My friend Sara had just spent the better part of an hour trying to convince me, with the skill of a super-lawyer, that I had to plan my wedding right that minute so I could walk down the aisle in exactly 14 days—on a Tuesday, no less. “Get on the phone and make something happen,” she demanded. “Report back to me in two hours.”
The thing was, I couldn’t argue.
Fred and I had vague plans to go away, just the two of us, and say our "I do's" against a tropical backdrop of white sand and azure sea. We had equally vague plans about getting married locally so that our families could join us. But I had let the ball drop when it came to making. The. Actual. Plan. I suspect it was because I felt the pressure of wanting whatever we did to be worthy of the occasion, and I didn't know if I could pull it off. After all, this wedding would be infinitely more meaningful than my first.
That's because it involved the same groom. Fred was my ex-husband.
We'd married young, and though the love was there, we couldn't quite make it work. Nine years later, we divorced. But I continued to help him run a business he and I founded, and we stayed close. Eventually we acquired an entirely new mind-set and skill set for being together. We learned that in a good relationship, giving begets giving.
Then, three years ago, 13 words changed everything. "I've never known anyone who loves anyone as much as he loves you," my friend Michael dished to me after the two of them had lunch one day. It was one of those moments that smack you upside the head. Within a month, Fred and I were back together.
"This July will be the 25th anniversary of our wedding," I said casually one evening, as Fred and I watched a couple pick the absolute-wrong house on House Hunters International. "Why don't we celebrate by going to an island?"
"The 25th? Wow. Might be time to do it again," he said.
"Yeah, why not?"
Not the most romantic proposal, perhaps, but I didn't care; I'd never been so sure of anything in my life. I instantly morphed into a giddy schoolgirl dreaming about her wedding day. Then I did what no other self-respecting bride-to-be would ever do: nothing.
"So, what's the plan?" Sara asked, a couple of weeks before our big anniversary.
"Working on it," I said sheepishly.
"Dude!" My eardrum nearly popped. "You have to make sure you get married on that day. It's too poetic not to. It won't be the same if you wait a few months!"
She knew me too well. I'd procrastinate, and when the day came and went without a wedding, I'd be in tears. But how could I plan something in, really, a matter of days? And in a scenic outdoor setting—something that was important to us? Had I blown it in the name of perfection?
Egged on by Sara and her incessant phone calls ("What places have you looked at?" "What's been arranged?" "Who's coming?"), I turned into a bride-to-be on speed. Hours and days on the phone, visits to beaches and event venues, dress shopping ad nauseam, asking family members to take off midweek with little advance notice, praying to Mother Nature ...
That it came together still amazes me. The Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor, a beautiful Hamptons-like boutique hotel, had just opened a month earlier. On its outdoor roof deck, overlooking the glistening bay, Fred and I exchanged vows for the second time in 25 years. Clear sky, perfect 80-degree day, the most delicious food and cocktails we've ever had, a radiant sunset, surrounded by our families celebrating with us once again. We were the same couple—now traveling a vastly, happily different path.