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Although travel is a terribly minimal – really altogether ignorable in our wedding story – it is nonetheless a story that must be shared.

My husband and I had dated for almost five years by the time Valentine’s Day of 2008 rolled around. I had been expecting a proposal any day now for approximately…two years.

There had been one close scare, when we were up skiing on the North Shore of Lake Superior with my family. My boyfriend was allowed to come along, although he was staying in “the boys’ room.” He awoke me early one morning as the sun was beginning to lighten the sky about the crashing, icy waves. He wanted to go for a walk to watch the sunrise along the lake.

It sounded quite sweet to me, so I dressed in my outdoor attire and we began to walk along the breaking morning waves.

He stopped and said he was right behind me at one point, and I continued to walk. I turned back to see what he was doing, and his back was to me and he was kneeling on the ground.

My heart dropped. I thought for sure this was a perfect proposal moment, and he was down on one knee. Instead of rising and presenting me with a ring or a kiss, he turned around having put something in his mouth.

My beautiful proposal in one of my favorite places on earth crashed from my dreams louder than the waves we were watching.

Fast forward a few years. We were still dating. My husband finds it hilarious to mention that we would still be dating if the story hadn’t played out as it did.

I assure him that we would definitely NOT be dating.

It was February 2008. I was at the end of coaching a successful ski season and looking forward to enjoying time off from work. The state meet coincided with Valentine’s Day week every year, and as it was at a ski hill four hours away, it was always an overnight endeavor.

When I arrived at my house, it was 10:30. I had work emails to catch up on and a class to plan for the next day. On top of all that, I was trying to manage and catch up on my own personal life.

As my boyfriend and I were not engaged, I was intrigued by a contest he had called to tell me about. It was a radio contest he had heard advertised. It was to win a wedding at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul. To paraphrase him, “It is right up your alley – it’s a theater wedding.”

I knew if he told me about it, I had to enter it. I am a person of action, where he is more of an idea person. He may not have realized that if you tell me something like that, I will follow through.

But I did. I figured it may be the only time I ever had the opportunity to hold his feet to the fire!

It was 11:45 that night as I sat writing an essay in a browser window explaining why we should win this wedding. I would love to be able to put the words right here for you to read – but I didn’t even bother saving a copy. I typed it up and hit send. I know I covered the fact that I loved theater, and he didn’t so much.

I fell asleep exhausted and was off in the machine of a work day before I even thought about the contest again.

My cell phone rang with an unfamiliar number during an English department meeting, and I let it go to voicemail. I assumed there would be no message. Instead, when I got out of the meeting, there was a message. A message informing me that the contest committee had enjoyed my essay and that we were chosen as one of the five couples that would be voted on by the public after our public appearance.

I was giggling with hysteria as I tried to dial my boyfriend. He was also at work and didn’t pick up. I didn’t know what else to do, so I called my parents’ house as my dad was retired and I knew I could tell him. I was a little worried that he would disapprove, as it wasn’t really going to be a Catholic wedding if it happened.

To my surprise, he started laughing along with me.

I had to wait several hours for the bf to call. When he FINALLY called me back, he couldn’t believe that I had actually entered the contest.

“Well, you told me I should. So I did.”

“I didn’t think you actually would!” Was his reply.

We’ve been together 14 years, and I still don’t think he has learned his lesson. You want me to do something, I’ll do it.

The following week, we made our way down to Minneapolis where we were interviewed on 102.9 LITE FM. As we began to fill the DJ in on our lack of true engagement, she egged my husband on enough to propose on the air.

contest-announcment

The proposal was announced over the air as having been solidified with a twist-tie ring. There was no ring– if we won a ring was included. If not, all in good time.

My now-husband capped off the radio interview with his rendition of “Ice, Ice Baby.” It was a truly romantic proposal.

My husband went back to work after our radio debut, and I did too. The voting for the five finalist couples — of which we had been the last to be interviewed–would begin.

The students and staff in my district, and indeed my entire community where I taught and had grown up, responded in full force.

There was a link put on the high school homepage where I worked. Students in study hall would vote, clear their cache, and vote again. The local paper ran an article urging people to vote for us. The dawn of social media and Facebook as an influence in people’s donation of clicks was at hand, and pleas were made on our behalf. Finally, after a week, it was decided…we had won with over 40% of the total votes.

