Love Story Fall 2007
Margaret (Gregory) & John Ward
By Sarah Ward
June 23, 2007
At the Golden Eagle Resort
About the couple
After unexpectedly losing his beloved wife Mimi in 2005, John Ward was not looking to find love again. When his first marriage, during which he raised sons Todd, Scott, and Brad, ended in divorce after twenty-four years, he met Mimi and enjoyed nineteen happy years with her, ultimately residing in Oneonta Alabama. Her sudden death from a brain aneurysm devastated John, the boys, and all who knew them.
Margaret Gregory knew the grief of losing a spouse as well. She and husband Terrell had married in 1976, raising their children Ben and Emily in Blount County, Alabama. When Terrell died of Crohn’s Disease in January of 2004, Margaret and the children began the difficult process of dealing with his loss.
As both John and Margaret were moving through sorrow during that same year, they were also moving toward each other.
How they met
When John & Mimi Ward moved to Oneonta, Alabama in 2003 they immediately began making friends in their new community called Lime Springs. They enjoyed hosting dinner parties and getting to know their neighbors. Margaret Gregory was invited by Mimi to one of these dinner parties in the spring of 2005. She says, “I don’t really remember John much from then. He seemed nice, but he was just one of my girlfriend’s husbands.” Margaret was saddened to hear of Mimi’s passing six months later. In November, Margaret remembers being at church and seeing a mutual friend, Jackie Gardner. “I asked Jackie, ‘How’s John Ward doing?’ And Jackie said she thought I should call him. So I did, and he invited me to dinner at the club.”
Both widowed and alone, John and Margaret found comfort in each other’s company. They went to the movies, played tennis and shared meals. “John is a great cook” Margaret notes, “and I love to eat, so we are a good match.”
Today as they reminisce, they both chuckle, and John looks at Margaret endearingly. “It wasn’t long before I realized that I wanted Margaret to meet my family and friends. Most of her family is from Alabama, and I was getting to know them. Margaret was quickly becoming an important person in my life and I wanted my children to get to know her.”
They began a journey together, starting with a trip to Vermont to visit John’s middle son, Scott and his family in June of 2006. “We just fell in love with Vermont,” says Margaret, “the rural communities, so many outdoor activities, the open spaces, we loved it all. And the people were incredibly friendly.” They spent a day in Stowe, Vermont, playing in the mountain town, enjoying the galleries and tempting restaurants. Reflecting on that time, John reaches out to touch Margaret’s hand. “We talked about the idea of a life together, and if we ever decided to get married, that Vermont would be a great destination for a wedding.”
After traveling to Vermont, John and Margaret visited Todd, John’s oldest son and his family in Cincinnati, Ohio and then made their way to Minnesota for Margaret to meet John’s youngest son, Bradley and his family, and many of John’s long-time friends.
“It was a great trip, and everyone loved Margaret from the beginning. She fit right in, as though she had been a part of my family all along,” says John. Margaret smiles remembering that first year together, “all of our family and friends on both sides embraced us. I think they were happy that we had found each other.” By September of 2006 John and Margaret had traveled together across the U.S. and they discovered that they had many things in common. “We like to laugh a lot,” Explains John, “and we play golf together, we have wonderful conversations, we agree on politics, and we love each other’s families.”
Deciding to get married was more of a conversation than an event to this couple now in their retirement years. “When you have been married before, you know what you want in a relationship, and marriage felt like the right step for us.”
Most Memorable Details
Once John and Margaret made the decision to get married they contacted me and asked if I would find a resort on the Mountain Road in Stowe, Vermont for a June celebration. I knew John and Margaret wanted a small Vermont wedding with a location that could accommodate everyone without feeling lost in a crowd of other events. They decided on the Golden Eagle Resort and Spa, which could easily handle the 50 guests they intended to invite, the reception and activities for families. John smiles and remembers the week, “Everyone at the Golden Eagle was very helpful. They bent over backwards to make our weekend perfect for us and our guests. The food was delicious, and the cake was wonderful.” All of John and Margaret’s five children and seven grandchildren participated in the wedding. “I loved watching the grandchildren walk down the isle, and having everyone together,” says Margaret with a glow of contentment on her face, “the sun came out, the preacher was eloquent, the flowers were gorgeous, everything was perfect.”
Having close friends and family at the wedding was vitally important to both John and Margaret. The Vermont location made for a realistic two day drive for family traveling from Alabama, and for those traveling from Minnesota, Montana and Ohio a reasonably quick flight into Burlington with a scenic drive to Stowe.
Planning Advice for Future Bride & Grooms Wedding Far from Home
Planning a wedding from a distant location can be done, especially if you are lucky enough to have a willing and talented daughter-in-law already living here, but there are professional wedding planners to pull together the details. Vermont is a unique community in which nearly everyone knows each other. Use those person-to-person contacts, and once you have chosen the venue don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations for flowers, photography and a cake. Stowe, the site of John and Margaret’s event, has an array of resorts with a range of costs to accommodate an intimate gathering or a gala event and everything in between.
When John and Margaret flew to Vermont for the wedding their luggage was lost. Thankfully Margaret had carried her wedding dress on to the plane, but John’s suit was among the missing. By arriving four days before the ceremony they had time for their luggage to be found and delivered while they took care of details like getting their marriage license, and meeting with the minister, photographer and florist in person. Giving yourself on-site planning time before your guests begin to arrive will allow you to personalize the details of your event, making your Vermont destination wedding all about you.
With most of John and Margaret’s family and friends traveling from out of town, we decided to provide an itinerary of events such as the rehearsal, formal photos and the location at the resort of the ceremony. This way everyone knew when they had free time to explore the local sites.
Vermont holds a special place in John and Margaret’s hearts, and they wanted to share that with their family and friends on their wedding day. Choose a location that is special to you to make your wedding day as unique as you are.
Ceremony /Reception/Catering - Golden Eagle Resort [www.goldeneagleresort.com]
Photography- Larry Asam Photography [www.lasamphoto.com]
Officiate – Rev. Melvin Bridge, Wesley United Methodist Church
Ceremony & Reception Musicians - Jean Twombly, violinist Peter Tourin, viola de gamba Hailey Ward, violinist
Floral Design – From Maria’s Garden
Bridal Gown – Vera Wang
Cake – Jan Stuart