150 people, but knew many couldn’t make the trip to Cleveland. We finalized with 91 with many arriving on Thursday before the Friday ceremony. The 91 included family, childhood friends, work friends, and friends from Cleveland. The venue was the Cleveland Arcade at the Hyatt and it was amazing and enchanting! Laura and Chad wrote their own vows and wow…. The similarity in their vows was scary and sweet! The wedding ceremony was officiated by Roger’s Brother-in-Law Gary (he’s my Brother-in-Law too, but referring to him as Roger’s gives context :)). Gary is not only Laura’s Uncle, but also her Godfather. He was sweet, funny, entertaining and loving! I think Gary was almost as popular as Laura and Chad!
Many guests stayed at the Hyatt which is attached to the venue, so we could visit in the days and hours leading up to the wedding. It was great to see people come together! Many people knew of each other, but had never met in person or it had been many years since they had seen one another and it was awesome to see the love and laughter. It truly was the mash-up of our worlds and it was amazing and we felt the love and incredibly blessed!
There are moments from this wedding that I will never forget and mean so much to us. Starting with Laura’s decision to have the special women in her life sew beads into her dress. We took beads from my wedding veil, Pat’s (Roger’s Sister, Laura’s Aunt and Godmother) wedding veil, and Laura made rosettes from them. Then, each person had a hand-written note explaining why they were significant to Laura and then asking them to please sew the rosette into the dress. We placed them on the bodice at the back of the dress and it was amazing. What an experience and memory!
Another moment to remember was when I got to play a little prank on Chad . When Chad proposed, they were at the top of Dunns River Falls in Jamaica. Everything seemed perfect, except he was wearing a New England Patriots shirt! What?! For the reception decoration at the bar, I altered the photo and made it a Denver Broncos shirt! Yep, it was priceless. (Below are the original and the much better version with Broncos)
I guess I should also add the significance of getting the dress! When Laura was little, we lived in PA and regularly watched “Say Yes to the Dress”. We would talk about going to Kleinfelds to get her dress one day. Little did we know she would be living in Cleveland and I’d be in Lake Havasu City AZ living in our RV! But, we went to Kleinfelds and got the dress. It was an absolutely amazing experience!
The dress, with the additional beading was amazing. And, the bouquet she made matched the dress amazingly well! The stem of the bouquet was wrapped with pieces from my wedding dress and accented with Roger’s combat ribbons from the Navy. It was incredible!
Then, before the ceremony, my Mom gifted Laura my Papa’s dog tags. Laura was fortunate to know him until she was 16 and they were extremely close. This gift meant the world to Laura (and me) and she chose to weave the dog tags into her bouquet. Yep, that one bouquet sure held a lot of significance!
We had some excitement with Chad’s tux, but this just added to the overall experience (right Laura? LOL). It was ironic that the only tux measured at the store was the one that didn’t fit! Meeting Chad’s family was awesome and seeing the families dance and laugh together is something I will never forget.
At the reception, we had the grand entrance, complete with the guys and their sunglasses dancing, we had the speeches, the cake cutting and the first dances. Roger had the entire room in tears for his speech (including the photographer), but he got through it. We were both so incredibly happy for the entire evening that I cried all the way down the aisle to my seat, he cried walking her down the aisle and then we all cried during his speech! I’m betting there is not one picture where we have smiles on our faces vs. holding back tears.
During the reception, one person told me they felt like they were in another country. The Cleveland Keys as the sound system, DJ, band, all around entertainment were amazing, the Hyatt was beautiful and having so many of our friends and family there truly made it magical!
We are so happy for Laura to have met Chad and fell in love. They truly are made for each other! Roger had a great story woven into his speech that I want to share. He explained that he and I have always called each other “Sug”. It’s short for Sugar. And yes, we both use it with each other. When Laura was born, I asked Roger what we would call her and he said SugSug. And that stuck. Those of you that are around us often know that we call her that more than Laura. When she met Chad, he nicknamed her Eleanor. We have no idea where that came from! But, Roger’s speech talked about how our Laura, became our SugSug and Chad’s Eleanor. See, now you have something in your eye too!
At the reception, another significant moment was when Laura’s cousin, Noah (Catherine’s son) played Tears in Heaven with the Cleveland Keys and then Tara (Laura’s cousin-in-law) played the drums! The Cleveland Keys were amazing to let them participate and you can imagine how much the crowd loved this.
At the end of the reception, the band played Piano Man (Billy Joel) and the guests made a circle for Laura and Chad to dance, then at the end of the song, everyone rushed them for a huge group hug! And you all know how much our family loves to HUG – could this have been any better?
We are so blessed to have Laura, Chad and all of our friends and family. And, to have everyone together for this event was truly magical. Laura told me at the end of the night, “Mom, this has been the best day of my life and it was epic”. SugSug, yes, it was EPIC!