My BIG Surprise…

The thick curtains that spanned across our windows had already been tightly closed the night before. Yet, by 8am the next morning, the strong Aruba sun that snuck through the tiny opening was just enough to fill the entire room with a golden glow.

When I rolled over, thinking about what today was, I noticed Matthew who, from the looks of things, had already been ‘touched‘ by the sun much earlier than me.  Within a few minutes of talking about how fast the past 10 years has gone by, with a smile on his face, he asked, “Do you want to open your present?”

We’ve celebrated many Mother’s Day, anniversaries and birthdays out of town. So, it was no surprise when he came around the corner with a pretty, pink gift bag, complete with white tissue paper neatly coming out of the top.

I reached in and quickly pulled out a soft, pretty dress with spaghetti straps, dotted with all of my favorite colors. At the bottom of the bag was a pair of dangly, turquoise earrings. That’s one of the things I love about Matthew. Whether it’s attention to detail or just plain thoughtfulness, he always buys the prettiest clothes, complete with matching accessories.

Our day went by quickly at the pool and beach.  I must have asked Matthew a dozen times where we were going for dinner.  His response was the same.  “Don’t worry about it.”

After getting out of the shower, I worried my dress would be too small.   But, as I’ve seen many times before, Matthew always seem to know the right size to buy.  He was right.  It fit like a glove.  Then, I started to worry a little about the dress being too short.  But, I quickly reminded myself Ross and Rayna would not be there, constantly alternating between which one of them was currently climbing up my legs in an effort to get carried and get out of walking.  My hair was curled.  I was ready to end a fabulous day with, what I was sure to be, a good dinner.



I looked out the taxi window and screamed without warning, “Matthew! Can we stop and take a picture of that tree?” A little to my surprise, the taxi driver pulled over within a few seconds of my unexpected request.

Just a few steps away from the tree I had just discovered, we stepped out of the car in front of Passions restaurant and I knew right away that this romantic meal had been planned for a very long time. Before approaching the worn and wooden walkway that lead to the beautiful tables on the beach, Matthew took my hand and suggested we walk to the tree I had just noticed from the road.

Assuming our table was ready and waiting for us, I quickly took a picture of the lonely Divi tree just a few feet in front of us and started putting my camera away.

A little hurried and distracted, with my camera bag almost zipped back up, I happened to glance up at Matthew. The look on his face was an expression I had only seen one other time in our entire 12 years together.  It was on his face the night I felt his legs shake in downtown Atlanta when he asked me to marry him.

The next few minutes were a blur. I remember Matthew telling me how special this day was. Then, the beach that was once empty just a few minutes ago, now held me, Matthew and a preacher standing behind me holding a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers.

I could tell from Matthew’s body and face, he was starting to relax as he let go of months of planning and anticipating. However, still not knowing exactly what was going on, I could feel my body starting to tense-up.

Matthew introduced me to Reverend Robert Gibson and told me why we were all three standing there together.  Without me knowing, this moment, place and time was planned a long time ago. We were here to renew our wedding vows on the beach!

Matthew wrote and memorized the most beautiful vows.  Here’s just a small part I thought I’d share:

“I’m happy to say after these 10 years together, I am even more in love with you. I love you more than anyone in the world.  You are the most beautiful and sweetest girl I have ever met. I am so thankful to be married to you. I stand before you today and can gladly tell you that you are the only girl I have ever loved, and you are the love of my life. I thank you for the time we’ve had together. I am certainly enjoying the present time in our lives, and look forward to our future to see what it will bring us. I am looking forward to another 10 years, and another 10 years beyond that.”


When the pastor started talking about the exchange of rings, I assumed that part wouldn’t apply to us.  I was wrong.  As if all of this wasn’t a surprise enough, Matthew pulls out a beautiful, diamond ring to replace the one he bought me for our 3-year anniversary.  (My best friend in Arizona wanted to see a picture of the ring.  So, here you go…)
The night ended with dinner at the beautiful restaurant where the night started.
The ocean breeze blew softly around us.
We slipped off our shoes and enjoyed dinner with the sand between our toes.
And just when I thought I had experienced the best food in Aruba, I tasted Passion’s ‘Local Grouper Filet in Crispy Coco Jacket Golden Fried Accompanied with a Light Creamy Banana Dip.’



Needless to say, I will never forget this surprise!  I am so thankful for Matthew and our marriage.  He shows me each day what it means to give yourself to someone else.  And although he makes me feel special on normal days by taking out the trash and going grocery shopping, I don’t think I’ve ever felt as loved as I did that night on the beach.


One More Thing:

Since I’ve began sharing photos and links, I’ve had SO many people tell me they are now considering or, in 1 case, actually planning a trip to Aruba.  If marriage (or renewing) is in your future, here is one of my final Aruba recommendations:  Reverend Robert Gibson!

Not only was he WONDERFUL, GENUINE, HAPPY and SWEET during the ceremony, it was obvious how passionate he was about making it meaningful to us.  He talked about our first date, trips and vacations we’d taken together, Ross and Rayna, our church and many other personal memories.  Matthew also said he was extremely helpful in the weeks leading up to us arriving.  Not only did he want us to find the perfect spot for our ceremony, he was more-than-willing to make suggestions to Matthew about restaurants and things to do.  He knew how important photography was to me, so the entire time he effortlessly took SO many great pictures of us.

Here’s just a few more photos from our night, taken by Reverend Robert Gibson:

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