The Elopement Plan:
We became engaged to be married in 2007, and have been enjoying and building a wonderful life together, looking forward to being married much sooner than 2013, but every time we considered plans for our wedding, we got jammed up over the details of when, where, who and how. We wanted to keep it simple, and while we would have liked to have family and friends present, we also didn’t want to inconvenience anyone with having to travel to be with us for just a few hours- least of all to Niagara Falls! Within the past year we started talking elopement more seriously, and at some point, Niagara Falls became Julie’s fantasy destination. As recently as a few weeks before our trip, we still had reservations about the time and expense of our plan, but decided to have faith, bite the bullet, and make it happen.
We are grateful to God that all the details and preparations, great and small, fell into place so beautifully, and on Sunday afternoon, September 22, we loaded up the car and headed for Niagara Falls!
We broke the trip north into two days: On Sunday we drove from Raleigh to Fayetteville, West Virginia, then Monday to Niagara Falls. It was the longest, yet also the easiest trip we’ve ever taken. Before we mapped it, we were anticipating traveling I-95 and other Eastern routes through D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City, with horrible traffic. We didn’t realize that Niagara Falls is in the western part of the state. The route we took, via I-74, I-77, I-79 and I-90, arced to the west, and was beautiful, particularly through West Virginia, and traffic was light most of the way. We hadn’t made any plans for dinner or lodging for Sunday night, but our Higher Power and Google lead us to the best pizza we’ve ever had at Pies & Pints, in Fayetteville, WV, and a nice motel just down the road that serves a free breakfast of waffles, eggs and sausage! We stayed there again on the way home!
After a hearty breakfast on Monday morning, we headed onward to Niagara Falls. It was a long (about 9 hours) but surprisingly easy drive, and we arrived at our destination as the sun was beginning to set.
Monday Night, September 16 at Niagara Falls:
Julie had originally booked a suite at a nice hotel on the Canadian side, until we learned that we needed passports to go there (and didn’t have time to get them), and while our spacious room on the New York side didn’t have a view of the falls, it was actually nicer, because it was away from the downtown congestion, with a beautiful, serene view of the Niagara River. After checking in, we went to have dinner at Michael’s Italian Restaurant, and were struck by how old, beat-up and sleepy this part of town seemed- not what we expected. But dinner was good, and we headed straight to Niagara Falls State Park to check out the falls. The falls were amazing, but the spot we visited didn’t provide a good view, and there were chain link fences and orange cones for construction improvements. We walked around that part of the Park for a while, and agreed that it wasn’t as pretty as we had hoped it would be. When we got back to the hotel, Rob was particularly crestfallen, but soon came around to Julie’s more positive view that we would certainly find a nice place to get married the next day, and she was right!
Tuesday, September 17:
First stop on Tuesday was Niagara Falls City Hall for the Marriage license. It was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the upper 60’s, and everything looked better in the morning. The town has that wonderful gritty character of many older northern cities, with lots of interesting architecture. Given its reputation as a wedding destination, we joked about getting in line at the Clerk’s Office, but we actually had the whole place to ourselves, and everyone was very friendly.
After getting our license, we had a quick lunch at Donatello’s, and were off to find a wedding site. We had a blast walking nearly every part of the State Park, and wow- our disappointment and worries of the previous night were completely unfounded! Abundant beautiful views and overlooks of both the main falls and the equally spectacular Horseshoe Falls! Spot after spot of beautiful places to get married, and we found the best one: just down the trail and away from the crowds at Horseshoe Falls! We were so happy and relieved!
Next we headed to Office Max to get a card reader for our photos (we forgot to bring one), Watson’s Chocolates for Wedding Chocolates (very important!), Wegmans Supermarket (the size of a football stadium) for Julie’s bouquet flowers and some other goodies, and Target for Julie’s pedicure flip-flops. Then back to the hotel to regroup, and found Chu’s Chinese for Wedding Eve Dinner. It was a long, productive and wonderful day!