Category Archives: Wedding

Forgiving ourselves

Forgiving ourselves

For many years I attended mass covered in a veil of guilt. As I would approach the priest administering the Holy Eucharist, I was certain he knew my shame. Having been divorced, I was not supposed to share in holy communion. However, did my God not want me to participate in this most important portion of the mass? I couldn’t believe it…but it was the rule.

Living thru divorce should have been difficult enough for me, but now my church, whom I felt should welcome me with open arms, didn’t embrace me. In fact, they were a source of extreme angst.

But, I continued to worship weekly , taking my place in the pew and minding my own business. After all, I was there to worship my God, and thank Him for all my blessings. Maybe I would pray for an ailing friend or relative, that someone close to me could conceive, but I seldom would ask for something for myself. Somewhere in my past I had been taught not to ask for myself.

My bible studies taught me differently fortunately. I could have full on conversations with my God just like an earthly father. I could discuss anything with Him. It was a revelation I found so freeing. It made perfect sense.

But, I continued to struggle with the Eucharist and that I had failed in marriage.

One Sunday I approached the bookstand in the vestibule. A small pamphlet caught my eye, “A One Hour Prayer Retreat”. I drew one from the rack and slipped it into my purse. The next day I found myself alone and looking forward to some meditation time. I couldn’t wait to read the small booklet I had chosen.

Here are my notes from the exercise the little booklet asked you to complete:

“A One Hour Prayer Retreat” asked me to draw a chalice. In the bowl of the chalice write words of things you are thankful for. (That was easy) But, for all the most disturbing things in your life, write those words on the base of the chalice. Then, as in the mass, lift up the chalice to the Lord. Give Him thanks for all your blessings And give to Him all of your worldly concerns. Let Him worry about them. Turn them right over to Him.

I could not write the names “Terry” or “John”, the names of my two husbands before Tom, on the base of the chalice – so I simply wrote a “T” and a “J”. I had tucked those two names deep somewhere in my mind, hoping they would never resurface, a part of my life I wished I could completely forget. When I looked at the letters as I held the chalice before my Lord, He spoke to me.

He told me that before there could be a Tom and Judi, there had to be a Terry and a John. They were part of my living testimony. They made me the person that Tom could fall in love with. They actually held purpose in my life.

I don’t feel badly about that any longer and eternally thankful for my faith.

During a Christ Renews His Parish retreat I spoke to the Deacon about the guilt I had felt with regard to the Catholic doctrine. He hugged me and told me he would help me navigate a solution, that my church did not want me to feel this way any longer. He did and in January of 2014 Tom and I were married once again but this time in the Catholic Church. We are official in the eyes of our church and I can accept communion with a pure heart.

And we all lived happily ever after…

And we all lived happily ever after…

It is wonderful to feel healthy and happy and ever-so-busy. Trips, weddings, baby AND bridal showers, parties, dinners have all kept me running and focused on “life” rather than Pancreatic Cancer. To date Tom and I have weathered four CT scans.(All cancer free by the way!) With each passing month after chemo and radiation I am feeling stronger and back to normal. Well, the “normal” one feels after Whipple surgery. I truly feel like one of God’s miracles. And I thank Him for each new day.

In July Tom blessed me with my dream of taking our family to Italy. We packed up 13 together and headed to Milan and on to Lake Como. What a fun filled and action packed week we had. When I was at my weakest point, Tom asked me what I wanted to do in my life. I told him I wanted to take our family to Italy. He responded…”DONE”. In January we began to plan our trip. We decided Lake Como would be our home base. We rented a villa on the lake in a small village called Vassena.

Lake Como

During the holidays of 2014, our son Louis asked his love to be his wife. We were all thrilled that Louis had finally found the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Emily is a wonderful girl with an amazing work ethic. She is constantly taking classes to better herself. She had a great job at Mayo Clinic in the research department, but that was not enough. She enrolled in nursing classes and graduated in record time. We were so happy with his choice and the wedding plans began. they could not decide on when or where. I said,”We are traveling to the most romantic place in the whole wide world…why not get married there.” They thought the idea was great and we contacted a wedding planner in Milan to help us with the process.

