A Pandemic Wedding Story


At the beginning of the year Jason and I set May 30, 2020, as the date for our wedding.  We didn’t want it to be too soon and we wanted it to be special as our two families were becoming one.  It would also allow just enough time to get all the paperwork in order before his retirement date on June 22.  We sent out ‘Save the Date’ cards and started planning.  Since Shortway Brewing Co. was our first date (over a year and a half ago) and our second first date (when I finally got my act together and realized I was in love with him) we thought there would be nowhere more perfect than for us to have our wedding and the reception in the Beer Garden there.  So, we locked it on. 

Jason’s daughter, Akela, and I went to David’s Bridal the last weekend in January just to look. We walked away with a wedding dress and a bridesmaids dress. The invitations were made and they were in addressed envelopes with stamps waiting to be mailed. I even set up a page on Zola.com so that I could manage all the RSVPs.  It wasn’t going to be a large wedding.  We definitely weren’t planning anything crazy or glamorous (we aren’t fancy people).  We just wanted to make sure the kids got to be a part of it.  I was looking forward to Landon walking me down the aisle (more like rock path) to my future husband.  And we wanted to make sure there was good beer and good bbq for our family and friends.  Priorities!  

February flew by and before I knew it, it was March. Just a few short months away Jason and I would be married, Akela would graduate high school, Jason would retire and we would all head up to Wisconsin as one family.

Hello COVID19. 

First came the travel ban for active duty Marines and DOD employees.  Next, schools went into virtual learning mode from home.  Then, companies began putting their non-essential employees on telework status.  Lastly, businesses started to close and the ‘Stay at Home’ order went into effect. 

Because of all this, Jason’s retirement got pushed up to June 15.  Now we were going to have less time to get my name on all the necessary paperwork.  But I was certain we’d be able to get it done.  I made sure my last day of work was May 28th so that I could focus on getting what needed to be done after the wedding.

I realized we might not be able to get an application for a marriage license because of all the closures.  I called the Register of Deeds and they said they were taking it a day at a time and they couldn’t give me any definitive answers.  And we were still more than 60 days out from the wedding (marriage applications are only good for 60 days in North Carolina).  This is the moment I went into panic mode. 

Jason had told me he didn’t care when or how we got married.  He just wanted to be married to me.  So, on the morning of Friday, March 27th (about 1030am), I called the Register of Deeds and asked if I could come in to get a marriage license (just in case).  I had a doctor appointment in New Bern that afternoon so I was already going to be up there.  They made me an appointment at 1230pm.  That was going to be plenty of time before my 2pm appointment.  I called up Jason, told him to get the paperwork he needed and that we were going to get a marriage license. 

While I was rushing to get ready, now that I knew I had to get to the Register of Deeds office in two hours, I thought I would call the Magistrates office to see if they were offering limited services. The Magistrate answered (in a not so friendly way) and told me there was only one office still doing marriages and that they perform them until dark.

Yes!  He said dark… that is NOT helpful for a person who needs an exact time!  I digress.

When I got off the phone with him, I called Jason and said, “let’s get married after my doctor appointment.”  I don’t think he believed me because I was so adamant about waiting until May 30th.  He agreed and said he’d be over soon to pick me up so we could head to New Bern. 

Now I really needed to get ready.  Like, do my make up and do something with my hair. And I did not have a lot of time to do it in.  

I needed two witnesses. I FaceTimed Roxie. We casually chatted for a minute when I asked what she was doing at about 3pm that day (it was already 11am). I asked if she would be my witness and grab Carson (her daughter) because I knew Daniel was at work. Roxie was at a loss for words. She tried saying stuff, but she kept stammering. I wish I could have recorded her reaction. It was priceless. She of course said yes. Then asked me what she should wear. I said “I don’t know” and then she asked “what are you wearing?” CRAP! I hadn’t even thought of that. She asked “What’s Jason wearing?” CRAP again! I didn’t know. I guess I should tell him to wear something nice. I called him, told him to wear jeans and a nice shirt. Easy peasy, right? I FaceTimed Roxie back and told her what Jason and I were going to wear and that I would drop her a pin of where to meet us at for the wedding after my doctor appointment.

Jason and I headed to New Bern.  We got our application. We were hungry.  We went to McDonalds (since we couldn’t go anywhere to sit and eat) and ordered chicken nuggets and sat in the car and ate. 

We arrived about 30 minutes early for my doctor appointment.  We waited at least 15 minutes when the girl behind the desk finally called my name to take me back.  Since Jason and I were the only ones in the waiting room she got a good look at us and said “Awe, you guys look so nice.  Are you doing something after this?”  I casually answered back, “yeah, we might get married.”  Her jaw dropped.  “Are you serious!?” she asked.  Yes. Yes I was.

