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Old 12-12-2007, 03:58 PM   #1
keenercam
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Smile Cam & Howard's Vow Renewal PJ -1/12/09 - WP&WH--p.98: TRIP REPORT BEGINS

First of all, I really want to thank everyone who has taken the time to post planning journals and wedding trip reports and planning session reports. Everything is so helpful to see and to hear about. And I have enjoyed reading everyone's PJ's so much, that it inspired me to start mine now, rather than a month from now, when a lot of details will be ironed out.

Wow! Where to start? I have read so many wonderful and entertaining planning sessions that I am completely intimidated and worried about boring all of you! And this will probably be so much more information than anyone wants, and I am sorry for all the background and the NOVEL, but it is all very relevant to understanding what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how it is all going to play out.

A little about me and my dream for happily ever after: From the time I was a little girl, I had no self-esteem. I was just the most pathetic thing. Looking back now, I feel sorry for the child I was, nearly blind, very overweight, long braids to my knees, and just not cute. But for as far back as I can remember, I dreamed of having someone fall in love with me. It's funny how I didn't wish to fall in love. I wished for someone to love me. For as far back as I can remember, every single star I wished on and every single candle I blew out, the wish was the same -- "Please God, let me find someone who will love me for me."

Howard is truly the answer to every wish I ever wished and is my every dream come true. I am still in awe that this truly good person, this amazing, generous, gorgeous, loving man is crazy about me. I used to joke that I thought he'd get tired of me at some point, but I thank God for him every day and he continues to love me. Not a day goes by that he doesn't tell me that he loves me or that I am his world. I've grown into his love. I'm a better and more confident person because he loves me. I would marry him all over again, with every heartbeat, every day.

How we met: Howard and I met while at different Pennsylvania colleges in October 1982. We were both involved with Circle K International, a co-ed college service organization affiliated with Kiwanis (both our clubs worked with Special Olympics and the organization is still very important in our lives). He was at college in the Pittsburgh area and I was college at the eastern-most part of the state and, as officers at our respective clubs, we both attended a leadership training conference at a retreat center mid-state. When we walked into the lodge to register Friday night, the conversation with my friend Liza went something like this:
Me: Oh, my God. Who is that guy? (across the room)
Liza: “Kevin ___?”
Me: “No, I know Kevin. The other guy. The really cute guy with the baseball cap.”
Liza: “Howie? You think Howie is cute?”
Me: “Yeah, he has the greatest smile!” (He had just laughed at something Kevin said).
Liza: “He has braces and glasses!”
Me: “I don’t care. He has the greatest smile. You know what, Liza? I’m going to marry him.”
Liza: “What about C___?” (my unofficial no-ring-yet “fiancé”)
Me: “C who?”

Liza introduced us and apparently Howard asked to have me assigned to the group he was leading that weekend. We ended up dancing the last slow dance at the Saturday night party and I literally knew what it was to tremble in someone's arms. Someone happened to take a picture of us at some point that weekend, when we were doing a team-building exercise where you rub the person’s shoulders in front of you and ask three questions. I can’t remember the questions, but I remember having goosebumps being near him.


At the end of the weekend, we exchanged addresses and started a penpal relationship that lasted until we got married. In the meantime, I went home the next weekend on fall break and C and I looked at rings, though always intending that he’d finish college and med school and I’d finish college and law school and THEN we’d marry.

It took me until February to break up with him (we'd been best friends since I was in 7th grade and he was in 8th grade and we'd sort of evolved into being the couple everyone assumed we'd end up being). By that point, I was completely convinced that my penpal was “the one” and if I could wait more than 8 years to marry C, then he definitely was NOT “the one.” In the interim, Howard wrote to me constantly and was way over the top about me. So much so that I even broke up with him fro a while that spring because I thought he was "too over the top" about me. We only saw each other at three conventions and state organization meetings that spring and summer, but the time we spent together was wonderful. Unfortunately, I started to doubt us and I wasn’t sure I wanted someone who was so seemingly infatuated with me. I had no self-esteem and didn’t trust that his feelings were real or warranted.

