"Our love story started with a meeting that would change both our lives. I was new in town and didn't know a soul. I met Jackie through a guy I was with at the time. I was in my 30s with two kids. I had never been in a relationship with a woman. I had spent my entire adult life married to a man. But, the day I met her, I swear lightning struck.
We went from strangers, to acquaintances, to friends, within no time. The more I got to know her the more I couldn't get enough of her. Fast forward through some really messy and awful breaks ups in both our lives, we thought we would give it a whirl. I was pretty clueless when it came to dating anyone, much less a woman. But I jumped in with both feet. I was head over heels and I fumbled my way through the first days of our relationship completely inexperienced. But, I would spend the rest of my life figuring it out, just to get to kiss her lips or feel her touch.
You know, it's amazing how you read and hear songs about someone lighting a fire inside of you or butterflies; you never consider for a second that mumbo jumbo is real. But, it is. Since I met her, I have experienced every love song, every poem and then some. I never knew a love like this was even possible.
After knowing deep down in my bones she was all I was ever going to want, I decided I to commit myself to Jackie in every way possible. I planned for months how to do it, what the ring would look like and what I would say. I played every scenario out in my head. We had talked about marriage in the past, and it was something she had never really thought was for her. So, I went into my proposal thinking, she may very well say no and tell me to hit the road. Let me tell you, I am terrible at keeping secrets and being sneaky. I blush like a school girl and cannot tell a lie to save my life, so I knew hiding this from her would be a challenge. But, I knew I wanted to be the one to ask. So I did, Christmas of 2016, I got down on one knee and asked her to spend the rest of her life as my wife. She said yes. I felt absolute joy in that moment.
Now, the planning began. We looked at colors, we looked at venues, and we made guest lists. We started buying table arrangements and making invitations and it became stressful. So, one night cuddled up on the couch scouring through Pinterest, we decided we were going to make this about us. We decided we were going to elope.
Jackie was in the Navy and had been all over the world. I had not even been to the west coast, so I had no idea where to even begin looking. We looked at all of the countries we actually could get married and started narrowing down the list. I think the final decision came down to Jackie finding me a race to run in the right time frame. So, Iceland it was!
Once we picked the country, I immediately started researching what paperwork was needed and what the process was to legally get married in another country. After emails and lots of internet reading, I found out what we needed to have and the required time period we needed to be in the country before the ceremony. The paperwork was not fun, but the Iceland government was so wonderful by being very specific about their requirements. Finally, after a lot of work, everything was a go.
We arrived 7 days before our planned ceremony, to allow the proper timeline for the documents Iceland needed. We spent those days sight-seeing in the most beautiful country. Words cannot describe the beauty of Iceland. During our entire trip, we stayed in contact with our celebrant, Helga. She found an isolated and breathtaking spot for the ceremony, and even recommended a fantastic local photographer who captured the wedding. I will caution those who plan to elope though, getting married in a foreign country you have to be flexible. Like any other wedding day, things will go wrong. Being unfamiliar with the area our ceremony was being held, we spent the first several hours of our wedding day in the car just trying to reach our destination. We dressed in a museum bathroom and I purchased and created my flower arrangement with flowers from a local grocery store. The day was a blur but it was magical. I wouldn’t change a thing about that day for the world because on July 17th, 2017, I married the love of my life.
And they lived happily ever after…. "