Blending existing families together and finding love later in life isn’t easy. Serenity and Tom’s heartwarming love story is one of revelation and hope.
Serenity + Tom
Previously married, with adult children ( I had five and Tom had six), and single for several years, we had both tried online dating without success and had pretty much abandoned the quest. I’d recently returned to my hometown having broken an engagement to be married to a man from another state whom I’d met online.
My mother encouraged me to attend a stake adult singles activity. I balked. Tom, likewise, was invited to attend the event but was resistant to the idea. Ultimately, we were both felt prompted to go to the activity, to make friends with the locals, not to find a date. We met in the hallway and felt we’d met somewhere before, but we could not figure out where.
When Tom realized he was twenty-two years my senior, he thought he might be too old for me. Later, he thought he would give me a call, anyway, but when he asked around about me, he was told I was engaged. Not many people knew I’d recently broken the engagement.
I had learned that Tom was a published author. I wondered if he might give me some advice about a difficult writing project I was stuck on, so I gave him a call and arranged for a lunch meeting. He was surprised but pleased. We had lunch and discussed writing and then spent several hours sitting at the beach, just talking.
It was clear to me that Tom was looking for a wife. I was adamant that, if I was ever to marry again, my future spouse had to be not just a romantic interest, but my best friend. When I informed Tom that I was interested, first and foremost, in developing a solid friendship, before even considering romance, he thought I was ‘letting him down gently’ and figured that was the end of our relationship. He was, once again, pleasantly surprised when I called him the next day and invited him to a Toastmasters event with me in a neighboring town that he was familiar with and I was not. I was hoping he could drive me there.
He informed me his first wife was buried in the cemetery of that town and he would be happy to take me there and then tend his wife’s grave while I attended my Toastmasters meeting. We arrived an hour early so I offered to help him tend to his wife’s grave rather than just wait around for the meeting to start. He was suitably impressed that I was not indifferent to, nor put off by, his relationship with his first wife, as had been his experience with previous dates.
After this, we saw each other regularly for several weeks and attended most Church activities and many community events together. Then, I was offered my dream job, in a distant city. We did not live near a temple, but there was a temple near the city where the job was located. Tom offered to make a holiday of traveling to this city, picking me up after my job interview, attending the temple together and then having a leisurely two-day drive through the mountains back to our hometown on the coast.
After the endowment session at the temple, Tom and I were asked if we would assist another family in the sealing room. We had the opportunity to kneel across the altar from each other. At that moment the Spirit revealed to me that this was the kind of man I could spend eternity with. I was flooded with emotion.
I kept the revelation to myself for many weeks, praying that Tom might receive his own revelation. We continued dating and one day Tom offered to take me on a picnic to my favorite point overlooking the sea. He knew I loved to gather seashells and as we clambered over the rocks on our way to a grassy picnic spot, he pointed out a shell oddly placed quite a way up from the tide-line. When I retrieved it I found inside a romantically composed proposal of marriage which he had planted there hours before he had picked me up.
What was wedding planning like for you?
I had, first, to apply for a cancellation of sealing from a previous spouse and wait for his response. This was a little stressful, but it helped us confront and discuss issues from past relationships that could impact our life together. This process took about six weeks.
As to the celebration, we consulted no one but ourselves. We’d both had enough of the brouhaha of previous weddings and wanted our celebration to be simple and focused on the principles of eternal marriage and families. We were not influenced by the whims of fashionable trends. We made decisions based on things that were important to us. Although we did not live in Utah (we were not even in the U.S.A.) we decided to be married in the Salt Lake City Temple since most of our adult children and their families lived in the state or within easy travel distance. It was easier for us to travel than them.
We did all of our research and bookings online in the privacy of our own homes – so convenient! No one imposing their wants and wishes, no one up-selling us. We made our own announcements and invitations. Today’s technology has made it so much easier to produce something simple yet elegant. We had already decided to combine our incomes and planned to purchase a home together preferring to spend our money on that long-term investment rather than on one big wedding party. Although we wanted to be frugal, my dear Tom did not limit our budget on wedding expenses, and I did not abuse this trust. It was a good way to start our marriage.
What were your wedding colors and/or theme?
White, for a new beginning, and deep red for the depth of our love and commitment.
Describe your wedding style.
LOOKING BACK, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT YOUR WEDDING PLANNING AND/OR WEDDING?
We asked one of the wedding guests to take pictures for us. Not a good idea. It would have been better to have hired a professional photographer for an hour.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE LDS COUPLES PLANNING A WEDDING?
K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Silly! Plan together as a couple, good practice for when you are married. Focus on what is really meaningful to each of you, not necessarily what your family or friends want or the latest trends or what your best friend or your cousin or the Jones’ down the street did for their wedding. Be frugal and spend more money on your future together than this one moment in time. You may only marry once, but you have to live together forever, spend the money proportionately.
Arrange for a good photographer, who is not one of the guests, who can capture the essential moments and give you a lot of shots to choose from. Then buy only the ones you like.
Choose a wedding dress that can be adjusted to be used again as a temple dress. How nice it is to wear it over and over again each time you attend the temple and remind you of that special day.
Keep in mind that the way you handle the planning and the event is indicative of the kind of marriage you will have and the level of your commitment to each other and to the Lord. Make sure all three of you are involved if you want to achieve eternal success. Some things, especially traditions of the world, we can just let go and it makes the whole experience so much more relaxing and enjoyable for all.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WEDDING RECEPTION!
We arranged for a simple, pre-wedding luncheon to be catered in one of the beautifully elegant reception rooms in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, with a grand view of the Salt Lake Temple as the backdrop for the head table. Only our parents and our children were invited and the missionary (and his wife) who had baptized Tom over thirty years ago. We had no bridesmaids or groomsmen. Tom and I each wore a corsage of a single red rose and white baby’s breath. We presented each of the adult guests with a story we had written together while waiting for our wedding day. It was a cozy celebration of about twenty-five people, all of whom we knew and loved. The lovely thing about the whole event is that all were able to mingle and get to know each other. Then we all went to the temple together.
Back at home, two weeks later, we had a calling reception in my mother’s home for family and friends to celebrate with wedding cake and ice cream. My mother loved preparing and hosting this event for us and I let her enjoy her moment. She had bouquets of red roses everywhere!
WHAT IS SOMETHING SPECIFIC THAT YOU REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR WEDDING?
I spent the evening before the wedding with my daughters. I had them tint my hair. We hadn’t done this before and overdid it. I went from being a golden-brown bride to a bleached-blonde bimbo! I was so embarrassed. There was no time to do anything about it. I phoned my sweetheart early the morning of the wedding and explained the problem and asked him to please not make anything of it. He always wanted to marry a blonde, right? He was wonderful and said nothing. Months later we were finally able to laugh about it and years later it has become one of our family jokes.
We were very happy with Temple Square Wedding Services. They looked after every detail and accommodated our specific wishes and needs. Our photographer was one of the guests who was therefore not able to be in the photos taken. Then, the camera malfunctioned and we ended up with very few quality photos. It would have been worth it to hire a professional photographer for an hour.
WANT TO SHARE YOUR STORY? CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT THE FORM!