September 16, 2014

Insights

Here Comes the Bride ... and Friends
 

I’ve always known that friendship is one of the greatest gifts.
It became even clearer to me when my friends helped to change the location of my wedding reception for 200 guests—on eight hours’ notice.

Before I share what led up to that logistical feat, it helps to know what has shaped my image of true friendship. When I was 23, I became friends with Jim and Ellie Newton. That friendship turned into a business partnership and mentorship. Although they were more than 50 years my senior, they always treated me as an equal and valued my opinion.

Jim shared stories about his own friendships with the famous Thomas and Mina Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, and Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. He eventually wrote the book Uncommon Friends. I was as fascinated by the Newtons as I was with their friendships with these great people.

Friendship needs nurturing
and love, and it can’t be neglected. We all get sidetracked, but friends always take time for each other. Although Jim and Ellie have
since passed away, their legacy continues with the Uncommon Friends Foundation.

Another major influence on my view of friendship began about nine years ago, when a group of friends started gathering monthly at Pam Cronin’s house. We have shared weddings, funerals, divorces, births and everything in between. There is always a lot of laughter, and we call ourselves the “Girlee Girlz.”

When it was time for my wedding in November of last year, I asked Pam to be my maid of honor. I recruited Erleene Sanders and Rhonda Shook of Events to be the wedding planners so I could relax. Little did I know ...

The wedding was scheduled to take place at the Chapel by the Sea on Captiva, with the reception at The Sanctuary on Sanibel. Pam, her husband, Tom, and many friends were staying at my house on Captiva, and we were just finishing rehearsal dinner at my Keylime Bistro when the power went off and the sky lit up like fireworks. Fortunately, Keylime has a large generator, so the lights came back on, and the band kept on playing. But all of Captiva and the north end of Sanibel lost power—including The Sanctuary.

The next morning, the power was still out. The general manager of The Sanctuary told us to cancel or reschedule.

I own a large parking lot in front of my inn. Within eight hours, we had a lined and lighted tent with an eight-foot chandelier, four generators, portable air-conditioning units, a dance floor and a seven-piece band. My staff provided fresh stone crab, shrimp, filet mignon and more. 

Many friends didn’t actually make it to the church. They were still setting up the reception. Pam ran into the limo bus at the last moment to dress for the ceremony. As we drove past the tent, tears welled in my eyes. It was absolutely gorgeous. I was so proud of my friends and staff. They pulled off an amazing feat! I know that Jim and Ellie were smiling from afar.

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