Monday, November 7, 2016

The Longest Stay: Wisconsin 2015, Part 1

Caitlin and Graham
We’ve returned to Wisconsin every spring since taking up life on the road in 2009. 2015 wasn’t going to be any different, just our timing. We had already planned on flying out of Appleton for our October trip to Africa , and Tom’s 50th Appleton High School (West) reunion was in September. Usually our Appleton visits average about three months so we figured we’d arrive later than usual, sometime in August. That would give us time to swing through the Pacific Northwest once we left Arizona in late April. However, an email from Graham asking what we thought about a June wedding and asking to perform the ceremony, seriously altered our timing. PNW plans were shelved and we headed for Wisconsin. Miss Tom’s son’s wedding. Are you kidding?!
To get caught up with our trip experiences on our way back to Wisconsin, checkout blog post “Arizona to Wisconsin 2015”. This current blog entry picks up from there.

Caitlin, Graham, Carol May 2013
We first met Caitlin Duhadway, Graham’s then girlfriend, when she and Graham showed up for Carol’s surprise 70th birthday party at the Ward’s home in Dale, May of 2014. For us (and for all who met her) it was love at first sight, and, abundantly evident right from the gitgo, that they were a perfect match. Their engagement came later that year so we knew it was just a matter of time before they were married.

Jennie and Graham - 1985
Graham at Bubolz - 1985
An outdoor wedding at Bubolz Nature Preserve was their plan. Tom had taken Jennie and Graham as young kids to Bubolz hence the fond memories. The reception was to be held in Appleton. They planned an intimate wedding and reception. Less than 30 people. Close friends and family. To their credit, Graham and Caitlin did all their own planning, paid all their expenses. How often does THAT happen these days?
Before we arrived back in Wisconsin, Tom had finished writing what he would say for the service. He had asked what they wanted to include. Their response? He had carte blanche. They would write their own vows, yes, but they didn’t even want to know what Tom had written (although he had dropped a few hints just to test the waters with no negative reactions). Talk about faith and trust!

pre-wedding arrangements
We met a few times to discuss details (but mainly just to hang out). A week before the wedding, we stopped at the nature preserve to see what the wedding site layout looked like. As luck would have it, Caitlin and Graham happened to be there sorting out where decorations would be placed (they made their own) and how best to arrange seating within the retama (a shelter to you Gringos).
The week prior, Carol and Jennie and Jennie’s mom Carol Jensen-Olsen had gone shopping in Green Bay, for, you know, mother of the bride, sister of the groom togs. Tom wisely stayed home. But Tom eventually bought an outfit that included a tie. You have to realize that Tom had designated our RV as a tie-free zone. Well, one little tie wasn’t going to kill him.
The afternoon before the wedding the kids started decorating. That night several of Caitlin’s family members and friends gathered at what was billed as a rehearsal dinner at the kid's favorite Chinese restaurant, The Happy Garden. This was our first opportunity to meet Caitlin's family (many from the St. Louis area) and to discuss how the ceremony would unfold. Mostly, tho, it was an family time to socialize. We also picked up on where Caitlin got her smarts and good looks!

floral creations of their own
June 27th was the date, one day before Graham’s birthday. The weather could not have been more perfect. We arrived to find Graham hustling to put last minutes touches to the decorations and hang small speakers for music. Families began arriving including Tom's sister and brother-in-law (Plover, WI) and Jennie's brother and his wife (Florida).

Tom, Graham, Alrick, Caitlin, Jennie, Carol
The ceremony was brief, lasting 15 minutes, start to finish. It included quotes from Caitlin and Graham’s favorite movie, “Princess Bride”, lots of hankies, and before you knew it, they were husband and wife. Thank goodness Graham’s mom’s husband Rollie brought his camera. Tom was kinda preoccupied. Several of his wedding photos appear in this blog entry. Thanks Rollie!

happy couple
The reception was held at The Gather. Without going into much detail, everyone had a grand time. The bride was handily wheeled around the dance floor by Hank, her father. Graham and his mom did a turn on the dance floor. Toasts to the couple abounded. We had offered to buy a wedding cake but the kids instead had asked for their favorite maple bacon cupcakes from SAP Restaurant. We added a small wedding cake from Manderfield’s for them to take home for later. The cupcakes were great but they had to have a cake to freeze to celebrate their first year wedding anniversary!

dotting the 'i's" and crossing the 't's"
A few days later, the kids stopped out for Tom to sign their wedding license as the officiant. Just to be clear, Tom is not an ordained anything. The kids had already applied for and signed papers at the courthouse and were legally married by Wisconsin law. Marriage ceremonies may be religious but it’s nothing more than a legally binding contract. This was the same process that Chris and Robyn employed in Colorado when Tom officiated at their wedding.
Since the wedding, the kids have moved to the St. Louis area (summer of 2016) and bought their first house. We couldn’t be happier for them although we’ll miss meeting at the Happy Garden for dinner now that they’re now longer in the Fox Valley. Looks like we'll have to include St. Louis in our future return trips to Wisconsin!

ring bearer Alrick and flower girl Karen
Caitlin's parents Hank and Terrie
Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togeder today
Mr. and Mrs. Sykes
reception line
Danny, Caitlin, Terrie, Meghan
Caitlin and Sarah
mother of the bride carol Jensen-Olsen

Tom, Graham, Jennie
Aunt Betsy, Graham, Uncle Bill
Aunt Cory, Graham, Uncle Bob
Melanie and Caitlin
Sarah, Graham, Caitlin, Melanie
Jennie and Alrick
Alrick and Jennie
Graham, Best Man Matt and his wife Akiko
Graham and Matt
Tom, Graham and Jennie (doing her reading)
Hank's Leggo recreation
reception area - cupcakes and wedding cake
first dance as married couple
Meghan's speech
father of the bride Hankdancing
wedding cake (for much later)
Tom couldn't have been more proud

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