That’s when the actual whirlwind began. We were interviewed on a local morning news show announcing the date of the wedding. You see, the catch was that the wedding date was already set – March 22 of that year. We had three weeks to plan the wedding and arrange for our guests to make it.

Luckily enough, there were certain things that public would continue to vote on. They picked my flowers, and in a divine intervention on our wedding – the popular vote went to my favorite flowers – calla lilies.

my-bouquet

They also voted on my husband’s tux, another divine intervention, as he didn’t have to think one iota about it. This is still his favorite selling point of the entire affair.

In addition, we won the opportunity to be only the second couple married at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota. The first couple had been the daughter of the owner and her husband. The wedding was supposed to take place immediately following a matinee performance of The Drowsy Chaperone. My fiancé and I had tickets to see the show on opening night, and we were given fifty free tickets to give to guests.

drowsy-chaperone-poster

And that was where the sticky wicket of the affair was found. We had fifty tickets and fifty invitations that we were able to use. My father comes from a family of eight, my mother six. You multiply those offspring, we are already separating out family members. Add the six siblings in my husband’s father’s family and two more on his mother’s, we were in a pickle.

We already had our best man, his cousin Lee, and my maid of honor, my sister, Claire. We had her fiancé to consider and Lee’s wife. Unfortunately, my husband lost his father at an early age and we only had one parent on his side…but three living grandmothers for him at the time. Also, he had four sisters and their families and guests to consider.

Wedding PArty Laughing.jpg

Both my parents would be there with bells on, and obviously, my sister. Sadly, my brother was stationed on Okinawa in Japan at the time. He was unable to attend. My one set of living grandparents would be in attendance. Despite the fact that the wedding took place the day before Easter (marriages are not permitted in the Catholic church during Lent…the fact that it was so unique allowed my priest to give us a pass) and that the wedding would not be performed by a priest in a Catholic church, my devout grandparents were thrilled with the whole experience. Especially as their eldest son, a judge in the state of Minnesota, would perform the ceremony.

I invited my closest friends, only one had a boyfriend that would attend as two of them had to fly in from out of state.

This left my husband’s close friends and their spouses.

This didn’t leave much room for aunts, uncles and cousins. I know there were hurt feelings in our selection of those who received tickets. As in all families there are certain relatives that influence you more than others and these were the few that were selected.

Over the course of the three weeks we were also treated to picking out our rings at RF Moeller Jewelers. They were wedding bands, of course. To this day: I only wear the band. My husband said the other day that he would like to buy me an engagement ring and although I had one in my head while we were dating, I love the story behind the single band.

We also met with the Serendipity Photography as they were the gifted photographer with the wedding. My sister and I went to Brides of France in Edina and picked out my wedding dress and her bridesmaid dress, gratis. In addition to getting to see the hilarious musical, which I subsequently got the soundtrack to and listed to nonstop, the best part of the tornado of events was the cake tasting.

Free cake? Yes, please! Free cake from one of the best bakeries in the Twin Cities? Hook me up with that ANYTIME. Especially since my husband doesn’t have a sweet tooth, the visits to Wuollet Bakery were far more enjoyable for me.

Cake.jpg

There was that wedding dress that I had picked out to consider, however.

My husband and I needed to register in the short time, as amidst all the appointments to arrange the event, we had a family shower on my husband’s side. I had a bachelorette party, which just happened to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish Girl in me rejoiced! My sister, and my maid-of-honor threw the party and it included what she and I had always dreamed of…men in Scuba gear dancing around a la Mama Mia. So my husband and his boys showed up and made it happen.

6-rip-mike-and-lee-do-mama-mia

St. Patrick’s Day also happened to be the beginning of my spring break, which was INCREDIBLY fortunate! Because of those days off I was able to scurry around and take care of dress fittings, buying presents for our bridal party and all those other last minute wedding items. My husband’s one task was to organize the Groom’s Dinner. He chose Town Hall Brewery, close to the University of Minnesota campus. The food was delicious the beer was good…it made a great choice.

March 21st rolled around – the day before our scheduled wedding. My grandparents in their nineties were en route from the north section of the state. They would be staying at my uncle’s about an hour away, my uncle who was to perform the ceremony.

I brought my accouterments that I would require to my sister’s house, where I would spend the night before the wedding as I lived forty-five minutes away. My husband’s apartment was not far from downtown so he would return home for one last night before we moved to the apartment I was living in at that time.