I broke up with him in early fall. But I got to missing him so much by November that I called to say “hi.” His step-Dad told me he was in Texas interviewing for a job, had just accepted it and was coming home to get his stuff and then moving to Texas. I left a message for him to call me and I thank God that it was Dave (his step-Dad) that took the message and passed it along. I am not confident anyone else in his family would have. When he called me when he got home from the interview, I congratulated him on the job, but persuaded him to visit me at my campus for a weekend - -“after all, we’ll probably never see each other again.” Kissing him that weekend convinced me we belonged together. Apparently, he had been convinced all along. This is us that weekend:


He moved to Texas but didn’t stay long. By the end of Thanksgiving weekend, he was back in Western PA and we talked a lot about how we’d support ourselves for the next several years if we decided to marry rather than wait. We saw each other a couple times during the spring semester and he came to visit me when I went home late May. At that point, we’d been together a grand total of 18 days between conventions, state officer meetings and other visits when we could afford a bus ticket for him. We’d exchanged easily more than a hundred letters, and I was convinced we knew each other better than if we’d been best friends since childhood. So, my parents finally met him that May and they were seriously prejudiced against him (too ugly to get into here) because of his family background. My father begrudgingly “gave permission” for us to marry but did the Old-World Italian not-so-veiled-threat thing. Thank God Howard didn’t take him seriously. Howard proposed at Six Flags Great Adventure on the sky ride on 5/26/84 and I settled in to enjoy a long engagement. This is our engagement picture:


I met his family in October 1984 and I’m not so sure they liked me. As far as they were concerned it seemed, I was a spoiled girl who had persuaded their Howard to give up a great opportunity in Texas and then Pittsburgh for the possibility of us getting married. In the interim we were 325 miles apart, burning up the phone lines and killing a lot of trees writing letters and spending pennies neither of us had buying stamps. By December 7, I decided all I wanted for Christmas was to begin my life with Howard.

Whewwwwww. .... that is SUCH a long introduction. Coming up next – "How I survived my mother’s dream wedding."
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I married the love of my life all over again on 1/12/09 Click here for Our Disney Vow Renewal planning journal --Wedding TR starts p.98

Last edited by keenercam; 01-26-2009 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 12-12-2007, 04:56 PM   #2
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Great start! Dont worry about boring anyone... its your journal so write all you want!
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Old 12-12-2007, 06:43 PM   #3
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Thank you, Kristen! Oh my goodness! You must be getting so excited!!!
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Old 12-12-2007, 07:41 PM   #4
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you guys are so cute! i can't wait to read more! i miss six flags Great Adventure, we closed our six flags here in tx...can't wait to read more!
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:10 PM   #5
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vr welcome

Welcome. we are planning our VR for our 20th anniversary. look forward to reading all your plans...
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:48 PM   #6
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Congrats on making a long distance thing work!
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:57 PM   #7
keenercam
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Oh, thank you so much, everyone!

Well, I should get on with the story.

Howard and I planned to get married at the equivalent of city hall. We told my parents on 12/7 that we were getting married 12/22 and they could be there if they wanted, but if not, that was fine. I knew they were SOOO against this marriage and I just didn't want to put any of us through the unhappiness of them having to be there if they didn't want to be. It wouldn't stop us. They were scandalized that we weren't getting married in the Catholic Church. Very Old-World Italian.

Howard had that year converted to Catholicism and I was very active with Newman Association (essentially the Catholic youth group on campus), planning liturgy for Mass each week, helping to plan the music, playing guitar during Mass, etc. and Father Tom really wanted us to be married in the Catholic Church, notwithstanding the mandatory waiting period. He got permission from the Archdioscese to marry us in the Catholic Church on campus. I told my parents that the location and officiant had changed.

2 days later, my mother called and told me she'd spent the last two days of her life looking for a wedding dress large enough for someone my size and had finally found the only one made that large. Yep. Demanded I come home that weekend so that her friend Nikki could figure out how much lace she'd need to insert in the sides so that the dress could be zipped. I was studying for finals and applying to law schools, but to keep the peace, went home and got fitted for the dress. It was not at all anything I would have chosen if I had tried it on and seen that I looked pregnant-- the dress was spanish style with layers of lace and an empire waist.

Howard and I decided I'd do anything my parents wanted for the wedding, to keep the peace. And we were going to be staying at my parents house the first few weeks of our marriage because we had no place else to live. Ultimately, when I went back for my last semester, Howard had to stay with them because colllege rules did not permit him to live with me on campus. As soon as we could, we got our own apartment near where I'd attend law school.

Back to wedding plans -- I found out that weekend at home that my mother had already also ordered my flowers and they were going to be a surprise -- they turned out to be a white plastic fan covered in lace with silk roses in white and ivory and pink. I insisted on picking out my MoH's flowers and DM pitched a fit -- how dare I try to take over when she'd done all the work to make this the perfect wedding? I didnt' have time to shop for undergarments in NJ that weekend, but figured I'd deal with it later. She called the next day to say she'd bought undergarments and stockings. She'd bring it all with her on the big day. Oh, and they'd ordered my cake. What kind? It was a surprise.

