Just one week ago we were driving home from a quick beach getaway. I can’t believe that was only one week ago! I miss the beach already.
While we were there, JB and I got to laughing over one of our favorite beach memories. It happened three beach trips ago, but the memory resurfaces every time we go to the beach, and it always makes us smile.
Three years ago, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We decided to do something significant to mark that very special occasion, so we saved and planned our first big vacation without our sons. We booked a week at a resort in the Bahamas.
We had never done a vacation like that. We were thrilled when we arrived to find a fantastic room, with an awesome balcony that overlooked a gorgeous turquoise ocean. It was heavenly.
We spent our days on the beach or at the pool. Our evenings were filled with yummy meals and moonlit beach walks. It was a dream vacation and I will be forever grateful we got to experience it.
One afternoon we were lounging on the beach under a cabana, when the groundskeepers began setting up for a wedding near us. They placed a large white arch on the sand just a few feet away from our cabana and wrapped long strips of white gauzy material around it.
I was very excited about this and proclaimed to JB that I thought we were going to get to attend a wedding. About that time, a gentleman walked up and stood nearby watching the workers set up.
When he glanced our direction, I asked him if he was the groom. He broke out into a huge grin and reported he was indeed the groom. We chatted with him for a few minutes and learned that it was their wedding and honeymoon all packaged into one trip. He told us that they did not have any family or friends there with them.
We told him we were happy to be their wedding guests and celebrate the wedding with them. Then he asked me if I would be willing to take a few pictures with his phone. He explained they would get some professional photos from the resort photographer, but they would love to have a few candid shots as well.
I told him I would be happy to do that for them. A little while later, when it was time for the wedding to begin, the groom returned dressed handsomely for a beach wedding. He handed me his phone and gave me a quick tutorial of how to use it.
Before we knew it, the music was playing, and his beautiful bride was walking down the beach in a breathtaking gown with her veil flowing behind her. I jumped up wearing my beach coverup and floppy hat and began snapping pictures.
As the wedding began, I planted myself right next to the resort photographer and took picture after picture. I took this job seriously…and might have even stepped in front of the photographer at one point.
JB observed the blessed event from his chair in the cabana. He remembers watching me snap picture after picture…and then all of the sudden I stopped for a moment and tilted my head…clearly caught up in the ceremony.
For the record: I don’t remember doing that, but I do remember getting teary as the bride’s voice broke during her vows.
It was a beautiful ceremony.
As the service came to an end, the wedding official had the bride and groom turn around to the beach goers. He introduced them as husband and wife. Everyone on the beach clapped and cheered for the new couple.
It was at that very moment, the bride looked at her new husband and asked, “Does that lady have your phone?” To which her husband replied, “Yes! That’s Rosemary!”
I smiled and waved at the bride.
That was my favorite moment! I mean…how fun is that??
My only disappointment came when it was time for the witnesses to sign the marriage license and they asked the real photographer instead of me. I was SO hoping to get to be their witness.
After the ceremony, we finally got to meet the bride. A few minutes later, we wished the newlyweds well as they headed off down the beach to have more photos taken.
JB and I decided to check out a catamaran and sail along the beach for a bit. We enjoyed a lovely time on the ocean and even spotted the happy couple back on the beach posing for pictures.
When we had soaked up enough sun, we headed back to shore. As we neared our little cabana, we saw the groom standing in it with a bottle of champagne and two glasses.
The newlyweds were quite pleased with all of the photos I had captured of their special day. The champagne was their way of saying thank you for being a part of their wedding. It was such a sweet gesture to end an incredibly joyous day.
We never saw that couple again. We didn’t even learn their last names. We will most likely never connect with them again…but they will forever be a fun memory of our 25th anniversary trip. Honestly, I hope we are a memorable side-note of their wedding adventure as well.
For us, it’s such an incredible story. It’s the kind of experience that adds joy to an already wonderful vacation. It happened because I asked a simple question. Without thinking about it, caught up in the romantic moment, I reached out to someone, and I was able to do something that added to their special day.
In return, it added not only to our day, but our memory of a very special trip as well.
Last week I shared about our up and down adventures during our most recent trip to the beach. Several small issues popped up that could have ruined the vacation for us, but each time something frustrating occurred, strangers jumped in and helped us.
Each one of those people could have just watched us struggle. They could have stayed right where they were and done nothing to help. They were on vacation after all. They were trying to enjoy a day at the beach. They didn’t have to reach out and help us. Other people didn’t.
But they did. They made a positive impact on our day. They made a difference in how things turned out for us. Even though we didn’t even learn their names, they are part of our story.
I have been thinking about both of these experiences and it reminded me of this encouraging verse:
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. ~ Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV)
Of course, strangers aren’t always angels, but isn’t it fun when thinking about this verse, that sometimes they are?!
Remembering this verse helps me be more considerate and thoughtful when it comes to my day to day dealings with strangers. It may be the only encounter a stranger ever experiences with me…and angel or not…I want it to be a positive one.
When taking time in your day to be kind to a stranger, you never know what the outcome may be…but once…for me…it was the day I was a part of a stranger’s wedding.