Every day of marriage is another day closer to death

I’ve been trying to decide on the appropriate post for wedding anniversary No. 14.

I thought about telling you the story about how Lee proposed {it involves Burger King}.

I thought about sharing my sermon on why people should marry for money … but I’m not in the mood today to point out the obvious :D

I thought about just posting a few photos from the wedding. When I went looking for the scrapbook of photos, I didn’t find it. What I did find was a printout of an email I sent to friends right after we returned from our honeymoon. I don’t remember writing the email but I’m glad I did – it reminded me of some details I’d forgotten over the years.

So I retyped the email and am sharing it here.

As background, Lee and I decided to do a destination wedding on Jan. 15, 1999. Lee’s dad doesn’t fly and my mom’s health made flying difficult for her; we decided that if our parents couldn’t be there we’d go on our own. When we returned, we held a reception in Wichita, Lee’s hometown and where we live, and one in Columbia, Mo., my hometown.

I’ve added a few {notes} in the original email text:


Getting to Florida

Hi everyone. Sorry in advance for this “form” letter but it’s the easiest way for me to let you all know how the weddingmoon went.

The days leading up to our trip were pretty exciting and stressful! I think we were both really looking forward to taking a week’s vacation (and a week-and-a-half from work together for the first time ever. We were also nervous about getting married and wondering if all our plans would go as hoped.

So we go to the Wichita airport plenty early the morning of Thursday, Jan. 14 … only to see American Airlines cancel the flight that was to get us to Dallas in time to catch the flight to Miami. I had about 10 very anxious minutes while waiting in line, but Lee – always the calm, rational one – was able to negotiate and get us on a flight with United. We went through Chicago to get to Miami and we only got there about an hour later than originally planned.

{Some things never change – Lee is still the one who doesn’t panic when something goes wrong. I’m still the one who freaks out.}

I carried my wedding dress through the airports and was lucky enough to have flight attendants who allowed me to hang the dress in a compartment.

I have to admit this was a heavy dress and my arms are weak! So I convinced Lee to carry it for a while when we walked a long distance in the Chicago airport. He got some strange looks, especially when I slowed down and made it look like he was walking alone!

Carrying the dress paid off, though, and it was unwrinkled when we arrived in Key West. I crammed that sucker in a box and checked in on the way home!

Hint: If you want people to be nice to you, carry a wedding dress around all the time.


Arriving in Key West

Key West is about 3 to 3½ hours south of Miami by car. It’s not that many miles, but it’s a two-lane overseas highway and there are many spots where the speed limit is 40 mph. We took a shuttle so we didn’t have to drive. It was a boring drive at night but the drive during the day is beautiful. Next time, though, we would opt to take a commuter flight straight into Key West’s airport.

We arrived at the Nassau House Bed and Breakfast at about 7:30 p.m. to find a bottle of champagne from the owners of the B&B and a beautiful tropical flower arrangement from Lee’s coworkers at Brite Voice.

Our room was awesome. We chose the Nassau King room, which had a king bed (duh!), a huge armoire, a color TV with cable, a mini-fridge and a bathroom. We had a private deck with table and chairs and – the best part – we were right next to the “lagoon,” which was a small heated Jacuzzi/swimming pool that was built of rocks and surrounded by lots of plants and trees. It was very intimate and we had it to ourselves for most of the week.

{This was 1999, right? Why on earth did I point out there was a “color TV with cable” and that there was a bathroom!! I’m pretty sure there was a doorknob and even light switches, too.}


Preparing for the wedding

Friday was the big day! We walked a few blocks to pick up the tuxedo we had rented for Lee. Then we rode bicycles from the B&B to the courthouse to get our marriage license.

We then pedaled across town to the Marriott resort, the location for the wedding. We met the notary/wedding coordinator who was performing the ceremony and we toured the grounds.

The resort is right on the ocean and has a great view of sunsets. It had a nice pier until the hurricane destroyed it last fall.

All the beaches in Key West are man-made. They are beautiful with very white sand but once you get in the water, it’s rocky. Anyway, the Marriott has one of the best beaches there.

{I looked up the Marriott and I’m pretty sure the hotels have converted to Waldorf Astoria properties – Casa Marina and The Reach are the names of the properties. So if you go looking for them, those are the beaches I’m talking about.}

We rode through town on the bicycles before heading back to the B&B. At about 1:30, I took a cab to get my hair, makeup and nails done at a salon recommended by the photographer. Lee got to goof off during this time. I was back at the B&B by 3:30 and then it felt like the next 1½ hours flew by in 5 minutes!

