I am honored and delighted to share the very first couple’s love story (besides my own) on the :: Real Love Stories:: section of my blog. Today I am sharing the unique and challenging love story of Maggie and Levi.
Maggie and Levi’s love story began in June of 2017 with a less than graceful chance encounter. Both were attending a mutual friend’s house party when a friend of Maggie’s casually walked right through a screen door (been there, done that!). Maggie quickly bent down to help her friend out of the wreckage and her head collided with another. A bit disheveled, she tettered away while others helped fix the screen door. The night continued without further incident and Maggie only thought of the collision as a funny story to recall with her friend.
The following weekend, at another house party, Maggie was caught off guard when she was greeted with, “Hey! You’re the girl I bumped heads with!” The two had not officially met, but fate had brought Levi and Maggie together two weekends in a row, and now prompted them to chat the rest of the night which ultimately led them to exchange numbers. Levi wasted no time (love a guy who doesn’t play games!) and asked Maggie on a date the very next day.
Their relationship continued to blossom over the summer. As Autumn fell upon them, Maggie was due to move 253 miles away to Albany, NY where she would spend the next two years finishing her graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Maggie and Levi had to make the tough decision whether to continue their affection in a long-distance romance or go their separate ways. They agreed their connection was strong enough to take on this challenge and committed to spending the next couple of years taking turns traveling to each other and engaging in a lot of phone calls, and video chats. Most would have to agree that only the strongest relationships can endure and thrive across distance, and Maggie and Levi’s commitment to each other seemed to be strong enough to survive this first trial. Fate, however, had another challenge in store for them.
As the last few months of graduate school were finally coming to an end, and Maggie and Levi started to dream of the days they could finally be together longer than a weekend at a time, Levi, a United States Marine, was called to duty and set to deploy in June 2019 on a year-long UDP (Unit Deployment Program -for those not privy to military acronyms). Levi was proud to serve his country, but this new challenge meant he and Maggie were going to have to come up with some new plans to accommodate his duty as a Marine, as well as his duty to their relationship. So, Levi (being the amazing guy that he is) got to work securing a home for Maggie to come home to once she had graduated.
As time marched on, Maggie and Levi continued their routine of traveling, phone calls, and video chats to stay connected. For Easter, Maggie made the trip home to spend time with Levi and her family, as well as to help Levi fix up the house they had purchased together. Unbeknownst to her, Levi planned a special surprise. While Maggie was painting the walls in their new home, Levi ran to his truck, secured an Easter basket full of plastic eggs, and brought them inside, asking her to open every last one. (Here comes the adorable part!?!) As Maggie opened the last egg, (the largest one of course), Levi got down on one knee, ring carefully in hand, while Maggie read a note from the egg that asked, “Will you marry me?”. (Ummm! I LOVE THIS!!!)
Well, of course, Maggie joyfully exclaimed YES! And the two rejoiced while they celebrated their love together before Levi was deployed two months later. (Side-note: I just want to share how much I commend the brave people who serve our country every day while having to leave their families to help protect us all. I also want to take a moment to send my sincere love and support to all of their families who are asked to displace their life plans for the greater good of our country. I can only imagine the trials you must face, and the strength you must have to work through this unavoidable stress).
Planning a wedding can be a stressful ordeal in “normal” circumstances, but to do it with a partner that is literally halfway around the world seems almost impossible. BUT with the support of family and with the use of technology, Maggie and Levi were able to start planning their wedding even with a 13-hour time difference. With Levi in Japan, and Maggie now back in New Hampshire, they got to work looking for the perfect wedding venue. As many couples soon discover, securing what you both want (Levi, waterfront and Maggie, mountain views) can come at a hefty cost, so rethinking and reworking venues and budget tend to come hand-in-hand. Finally, Maggie and Levi agreed upon a clean-looking rustic barn in Bethel, Maine. The venue seemed perfect, with housing accommodations on both sides, a huge plus for all of their traveling guests, and the price was right. The plans seemed to all be falling into place and with Levi scheduled to return home on June 1st, 2020, they booked their wedding for a beautiful summer date of July 25th of that same year.
Then, COVID-19 happened. (What the what?!? At this point in reading Maggie’s write-up of events to share with all of you, my anxiety was on overdrive. I mean come-on universe! Cut these two a break! I also just want to pause and give a big ol’ shoutout to Maggie for being a rockstar through all of these high-stress life events so far!?! I am pretty sure I would have had at least one nervous breakdown… if not two.)