Things were so bad with my parents because of their prejudices against Howard related to his family, his nationality, his socioeconomic situation, his education, etc. etc. Ultimately, Howard's Stepfather decided not to come to the wedding so that my parents wouldn't cause a scene or boycott it - to the day he died, I loved Dave and thanked him for raising my husband to be the man he is.

Even with all that melodrama that can only happen in a first-generation (American) Italian household, my DM was furious that she wasn't my MoH after all the work she'd done. And because I didnt' invite her to come up the night before to spend that last night together. Yes, you are getting a very clear picture. I could go on and on, but I probably sound like a total jerk, so I'll leave all the rest of the background out. Needless to say, my MoH (dear friend, Marie) had her hands full dealing with the melodrama leading up to and through the wedding - how unique is that? MoH dealing with melodrama, instead of dealing OUT melodrama!

Our wedding was set for noon. My parents arrived on campus with all my clothes, DH's tux, and the wedding cake and champagne at 11:30. I was dressed in a towel because I was completely packed to move home for the winter break. The wedding didn't start until 12:30. Nothing bothered me. I didnt' care what I was wearing or anything.



All that mattered to me was that by the end of the day, I'd be married to Howard. He was the light in my life, literally the reason I awoke happy each day at a time of my life that was otherwise filled with stress and strife and sadness.

Howard and I, with Father Tom, planned the entire ceremony and enlisted the help of our dearest friends to make it special. My MoH was my former roommate and dear friend (now Godparent to both our kids) and Howard's Best Man was his best friend from HS. The ceremony was incredibly gorgeous and personal. My roommates played the piano for all the music except for Pachabel's Canon in D, which we had on a tape. My youngest brother sang "The Wedding Song." My dear friend, Mark did the readings. There wasn't a dry eye in house.

We were so young and so much in love and we only had eyes for each other. I swear, I could have walked down that aisle in the rattiest of jeans and a sweatshirt and I am sure I would have seen the exact same look of joy and wonderment and awe on Howard's face when our eyes met that I saw as I came down the aisle in someone else's dream dress and juliet cap. We said vows we wrote for each other and were surrounded by 84 people who took time out of their crazy pre-Christmas schedules to share our joy -- our sweet friend, Marti, even delayed her flight home to Singapore for Christmas break to share our day. 82 of those people really wanted to be there. 2 were there because "otherwise, what would people think?" I'd bet no more than 5 of them thought we'd last even six months, much less through the stress of law school and essentially, poverty. I'm sure many thought we were making the biggest mistake of our lives. I learned later that many of them thought I was pregnant (and I'm sure the dress and the huge fan carried in front of me didn't help! ) But almost all of them were there with love and joy and best wishes to support us. Howard and I could not have been happier. We shut ourselves off from all the negativity and just felt joy and optimism.


The reception was at Newman house. Champagne & a 4 tier italian rum cake decorated in white with neon pink and aqua blue flowers. My mother always wanted a colorful wedding cake and never had a cake at all. I'm glad she got her wish. The cake was delicious and unique and I swear, if we were smiling any bigger in the pictures, you'd see our wisdom teeth!


At the end of the day, we were married. It's been nearly 23 years.

I am still so outrageously, desperately in love with this man that I chose when only my heart was mature enough to make such an amazing life-altering choice. I'm glad common sense didn't win out. I'm glad that when God answered my every prayer and granted my every wish wished on every star and every birthday cake candle, that I didn't hesitate too long, that I took the chance, trusted God and Howard, and began what has truly been a "happily ever after."

Hopefully, in January 2009, we will have our dream wedding. Howard wants me to try on every dress I've ever dreamed of wearing. He wants my choice to be "bridesy". He wants me to have every thing a girl would ever dream of were she to plan her own wedding and choose her own clothes. He wants me to enjoy the planning and he wants to share in that joy and he wants me to be surrounded by people who love me and who "get" my dream of not only renewing our vows to each other, but doing it at our favorite place in the world with our children and friends and family sharing our day.

I'm pretty sure the theme of our wedding/vow renewal will be "And all of their wishes have come true."

To those of you still with me, thanks for hanging in. I figured it is only if you know the background that you can begin to understand what I am about to do. The next 12+ months will be full of fun planning. I can't wait!
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I married the love of my life all over again on 1/12/09 Click here for Our Disney Vow Renewal planning journal --Wedding TR starts p.98

Last edited by keenercam; 03-19-2008 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 12-12-2007, 10:05 PM   #8
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Great start Cam!

