As many things do, this story started out on Facebook. A request was made on a local page called Rivertowns Give and Take, where people give items or services away at no cost, or can request the same. This particular request came from a young woman asking for a ride to her wedding, as she felt funny about driving herself there. From there it snowballed into one of the best feel-good stories of the year.
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2020’s global slowdown brought many unexpected changes to our lives, including the possibility for Tarrytown-based, single-mom-of-two Natalie to begin dating. She met Stephen, who was living in England, through a dating app hosted by their international church.
Both Natalie and Stephen realized from the beginning that there was something distinctive about the other. “Our online dates led to deep conversations where we really got to know each other, free of distractions like dinner, movies, and so on,” she said. Eventually they felt the need to meet in person. A worldwide pandemic limited their possibilities, but in mid-summer they arranged to meet in Croatia. Their time together there confirmed that they were indeed soul mates, and the couple returned to their respective homes happy, sad, and determined to move forward in marriage.
Stephen put his affairs in London in order and focused on building a relationship with Natalie’s girls. “He intuitively understood we came as a ‘package’ and had a knack for building a rapport with the girls,” Natalie commented. He also began to plot his journey from London to New York, a complicated route that involved hopping across four other countries.
Getting married during a pandemic added further complications. Natalie’s wedding dress, ordered online, got lost twice in the mail and she ended up wearing the off-the-rack wedding dress she had bought as a back-up. Their wedding venue was planned as a weekend getaway upstate with their bridal party. However, with increasing rates of Covid cases, this seemed ill-advised and left them scrambling for Plan B.
A brilliant solution emerged – The Hudson Valley Writers Center, located at Philipse Manor train station in Sleepy Hollow, a charming local space in their “backyard” complete with wedding ballrooms.
Now the local community really began to step up, and Natalie started receiving donations of all kinds. But one piece was missing: transport from the Castle Hotel Tarrytown – “I wanted to spend one last special night with my princesses at the Castle!” - to the Writers Center. It should have been a role for a family member, but her actual family was beyond access.
This simple request posted on social media triggered an outpouring of blessings and gifts of heart and service from many people wanting to be involved. An entire caravan volunteered to accompany Natalie, and many more waited to watch her wedding ceremony remotely. Of the many volunteers to drive the bride, Darcy was selected and her vehicle was beautifully decorated with tulle, ribbons and rose petals. The offering of love, support and adaptation from church, community and friends converted this micro-wedding into a macro example of the idea that “it takes a village”.
And a post on Facebook.
Photo Credits: Catherine J. Gross Photography from Maine