Passports needed to be applied for, special dresses, train tickets, tickets to the Vatican, tour guides, hotel in Rome….it all had to be planned for 13 Zitiello’s. (Well, 3 Garrity’s, Lindsay’s little family.) Plus, papers needed to be completed and submitted to our church and the church in Italy to make the marriage officially accepted by our Church and legal in the US. But, we had plenty of help. Everyone was so excited. It made Tom and I feel so good to be able to include everyone on this trip of a lifetime. Oh,and we would throw a wedding in on top of it!

13 Zitiellos  at the Airport - Check

13 Zitiellos
at the Airport – Check

On July 10th we all met at JAX airport and headed off on our family adventure. Emily’s parents had left a month before the wedding to visit Europe with plans to end up at Lake Como for the wedding. We flew to JFK in NYC and had a few hours to kill before our flight to Milan. We spent our time in lounges in the airport in excited anticipation.

Finally we were off. Tom had purchased first class tickets for he and I and the kids had upgraded to bulk-head seats for more room. We were off.

I must admit I was a bit nervous about traveling so far from my Mayo docs and wondered how my body would react to the hours on the plane, new food and just everything. Could I keep up with the walking? But, I seemed to have supernatural strength.

We were all wondering how little 14 month old Jude would handle the long flight. We had plenty of hands to help. At one point, Lindsay brought Jude up to first class and attempted to get him to sleep. He wasn’t having it. So back to coach he went.He did eventually sleep and so did Mom and Dad.

We arrived in Milan in the morning on Saturday and a 16 passenger air conditioned bus complete with toddler seat awaited us. Our driver whisked us off and in less than two hours we arrived at our Villa. The twisting narrow roads were daunting and we were happy we had cancelled two mini-vans and hired a driver. We could never had navigated the mountain roads.

When we arrived at the address of our villa, two iron gates began to open and we turned into a stone courtyard with two stone buildings. From out of two wooden doors came the owner of the villa…Guiseppe’, greeting us with a huge smile and big hugs. (That’s what I love about Italians, there are no simple handshakes. You are always greeted with a kiss on both sides of your face and a big hug.)

The grounds were spectacular. 28,000 square feet of garden and two beautiful villas right on Lake Como, the main house and a cottage that had recently been added. The family spent the next hour exploring the villa and the lake and choosing where they would be sleeping. Scott, Blake and two of the kids decided they wanted the cottage. The rest of us found our rooms in the main villa. The floors were all stone and the walls were plaster with lots of dark wooden trim. Both places could accommodate 18 comfortably. The kitchen was fully stocked with our prearranged list of groceries. Fresh local fruit and vegetables, cheeses, salami, pastries, beer, wine, water and the coupe de gras’ crusty artesian breads.

We changed our clothes quickly and piled back into the bus that would take us on a ten minute ride to Bellagio where we would lunch on authentic Italian cuisine…antipasti, pizza, beer (Peroni) and wine (local vineyards). We ate in an outdoor cafe right on Lake Como at the Bellagio marina. It was spectacular. There were lovely shops along the main road. Smart little shops lined the grass and cobblestone steps that climbed the mountain. I was sure I had died and gone to heaven. (This would not be the only time I had that thought during the trip.)

Dinner at Ristorante Silvio

Dinner at Ristorante Silvio

We walked Bellagio for the rest of the afternoon and returned to our villa to change for dinner. Tonight we would eat at Ristorante Silvio with spectacular seafood and breathtaking views of the Alps and the lake.

Cooling down in Lake Como

Cooling down in Lake Como

Sunday was a day of rest. We awoke to the sound of the church bells ringing just steps from our villa. The gentle sound resonated over the water. The bells sounded every hour and were a beautiful reminder that our Lord and Savior was with us.

We had arranged to have a chef prepare dinner for us in our garden on Sunday night. We needed to be in bed early as we had our bus picking us up at 4AM for our drive to Milan train station where we would embark on our train ride to Rome.

We spent the day swimming, sunning and canoeing Lake Como from our own beach and boat house.

It was refreshing to swim in the cold water. The temperatures at Lake Como in July were unseasonably warm. We averaged 85 every day but 70′ at night. The villas were not equipped with AC except for two small window units. We agreed Lindsay, Matt and the baby should take advantage of that so Jude would sleep. While in the lake and sitting on our deck we gazed upon the Swiss Alps across the lake. What looked like miniature trains noodled their way thru tunnels along the mountainside. It was amazing. While it appeared close, the boys attempted to boat to the other side. They made it half way and returned. It was much farther than it appeared.
We ended our day with a wonderful dinner served al fresco in our peaceful garden by an amazing chef and his helpers. The food was traditional, veal and pasta, wine great bread and a fabulous dessert. The cool evening air was refreshing and we were in bed early anticipating our trip to Rome in the morning.

