Planning an entire wedding can be quite the under haul, even for the most organized and dedicated of brides. But try juggling those wedding plans on top of writing a book chronicling your recent seven-month sabbatical in London retracing your grandmother’s and grandfather’s real-life love story from 1946, and it’s nearly impossible.
“I found 110 love letters that my grandma wrote to my grandpa in 1946, from January to July,” Carly Butler, 29, explained to GoodMorningAmerica.com. “I went over there and would open the letters a week in advance and do things she did and write about it.”
Butler’s now-husband, Adam Verheyen, knew how busy she would be trying to plan every little detail for their upcoming nuptials that were intended to take place May 24, but instead of having his bride be stressed to the max, he decided to take matters into his own hands.
The couple, who got engaged while Butler was overseas, was supposed to have an engagement party with their whole family after she returned home to Leamington, Canada, in August. But unbeknownst to the bride and the majority of the attending guests, that party had secretly been upgraded to a full-blown wedding, with the groom planning the entire extravaganza.
“I think he probably knew he’d be planning it anyway,” Butler said of the elaborate surprise Verheyen, 31, miraculously pulled together. “He brought it up first to my parents and asked, ‘What do you think she’ll think?’ They all talked it over and thought, ‘She’ll like it. She’ll go with it.’ He just knew it would be OK with me.”
The morning of what she believed was their party Aug. 3, Verheyen had Butler read a hand-written letter explaining what the day actually had in store for her.
“There is no effort in loving you. It’s like I was born to do it,” she read aloud in the sweet wedding video capturing the magical day. “For the last few months I have been planning an engagement party with several people, mainly your mama, to allow all our friends and family together to see us engaged.
“What I am trying to tell you,” she continued reading aloud, “is that today is not our engagement party. It is our wedding.”
Once the initial shock and awe wore off and the bride-to-be had time to process what was indeed happening, she was relieved.
“I was relieved in a way, once things got underway,” she recalled. “He knew he’d be planning the whole thing anyway because I wanted to focus on writing this book about England. And nobody else knew. The venue was his uncle’s house and they didn’t even know when they saw that white awning go up.”
Butler, like many other brides, said she had a little bit of a breakdown, but as she started getting her beautiful hair and makeup, she was suddenly at ease with the entire day, except for a few minor tweaks she wanted to make to Verheyen’s plans.
“I changed the bridesmaid’s dresses they had chosen,” she said. “I just said, ‘You know what? Just wear a little black dress.’ The other one was that I just wanted a casual bouquet. So we fixed that.
“Other than that, I wouldn’t have changed anything.”
The rest of the groom’s plans went off without a hitch, including his grand entrance into the ceremony on a motorcycle, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I was excited and also like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is so crazy.’ And that’s why he’s so perfect for me. It wasn’t until 4 p.m. that we actually got married. I was relieved, happy, excited and also shaking my head a bit.”
It was ultimately the happy couple’s trust and love for each other that made the day so perfect, along with a shared Pinterest board that Butler believes Verheyen must’ve gotten plenty of ideas from.
Butler added, however, “If you ask brides what the most important part of their big day was, it’s that we were surrounded by the people we love the most.”
That’s exactly the sentiment the surprised bride is writing about in her blog, Life’s Letter, not only detailing her grandparents’ love story from World War II, but also her surprise and unsuspected journey toward “I do” herself.