I started getting dressed at 4. The co-owner of the B&B, Elizabeth, helped. Everything was going fine until we realized that the train was pulling my dress down so you could see the bra/slip I had on. So, she scurried to find safety pins to fix it. It was taking her quite awhile and I realized that I needed to get out of the room so Lee could get dressed.

I went out into the courtyard of the B&B so Elizabeth could finish getting the back of the dress fixed up. By then, four or five guests were gathering around and asking lots of questions.

Lee said it would only take him 10 minutes to get into the tux. He came out 15 minutes later without any of the accessories on! He didn’t know how to do the tie, cumberbund or the button covers. Luckily, one of the other guests who was hanging out in the courtyard with me was a waitress and she wore these items for work. She fixed him up. I was too frazzled at that point to be of any help!

The ceremony

The photographer showed up at about 4:45 to take a few photos at the B&B and to drive us to the resort. Once at the resort, the videographer was there and we started taking tons of pictures. Everything was so casual and laid back that it caught me off guard when the notary just started in with the ceremony. In the video, I can be seen shaking my arms to calm myself down!

Lee and I were to going to say our own vows. Just a couple of sentences each. So I found myself freaking out trying to remember what I was going to say. I don’t think I even heard anything the notary said, but I had read it ahead of time so I knew it wasn’t anything crazy like obeying him!

Lee’s lines came out very well. He had opted to do it on the fly. I wanted to repeat word for word what I had written, and that’s what caught me up.

The whole ceremony only lasted five minutes. We timed it so the ceremony would happen at sunset. The only goof was that I put his ring on the wrong hand!

{We still debate whether it was his fault – he held out the WRONG hand – or my fault for putting the ring on the wrong hand.}

So then there were more photos and then off to the pedicab – a carriage pulled by a guy riding a bicycle. It was pretty cool. He had tied cans to the back and we rode across town down the main street, Duval. It’s like Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Riding through town as Mr. & Mrs.

We attracted a lot of attention…don’t know if it was the cans or the fact that were in wedding gown and tuxedo. But everyone was so nice. We got lots of clapping and congratulations. We felt like we were in a parade because everyone was out on the street. We even had a guy run up to us and hand us a bottle of wine!

We also had a guy yell out from the sidewalk: “Every day of marriage is another day closer to death.”

{Well, in fact, he was correct. That doesn’t mean marriage is BAD, just means we are all going to die eventually.}

The ride across town took 40 minutes. We were taken to A&B Lobsterhouse, a restaurant that had been recommended. We sat outside overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. It was really nice to relax. It was a big relief to have the wedding done and exciting because everything had gone well and been a lot of fun.

When we got up to leave we had to walk through the packed restaurant. It was about 8 p.m. and everyone in the restaurant started to clap and yelled, “Kiss her!” So Lee had to kiss me before we could leave.

When we got back to the B&B, there was a group of guests sitting in the courtyard and one of the owners, Joe. They had been drinking wine since we left, I think!

We sat and talked to the group for awhile. This one lady from New Jersey kept saying, “Oh my God, you’re married. Can you believe it? Are you freaking out?” She said this every five minutes! So finally I told her I was only freaking out when she said that! We had a champagne toast with everyone and then I went right to sleep :D

I’m really glad we planned our trip this way. It was great to have the wedding the first day we were there because then we were so relaxed and able to just have a normal vacation the rest of the time. We had Saturday through Thursday to vacation.

The honeymoon


Snorkeling on the living coral reef, the largest in North America. It was summer-like conditions, which meant very good visibility. It took awhile to get used to breathing through the snorkel gear but the reef was so beautiful. We saw a couple of dolphins swimming along the boat as we were cruising out to the reef, which was about 7 miles south of Key West. We were closer to Cuba than to the U.S.

{That was the first time either of us had been snorkeling and we are hooked now. It’s one of our favorite vacation activities. We’ve now been snorkeling in Mexico, Hawaii, Cayman, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.}


I parasailed and Lee went along for the boat ride. It was a lot of fun. Very peaceful up there. All I could hear was the wind and the water. I was in the air about 20 minutes. It was really easy, too. Some people had told me you might land in the water, but this one worked where they reeled you out of from the boat and you landed back on the boat. They asked if I wanted to dip my feet in the ocean when they brought me back down and of course I said yes! It wasn’t scary at all.