The second happiest day of my life…..

The second happiest day of my life…..

November 27th, 2014 Our Catholic Wedding Ceremony

November 27th, 2014 Our Catholic Wedding Ceremony

On Friday, the 4th of August, 1983 I married the love of my life in Clearwater, Florida. Rev. Comer of the Clearwater First Methodist Church presided over the ceremony. My dear friend and co-worker Susan Miles attended this church and suggested it for our ceremony since we were not able to be married in the Catholic church because I had been divorced.

For 31 years I attended mass and took communion against Catholic doctrine. My children were all raised Catholic and received all sacraments on time. I love the tradition of the Roman Catholic religion and felt as Catholic as the person sitting next to me until it was time for communion. When I would approach the priest, I would hold my hands out to receive the host and say “amen” just like everyone before and after me….but I felt the priest had to know that I was living a lie. I was NOT the dutiful Catholic I pretended to be. I felt guilty and ashamed and alienated.

In October, 2013 I attended a retreat at our parish called Christ Renews His Parish or CRHP pronounced “chirp” by past attendees. The weekend was life changing for me. The most important revelation was that I had been Catholic since my Grandmother had baptized me when I was 6 weeks old.

After the weekend, with the help of Deacon Dan Scrone, I navigated the required paperwork and became a legal Roman Catholic. All my sacraments were validated and I was a true Roman Catholic.

My dream was to be married in the Catholic Church so that when I received holy communion, I could do so with the same pride and intent as every other Catholic.

God was certainly busy putting all the desires of my heart into action before I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in April, 2015. I thank Him every day for placing my church family deeply into my heart. Their prayers and support during the difficult time ahead after that CRHP weekend would be invaluable.

Thank you my sweet Jesus!

It's official.....

It’s official…..

Our happy family

Our happy family

Baby “G”

Baby “G”


In just three weeks, give or take a few, according to God’s will, you will greet the world with a huge cry and your Mommy and Daddy will witness a true miracle. You come as a blessing and a testament to their love for one another.

You must be able to feel the love they have, and all of your family have, as we anticipate your arrival into the world. Mommy, Mimi and I have been preparing your places in each of our homes so that when you arrive you will be safe and comfy and yes, a little spoiled.


You have so many family members who can’t wait to hold you and see you. Great Grandpa Lugi, Aunt Cathy, Aunt Mary and Aunt Missy, Cousins Jack and Matt are planning trips from Cleveland just to meet you. Others, like your cousins who live close by,too many to list, are excited to meet you and can’t wait to be able to play with you and babysit you when Mommy and Daddy need to get a night out.

I just want you to know how much you are loved. I dream about you every night. You are a special ray of sunshine in my days, and you haven’t even been born yet.

I am praying that your arrival is smooth and without too much trouble.

God is gracing us again with an angel right here on earth.

Thank you Lord!

The ceremony

The ceremony

The white stretch limo pulled up under the portico of our Catholic church, Our Lady Star of the Sea. We have attended this church since we moved to Ponte Vedra in 1993. Lindsay and Louis had taken their CCD classes here, and now our grandchildren. We have celebrated every holiday and feast at this church. One Christmas in particular I recall the alter servers wore their brand new red robes. Louis held the cross and Lindsay followed behind as they both served on that Christmas Eve. That year we had family from Cleveland, so we had a complete pew filled with Zitiello’s. It is our church home. I cannot imagine spending holidays anywhere else.

When Matthew and Lindsay decided to marry we were hopeful they would want the ceremony to be held at OLSS. The Garrity family also belongs to the parish family. So we were all very pleased when the decision was positive. Fr. Remek Blaszkowski would be the officiant, a young priest with a thick Czech accent, whom we had all fallen in love with. Tom called him the “rock star”. He always kept us enthralled with his up to the moment homilies. We knew they would also love this no nonsense guy with a passion for his faith. Both families couldn’t be happier.