When my appointment was over we headed straight the Magistrate’s office (and the jail… they are in the same location). Roxie and Carson texted that they were on their way.  When they arrived, Roxie gets out of the car and hands me a bouquet of beautiful hydrangeas (they were the flowers I planned to use for the May 30th wedding).  Then she handed me her nana’s handkerchief (which I totally tucked into my underwear – I didn’t have pockets!) and said I could ‘borrow’ it.  She wrapped blue string around the bouquet (my something blue), she told me Jason was my ‘something new’ and that she was my ‘something old.’  Then she went around to the back of the car and pulled out Shortway Beer from a cooler.  She said it was for the reception after. I was completely suprised. (And impressed at how she was able to pull it all together in such a short time).

Carson, me and Roxie.

It was time.  We all walked to the Magistrate, filled out papers and paid our fee.  He let us do it outside and stood about 20 feet away from us.  Roxie FaceTime her husband Daniel and our friend Kim (who was traveling to Virginia – she stopped on the side of the road to watch) and our simple, short and sweet ceremony began.  We were Mr. and Mrs. Van at approximately 3pm that afternoon. 

The Moment it Became Official.

Afterwards we went down the street to the rest stop, sat on a picnic table and drank our beer. 

Jason and I were still going to have a reception at Shortway on May 30th and I was going to wear my dress and we’d just cut out the ceremony part. We were already married so it didn’t seem necessary.  It was just going to be a celebration with our family and friends. Plan B was a go. 

Today, a month after we got married, we had to make the hard decision to cancel our reception on May 30th. There are still too many unknowns and we’d hate to make a last-minute decision and waste money.

Plan C is now in effect.  Instead of having a reception we are going to have professional pictures taken of our family, all dressed up like we would have been for the wedding on May 30th, and instead of sending out wedding invitations, we’re going to send marriage announcements. 

The pandemic may have forced our hand in changing our wedding plans.  But it definitely didn’t ruin anything.  Our wedding day was absolutely amazing.  My friend rocked it with last-minute surprise planning (which she does best) and made our day even sweeter. 

I married the man of my dreams on March 27th 2020.  It was perfect in every way. 

The Happy Couple. Married on 3/27/20 in New Bern, North Carolina.

Signed,

Mrs. Anne Van

Maybe Swearing Will Help

  • Teleworking
  • Wedding Planning
  • Job Searching
  • Resume Writing
  • Home Schooling
  • House Shopping (in Wisconsin)
  • Planning a Move
  • Packing the House
  • Need Toilet Paper
  • Jason’s Retirement
  • Running Club

The list goes on………

I am not one to complain (at least for everyone to hear!) but I’ve got A LOT going on… and the coronavirus is not making it easy for me. Yes, I know, there are people dying from this and I need to be more sensitive. I am not trying to make this all about me. So please don’t use my blog to attack me with your “medical expertise” and current stats that I can easily find on CDC.gov. My blog is my opinion and it’s a way for me to vent, without posting every gripe I have every couple of hours via Facebook along with everyone else. So here I am, looking at what needs to be accomplished over the next couple of months and coming to terms with the fact that it might not get done. At least the way I hoped for.

Believe me when I say I am a planner. Seriously, I plan out everything, with plenty of time to spare. Why? Because it’s easier and less stressful that way. Well, the coronovirus was the universe’s way of saying to me “we don’t care about your plans.” The bright side is that I am forced to sit back, and take it one day at a time. Which is something I’ve been needing to do for a long time. But damnit…. I don’t wanna! Maybe, just maybe, swearing will help!

I recieved this awesome coloring book in the mail today called, you guessed it, “Maybe Swearing Will Help.” It was from my friend Roxie. I laughed when I opened it and thought, YES – this is exactly what I need to take my focus off of everything that is no longer going to work out the way I wanted it too.

So here’s my hope for you…. consider this time a gift. A gift that you didn’t want, but can’t exchange or return. Yes, we might be missing out on watching our kids play sports, or seeing them off to school. We might not be able to have birthday celebrations at our favorite eateries or meet the girls for drinks after work. We might only be able to see our friends via FaceTime, Zoom or Skype. But when all this clears, we will go on with our lives the way we intended. We’ll go back to “not having enough time” to do certain things again or we’ll gripe about gas prices and traffic. But right now…. enjoy the unknown if you can. Because nothing is going as expected and we don’t know how long this will last.

Friends, Family, BBQ and Beer

First and foremost, I need it to be known that the most amazing and wonderful human being on the planet has asked me to marry him!  I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve such a caring, selfless and loving man but boy do I thank my lucky stars EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for him.  That being said…..

I’m getting’ married, bitches!

Ok ok ok….. I might be a little over the moon excited about marrying Jason.  Just a tad bit anyways.

