Saturday, May 1, 2010

How It All Began

The Trenton Teapot Festival Parade is today (or would have been if it were a water sport) and I guess there is no more appropriate time to tell the story of how we came to be-both as a couple and as the owners of Pecan Place.  It's a long story so get a cup of coffee and sit a spell.

It all began several years ago after I purchased my last house-the 1918 bungalow that I've been posting lately that had a back yard full of wild violets.  While the violets were so cute and pretty, I discovered that they were a haven for mosquitoes and wanted some advice to try to eliminate them and signed up on HGTV's General Gardening message board for answers.  While on the site, I discovered that they also had a General Decorating message board and that's when the trouble began.

In August of 2005, a new poster joined the board and posted a project in which he had recently created a lighted shadow box out of an old full-sized glass door from his grandmother's house.  Since she had passed away, it was kind of a sentimental project and it turned out lovely as a backdrop behind a brass bed.  The project was great, but what I wanted to know most of all was where he got the wallpaper in the room, so I sent him a message and asked about it.  And that's how we met-on a decorating message board that was 98% women and not the kind of place you go to find a "date"-not that either of us terminally single people were looking as our lives were perfectly content as they were.

Since we both liked antiques, I invited him to the Nashville Flea Market that they have every month.  In September, we met in person at the flea market and browsed the wares for a little while.  It was nice to have someone with similar interests to snoop around the place with.

During the next several months, we continued to talk and hesitantly discovered that we might actually like each other in a more-than-friendship kind of way. 

In February 2006, Donnie came in to Trenton to pay his taxes and brought his camera along to snap a few pics of some of the historic architecture in town so he could share it with us on the decorating board.  When his post titled "Look What I Found on Sale Today" presented itself, we figured he'd come across a cool eBay find.  Much to our surprise, it was a very cool, very large Victorian house that had been on the market for about 5 years. Needless to say, all of us nosy women had to know what the inside looked like, so we asked to see if he could get in to take some pictures. 

I had been working on some construction projects around the house and decided it might be nice to take a break and go on a little trip out to see the house since it was only a few hours away.  I asked Donnie if he'd like company and he accepted, so we got together one weekend and had a look.  We had a good time imagining what we'd put where and how we'd decorate the rooms, but neither of us were interested in buying the place since we both had our own homes and were content.

Tangled into the story is my friend Tammy who I also met on the decorating board who, upon hearing of the housing prices around here was interested in coming down from snowy Massachusetts to have a look around.  As it turned out, I made several trips out here to look at various houses with her.  Meanwhile, in the back of my mind was the fact that you couldn't touch a house like this one in Nashville for what they were asking and the little town was nice and quiet and peaceful.  

To make a long story shorter, Donnie and I decided to buy the house together since there would be two of us to work on the long list of things that needed done to the place-not that it was in horrible condition or anything, just that many years had passed since the last renovation and the owners had moved 5 years prior, so it wasn't in the shape it would have been had someone been actively living there and been doing meticulous maintenance.

It was a huge risk since we both needed to sell our current homes and I would have to move out here and find somewhere to work.  To make things even more complicated, we also discovered that we had found the one thing neither of us had been looking for-the perfect partner and somewhere in there we decided to get married.

We discussed when we'd like to have the wedding but knew we wanted to have the reception on the lawn at the new house.  That gave us the option of spring or fall since the hot summers aren't a place one wants to be spending a lot of time outside when dressed up.  Donnie said spring, so spring it was and we decided to have a little fun with the whole thing and have a "Victorian dress" ceremony of sorts.  Donnie had a little fun at the costume shop where we got his gear.

I'm not sure how it came to be that we chose the Saturday of the Trenton Teapot Festival which was about 6 weeks away.  There was a lot to be done in 6 weeks with trying to organize the wedding from 3 hours away, closing on and preparing a house for the event, all of which had to be done while both of us were working our full-time jobs.  We were about to be very busy as the closing on the house was only 2 weeks before the wedding.

There was a parade on that day, so I think we decided it might be fun to have something other than the wedding to do for those who had traveled.  Originally, we had planned to have the wedding at the church with the most beautiful stained glass in town which was located across the street from the house.  In the end, we decided that there was no reason why we couldn't have the wedding at the house as well as the reception, so we went with that plan.  The wedding would be at 11:00 on the front porch if the weather was nice and in one of the parlors if it was raining.  I had no idea what time the parade was, but discovered that it started at 10:00 and that there would be marching bands passing in front of the house during the ceremony!  A wedding before 10:00 would be too early since many people had to drive several hours to get here and a wedding after the parade would seem too much like an afterthought. Besides, we wanted people to be able to watch the parade, but since the bride and groom aren't supposed to see each other before the wedding, that wouldn't work out so well.  What to do, what to do?

