We got engaged in September of 1996. Right after the holidays, Chris began planning a group ski vacation in Lake Tahoe. One evening, he turned to me and said, ‘Well, while we’re out there…” As we lived in Florida, but had friends and family all over the continental United States, a destination wedding seemed a decent idea. It was my second marriage and he didn’t really have any strong feelings on what he wanted, so a small simple affair worked for both of us. Via the internet, we found a venue, a paddle steamer, that gave us one-stop shopping. They faxed me a worksheet and I circled my choice of flowers, cake, food, and photography package. They provided the officiant. I was thrilled at how easy it was.
Then fate stepped in. Both Chris and I travelled for our jobs and he called me in South Carolina from his assignment in California three weeks before the wedding. He started the conversation by saying, “I need you to remain silent and not say anything until after I’ve finished telling you something.” Uh, oh. What followed was a convoluted story that included pistol whipping, but boiled down to the paddle steamer being impounded by the Feds because of failure to pay back taxes. I’m never at a loss for words, but that one rendered me speechless. It wasn’t that I had to replace a venue, I had to pull together an entire wedding long-distance in three weeks. I knew no one in Lake Tahoe, but thank goodness for the internet and good fortune. I found a second paddle steamer, the Dixie Queen II and they had space for us on the date we’d chosen. I subsequently found out they were considered the better of the two boats.
Although they provided lunch and an open bar, they didn’t do the wedding cake but could recommend a woman named Annie. I contacted her and she provided a very pretty cake that was also the best tasting wedding cake I’ve ever had. And I’m not just saying that. She turned out to be one of the waitresses on the boat, so I had the chance to thank her in person.
The Dixie Queen recommended Reverend Lucie King as the officiant. I have no recollection of my phone call with her, or even how I selected the words for our ceremony. Unfortunately, there is no printed version and the amateur video taken had terrible audio, so if offered a million dollars, I couldn’t tell you what either Chris or I said to one another. It satisfied our guests, so I’m sure it was appropriate.
I believe it was Reverend King who recommended the photographer, Leslie Timmerman. Leslie was terrific. I just pulled out our album again and found her invoice. I’m astonished at how reasonable she was, even for 15 years ago.
The service was conducted at 11:00am, Sunday, April 6, 1997. The skies were clear and beautiful, but it was windy and chilly! Seventeen people had flown out to join us, including our parents. The ceremony was conducted on the top deck while the boat was still at the dock, then a cruise around the lake served as our reception. I know we had chicken kiev because an amateur videographer set the camera down still running while they were eating and I have about a 15 minute stretch of the dish being consumed.
As for the other details, I have no memory of how I arranged for my bouquet and Chris’ boutonniere. My veil had been my sister’s with the tulle trimmed to a more informal length. My mother made my wedding dress and salvaged Chris’ outfit as well. He had been unable to find a white shirt with long enough sleeves at home and was stressing me out by planning a shopping expedition in Tahoe before the wedding. My mother ended up cutting his sleeves and sewing the cuffs to the bottom of the jacket. It’s a good thing it was a cold day as he would have looked something like the Incredible Hulk if he’d taken his jacket off.
We spent the rest of the week in and around Tahoe skiing. I don’t consider it the honeymoon however, as we were sharing a house with a dozen friends who stayed to ski with us. Chris skied the double black diamonds and I spent my time on the bunny slopes taking lessons with his best friend from Puerto Rico or, in the case of Squaw Valley, ice skating. We took what I consider our honeymoon trip a year later when we went to Europe – just the two of us.
Rev. Lucie King: http://www.luciekingministries.com/
Leslie Timmerman: http://www.phototahoe.com/
Dixie Queen: http://www.zephyrcove.com/msdixie.aspx
Guest Blogger! I am presently in New York so I thought it would be fun to have my sister share her own wedding since she too officiates weddings as a notary. Alas, I did not attend her wedding as I was home with a newborn at the time and utterly overwhelmed.
Rev. Ann Fuller
The commentary on this blog is my own opinion developed over years of officiating a wide range of wedding sizes and styles. I am always happy to answer any questions you may have.