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To Wed or Not to Wed

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[Alternative title: The Wedding that Wasn't]

On our trip back to San Francisco from Aruba we made a little stop in Florida. I have a friend from college and she was getting married. To be completely accurate we planned our Aruba trip this year around the wedding, cutting it a day short to make the wedding.

It's not very easy to fly from Aruba to Jacksonville. We had to go to Atlanta, hop on another play to the Jacksonville airport, and then rent a car to get to our final destination on Ponte Vedra - which to me is the home of the famous Sawgrass golf course. On my friends' Tandy computer in the early 1990s, I must have put a million golf ball pixels into the water of the famous island 17th hole playing EA Sports PGA Tour. (Fear my dorkdom... fear it!)

We checked into the Marriott Sawgrass after a long day of traveling on Friday. I highly recommend the hotel if you can get it for $110 as my wife somehow did. The only downside was the lack of free wifi. I've become so accustomed to good hotels charging you more for wifi and gym access while cheap hotels give it for free, that I won't complain about it yet again. The gym, pool, and spa for the Marriott Sawgrass was quite nice as well - everything you would expect from a top hotel.

When we got back from the spa, I saw that I had a missed call from my friend, the bride - three hours before the wedding. That was my first sign that something was off. I called back as fast as I could to see if she needed a hand with something. It's not like she picked this time to go over what a bad movie 9 was. When I got a hold of her, there was some bad news, there was not going to be wedding in her plans for today. It wasn't cold feet though, her grandfather had died earlier that day. She said that she was trying to get some of the out of town guests together for drinks later that night.

What an awkward situation... there's not much you can say, except "sorry." It wasn't until 5 minutes after hanging up that I had the thought, "Grandpa would have wanted you to get married and not waste more than $10,000 in photographers, music, food, location, etc." With little else to do with our day and half in disbelief, we went to site of the wedding (the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse) in our street clothes anyway. There we were greeted by a clubhouse tour guide, Doodle Chilton. We told here that we were there for the wedding that got canceled and just thought that we'd see the famous Sawgrass clubhouse. She took us on an outstanding tour that must have been two hours. She even took us out on a golf cart to the real 17th island hole (instead of the virtual one I was used to). We chatted about her son writing for Nip/Tuck a show that I think I've seen every episode of (though it's not really that great). At the end of the tour, she mentioned that happy hour at the clubs' 19th Hole restaurant would be starting soon. That's fitting for a post-script to the story.

We did get to see the bride and groom for drinks later that night. It was there that we learned that the grandfather had been terminally ill for weeks and the bride's mother wanted to cancel the wedding since Wednesday. We also found that the grandfather was in the distant European cousin that the bride moved away from when she was 7. I got the impression that there wasn't a level of closeness there. It turned out that the decision had turned into a huge family fight with it being completely lopsided in favor of having the wedding as planned.

While there was a small selfish part of me that was upset about coming back from vacation early, the extra travel, and hotel costs, I realize it was nothing compared to what my friend went through. She lost her wedding day (no chance everyone will fly back from around the country again) and grandfather in a matter of hours. I can't imagine her relationship with the small vocal minority family members who wanted to cancel the wedding will ever be the same.

What would you have done?

TPC Sawgrass' 19th Hole: The Best Happy Hour I've Seen

I don't want to end on a completely negative note, so I should give a few words about the happy hour. It was phenomenal. Everything is 50%. Domestic drafts can be had for $1.75. If you are more upscale, there is an extensive wine list with awards by Wine Spectator. They also have appetizers, normally $10-15 for a generous portion at half price. Better yet, they have a deal for any three appetizers for $33 (halved to $16). My wife and I were busting with burger sliders, wings, and nachos. It was enough to be our lunch and our dinner for the day. It wasn't exactly healthy, but that's pub food for you. I think we got out of there for under $40 (we tipped very well even though we just ate at the bar). If you find yourself nearby and it's after 4 o'clock, you should hit it up for an early dinner.

Posted on October 15, 2009.

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12 Responses to “To Wed or Not to Wed”

  1. Tough decision. Yes, grandpa may have wanted it, but maybe not the bride’s parents b/c losing anybody’s mother is rough.

    You can’t reasonable feel happy and celebrate on the best day of your life with this unfortunate incident. Hence, I think it right to postpone and let grievement occur, even if it does cost $10,000.

    Financial Samurai

  2. Lazy Man says:

    There’s really no postponing it because all her friends aren’t going to fly from around the country a second time. It was amazing to get them there once.