This is a second marriage for both of us.  We have both been divorced over 8 years (our divorces were finalized exactly 2 months apart).  We have two separate households, routines, bills, kids, responsibilities, etc.  So, having a wedding isn’t necessarily something important to either of us.  Don’t get me wrong, we are incredibly excited and cannot wait to get married.  We just aren’t flashy people. My parents spent a small fortune on my first wedding.  That was a huge waste of money.  But I was young and wanted to feel like a princess even though I didn’t feel like one in my relationship.  Well, that is definitely not the case this time around.  Jason treats me like a queen.  And because of that, all I care about in this wedding planning business is becoming Mrs. Van and spending my life with him.  And basically, you can do that at the justice of the peace.

The day Jason and I say “I do” it will be about our two families coming together as one. That is what is truly important to us. Our kids are the only people who will be standing up for us. Akela (my future daughter) is my only bridesmaid (and coincidentally will be spoiled the rest of her life because I will finally have a daughter – I digress). Landon and Brayden will stand next to Jason. In fact, Landon is walking me down the ‘aisle’ and giving me away. (I write ‘aisle’ because it’s not much of an aisle as it is more of a graveled area of approximately 10-15 steps) The only reason we are having a wedding ceremony is for the kids. They deserve to be a part of our special day. It’s tough being a kid raised by your single parent without a lot of help from the other side. (And by help, I mean guidance, mentoring, communication, etc.) So, they deserve the party.

Our wedding isn’t going to flashy or lavish.  It isn’t going to be expensive.  But it is going to be filled with friends, family, bbq and beer.

The Struggle of Being a Gold

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

For almost a decade I have been a licensed facilitator for Shipley Communications in 4-Lenses Temperament Discovery and have taught the personality assessment training to thousands of people (mainly active duty members and their families).  Identifying and understanding personality styles – think disposition, character, nature, spirit, etc. – allows you to determine how people think, feel, work, play, learn, teach, speak, write, lead and follow.  It’s a very interesting subject.  But most of all, it opens your mind and enables you to see the world from somebody else’s “lens” which, if used for good, can improve all of your relationships (work, family, significant other, neighbors… the list is endless).

You’ve probably heard of Myers-Briggs which is the identification and description of 16 distinctive personality types.  It’s an assessment of over 100 questions which results in being placed into one of the 16 personality types like ISTJ, INFP, ENFJ.  I’ll be honest, I took the Myers-Briggs test two times: once in college when I was 18 and again in my mid-twenties.  I cannot for the life of me remember what “personality type” I was.  This is where 4-Lenses is different (and a little bit easier to remember).  Instead of 16 personality types, 4-Lenses breaks it down into four temperament colors:  Blue, Gold, Green and Orange. 

Don’t worry, this is not a lesson in personality types.  Rather, it’s the struggle I face being a Gold. 

See, let me share with you a little about the Gold personality type.

  • The Gold personality believes in the benefits of discipline as it is critical for success.  
  • Golds can be prudent and prudent people know how to conduct themselves with good judgement, common sense, and even caution in practical matters. 
  • Just like the Boy Scouts, Gold’s like to be prepared.  They will spend a considerable amount of time and effort anticipating problems and forming not just one, but multiple backup plans.
  • Traditions are very important to Golds.  Traditions bring a feeling of stability, security and order.
  • Gold’s hate change.  Like, in a dragging their feet kicking and screaming kind of way.  They eventually come around, but they are vocal about their feelings with change. 
  • Gold’s feel obligated to take on responsibilities.  They will sacrifice their personal time to take on new responsibilities. 
  • They believe in hard work, dedication and trust.  And once a Gold loses trust in someone, it is gone forever.  There is no coming back. 
  • Golds enjoy a good old-fashioned list.  When they complete something on the list, they cross it off.  If they do something that wasn’t on the list, well, you guessed it – they will add it to the list so that they can feel the satisfaction of crossing it off the list. 
  • Golds need order, rules and schedules.  Without it, they feel like life would be too messy and chaotic.  To help manage their schedule, they use planners, apps, and appointment books.
  • Security, to a Gold, means having a good-paying career at an established institution that fosters positive societal standards. 
  • Golds are loyal to a fault.  They dedicate themselves to their employer, significant other and their friends. 
  • To a Gold, there is right and wrong – no in between.  Following rules is important and they expect others to respect authority and follow the rules just as they do

Why do I write all of this?  Because being a Gold is tiring.  It’s exhausting.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, my house is almost always immaculate.  Everything is in order.  All my bills get paid well before they are due.  I keep charts and lists for just about everything.  I constantly reevaluate my life and the goals I have set for myself – personally, financially, educationally, and career wise.  Almost every minute of every day is scheduled, and I am a creature of habit and repetition.  I have to plan everything I do because I don’t like spontaneity.  I come off as rigid to people who don’t know me.  Some might even consider me a bitch because of it.  I promise I’m not.  It’s just my personality.  Luckily, I have amazing Orange, Green and Blue friends who not only appreciate my “gold” but help me be less “gold” on occasion.  And I love them for that.

