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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

In Other Words: Did You Ever Attend a Holiday Party and a Wedding Happened? Ask the Battistones.


Steve and Dawn Battistone. Courtesy Dawn Battistone.

Life is full of surprises. Ever throw a surprise party for someone? Not only do you have the usual party planning issues but it’s complicated by a couple of other things. Can everyone keep a secret? What is the guest of honor doesn’t like surprises? Or what if the guest of honor doesn’t even show? There’s always the risk that the party could backfire. 

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I’ve never heard of a bride planning a surprise wedding for the groom but that is exactly what Dawn Battistone did. Let’s face it, the bride has much more responsibility planning the wedding than the groom. But in Dawn’s case she wanted to keep her fiance, Steve, in the dark. Here is her side of the story. 

Dawn starts the story, “Steve and I had been engaged for several months. Steve is a planner and had been asking for months about what I wanted for a wedding so he could make arrangements. I was extremely busy at work and was not very forthcoming. Little did he know that I had other plans.”

“I was working for a veterinarian office at the time and our annual Christmas holiday party was planned for Saturday December 15th at the Marquis Event Center in Wilder. I learned that our office manager’s husband, Justin, was an attorney that also performed weddings. That’s when my idea started to gel. It was the week after Thanksgiving, so I had to move quickly.   I told Steve we should apply for our license and buy our rings. We could talk to Aimee’s husband at the Christmas party, and plan for a wedding in his office by the end of the year when Steve’s youngest son was home from college. In the meantime, I brought my coworkers in as co-conspirators. We cleared my plan with the owners of the hospital, asked a few friends to be bridesmaids, arranged for flowers for the girls and asked Steve’s son Sam to be his best man. I had seen a beautiful dress in a shop window one day when we had made a day trip to Amish country in Adams county. I made a special trip to the shop and found they still had the dress. I tried it on, and it fit.”

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“Now was the time to notify the families. I contacted my three sisters, and they were on board. Next, I had to call Steve’s sisters and his 85 year old mother. I wasn’t sure how they would respond. Fortunately, they thought it was a great idea and marked the day on their calendars.” 

“The wedding was planned for the end of the Christmas party events. Justin’s cue was to move to edge of the dance floor after all the speeches were through and the gifts exchanged. Steve and I would the approach on the pretense of finding out when we could plan to meet Justin to perform the ceremony. Everything worked as planned. Justin moved into place and Steve and I approached. I asked Justin when he might be available to marry us and he said, 'How about right now?' Steve looked dumbfounded.” 

"That’s when I said 'Our friends are here, and our family is here' as I pointed to the back of the room. That’s when my sisters, Steve’s sisters, his son and his mother walked in. They had arrived shortly before the ceremony and we hid them in a coat room until the time was right.”

Courtesy Dawn Battistone

So let me interrupt the narrative here. What was Steve thinking while all of this was spinning around him? How did he not see any of the signs that something was afoot? Steves says, “I had zero inklings that she was planning a wedding.  I guess the thought of it was so far fetched that I didn't pick up any of the signs. My first response was to say ‘No. Not now.’  But when I saw that she had invited our families, then everything was OK and on we went.  It was rather comedic watching Dawn and the others shift gears from party mode to wedding mode.  I had a few minutes to think about everything while she was getting changed and I just figured ‘This is crazy, but why not’.

Dawn continues. “Once Steve saw that everything was set and our families were present, he said, ‘Sure.’ I said ‘OK. Wait here. I’ll be right back.’ I ran to the dressing room where my bridesmaids were waiting to help me change into my wedding gown. In the meantime, a contingent of my coworkers moved the tables, set all the chairs in rows and everyone was seated. One of my coworkers walked me down the ‘aisle.’ Justin said a few words, we said our ‘I do’s’ and it was official. I had planned and pulled off a surprise wedding in just three weeks time. “     

 Steve says of the whole event, “It was certainly not the wedding I was hoping to plan but in many ways it turned out being better.  All the stress and decision-making was taken care of.  All I had to do was say ‘I do’ and  I did that well.” 

The writer Ashley Montagu observed that, “The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” Steve was definitely seized by the surprise, but that’s the beauty of love and commitment. 

I asked Dawn about future surprises and she says, “No surprises planned for right now...But stay tuned!” Oh, we’ll be watching alright. And so will Steve. 

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