  3. First Step says:

    Wow. If Grandpa wouldn’t have been at the wedding anyway, I would have overruled Mom and had my wedding. Although, it wasn’t a destination wedding, the same thing happened to my best friend. Her grandpa (who had been seriously ill for a long time) died on the morning of her wedding day. We (all the bridesmaids) convinced her that Pawpaw wouldn’t have wanted her to cancel, and she had her wedding. If we had traveled for the wedding, we would have been even more insistent that she not give up her day.

  4. Steve says:

    Yeah, I think you have to soldier ahead with the wedding – you have to consider the huge effort friends and family made to get there and, frankly, how happy GF would have been to see his granddaughter married.

    Sounds like a tiny bit of cold feet might’ve been mixed in there… well, sounds like you enjoyed good ole Ponte Vedra Beach anyway :)

  5. Four Pillars says:

    They totally should have had the wedding. I went a wedding once where the groom’s grandmother had passed away the day before. It was unfortunate but she was very old and it wasn’t unexpected.

    I have to say this was probably the most interesting posts I’ve read in a long time. Between the wedding drama and the Sawgrass happy hour – great stuff.

  6. Ouch.

    I can’t imagine what I would’ve done in this situation. Financially it obviously makes sense to have the wedding anyway, but emotionally I can understand why they didn’t. I can’t play Monday morning quarterback on this one—no way to know how it would feel in this particular family’s situation. Thanks for sharing, though!

  7. Ben says:

    I definitely understand the situation. I got married 3 weeks ago… and my grandpa died 3 days before the wedding.

    We went forward with the wedding but it was tough for the everyone, especially because he was so excited for us to be married. At the beginning of the ceremony, we took a moment to honor his memory. In this way, I felt like he was able to be there with us in spirit.

  8. Jonathan says:

    The article “the wedding that wasn’t” is a very interesting read.

    Years ago my aunt’s soon-to-be husband John lost his father two days before his wedding. His father’s wishes were that he marry the woman he loved, and move on with life. He had told him this to him before he passed. The wedding was a Catholic and Jewish wedding… One of the best I have ever attended. Throughout the wedding there was a magical balance of grief and happiness.

    That said, I want everyone to consider this. A friend of mine once told me, if someone truly loves you, they want what is best for you no matter what the cost or sacrifice. I think a deceased family member or friend would be horrified at the idea of their beloved family wasting a wedding on mourning if it had been mentioned before death.

    It’s sad to hear an event that would be so happily celebrated such as a wedding would be overshadowed by an event as disheartening as a funeral.

    I wish the best of luck to your friend, and hope she doesn’t look back with remorse in the future.

  9. partgypsy says:

    Life is a mixture of sad things and happy things. It’s too bad the happy thing got canceled (and canceled is the right word, and I’m sure all the guests are not going to travel for their do-over)to put emphasis only on the sad thing; I don’t think that’s the right. In a number of weddings I’ve been to there has been a moment reserved to honor relatives and close friends of the family who had passed away and were unable to be there in person.
    In this case where the grandfather was known to be ill in advance and there was time to prepare and in a sense “mourn” for him, I think it is perfectly appropriate to continue with the wedding, because the wedding isn’t just about the bride’s parents, it is about the bride and groom starting a new life together and celebrating and honoring that with their family and friends (many whom had to spend money and change their schedule to be there).

  10. Sheryl says:

    It seems clear to me that whoever (I assume the bride’s mom or dad) was notified of the grandfather’s death should have kept the news to themselves until 2 days after the wedding. That’s what I would’ve done. However, had I known I would’ve probably gotten married anyway. Although if his death had been sudden, I would’ve probably canceled if we were very close.

  11. Sad wedding story but fantastic bar find. $1.75 pints? Unheard of unless it’s in a divey part of town which in this case it was not. Good story…


  12. Hanna says:

    I would have had the wedding. What a waste of time, money, and energy! I got married Sept 15, 2001 in NY, just days after the towers fell. Believe me when I say it was an emotional time for everyone. Still, I felt that everyone was happy to have something to celebrate, and no one looks back on the wedding as a mistake. My sister’s husband spent a lot of time convincing HIS sister that she and her husband should attend, though they’d lost a close friend on 9/11 — and finally they did come, and they were so happy to do it.
    I realize it’s not the same thing as losing a grandparent, but death is part of life, and joy a part of sorrow. Honoring your grandparent by continuing with your wedding and talking about him there, with so many people that loved him as well seems like the best thing to do.

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