Talking to Strangers

I’ve recently watched a TED Talk – Why You Should Talk To Strangers – presented by Kio Stark.  I’ve never heard of her before, but the title of the short video was enough to pique my interest.  She was encouraging people to talk to strangers.  Her reason:  When you talk to strangers, you are telling them “I see you there.”  And when you look at talking to strangers in that way, she says you develop a genuine emotional connection with someone.

Fear not – this blog is NOT a recap of the video I watched. If anything, I’d much prefer you watch it for yourself.  However, as I watched and listened, it made me smile thinking about how fortunate I am to live in the south.  Here in the south, there is no such thing as a stranger.  Us southerners can pretty much talk to anyone, at any time, for any reason.  While it may not be some in-depth, life-changing conversation, where life-long friendships are formed, sparking up a conversation with someone you don’t know is more like an unwritten, southern hospitality rule.  There might as well be signs on I95 southbound stating – Last chance to turn around if small talk isn’t your cup of tea.  (And by tea, I obviously mean sweat tea.)

I’m reminded of a time when this small-town girl from eastern North Carolina traveled all the way up to Harrisburg, PA, for work.  – Spoiler alert, that small-town girl is me. –  A few of my colleagues and I decided that before we checked into our hotel for the evening we would go out and grab some food.  We found a bar and grill a few miles from our hotel, walked in and decided to sit at the bar.  It was one of those oval shaped bars that no matter where you sat, you could see everyone.  As I was looking at the menu, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat.  About the same time, I saw meal after meal being delivered to my fellow bar sitters.  Naturally, the southern girl in me started asking everyone sitting around the bar what they were eating because it looked so good and being from out of town I was hoping they could give me some recommendations.

At that very moment you could have heard a pin drop.  You should have seen the looks on their faces.  They glared at me in disbelief.  I have never felt so unwelcomed in my entire life.  The bartender walked over to me and gave me some recommendations. 

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

No wonder you don’t hear the phrase: northern hospitality.

So next time you happen to have a few minutes in your day, and you’re willing to look up from your phone for more than 5 minutes, spark up a conversation with a stranger. Maybe they’ve been feeling lonely or just seem to think nobody takes notice of them. And then you come along, a pure stranger to them, making note of their existence by exchanging a few friendly words and maybe even a laugh or two. This could be all that they need in order to feel noticed.

5am on a Saturday

Team DARK
Emerald Isle Beach Saturday Morning Workout

This morning when my alarm went off at 5am I got up immediately without hitting snooze.  Which is impressive considering during the work week I hit snooze for every alarm I set (I set my alarm to go off at five different times if you were wondering).  This morning, on a Saturday of all days – when everyone else was still asleep, I jumped out of bed and made some coffee.  I threw on some clothes, packed a bag and headed out the door by 6:30am.  I was headed to Emerald Isle.

The 30-minute drive was very quiet.  Only a few cars were on the road.  At 7:05am I arrived at my destination.  I jumped out of the truck, changed my shoes and headed towards the beach.  It was time to work out. 

Yes.  You read that right.  I woke up at the ass-crack of dawn on a Saturday morning (earlier than I even wake up for work) and drove the almost 35 minutes to get a good Saturday morning workout in.  By the way, I wasn’t alone.  My crazy friends were also there. 

Daniel and Roxie brought their rower, jump box, kettlebells, and 45lb bar with additional weights.  Daniel set up a circuit for us with the beach as a backdrop.  He even included a beach run in the circuit.  We teamed up two by two:  Me and Daniel, and Roxie and Kim.  Each round was 20 minutes.  We did three rounds for a total of 60 minutes.  We did get some crazy looks from the scarce morning crowd.  But we didn’t care.  Covered in sweat, when we finished our workout we high-fived, took a group picture, loaded all the equipment into Daniel’s truck and then said our goodbyes as each of us headed home.  It was 8:45am.      

Just about everyday on Facebook, friends of mine are posting about how they want to lose weight, workout more or eat healthier.  And many are repeat posters because they aren’t doing anything to follow through with their goals.  If you want to eat healthier or lose weight, you MUST be willing to put in the work and leave the excuses at the door (or in your comfy bed).  But ultimately, you need a support system to hold you accountable.  Your 2,000 friends on Facebook are NOT holding you accountable.  And unfortunately, many of them want to see you fail.     

My personal health and fitness tip to reach your goals: get yourself a tribe like mine.  (Although, this might mean you don’t get to sleep in on Saturday).

Between the four of us, we all have varying degrees of fitness levels.  But that doesn’t stop us from being able to meet up and get a good workout in.  We encourage each other.  We push each other.  We challenge each other.  And we don’t allow each other to make excuses.

Now, please excuse me while I take a much needed Saturday afternoon nap.