The bridesmaids, the bride and myself sat anxiously in the limo as we watched thru the tinted black windows as guests passed by arriving at the church a little late and rushing in to find their seats. In just a few moments we would enter the church. The bride is always the last to enter, so Lindsay and I stayed behind after the maids made their way inside. I told Lindsay how much her Dad and I love her and how happy we are for her. We were thrilled with her choice in Matt. I held her hand and asked her if she was nervous. She said she wasn’t but was excited and couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle. Suddenly the door opened. Fr. Remek stuck his head into the limo and looked Lindsay straight in the eye as he asked, “What is your final answer Lindsay? Are you ready to marry Matthew?” “Yes” she said “I am ready to marry Matt.” “Let’s go then” he said as he held out his hand to help us, bouquets in hand, exit the limo. He rushed us into the small dressing room where the priests don their vestments for mass and quickly closed the door.

The church was filled with family and friends waiting in anticipation as they sat listening to family friend Chuck Kessler, accompanied by his son Michael, strum his guitar and sing beautiful songs hand picked by Lindsay and Matthew.

The tiny room held a triple mirror, a closet where the priests vestments were stored and a small bathroom. Lindsay twirled and took one last look at herself in the mirror when there was a knock at the door. I knew it had to be her Father. I opened the door a crack as he pushed the door open and slipped into the room with us. “Honey, you are not supposed to be in here.” I said. “Dad” Lindsay said, “I don’t want to ruin my makeup.” “I know” he said, “but I needed to get this ……over…..before….we walk down the aisle.” He stuttered as he took in his daughter-bride in the gown he had not seen until this moment. He turned around fully as he gasped for air. “I want to tell you both how much I love you. Judi… for giving me Lindsay. You are the most important women in my life.” He wiped his tears as there was another knock at the door.

“The Mother of the Bride” needs to get in line now”, the church lady was pleading. I left the room and took my place at the front of the processional with my handsome son Louis who would escort me up the aisle. It was beginning. I had been reminded, the Mother-of-the-Bride controls the ceremony. The music changed to my favorite song,”I Give You My Heart”. Chucks’ voice was sweet and folkish. We were the first to make the slow long walk toward the altar. He walked me to the second pew. Next came the Mother-of-the Groom, Phyllis Garrity on the arm of her Husband-Best Man, Jack. She was seated across the aisle from me. She glanced a smile my way and we stood and approached the altar where we lit the unity candles, two candles representing the two families with one large candle in the center. When the candles had been lit we squeezed each others hand and descended the few steps back to our seats.

Judi and Phyllis light their unity candles

Now it was time for the processional hymn “This is the Day”. Matthew, the Bridegroom and his Father-Best Man were next. Matthew looked so handsome, his tall stature and his tight black curls. On his black lapel was an orchid boutineer, a small dove feather tucked in. They slowly approached the altar and took their places turning to watch the processional and then the Bride and her Father. The moment he had waited for was fast approaching.

The Bridesmaids and Groomsmen were next in their beautiful Vera Wang yellow-gold flowing gowns and classic black tuxes, everyone smiling as the excitement was building. I had honestly never seen such a beautiful collection of friends. They approached the altar, lowered their heads as they reached the first step, the maids lined up to the left the groomsmen to the right. The witnesses were in place.

Next came the priest in his beautiful cream colored robe with an embellished green vestment draped over his shoulders. He took his place at the center of the altar near Matthew.

Matthew’s niece, darling 3 1/2 year old MaryBeth was chosen as the flower girl with Tommy and Mitchell as ring bearers. The children made their way down the aisle. MaryBeth was coaxed down by adult cousin, beautiful Kelly Sherrod. They took their places in the front pews next to their families curious about what was going to happen next.

The altar was complete with the exception of one.

The music changed to “Canon in D” as Fr. Remek motioned for everyone to stand. And suddenly she appeared on the arm of her proud Father, more beautiful then ever and smiling. Tom held her hand on his arm as he guided his only precious daughter to her love waiting at the altar. She was a picture perfect bride in her Augusta Jones creamy lace dress with a long satin bow at her waist and the long lace train trailing behind. She wore no veil on her low soft bun just a beautiful creamy flower to one side. On her wrist was her “something borrowed”, my pearl bracelet. She was stunning.

Words cannot express the emotion of this moment in time.

Matthew did not take his eyes away off of her from the moment she entered the church. He later told me he couldn’t believe she was really his.

The guests were seated and a full Catholic mass began. The Brides oldest brother Scott and the Grooms sisters, Jacqueline and Amy read the scriptures specially selected by Lindsay and Matthew. Both families were well represented in the sacred sacrament of holy matrimony.

