Photo Credit: Reilly Durfy on Unsplash
Over the last few months, we've seen so much change with our industry, but one thing is infinitely clear: love isn't cancelled and love will prevail. Not to sound cynical or overly-ominous, but, truly, there is no way of knowing what will happen tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year; living in the now and holding the people we love most, close, is all that we can do. That's why we're so excited to talk about Adventure Girl, Stef Michaels' anniversary tradition. She and her husband celebrate every five years with a vow renewal in some far-off place. They had no clue what the rest of 2020 would look like, when they exchanged vows in Bermuda this past January (to mark 20 years married) - but something tells us their 25th anniversary is going to be even sweeter considering the realness of the world RN.
A little runway on this jet-setting lady and her co-pilot.
"We eloped on the millennium, literally straddling it—starting the ceremony in 1999 and sealing our nuptials with a kiss just seconds into the New Year of 2000.
We had chosen our friend’s black-tie affair for a surprise elopement, which only a handful of close friends were privy to. We asked Phil’s Best Man to stand beside us just minutes before we stood in the mansion’s foyer to get started leaning into forever together.
There we were, surrounded by friends, in a momentous turn of events for all of us as one of our closest confidants, Joe, spoke of what was to come next in the minutes that followed.
Most fun, was the shock and awe as we looked around the room, then to each other, “We’re really doing this…” ~ From the Adventure Girl herself...
Started two decades ago and now we're here...
Like most couples, Stef and Phil's first year married wasn't a [wedding] cake walk, but they adjusted to life as newlyweds by not letting the wrinkles or petty arguments get in the way of what they had going. That's what you do when life throws a lot at you, you weather through the storm(s) together: losing parents, losing friends to cancer, and dealing with devastating diagnoses (for Phil, an orange-sized brain tumor; for Stef, breast cancer followed by a marathon of surgeries and a complicating staph infection that took nine weeks in isolation, on a vancomycin drip, to recover from) - it's not easy, but with your best friend, right arm, other half, true love, and on hand for the long haul, it ends up becoming a ride that you can't imagine doing with anyone else.
"We do a “thing” every five years, where we renew our vows with a party - an occasion that earmarks where we were at the time and a new place somewhere in the world. Our fifth anniversary was St. Bart’s, the place we would celebrate New Year’s Eve annually. Our 10th was more private, on a Motu in Bora Bora. We spent year 15 celebrating with local friends in St. Kitts. And each December, from day one, we travel to somewhere we pluck off of the map to celebrate just us — we've been to The Nile, Marquesas Islands, Greece, Southern Spain, Martinique, Paris, Hawaii, Palau, and then some."
And for 20 years married in 2020... it had to be something extra special.
"Some friends, even my husband at one point inquired why we weren’t waiting for 25 years for this big event, but I’m here to tell you, A LOT can happen in 5 years. I might not be here, you might not be here, they might not be here, so why wait?
I chose Bermuda after a friend reminded me how wonderful it was, and how easy it was for people to get to from the east coast, where many of our friends reside. Just a 2 ½ hour flight and you’re there from NYC.
I was also looking for a cave to wed in. Bingo! The Natura Spa Cave at the Grotto Bay Beach Resort was the perfect fit. It was also available and gorgeous!"
Photo Credit: Alison Wright Photography; @alisonwrightphoto
Leaning on local talent
"As a destination bride-again, I will warn you that planning something out of town is trying, to say the least. I found most party planners are booked a year in advance in Bermuda, and hotels are busy with parties and dinners and a packed house of out-of-towners on vacation over the holidays.
I seriously could not have gotten this all done without the help of the incredible team at the Fairmont Southampton. Although my New Year’s Eve events were not happening there, our first in command, Jasmon, stepped up to make sure the reception cake was delivered to the restaurant we had our reception at, our guest rooms were upgraded and situated on the concierge level, and our (as well as our guests') experience was nothing short of extraordinary while we were there."
We cannot wait to see more destination weddings and renewals once the world resumes some kind of normalcy - because, as evidenced by Stef and Phil's 20th celebration, the most beautiful places in the world are ready to get back to making magic.
See vendor credits for more on who helped these two bring it all together.... after all "the future is yours..." so let' them help you plan it. (if you know, you know #dammitjanet #rockyhorrorreference😉)
Follow Adventure Girl on IG to see more of this pair's travels
We partnered with Stefanie Michaels, the Adventure Girl, to share some lessons on forever-lasting love with you. As always, thank you for supporting our sponsors!