I love the old pictures of you two. I just posted an old picture of my DH and I on my PJ. I can't wait to hear more!
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Old 12-13-2007, 05:38 AM   #9
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Vr

Great start and wonderful beginning to your fairy tale.... looking forward to hearing more.
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:20 AM   #10
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What a great story Cam! I got a little teary-eyed reading that! I cant wait to see how you'll do things differently this time around.
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:30 AM   #11
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What a beautiful story so far! DH and I are planning a VR for April 2009. Our 25th Anniversary is in January 2009 but because of school holidays and work commitments, we're going to wait a couple of months and have it in April.

I didn't get the wedding I wanted the first time either! We had very little money and what we had went on the deposit for our first home, etc. So we're going to have what we (I) want this time!

I'm going to wait until I get my date with Disney before starting a PJ but I'm enjoying reading yours in the meantime! Can't wait for more........
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:02 AM   #12
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Thank you so much, everyone, for your support and enthusiasm! I really worried that people would think this is a waste of time and money and energy, but it seems that so many couples did their first wedding the way their families wanted.

Our DFTW Wedding Consultant is Joe DeMattei and he has been so incredibly wonderful -- enthusiastic, upbeat, supportive! He has given us so many great ideas already, so that we can start to shape our plans and decide what decisions we want to make, and which items we are already set on. He has been just absolutely amazing. Did I already say that? He didn't even hesitate when I told him this will be a VR that will look exactly like a wedding, less the license and the Priest. He said so many DFTW VR couples weren't in a position to have all of the elements they wanted, either because they were not financially able or because of other considerations, and that his objective is to make sure that we have exactly what we want. I am getting all teary just thinking about how he made me feel so great and validated my dream. Does that make sense?

We already have so many "pieces" of this in the works. I'll be back soon to tell you all about that. Isn't this exciting? Thank you for letting me share with you!
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I married the love of my life all over again on 1/12/09 Click here for Our Disney Vow Renewal planning journal --Wedding TR starts p.98

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Old 12-13-2007, 11:45 AM   #13
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Oh, Cam! By the time I finished reading your back story I was in tears! Isn't it wonderful that even through all the stress our family causes us, the love between us and our DH is really the only thing that matters.

I am so looking forward to reading about your planning!
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:12 PM   #14
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Thank you, Laura!
I should probably add a bit more context as to how this ball got rolling.

In February 1995, I was diagnosed with a rare, life threatening heart condition. I had four heart surgeries over the course of 9 years and 11 months, and it was only that last one in January 2005 that was finally successful. I literally had a new chance at life and went to work on getting healthy and fit. I sgned up for the 2006 WDW 1/2 marathon which was one year and one day from the date of my cure, and I set out to lose weight and get back on my feet.

Now, more than 70 pounds lighter and with a few endurance event medals and tens of 5k tee-shirts sitting on my shelf for events I've walked & jogged, I'm a totally different person (in so many ways). I became a part of the WISH Race team here on the DIS Boards and found some of the best friends and have come to know some of the best people I have ever met in my life. The WISH team is a HUGE part of who I am and directly responsible for helping me stay on track to constantly strive to be healthier and more fit. Being a marathon participant is a big part of who I am. I completed my first full marathon this past January and will do the 15th anniversary WDW Full Marathon this January. It seems only fitting that our VR would have something to do with that passion.

Here we are with a few of our WISH friends from an October race at WDW:


I recently had a serious health scare and on the day I had a small surgical procedure related to it, I decided I needed a distraction, and called DFTW. The next day Joe called me back, and here we are rolling merrily along!

Some things are pretty definite already, depending on WDW's ability to accommodate us. Most importantly, we are hoping to do the vow renewal marathon weekend of 2009, so that so many of our teammates who are now among our dearest friends can attend without having to carve time out of their lives to make an additional trip to WDW. And these are friends who definitely "GET" our passion & love for all things Disney. It will make for a large, boisterous FUN group. (The only issue may be whether any of us will be in any shape to boogie at the reception! )
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I married the love of my life all over again on 1/12/09 Click here for Our Disney Vow Renewal planning journal --Wedding TR starts p.98

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Old 12-13-2007, 01:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristen14 View Post
What a great story Cam! I got a little teary-eyed reading that! I cant wait to see how you'll do things differently this time around.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geekerbell View Post
Oh, Cam! By the time I finished reading your back story I was in tears! Isn't it wonderful that even through all the stress our family causes us, the love between us and our DH is really the only thing that matters.

I am so looking forward to reading about your planning!
Me tooo! Tears, I tell ya.

Cam,

Your story is so touching and I (and everyone else, I think) wants to read more. Have no fear of boring anyone. You have such a rich history and sharing it with us is such a gift. I'm so glad that you're are healthy and happy. Can't wait to read more!
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