When Fr. Remek began his homily he held everyones attention. Lindsay and Matthew had met with Fr. Remek to prepare for their marriage for eight months. So, with personal knowledge he spoke from his heart. He told Lindsay that she showed her trust in Matthew when he blindfolded her and took her for a car ride last November. And, when he placed her in the stunt plane and sent her up in the air with only a pilot and her parachute. He asked her thru her headphones if she wanted to take another wild ride with him, when he asked her to marry him.
Fr. Remek told the Bride and Groom and the assembled guests that they were embarking on a true adventure and that trust in each other and trust in God would be the foundation they should build their family on. It was a wonderful homily enjoyed by everyone.

The vows were spoken and the rings blessed and exchanged. Matthew and Lindsay lit the large candle with the two side candles lit by their Mothers and they became one in God’s eyes. The mass continued with the sacred solemnity it always holds. The couple turned from the priest toward the assembly and were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Garrity. We all cheered and clapped our hands. Chuck began to loudly strum and sing Third Days’ “I’ve Always Loved You”. Then, Matthew, with his hand at his brides back, led his Wife-Bride down the steps and down the aisle, past family and friends both of them bursting with happiness.

They were officially married.

Let the party begin.

I do……

I do……

Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Christopher Garrity

Eight months have passed since that autumn day in October when our beautiful daughter, Lindsay became Mrs. Matthew C. Garrity. Much like the last eight months, the wedding we had been planning sped by quickly. Even now I reflect on it and an image pops into my head of a small detail. I wonder if I will forget those special touches that marked the occasion unique and so very “Lindsay”. Yet we all have those moments etched in our minds. Points in time when life took on a greater level of meaning and happiness. October 2nd, 2010 was one of those days.

Matt and his father, Jack Garrity.

Tom had entertained the groomsmen at our home where they relaxed around the pool, played cards in the man room and donned their classic black tuxes for the wedding. It was befitting for the groom and his groomsmen to spend the morning in that room. Tom was in his glory.

The groomsmen celebrate!

Lindsay had asked me to spend the entire day at her side. Gladly accommodating, I was with my daughter-bride and her maids at theTPC Clubhouse that can be viewed from our back door. We had taken over the ladies locker room.The TPC staff lavished us with endless champagne and trays of light hors d’oeuvres and fruit and cheese as friends and relatives dropped in to make a delivery or offer help in some way. Margot, our friend and wedding photographer was busy snapping away while Andrea, the make-up artist and Grayzna, our hair stylist prepared the beautiful maids. All the while, Lindsay’s lace dress hung from the chandelier, awaiting the moment when she would don the one element that would set her apart from every other person at the wedding. That dress that had been kept secret from all but the bridesmaids and their Mothers for several months.

A tender moment captured

At one point there was a knock at the door. Audrey answered and In strolled Blake, Matt’s cousin and one of his Best Men holding a wrapped box and a letter. He handed Lindsay the gift and waited for her to open it, a camera for the honeymoon. Audrey read the letter from Matt aloud as we all melted! His words were touching and sweet and full of love. Blake gave Lindsay a hug and told her he would see her at the church and returned to groomsmen. Then Audrey left to deliver Matt’s special gift, a beautiful watch to remind him of the day and a letter full of love and promises.

The morning sun was peeking through puffy white clouds that turned a dark grey by noon. There had been big plans for The Lawn behind the TPC Clubhouse after the church ceremony and prior to the reception in the Ponte Vedra Grand Ballroom on the second floor of the Clubhouse a Spanish revival architecture building that although was built in 2009, appears to be hundreds of years old. There had been no rain for several weeks and there was no more than a twenty percent chance. But, around 12:30 the skies opened up and it poured for half an hour, just long enough to turn the lawn to a soggy green sponge. Certainly no place for a soft white bridal gown and maids in trailing yellow-gold bobbinette, not to mention the guests in those stylish stilettos. The wedding coordinator made the decision and informed the Father of the Bride there would be no hot air balloon champagne toasts or outdoor bar.The guitar player would join the harp player in the grand foyer and the bars and high boys set up on the gallery overlooking the foyer. It is written that a bit of rain on your wedding day will bring your marriage good luck.

