Okay, I’ll admit it…I’ve been lazy. Not that I haven’t been doing stuff, just none of that stuff included writing. In my defense, at least for the past few weeks, it is end-of-year/tax season for my small bookkeeping/tax business, so that has kept me a little tied up. Time to remedy the situation, though, and update you guys on activities since we arrived back in beautiful Sneedville. I’m going to jump around a bit from a time perspective, so hang on.

By now anyone regularly reading knows that my BFF is Tina Ring over in North Carolina. I LOVE that girl and miss her terribly between visits. She is beautiful inside and out, with a kind heart, generous spirit, and fierce loyalty. (Not kidding…don’t mess with her friends!) You may also remember that we celebrated her big 5-0 with an awesome girls trip, checking off Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming on Tina’s state list. During that trip she updated me on this terrific guy she met at a local place in NC where folks go to jam. The down low on this country boy was: God-fearing, gorgeous, sexy, amazing, hard-working, cute butt, sweet, musician, fun, loving, and terrific…hmmm, this might be serious. They talked on the phone a LOT during our trip, which was both a little annoying and very exciting. The former because, ahem, GIRL TRIP! The latter because the glow on her face when she talked to or about him was stunning. By the end of our week together, I told Mr. Wonderful (MW) that wedding bells would be ringing before too long.

A few months later the planning began. There were engagement pictures, and apparently, LOTS of shopping for decorations. Note: For all pics below…if they look professional, they were most likely taken by Deanna of Deanna Barbour Photography.

As a bridesmaid, my first job was to gather the getup…navy lace formal dress, denim jacket, and cowboy boots. The first two weren’t hard at all…Tina sent links to order…but finding cowboy boots to fit my chunky legs was tough. (Even back when I played tennis all the time and weighed a LOT less, I was not a member of the skinny leg club.) After LOTS of searching, I plucked THE ones out of a boot outlet in Colorado Springs just 6 weeks or so before the ceremony! Whew!! After that, it was a waiting game.

The Tuesday before the wedding we headed east to North Carolina to help with the last bit of wedding prep and finally meet THE MAN. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. What if I didn’t like him? That would really stink!! I’ve always imagined Tina finding someone perfect, and us spending time together as couples. Turns out I was just borrowing worry. The most relaxing time in the days leading up to the wedding was when the four of us sat around at Christo’s in Lexington getting to know each other on Wednesday night. It didn’t take too long to see that Keith Parker is pretty awesome and a perfect fit for both Tina and her boys, Trey and Andy. Oh and don’t tell him, but Tina was right about his backside, too. LOL.

Admit it…you thought that last pic was going to be of his backside, didn’t you?! The days leading up to the ceremony were mostly ALL TINA ALL THE TIME. Basically, I stuck to her like glue and did what I was told. The boys and girls, including a large, ever-changing group of friends and family, jumped in to take care of a multitude of final wedding chores. There was a dry-run hair appointment, bridesmaids nail appointment, last minute decoration and food shopping, setting up the house and yard for a wedding with 170 guests, decorating the reception tent, food prep for the work crews and rehearsal, and smoking all of the meat for the reception. It was a LOT of work! By rehearsal time, everyone was pretty exhausted. Taking center stage that night, though, were not the bride and groom, but the remnants of hurricane Nicole. She had crossed Florida from east to west, hit Tampa, and turned north. Of course we had to have an unusual, late-season hurricane at this November wedding! As of Friday night, she was centered over North Georgia with the northeast corner dumping untold amounts of water on central North Carolina. The entire area was getting swamped, and the bride was more than a little nervous. Yard setup stopped and praying for good weather on Saturday began in earnest as we moved the rehearsal from the porch and yard to the reception tent. After the run-through, Tina’s plan was a taco bar for which everything had been pre-prepped. Problem was, we were all so busy running around like brain-dead chickens with our heads cut off, we forgot to heat, plate, etc. OMGosh!!! After a mad rush in the kitchen, everyone sat down in the reception tent for a delicious and much-needed meal. As the squall continued outside and the walls of the tent did their best to flap around, we remained dry and mostly warm, and enjoyed a little visiting. Later, when everything that could be done was complete, we all dispersed, promising to keep up the prayers for the yard and get a good night’s sleep.