THE BEST ACTIVITY OF THE ENTIRE TRIP … other than the wedding!

{I had to say that, right?}

We had signed up for a swim with the dolphins program that was in Grassy Key, Florida – about 1½ hours back toward Miami from Key West. We rented a convertible for the day and drove up while watching the sunrise.

This is a program at Dolphin Research Center. It’s a non-profit organization that has about 17 dolphins. The dolphins are actually kept in the Gulf of Mexico. They have nets or fences that go down into the water to keep the dolphins in.

I felt good about this program after learning about the facility and its mission. Dolphin Research Center does not take any dolphins out of the wild. They take dolphins that have been domesticated and don’t have anywhere to go now (they are being retired from Sea World or a place that is going out of business, for example). It is illegal to release dolphins back into the wild because they can’t survive.

They take in dolphins and do research on training, etc. A few years ago, they realized how much the dolphins enjoyed it when the trainers got in the water, so they decided to open the experience up to the public. It was also a way to help them get on more solid financial ground.

Twice a day they allow up to 10 people to come in and take a short seminar on how to interact with dolphins. Then, you get in the water and actually go through the different commands with the dolphin. Lee and I did this separately (me in the a.m. and him in the p.m.) so we could videotape each other. My group had two other people with me and Lee had only one other person with him.

We got in the water and did the following commands/tricks:

  • handshake – you get to pet the dolphin’s fins
  • petting
  • kiss
  • dorsal fin pull
  • foot push – the dolphin pushes you around in the water while you’re on your back by pushing its nose against your feet
  • imitation – I did the twist in the water and the dolphin did what I did. Lee started spitting water and the dolphin imitated him, too.

You would not believe how much personality these dolphins have. It was incredible. We also got a tour of the facility and got to meet the other dolphins living there.

I highly recommend this! It alone is worth a trip to the Keys.

**Make sure you go to the Dolphin Research Center. There are some other outfits that take you out into the wild to swim with dolphins and this is not safe. The dolphins at Dolphin Research Center are used to being with people.

{This experience led to us doing several other interactive programs over the years: Beluga whales, sea lions, stingrays, nurse sharks, swimming pigs.}


Kayaking. This was our least favorite activity of the trip. We kayaked through the backcountry. Maybe if we hadn’t shared a kayak we would have enjoyed this more! It was long day and we didn’t see much – a shark and some other stuff. They provided lunch, which turned out to just be nut bars!

{We’ve still not kayaked together since this trip! If you’re looking to start a fight, getting in a kayak with someone is the best way I know of.}


We spent the day at the beach and then went on a sunset cruise on a tall ship (the ones with the huge sails).


We traveled back to Wichita.


In conclusion…

There were a lot of great restaurants, shops and entertainment on Duval Street. We went down there every night. We ate at Jimmy Buffet’s restaurant called Margaritaville and they had a Ben and Jerry’s stand. We had our names painted by one of the street vendors on a poster we can hang. There were a ton of bars, but I didn’t want to scare Lee off so soon so I stayed sober!

The weather was wonderful the entire week – 70s and 80s. I guess sometimes they get rain this time of year, but we had none. We got lots of exercise, walking or riding bikes. There’s no need for a car there unless you’re traveling to one of the other keys.

Alas, we had to return to everyday life. But we’ve got great memories and I’m working on Lee to build a jacuzzi in the backyard like the one we had down there!


And that was the end of the email. Fourteen years later we still talk about putting the ring on the wrong hand and both the guy who gave us the bottle of wine and the guy who told us every day of marriage was one day closer to death!

This entry was posted in Lee, travel.


  1. Mel. January 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Lovely photos!!! Nice porn-stache on Leisure!

    • Melinda January 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

      I forget most of you haven’t seen Lee with the ‘stache. You’ll notice he didn’t have it in the dolphin photos. He shaved during the trip as my wedding present — I’d never seen him without it!

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] so it might have been the year 2000 or it might have been 2001 … it wasn’t long after Lee & I were married in January 1999. The point is, we were […]

  2. […] me, he was at home playing video games on a Saturday night. He rescued me. I returned the favor by marrying him four years later and bringing eternal sunshine into his life […]

  3. […] Even though I knew it was coming, I teared up a little. I said yes. Morgan congratulated us and left. We ate our burger and fries. Soon after, we started planning the wedding for January 15 of the next year. […]

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