Our floral designer, Liza Chung is an accomplished stylist and had outdone herself with Lindsay’s wedding design. The bridal bouquet and bridal party bouquets arrived in two huge baskets. Lindsay’s bouquet burst with blush peonies, creamy white roses, cala lillies and gentle cymbidium orchids. The blunt cut stems were tightly wound with cream colored ribbon held with pearl headed pins. The maids bouquets were a smaller version of Lindsay’s. Liza is truly an artist.

A white stretch limo would pick up the bride, myself and the maids after delivering the Groom, his future Father in Law and his groomsmen, that included Matt’s Father as best man to the church a short five minute drive away. As we waited for the limo to arrive Margot captured amazing images of Lindsay and the Bridesmaids and me around the picturesque clubhouse. The rain had freshened the air and we felt like we were floating on a cloud in anticipation. Visitors to the clubhouse stopped and smiled when they saw us. Who doesn’t like a wedding?

The Bride and her maids.

Liza and her “divas” motioned for us to come up the grand staircase and take a peek at the site of the reception. When we opened the door I could smell the flowers. The huge rustic iron chandeliers were draped with ropes of small pearls. The tables varied in design so as not to overstate. Some tables boasted four foot tall glass vessels filled with pearls and bursting over with huge sprays of blush peonies, roses and cymbidium orchids with the soft golden glow of waves of votives beneath. Other tables held glass blocks filled with glass gems and holding trails of cymbidium orchids and more votives. Some tables were centered with a collection of clear wine bottles topped with flickering tapers and more blush peonies, cream roses in bowls. In the middle of each table was a small wooden toy bi-plane with a gold number painted on it’s wings. The theme was flight and adventure in keeping with Matt’s proposal and the stunt plane. At the end of the dance floor was a smaller sweetheart table with crystal bowls brimming with peonies, roses, and orchids. The soft glow from the candles that covered the table was angelic. Two place settings set side by side where the bride and groom would eat their first meal together as husband and wife. When the doors were flung open welcoming everyone to the reception it would be magical.

The sweetheart table

Finally, our carriage arrived and the girls carefully stepped into the limo with their bouquets. Lindsay and I were the last to enter. Matt’s desire was coming to meet him at the beautiful church where they would speak their vows and begin the adventure of their lives as one. She was on her way to say….”I do”.

More fairytales come true…

More fairytales come true…

Tea with the royal family.

Last Friday – April 29, 2011 my alarm sounded at precisely 3:58am just 2 minutes before coverage would begin of the greatest event to occur in the Royal Family since the marriage of Princess Diana to Prince Charles. It was later reported by NBC that 5.21 million loyal subjects joined me.

My English bone china tea cup sat awaiting the tea kettle to whistle. My choice of tea for the important event was a blend I had ordered online from England. I selected the Queen Mum to perch upon the rim as I savored every moment of the nuptials. It was soothing and warm, just the perfect touch for this dark spring morning.

The wedding did not disappoint. I loved watching the guests arrive, especially David Beckham whom I concluded to receive the “MHA”. (Most handsome award). The hats were fascinating and the term quickly circulated, every network scooped who they thought sported the most stylish “fascinator”. What fun.

The Bride was regal and performed her role in perfect step with head held high and hand delicately sitting atop her escort, first her Father and then her Groom. She was stunning in her timeless white lace gown and simple (if Royal Family jewels could ever be described as simple) diamond tiara loaned to her by her future Grandmother the Queen, a gift to her from her Mother upon her 18th birthday.

Her young attendants were perfectly matched and led by the Brides sister Pippa who later was said to have stolen a small part of the attention from the Bride with her beauty, her slim frame in a demure white silk gown. Pippa was lovely and no DNA questions here.

The Groom was handsome in his dress uniform and appeared quite at ease. Royal Brother Prince Harry, true to character, could not contain himself and had to turn to steal a glimpse of Kate as she made the four and one half minute walk from the Abbey doors on her Father’s arm to the altar where she would become the Princess, The Duchess of Cambridge. Prince Harry whispered to his brother, “Yes, she is here”. When Kate reached the altar, the Groom/Prince seeing her for the first moment whispered, “You are beautiful.” And, after a few seconds, lightly told Kate’s Father,Michael, “We are supposed to have a small family wedding.”

