This page is to record the writing Lee and I did for our Rock’n Rita Wedding Party page. We’re not sure how long Wedding Wire would host the page, so I wanted to make sure we did not lose all we worked on. Enjoy.
Hello and welcome to our wedding celebration website. We are so glad you took the time to stop by, and we hope you allow yourselves to kick back and relax as you partake in this wonderful celebration with us. With such diverse lives as ours having come together through love and luck, we’ve got lots for you to see. Be it pictures and poetry, stories and songs, there’s so much to take in.
We’re so very blessed to have such a wonderful collection of family members and friends who make up our support structure and bring such joy to our lives. This party is our way of saying thanks to you all. Since our wedding in June will be just the two of us (on the soft sand of Isla Mujeres, Mexico), our Rock’n Rita celebration – to be held at the Lion’s Club on Treasure Island in Pinellas County, FL – is our way of sharing the magic moment with you, albeit after the fact.
Please keep in mind that in the course of your time on our site, we may drop a couple of “y’alls” on you, but that’s only because we feel comfortable enough to do so and hope y’all do the same as well. So please feel free to roam around and explore to your heart’s content. After all, a couple of very content hearts is why we’re here in the first place.
…as told by Gil
Our story begins in 2004, a year that cast an impressionable shadow full of pain, loss and uncertainty. As many Floridians were driving north in an attempt to flee the swirling winds of an eminent hurricane, Lee was driving south – often times in the only car on the road- in search of a new chapter in her life. I was equally alone, driving back from Miami following the passing of my father. The weather and the craziness that filled that time were very metaphoric of where Lee and I were in our respective lives the summer before we met.
Just as the swirling winds can carry a leaf to some new destination, sometimes swiftly and oftentimes erratically, so did fate lead us to find each other. Lee and I would later come to realize we shared many interests, one of which was/is an almost unhealthy Internet habit. It was this addiction, coupled with the swirling nature of fate, that lead us to meet online.
We had each registered on several dating websites, both of us in the proverbial search for “something new”. Our paths crossed on a site called Tickle.com, and the process of meeting didn’t take long at all. Upon our initial contact, Lee sent me a message through the service. “Here’s my number. Call me.” A wonderful first date and many long, late night phone conversations later, we were officially dating. We will both tell you that at first the relationship was nothing serious. We will both admit that we applied the ‘no strings attached’ label to our dating. Looking back on it now, we will both tell you it was unlike anything either one of us had experienced before.
However, happily ever after was still a long way from being realized. 2005 would challenge and often strain our relationship. Lee would learn to open her eyes to the idea of something new only to find me continuing to struggle with the idea of letting go of something old. At many times more frustrating than rewarding, with the downs seeming to far surpass the ups, the perfect times in our relationship were fleeting. Still, when we did find them they were indeed perfect, and like before those perfect times were unlike anything either one of us had ever experienced.
For me, it was over ‘sofa talk’ one evening at her place. Lee will tell you it was over margaritas at a Mexican restaurant in Temple Terrace. The exact moment at which we both realized we had fallen in love with each other notwithstanding, 2005 proved to be a whirlwind year in which Lee and I came together despite adversity, uncertainty and – as Lee would quickly say – my overall stupidity.
2006 would usher in a series of experiences that would change our lives forever. I introduced Lee to the music of Sister Hazel and it quickly became a key part of the foundation of what we share as a couple. This mutual love for music introduced us to many, if not most, of the individuals with whom we share a common sense of community. With each concert, road trip and get-together, the bonds grow stronger and the memories overflow.
Lee and I are also drawn together by our mutual connection to family and our “rais’n”. Even though we grew up on opposite ends of the cultural and municipal spectrum, our respective upbringings are very similar in nature. We both share a strong appreciation and need for family, and each trip home, be it to Miami, Florida or Henry County, Alabama, brings us closer to each other as my hometown becomes hers and vice versa.
Thank you for taking the time to read about how Lee and I found our way into each other’s lives. Having said that, we both firmly believe the circumstances that allowed our roads to cross were not so much the winds of fate but rather the hand of God directing us as He intended. We both admit we’re not the first to church on Sunday mornings, but our faith in God and the power of His will sits both at the core of who we are as individuals and as a couple. We are forever thankful to God for the many blessings with which we’ve been graced, and you are definitely one of those many blessings that bring joy and happiness into our lives.
BRIDE AND GROOM
So now that you know a little but about how we came together as a couple, here is a little bit about us as individuals.
I guess if there’s one description that best suits me, it’s that I am a cat person. Well, an animal person. I love all animals…..oh, and music. I’m an animal loving musi-holic. That’s me.
