Celebrating 40 years on Catalina

May 5, 2014

Every year my grandparents switch off planning their wedding anniversary. This year was going to be their 40th anniversary and it was my grandpa's turn to plan out what they were going to do. He pulled me, my aunt, and my mom aside and laid out his plan. He wanted to renew their vows on Catalina, but have the entire thing a surprise to my grandma. We spent the past year planning, scheming, and making decorations all the while keeping the details from my grandma.
Santa Catalina is an island off of the coast of Southern California, and about an hour to an hour and a half boat ride from the port of Long Beach. Avalon is the main little town on the island. When I say little, I mean you can walk from one end to the next in about 30 minutes at a leisurely pace. There are no cars on the island, for the exception of emergency vehicles, so everyone drives around in golf carts. It's the cutest little town, and was the perfect get away for a weekend long anniversary celebration.

We were all on the island a couple hours before my grandparents arrived on Friday. After we finished all the last minute details, we headed down to the dock and set up camp. We thought it would be funny to have everyone sit on the benches right by the docks with newspapers covering our faces like we were reading it. We couldn't find any newspapers, or benches that would work. We did find random pamphlets and a nice grassy area between two palm trees that was perfect to "hide." Once my grandma got close enough we all shouted "Happy Anniversary." She was so surprised, it made everything leading up to it and keeping secrets from her worth it.

Later Friday night we had dinner reservations at a Mexican restaurant in town. The months leading up to the trip, my grandpa kept joking with my grandma that they were going on a cruise. She hated that idea because that was the last thing she had wanted to do. He kept telling her she is going to need a nice dress, and she would reply "what for" and my grandpas reply was "Dinner with the captain" as people usually do on cruises. Ironically, at dinner on Friday night our big party was seated in the same room as a big group of ship "captains." She did get her "dinner with the captain." It was great.

After an exhausting and extensive search of every hotel and rental house in Avalon, we settled on Hotel Metropole. I think I speak for everyone when we say we loved our choice. We rented the beach house because it had a nice big deck that overlooked the ocean and harbor that was perfect for the ceremony. The beach house was part of the hotel, so we were able to rent rooms for everyone else that joined us.

We spent the nights on the balcony of the beach house playing games and catching up. It's nice when everyone is able to be together. Some of the activities we did throughout the weekend included hiking on Saturday morning, eating lots of ice cream in freshly made waffle cones from Olafs, which was conveniently located across the street from our hotel, and walking to the casino and beyond. On Sunday we had lunch by the harbor and took an excursion on a glass bottom boat before we headed back home.

Saturday evening was the ceremony. The caterers came to set up tables and linens on the deck, and then my aunt and I added the rest of the decorations and it was perfect. John, a very close family friend, spoke a few words and then my grandparents exchanged personal vows. There was no officiant, it was a very relaxed, intimate setting. We used Zest catering to cater our event. The staff was wonderful and attentive from the time I contacted them about setting everything up, all the way through the event. The food was well prepared, and pleased even the most pickiest palates. If you are ever planning an event over on Catalina Island, I highly recommend them. 

After the ceremony and dinner, we played the "not so" newlywed game with my grandparents. We had come up with about 20 different questions with the answer being either LB or JB (Larry Brown or Joyce Brown). My aunt had made them signs to hold up as their response to the question. It was an entertaining game and I think we all loved hearing stories about their past.

As part of the nights festivities, we constructed a photo booth, complete with props! Trav and I tried to DIY an ombre curtain as the background. DIY fail, but it still came out a pretty blue. We added sparkling lights behind the curtain and garland in front.  My aunt set up her camera on the tri pod and we used the camera remote to take the pictures.

Sorry for the photobooth picture overload, but this was narrowing it down for me. There are so many more great ones. 
It was a perfect night for a perfect couple. I am so so glad everyone was able to be there to help my grandparents celebrate 40 years of marriage. They are a perfect example of true love, and I am so grateful they are a huge part of my life.

Keep an eye out for posts about the decorations, invitations and a video of the weekend.

Picture credit: Chere Carter / Elise Lindsey
You can read more about our Catalina trip over on my Aunts blog Here and Here

1 comment :

  1. Wow you still look so young. How amazingly you have enjoyed your 40th anniversary party. I must say that such moments of vow renewal party are just touchy. We should hire a planner to manage such special moments in best way.