The wedding was surreal. Then the procession back to Buckingham Palace and the Royal family and The Middleton family made their appearance on the balcony overlooking the mall. The first kiss was perfect ….and after a few minutes to everyone’s surprise and delight – another. But, the best part to me was the unselfish act of the proud Groom driving his Bride off in his Dad’s prized Aston Martin Seychelles Blue DB6 MKII Volante, so typical of this modern day couple….the obviously happy newly crowned Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

This is a marriage made in heaven. It was later said the weather had been overcast most of the morning, however, when Kate emerged from her hotel, to enter her limo to whisk her off to the Abbey, the clouds opened up and the sunlight streamed thru, as if Diana was smiling down in approval as Kate left to join her Groom, Prince William at the altar. I believe that too!

I am so looking forward to more magic from this beautiful and refreshing Royal couple.

Blessings to you both!


Dining and dancing to follow…

Dining and dancing to follow…

Matt and Lindsay had set the date, October 2nd, 2010. 10-2-10 we laughed. The next step was to determine how many guests we would invite. That would lead us to a very big decision-the reception site. Ponte Vedra beach is a small town and has only a few places that can accommodate over 200 guests. We needed to begin our selection process right away if they wanted to secure the date. We arranged a meeting with the wedding coordinator to at TPC of Sawgrass for the four of us to attend. This would be their very first step down the aisle.

Lindsay was certain her expectations and those of her Father for her wedding day were going to be a challenge.  She had always been the type of person who enjoyed simple things. And her Father let’s just say could be considered an…”over the top” kind of guy. Matthew seemed pleased with any decision that made Lindsay happy, and of course, made Tommy happy too.  I was stuck somewhere in the middle, explaining both sides and trying to keep everyone from killing each other. That was no simple task

After our meeting with TPC we knew we had started at the top of the list, the absolute greatest venue in the area.  It would be difficult to find any place that could accommodate our group and ever compare to the stately opulence of the 77,000 square foot Spanish Revival styled, world famous TPC Clubhouse. Plus, the people who worked at the club were like family to the Zitiello’s. The clubhouse literally sits in our backyard and has been the”home course” for our family AND is the sole reason we bought the lot and constructed our home here over 18 years ago. It was only fitting that our one and only daughter hold her wedding reception at the famed TPC of Sawgrass Clubhouse.  But, Lindsay wanted to proceed slowly.  She had to think about it.  And, that is a good thing!

During the meeting with the TPC staff we poured over the menus and discussed the possibilities. It was revealed that the bride and groom would receive some “perks”.  Special chiavari chairs, a honeymoon suite at the Sawgrass Marriott for the evening, AND a one year club membership!  Matt was sold!

After just two weeks Lindsay agreed there was no reason to look any further. It was decided, we would hold an epic reception at the TPC of Sawgrass Clubhouse on October 2, 2010 and a deposit was made to secure the date.

Waking with a smile

Waking with a smile

The marriage proposal had taken place and the answer was “yes”. I found myself waking up with a light heart and an air of excitement. There was so much to do, to dream of, to plan. Tom was as happy as me about the choice our daughter had made. Lindsay was beaming. Even Louis was happy around the house. When God shines His light down on your family, you cannot help but feel it.

The holidays were special this year. An engagement party was being planned by Matt’s Aunt Sharon and Uncle Jack for early January. There were new faces at our Christmas Eve Open House. We were just getting to know his family and we felt very comfortable with all of  them.

Lindsay wanted to move slowly. She wanted to enjoy her engagement. She was taking it all in. I loved that about her. Time would pass quickly enough. They decided on a date….October 2nd, 2010.  A fall wedding would be great. The wedding planning was under way.

Christmas gifts were wedding-related. Monogrammed coffee mugs, wedding planning books and Bride Magazine.  She signed onto The Knot online and set up her timeline. Oh how I love technology!

We were asked to make a list of guests to invite to the engagement party.  That was the very first list. Lists will become our life. We will make lists, we will discuss lists, we will revise lists, we will prepare excel spreadsheets with lists and we will dream of lists. It is all a part of the process.  The wonderful task of putting a wedding together. I never complained.

I loved every single solitary minute of it!

Yoda, the stunt airplane/the proposal

Yoda, the stunt airplane/the proposal

An entry from my personal journal November 28, 2009

Grandma and Grandpa Zitiello traveled from Cleveland to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with their Florida family. Normally they would stay in Cleveland to be near Cathy and her children, Mary and Missy, Tom’s three sisters. But, we had convinced them to make the trip south this year.

Tom and I had a secret to keep. Certainly it was difficult, but, we realized the importance of containing our excitement and remained tight lipped.