SIDE NOTE: The goal of every bride is PERFECTION…the perfect ring, the perfect dress, the perfect cake, the perfect flowers, the perfect rehearsal, the perfect ceremony, the perfect reception. It was my goal, too, back in the day. But after our wedding and several others that I’ve been a part of, I realize something. Perfect doesn’t make for good stories. When family, friends, or MW and I talk about our wedding, what we all remember is the thunderstorm that made me 20 minutes late because I couldn’t get from the outbuilding to the main building without getting soaked (and you KNOW that wasn’t going to happen!); the AC not working at the beautiful, historic church, leaving it about 90 degrees INSIDE (particularly tough for MW in his wool dress blues); daughter Amber tripping on the way up the steps and being caught, mid-fall by MW; son Ryan dropping the ring, which then rolled, plop, plop, plop, down all of the steps and quite a ways back under the pews; Oscar the minister’s glasses fogging up so much that he couldn’t read, so kept calling me something that wasn’t my name (MW corrected him after several times); a worker at the Hilton sticking his finger into the middle of the groom’s cake that I had custom air-brushed with his EA-6B Prowler long BEFORE the pic-on-cake technology existed. (It looked like a small bomb exploded in the middle of the plane.) Did all of that make for the perfect wedding. Absolutely not! Did any of that bother us too much. Nope! Our trip to the altar was years in the making, and I don’t think much could have messed up that day. Well, maybe if MW left because I was late! The point is, none of that mattered AND it was a PERFECT DAY for us. So, when you start planning your wedding, keep in mind that it isn’t the ceremony or reception or weather or timing or anything else that has to be perfect. If you are marrying YOUR PERSON, it WILL be a PERFECT day.

Saturday…THE. BIG. DAY! We arrived in the morning for final setup. To my surprise and delight, Tina actually got a great night’s sleep and looked radiant! Of course, she’s always beautiful. Plus, although there were a few muddy spots that required a bit of burlap covering, the lawn was mostly fine. Woohoo! The morning was filled with final decorating chores, then all of us ladies headed off for hair, makeup, dressing, and photos. MW was a champ, finishing up the lawn setup, helping with parking, and wandering around with my camera to take action shots, which Tina loved.

Before we knew it, the designated time had come. The bride and the rest of us ladies gathered in the garage with the groomsmen, then made our way as a group to the middle of the front lawn, shielded from the seated crowd by a large, curtained structure carried out with us. Despite the front yard wedding, this bride WOULD make an entrance!! As we gathered behind our curtain and waited for the queue, the wind whipped up and blew the cloth aside. OMGosh! What a scramble!! I truly wish I had a picture of Matron of Honor April Rumple doing a full body dive between Tina and the onlookers while everyone else grabbed for the curtain! I’m sure it would have gone viral. LOL After regaining our composure, the paired off Groomsmen and Bridesmaids headed for the front porch to “A Thousand Years” from the Twilight Saga.

Although he was completely in the dark about it, Keith selected the other music. Tina had been making note as they laughed and joked around about different songs over the past few weeks. When the first strains of his favorite, “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians, began, he happily danced up the sidewalk with River, followed shortly by Sweet Billy, to his place on the porch. It was awesome! Then it was time for the reveal.

Next it was Tina’s turn. The moment she stepped from behind the curtain, escorted by her boys Trey and Andy, Keith just about lost it. Looking at his face as he struggled to keep it together, there was absolutely no doubt that she is HIS PERSON!! Everyone laughed and loved her dancing down the aisle to “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate. It would have been a little easier if she had clued her boys in ahead of time, though. They alternated being formal with throwing in a move or two, both clinging to her like Saran Wrap! It was adorable!!

The ceremony included the two of them tying a fisherman’s knot, which proved difficult for the emotional groom. Tina patiently helped him through it, though. When the task was complete, Keith jumped the gun and pulled his not-yet bride over for a big, wet kiss while the onlookers applauded and cracked up. A “not so fast” from Preacher Josh Parrish got them back up for the final bit…I mean seriously, that “I now pronounce you” part is pretty darned important…and we were finally introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Keith Parker. The whole wedding was a mix of tradition and fun and reverence and, most of all, love.