With COVID-19 came chaos for everyone. Regulations changed, and Maggie and Levi were not only worried about being able to have their wedding on their chosen date, but they were even more worried that Levi was not going to be allowed back into the United States any time soon as the pandemic caused delays and outright banned travel for some military personnel. Trying to push away the idea of the unknown date of Levi’s return, they stuck to conversations about their future wedding. They made the difficult decision that if they were not able to include all of their close friends and family in their celebration, approximately 100 guests, they did not want to proceed with their original plan.
With the new Maine gathering restrictions banning events greater than 50 guests in attendance, and with questions whether out of state guests may have to quarantine prior to the event, Maggie and Levi were forced to think up other options for their preferred wedding celebrations. This is when Maggie’s parents swooped in with an amazing find. A local New Hampshire venue located between both Maggie and Levi’s families had an opening.
Faraway Pond in Dalton, NH is a tucked-away property that people can rent, giving them access to two small cabins, a large pond with a beach, a location for a waterfront ceremony (YAY! Levi was getting his wish!!), beautiful views, and a lovely events-only reception barn to complete the space. There finally seemed to be a beacon of light emerging from the chaotic uncertainty they faced around every corner. After taking a tour via video chat, the two quickly booked the space knowing that with New Hampshire’s much different approach to gathering restrictions during the beginning of the pandemic, their needs could be met and the only drastic change they would have to undergo would be to change their date from July 25th, to August 1st, 2020. Luckily for them, there were a lot fewer obstacles standing in their way once they made the switch.
Their hair and makeup team (Styles by Justine), florist (Terri from Gorham House Florist), and their amazing photographer (me of course), could all make accommodations for their new date. (Side note: The fact that all vendors could make an accommodation for the new date in such a short time is highly unusual!! There was FINALLY some divine intervention helping these two out at this point!) Maggie was even able to find a videographer (Good Eye Productions) last minute, which was another sign that things were finally working out for these two love birds. From here on out the wedding day plans seemed to fall into place. Maggie’s mom, Amy, came to the rescue again with securing the caterer, along with (as Maggie put it) - a million other things, and Levi was finally scheduled to return home, with plenty of time before their wedding day.
On the day of the celebration, their elegant white, gold, and soft green wedding was a sight to behold. Levi and Maggie had decided the night prior that they would exchange their personal written vows to each other privately. So that morning, with just the two of them standing on the dock overlooking the serene pond where they would soon stand for their official wedding ceremony later that day, they shared their heartfelt words with one another, saving this one last private moment together before the festivities of the day began. (Ugg…I just LOVED this part of their story! They certainly deserve some intimate - in-person - alone time. Am I right?!?)
There is a Chinese Proverb that states, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.” I see this teaching reflected by the challenges both Levi and Maggie endured during the making of their love story. Through each challenge, their love and connection with each other became stronger and it created a more intimate and authentic love for one another.
On review of their day, Maggie also expressed how extremely lucky they felt that COVID-19 had not made its way to northern New Hampshire yet as it had in other heavily hit cities and states, and almost no one canceled due to the impending pandemic. Masks had also not been mandated yet, and restrictions that would greatly affect other future weddings and events had not been put into place. She mentioned a friend who is now undergoing the third rescheduling of her wedding. How heartbreaking and stressful that would be!!!
Lastly, before you go, my shoutout to this week's copy editor goes to the USA Today Bestselling Author, Susan Ann Wall. Susan and I have a couple of connections from my past life as an early childhood educator where I taught two of her three children, and my dog Bear and I also grace the cover of one of her romance novellas "Marrying for Love" (the title is so fitting, right!?!).
Here is a short blurb I pulled from her website so you can get to know a little bit more about her:
"Susan is a USA Today bestselling author of racy, rule-breaking romance, women’s fiction, and erotic fiction (her erotic titles are published as Ann Victor). Her bragging rights include 20 books in 6 different series, 3 maniacal children, 2 amazing rescue dogs, and a happily ever after that started while serving in the U.S. Army and has spanned two decades (which is crazy since she’s not a day over 29)."
To check out her work head over to her website: https://www.authorsusanannwall.com/