Each day we awoke to the question; could this be the day?  Lindsay had no idea of  the life changing event that was about to happen. She continued her routine, work, eat, meet up with friends home for the holiday and of course being with Matt. The air was filled with anticipation.

The ring was due to arrive on Tuesday so we knew from that day on it could happen. Thanksgiving Day came and went and the Grandparents were starting to discuss their return trip. Maybe they should leave sooner to avoid the holiday traffic. Of course Tom and I constantly plotted to persuade them to stay.

Saturday rolled around and Lindsay and I were preparing a picnic lunch for she and Matt. They had planned to spend the day together in St. Augustine, nothing unusual for them. I made sure there was a nice bottle of wine to go with the turkey sandwiches. She left with the scrumptious basket around 10AM to meet Matt.

Shortly after she left the house the phone rang.  It was Matt asking if we could have all the relatives from both sides of the family at our house at 3PM. Today was the day. I agreed and immediately called Publix Bakery for a congratulatory cake. The doorbell rang and it was the florist with a huge arrangement. The card read “To the future Mrs. Garrity, we love you so much! Can’t wait to be there to celebrate with you. love, Samantha and Audrey.” All arranged from San Francisco. Phone calls were made, family invited. Everyone was wondering what was happening.

Back to the lovebirds.

Matt and Lindsay were en route to St. Augustine. Just south of Ponte Vedra Matt  pulled off the road and told Lindsay he was giving her an early Christmas present. She would need to be blindfolded and he placed the black rolled napkin over her eyes and tied it behind her head. She was laughing while trying to guess what it could possibly be. Just a few months before they had gone to the Jacksonville Beach Air-show. Lindsay had remarked she would like to one day ride in a stunt plane. Little did she know, today was the day.

They arrived at the St. Augustine Regional Airport and Matt escorted Lindsay to the prearranged area where  pilot Craig Fordham and stunt plane “Yoda” stood waiting. Matt said, “Merry Christmas, you are going for a ride.” Lindsay was helped into her parachute and into the rear seat on the airplane by pilot and crew and before she could refuse they were taking off down the runway heading north toward Jacksonville Beach.

The airplane is a training plane equipped with cameras on each wing, the nose and the tail.  The pilot and passenger have sibilance headphones so they can communicate with one another and also the ground crew and air traffic control. Throughout the flight the pilot asked Lindsay how she was doing as he looped and spun his was along the sunny beaches of St. Augustine and Jacksonville all the while capturing her reaction on video.

Suddenly Matt was speaking to her in her headphones. ” Are you enjoying your wild ride?”  he asked. “Yes,” she said.  “This is crazy.”  ‘Would you like to take another wild ride with me?  Will you marry me?”  he asked. “What?” she said, screaming in delight. “Yes, oh yes.”  The pilot also came into her ear saying, “Would you like to go back now?” “Yes, please “,  she replied as the cameras rolled capturing her tears and surprise.

Back at the hangar the ground crew was preparing for Yoda’s landing and had a camera crew to capture what was about to happen. Matt went down on one knee as Yoda approached. Pilot Craig helped Lindsay out of the plane and she ran to Matt and the ring box extended to her.  He placed the platinum solitaire diamond on her left hand ring finger and they embraced in a romantic kiss.

After several pictures Matt and Lindsay left St. Augustine airport and went to the park to eat their lunch and share some private time. On the way they phoned the parents to tell them the good news. When Tom and I heard the phone ring we BOTH picked up the telephone.  “Mom, Dad, I am marrying Matt”  Lindsay screamed into the phone.  We told her we were very happy for them and we loved them both.

The Garrity and Zitiello family began to arrive  at our house as well as Matt & Lindsay’s friends and some of their parents. The bottles of champagne were on ice . When they finally arrived we all rushed to the front door to greet the happy couple with congratulations and many hugs and kisses.

After things calmed down Tom raised a glass of champagne and gave a wonderful toast to the future Mr. & Mrs. Matthew Christopher Garrity, followed by a toast from Jack Garrity, Jack Sherrod and Blake Sherrod. It was a beautiful day. I know the Grandparents will never forget being there to share every moment of it.

Matt had shown both his creativity and his romantic side  in a beautiful way.  And, one day, if God blesses them with children, they will be able to watch the engagement proposal of their parents right before their eyes!

We are certain Matt loves our daughter and she loves him. What more could a Mother and Father ask for their only daughter?

We love you too Matt Garrity!