My sister and best friend, Lisa, and I slept on the couches in the living room. It was really not very comfortable, but I could barely sleep anyway. I was up early to take a run, and returned to Lisa making Monkey Bread – a wedding day tradition.

I showered and then we were off to Evolution Studios, the salon that was donating hair stylists for me. After that, the day becomes a blur, as I suspect is the case for the majority of brides on their wedding day.

I know we drove from the salon to the St. Paul Hotel, where Tim and I were going to spend our first night together as a married couple. The photographer met us there and I was coiffed in my wedding dress. I was scheduled to meet Tim beforehand to take pictures and I was super excited to get the show on the road once I was dressed!

Oh My Bridget.jpg

Tim and his best man, his cousin Lee, were with my father at Heimie’s Haberdashery a few blocks away. They had been outfitted in tuxes, had straight edge shaves and were ready to roll out and meet us at the theater.

Dad Tim Reflection 2.jpg

To add to my already Rockstar feel, my town car was sent around for me to the hotel and it drove me around the park to the front of theater. As I stepped out of the car, and Tim emerged from the revolving door it all came home. We were about to get married…this wasn’t just a show…this was real life!

The car turned out to be superfluous as the photographer took the two of us outside for pictures, just as a light March snow began to fall.

tim-and-bridget-in-st-paul

We returned to the mezzanine of the theater, where the show was in progress and our guests with invitations were sitting, to take pictures with our family and wedding party. Sadly, not among our guests were my grandparents. Grandma was so excited by the wedding that she was hospitalized with a stroke near my uncle’s home. She was fine, but missed all the fun!

I was spirited off to the staff waiting area with my father, where we were able to wait for our big moment to enter on a grand staircase.

Don’t tell my husband, but this was probably my favorite time of the entire day. The pianist was below playing well-known numbers from musicals. As my father and I waited in the elevator bay, we sang along together. It is perhaps the most tender moment of the entire day.

Then, following that wonderful moment, we descended a great, curvy staircase with strange blue patterned carpet.

Down below, sat the guests and our families. At the other end of the alter, sat my nervously perspiring fiancé with scribbled, smeared blue vows written on his arms.

My father kissed me on the cheek and we proceeded to commence the ceremony.

My uncle, amidst all the hullabaloo of my grandmother’s stroke, had prepared vows as were written in some book that judges are given – thus saving my husband from having to read the smeared words he had scribbled on his body. The wedding was – well—it was a wedding. There were readings by my godparents and my best friend and the director of the musical I worked on at the school sang for us. Although it was a Broadway themed wedding, it was a Ben Folds song. “Luckiest.”

with-this-ring

I was in performance mode through the whole ceremony. The only time that I came out of it was during the kiss, which was a little awkward but followed by a very genuine hug and our procession out where we practically skipped. For me, not that out of the ordinary. For my husband? Unheard of!

the-hug

We were greeted by the guests in the atrium, where there was a cake and champagne reception. We also were interviewed by the local news channel.

tv-interview

There were several people who had been able to watch the ceremony from the upper level of the theater after the performance, despite the limitations on the number of guests they joined us as we toasted and cut our cake. One of those guests in attendance? An actress from the show, Georgia Engel, who had been on the Mary Tyler Moore Show!

The moment where I did tear up, as I am not a crier, was when my brother phoned from Japan. Thousands of miles away, he made sure that he wished me congratulations on my wedding day.

bridget-on-the-phone-with-sam

It was my second favorite moment of the day. (Again, don’t tell my husband!)

As the guests finished the cake and champagne, and we were kind of being hurried out of the lobby as to make room for the incoming audience for the evening performance, we climbed into our town car with our maid of honor and best man and their spouses. We drove around St. Paul for a while (I think?)) before meeting the guests, and many more who wanted to come out and join us at a local bar for appetizers and drinks. It was so festive and fun…in fact, my parents’ next door neighbor who was a St. Paul fireman, stopped by with the entire ladder.

There was karaoke and drinks and the hullabaloo of a wonderful time…and the relief that we were now married!

As we began to make our way from the bar to the hotel where we would spend the night, my mother was carrying the top of the wedding cake to save for our one year anniversary. As she walked across the cobblestone road, her heel caught between two stones and she stumbled, toppling the cake in its box. It was smashed…however, still delicious.

And we decided as we entered our room on that wedding eve, that despite the rush, the mad marathon of events and the lack of key people in our lives, it was truly the wedding that was meant for the Budigs.

 

 

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