A Wedding Story: Choosing the Wild Card

They say romance can be a whirlwind, and you will know love when you find it.   Combine the two, and that would well describe the foundation of my wedding story more than a decade ago. It began with an introduction through email. I was living in Winston-Salem while Kevin was 7,337 miles away. In exchange for the ability to meet face to face, Kevin had a local number through Vonage, which provided the means for us to talk every day for, sometimes, five hours. From late June through late November, our calls always began with the same greeting, “Good morning, Kevin!” and “How is the night, Lisa?”   On Thanksgiving Day, Kevin’s plane landed, and well before Christmas, we knew we’d marry within one year.

A Candid Conversation

How often in our dreams of wondering who our future husband would be, do we get it right? I met a southern gentleman, who donned cowboy boots and hat, drove a Jeep, was saluted as a Master Sergeant, and loved classical music. Suddenly, the childhood dream of a church wedding wasn’t as important as thinking about our future together. In a candid conversation, we realized an intimate affair at a romantic get-away destination is what we most wanted.

Choosing the Wild Card

Similar to knowing love, couples will instantly recognize a great destination idea once it is heard. In considering a mountain, forest, city, country or ocean setting, there are unlimited possibilities close to home, or half-way around the world. Our magic word was “cruise.” Through research, we discovered to be legally married aboard a ship, it must be “flagged” in a country that is recognized by the United States. Princess Cruises was just one line that had a “Tie the Knot at Sea” program. One evening, we sat to consider four itineraries in the Caribbean and one that was uniquely different. The convincing words were said aloud, “How often in your life do you have the ability to choose the South Pacific? How do you pass up a wild card?” On a Friday in July, we were scheduled to meet with a travel agent and discuss our December wedding and honeymoon package.

Decisions with Wine

Within a few days, we were holding a welcome packet containing detailed information to choose the options of our wedding. It arrived in a simplistic format – a check-list. Only one question was challenging: Would we rather have a ceremony aboard the ship or on the shore? In very little time, we selected the type of bouquet, music, vows, cake, portrait, and picture package.

Additional amenities could be added, such as chapel decorations, hair styling, makeup application, manicure and pedicure, and specialty dining options. With such a grand list, the perfect destination wedding is easily attainable for a wedding couple and their guests.

Counting the Days

By early August, we were officially engaged, and the next step was sending out announcements to family and friends. Instead of gifts, we requested “written words” for those who felt compelled to write us a letter, whether anecdotal, inspirational, comic, or marital advice. In counting the days, this was intended to be a special gift from those who could not travel and be part of our wedding day.


Sleep is often impossible the night before an anticipatory event. It was a long day of travel, especially for Kevin who carried my wedding dress through three airports. Palm trees, the strum of ukuleles, the taste of the salty air, and the fragrant Tahitian flowers donned around our necks was a welcoming first impression. Arriving one day early allowed us to settle into a new time zone and sleep prior to boarding the following afternoon.

A Perfect Venue

Five days before Christmas, on a sail day, we became the first passengers to marry aboard the Tahitian Princess. For a couple who loves books, the ship’s library was the perfect room in which to say, “I do.” Soon after cutting the cake and signing the ship’s manifest, we were whisked away by a Polish photographer, who delighted in encouraging applause for the newlyweds. Beyond that moment, we had a week of exploring unique islands, meeting new people, eating wonderful meals, and enjoying the wonder of cruise life together.

Love and Letters

The only missing piece to such a wonderful event was the absence of our dear family and friends. Tied together with a red ribbon, we absorbed every word sent to us in the form of letters and cards. The handwritten words were enough to feel the love from home.