SIDE NOTE: Years ago Tina and I were talking about husbands. I told her a couple of friends during my Florida years joked about being at my funeral with food if I go first to woo MW. (That came from one of those conversations where they were frustrated with “sitter” husbands. While MW isn’t perfect…shhhh, don’t tell him…he is a “doer” who fixes stuff, builds things, helps me with all kinds of projects, and doesn’t sit around when there is work to be done.) Tina told me then that, since she is my BFF and already loves Drew, it was only fair that she get to skip to the front of the line. I agreed to put in a good word for her to pave the way. LOL. It has been an on-going joke since then. Not long after the ceremony, I gave her a big hug and whispered, “I’m so thankful that you finally found YOUR Mr. Wonderful, and even more thankful that I didn’t have to die for it to happen!!” She cracked up.

The reception was awesome. A highlight was Keith’s son Gage singing the Eagles’ “Love Will Keep Us Alive” for their first dance. There was also an impromptu serenade by one of the guests in ITALIAN!! The newlyweds glowed throughout! Well, except for a brief moment when they cut the cake and Tina ended up with it all over her face. It’s hard to glow with cake up your nose!! LOL In the end, the bride was radiant; the groom, a bit over celebratory; the crowd, happy; the music, great; the food, delicious; and the entire evening, wonderful.

This week, including the reception, I was able to catch up with a few old friends and meet some new ones. Tina’s Aunt Amy and I decided we are pretty much twins! LOL Oh, and I was almost talked into buying my favorite Indian motorcycle by an amazing and proud Apache biker lady. No kidding. Drew’s not safe from that yet…she also invited me to be a part of her women’s biker club!!! (Amazingly, her husband doesn’t ride at all, but he travels a bit with her group.) The party went on into the night…without us. My back had long since said it was time to head for the hills and put my feet up!

Sunday I was limping around pretty good. We started the day with a Walgreen’s run and breakfast at Biscuit King in Lexington. Later Tina and Keith came by so he could check out our home on wheels, then we headed back over to their place where we relaxed, played with dogs, and reminisced about the festivities. They filled us in on the LONG night after we left, which sounded like LOTS of fun, but exhausting!! After leftovers for dinner, we said our final goodbyes to the new Mr. and Mrs. Then Monday morning we hit the road west to Tennessee, stopping on our way out of town to stock up on Neese’s sausage…Yum!!

For the wedding trip, we stayed at High Rock Marina & RV Campground in Southmont, North Carolina, just about 20 minutes due south of Lexington and only about 12 miles from the Parker’s place. It is an old campground, and it definitely shows in the cabins and buildings. Amenities include a pool (quite green during our visit), playground, basketball court, pavilion, marina with boat rentals, fishing pier, fish cleaning sink, boat ramp, store, and snack bar. Accommodations include 10 cabins, all overlooking the lake. There are also around 89 full-hookup sites that are stacked in tight. However, with the exception of a dozen or so, all are long term. Quite a few were seriously off-level…our pull-through began as a steep hill, and did not level out nearly as much as it should have. The bathhouse could use a lot of TLC. The men’s side had a toilet that was very loose. Although reasonably clean, it didn’t seem to happen regularly so supplies ran low. (The TP had one side without paper the entire week we were there. Cell signals for both Verizon and AT&T were moderate, and the park had limited wifi. Over-the-air TV was limited, but the park does offer cable. This is definitely not a campground we would hang out at, but it was fine as a base for visiting or sightseeing. For that, we would stay again. For this stay in November 2022, we paid $300 for 6 nights.

Flash forward to February 11th when we had the first of, hopefully many, “couples” visits with the Parkers. Tina brought Keith over to our little part of Tennessee to hang for the weekend. We sat around the campfire in the evening, showed him Sneedville, went to church, and took him over to Cumberland Gap. MW made us a terrific steak dinner, cooked over the open fire, of course. Yum! It was great to get caught up, and spend time relaxing. In case you were wondering, Mr. Parker fits right in!! Can’t wait for the next visit.

Well, that catches you up on the wedding saga, and I made it BEFORE their FIRST anniversary!! Look for more soon. See you on the path!!


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