I had requested information about the festival from our real estate agent and he sent me a brochure for the festival.  In the brochure was a registration form for the parade.  So....what if???  A plan began to develop and I made some calls to see if there was such a thing available-and there was.  I filled out the registration form for the parade and hoped that Donnie wouldn't kill me!

Then, it happened.  A month before the wedding, a tornado ran across the back yard at Donnie's house and a tree fell on his little shop and carport, crushing his car, blowing out some windows, poking holes in the roof and siding, and generally making a mess of things.  Needless to say, stress went into overdrive.

Two weeks later after closing on our new house, he was awakened one night to a terrible racket.  Given that he had just experienced a tornado two weeks earlier at his old house, he knew what it was.  Once things had died down and he was able to get out and have a look around, he went to check on some of my cats that had already made the trip.  The carriers I had brought them out in were lined up on the upstairs porch and he found them all hiding inside with eyes as big as saucers. 

In the light of day-since there was no power to see at night-the front yard where there would be about a hundred people sitting in two weeks for the wedding didn't present itself as the most inviting scene.  All the while, Donnie, after his work day was still trying to clean up the damage at his old house, clean the new house so that it would be ready for guests, move his things to the new house, help me move a couple of truck loads of things from my house on weekends, and now this?  It's a wonder he was able to maintain his sanity.  On my part from Nashville, my hands were tied since I was on call 24/7 for much of this time and was trying to get my own house ready to put on the market.

Other than parts of the roof blown off and a couple of downed trees in our own yard, the biggest problem was that a huge, beautiful pin oak from in front of the church was uprooted and came crashing down in our front yard taking with it several sections of iron fence and brick columns.  What a mess!  Amazingly, people from everywhere came together and got right to work with the clean-up and other than the twisted fence and broken columns, there wasn't much evidence that such an event had even taken place by the time of the wedding.  The street pick-up crew was even able to make a trip out to remove the parking lot full of debris that came from the damage in our own yard.  It was amazing really.

While all of this was going on, I was busy surfing eBay to see what kind of dress I could find as well as the corset and hoops I would need for it.  I was lucky enough to find one I liked that was even in my size.  It arrived just in time.  The hat I found at the costume shop.  Finally, it appeared we both had clothes to wear!  Clothes are always nice to have.  :)

Luckily, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law handled all of the arrangements in Trenton since they knew who to call for catering, where to get tables and chairs, etc.  I was grateful that they took time out of their days to manage all of this as a party-planner, I am not.  Whatever they thought was appropriate was fine by me.  What we wanted most was that people were comfortable, and had a good time.

The day finally came.  Everyone was there by 10:00 which was a good thing since finding parking posed a real problem with the streets blocked off for the parade.  Donnie had spent the night with his parents and his brother was driving him over.  Much to Donnie's surprise, his brother took "the scenic route" (of course this was all planned out in advance) and instead of dropping him off at the house as expected, dropped him off in the parking lot of a church several blocks away.  He had no idea what was going on until he saw me standing next to the open horse-drawn carriage! 

He seemed to handle it pretty well given that he had no idea about any of this.  It was a well-guarded secret between his family and me.  I guess with all of the other things that were going on at the time he didn't have time to ponder what we were up to since none of us lie very convincingly.

The pastor from Donnie's family's church performed the ceremony.  Donnie's brother, Terry, was his Best Man and my long-time best friend, Margaret, was my Matron of Honor.  Only once during the ceremony did my mind scream out "OMG!  WHAT AM I DOING HERE???"  :)

Insanity Presents:   
The Mitchells

Well, we made it!  Unlike most of these types of events, there was no panic and everything went like it should-or at least that's how I remember it.  One thing I appreciate about casual affairs is that they leave plenty of room for managing obstacles if they arise.  I don't remember that any did and we all had a good time.

Margaret and I discussing the hole in the porch floor that we were both standing over and hoping not to fall through during the ceremony.

 Starting the reception back when the dining room still had walls!

 Donnie and his parents before the wedding.

My family with the exception of my son who was taking the picture and my mother who was caring for my beloved step-father who passed shortly after.  That's Donnie's silly brother Terry waving out the window.  :)

Silly runs in the family.  :)

My one and only-the kid every other mother hopes for but that I got! :)

My dad and step-mom, Joanie.

So, that's the story in as short a version as I can manage and although our actual anniversary is on the 6th, we always observe it on the Saturday of the Teapot Parade.

Happy Anniversary, Donnie!


  1. Happy Anniversary Christie and Donnie!!
    xoxo Pattie (pattiem93 from HGTV)

  2. Happy Anniversary dear friend. I remember this special event well. I never tire of hearing the details. It's a special love story. Blessings to you both.

  3. What a wonderful story and a beautiful wedding! How appropriate that you got married at your beautiful home. And I love your attire and the horse and carriage! What great memories you will have for the rest of your lives.

    Happy Anniversary!