I think my love and appreciation for not just animals but also nature in general stems from growing up in rural Alabama. Having been born and raised in Henry County, just outside of Dothan, playing outside meant playing on fields of land, in creeks and through bushes, always exploring, discovering and appreciating the vastness of my multi-acre playground. Looking back on those days now, and seeing it from the perspective of someone who lives in suburban Tampa, I realize that I could have and should have appreciated it so much more. I feel so fortunate to have been blessed with a childhood that was as free and wide open as the property on which my parents’ house sat.
I’ve always been a fan of music, but I’m the first to admit that my taste in music has slid over time from one genre to another. My musical foundation is, not surprisingly, in country music. Artists like Loretta Lynn, Tanya Tucker and the Oakridge Boys make up the framework of my memories as a child with regards to exposure to music. As I grew older, my tastes grew to include alternative, grunge and even flavors of hip hop and R&B. Still, I’ve always had Country in my heart which clearly explains why I am such a big fan now of the singer/songwriter artists of today.
For me, nothing beats the feeling and emotions that comes with watching live music. From the Marty Robbins concert to which my parents took me at the age of four to the handful of Sister Hazel shows I’m so fortunate to catch every year, my favorite past time is going to a concert. And thankfully, it’s something for which Gil and I share a passion; and excitingly, we get to share this passion with you at our party. Can’t wait to see you there.
I’m a geek. Be it sports, technology and most recently music, geek is really the most appropriate word to describe me. I used to be a nerd, but I finally developed an acceptable level of fashion sense and stopped watching Star trek spinoffs.
In addition to my daily fix of ESPN Radio and hours of streaming music via Pandora or last.fm (see geek information above), I love to write. I feel blessed God gave me the gift of being able to take thoughts, concepts and ideas and somehow put them down on paper intelligently and, on rare occasion, eloquently. If there’s one complaint I have about writing it’s that I don’t make nearly enough time to write on a regular basis. That and the fact that by default any greeting card Lee and I send becomes my responsibility to complete. My dream is to one day make writing my ‘day job’, but until then, I get by with an occasional blog, poem or short story. You can see some of my stuff on my website.
However, if there’s one thing I feel that truly defines me, it’s my desire to be the best dad I can possibly be. I have two wonderful and beautiful children and it’s my desire to always be there for them, provide for them and do right by them that drives me in everything that I do. As Lee and I come together as a new family, I am thrilled and excited about being able to bring together the two loves of my life; Lee and my kids. Lee is a complete Godsend. She saved my life, she changed my life, she is my life. I say that, however, knowing my entire existence on this planet is defined by my ability to be a great dad to my kids. They are my universe. It’s them and then everything and everyone else.
As we stand here together on our wedding day, I give thanks to God and count the many blessings I have in my life. Specifically, I count the blessings of faith, family and friends. They define who I am, and as I look at you today, I am able to smile and count you three times in each of those blessings.
We share a common faith in God and all His glory. I promise today to continue to share and celebrate that faith in Him, and to forever be faithful to you as your wife. Just as God chose me to be His loyal servant, I today choose you to be my loyal and loving husband.
Today, we begin a new family together. As husband and wife, we take from our past and our upbringing and join that together to create a new family. I promise to dedicate my life to fostering and nourishing this family we make now, and to in turn receive your love and support as you do the same.
You and I share a plethora of friends who provide comfort and support and fill our lives with cherished memories. Today, I take you, my best friend, to be my partner in life and the confidant of my soul. I promise to be by your side, as your friend and wife, from now until the day we pass.
We come together today, you and I, forever bound in family, friendship and faith. I know that regardless of what this journey will bring us, there is nothing we cannot overcome together. In our darkest hours and through the fiercest tempest life may throw our way, my love for you as my husband, best friend and spiritual soul mate will provide the light and the shelter in which we stand hand in hand as one.
As we stand here, with the sand underneath our feet and the sea at our backs, I make these promises to you, in love and devotion and under God.
I vow to be your North, to be the constant in your life where you will never feel lost and always find direction in the life we share together.
I vow to be your East, a place to turn for new beginnings and new adventures as we travel together, hand in hand, on this journey of love and faith.
I vow to stand by your side when the moments in our lives go south. Through thick and thin, through good and bad, I promise to be with you regardless of the climate in which we find ourselves.
I vow to love you and cherish until the sun sets on the western horizon of our lives. I devote myself in mind, body and spirit until the day God calls us to join Him in His paradise.
I vow that my love for you will be as endless as the grains of sand on which we make this commitment today. I vow that my love for you will burn brightly and constantly like the sun that warms our lives and nourishes our souls. I promise to follow you wherever you go, like the moon in pursuit of her celestial partner.
I make the promises to you today, and I do so with overflowing love and joy as I take you to be my wife.
We are starting over
But not starting from scratch
The love received from all of you
No material item can match
We’re very blessed with all we have
Your friendship is your gift
But if you feel compelled to give
Please help those who need a lift
So in lieu of gift wrapped goods
For our marriage celebration
We ask instead you take some time
And make a charitable donation