[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.
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