Celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary, Audrey and Danny travelled to Scotland, organising an anniversary shoot with longstanding friend and photographer Faith. As a surprise Danny planned a vow renewal ceremony. We love their love. It’s inspiring. And some fantastic advice for all married folks…
How did you meet and was it love at first sight or gradual attraction?
The first time we met was in the summer of 1974. We were friends of friends and both were with someone else at the time so I suppose there was no attraction. In the fall of 1974 a guy asked me to a concert. Danny with his date and I with mine went to see Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Tour here in North Carolina.
I’ll have to say sitting in the backseat of the car he was driving I kept glancing at him through his rear view mirror (FYI, he was driving a 1974 Buick Electra 225. In the US it is called “A Deuce and a Quarter” now we would just call it a tank!). He was wearing John Lennon glasses and a Panama hat over his long hair and had a beard. I don’t think I had ever been around anyone with a beard. I was very intrigued and knew what I was seeing was the heart of a rebel and I liked it.
We did not see each other again until November 1975. We had a college break and I was invited by a friend to a party at Danny’s apartment. The party was small with a few friends just hanging out. After a couple of hours I went to the kitchen to get a drink. Danny was there getting one as well. We started talking casually, I at the sink and he standing to my right. As we talked I looked up at him and as he looked down at me our eyes met. It was like I could see past his blue/green eyes and see his soul. He slowly bent down and gave me the sweetest most gentle kiss I had ever experienced.
It was fireworks and we did not stop. We wanted to be alone and actually made up an excuse that we needed some more drinks in order to leave the party. Three hours later we show up with a six pack of beer.
We both had to get back to school so we did not see each other again until mid-December. After exams, he invited me to a friend’s place for the weekend and we have been together since.
Seven months later were married. Forty years later I am still in love with my best friend.
When and where did you get married?
Audrey’s hometown, Plymouth, North Carolina, USA on August 14, 1976
What made you choose to have an anniversary shoot?
As we planned the trip to Scotland I wanted to have a photo shoot to celebrate our fortieth year together and to capture us in time for the sake of our children and grandchildren to be a testament of the value of working through, keeping and cherishing a commitment to each other.
It was going to be just a casual shoot of us having a picnic, see the sites, etc. at Balmoral. I contacted Faith Dwight, Faith Dwight Photography and ask if she would consider doing the shoot. Faith and our daughter, Lauren, are best friends and have been since high school. Faith lives in the UK with her husband and two boys. I love her work and was pleased she agreed.
And did you have any idea that Danny had secretly planned a vow renewal?
Unaware to me, Danny contacted Faith and ask her to set up an anniversary vow renewal. He finally told me two days before we were to leave and needless to say I had to repack my suitcase but I did not mind. One might ask why did I choose black? I decided after forty years I can wear whatever color I choose because at my age black is a very friendly colour.
Faith had arranged Reverend David Barr, Glen Muick Parrish Church, Ballater, Aberdeenshire. He suggested Loch Muick as the place for the event. He told us he goes there to pray. We know now why. He was and is one of the most gracious and humble man we have ever had the pleasure to meet.
Scotland was on our A list of places we would like to visit. We both have ancestries in Scotland, England and Ireland. We have a keen interest as the history and Scottish culture is prevalent in our area. Many Scots settled here in the 18th and 19th century. They come up the Cape Fear River from Wilmington and settled many areas all the way to our mountains. Still today there is a yearly Gathering of the Scottish Clans and Highland Games (gmhg.org)in the mountains close to Asheville, North Carolina.
Danny loves the game of golf, I love history so we wanted to experience the golfer’s dream and the history and culture of the people of Scotland. We arrived in Edinburgh, rented a Mercedes and took off to Troon. From Troon we drove up to Ballater and prepared to enjoy the highlands and our vows event.
We drove through Glasgow and 8 lanes of highway to six lanes to four lanes at Perth to two lanes and then one and one half lanes and gravel roads where the sheep decided if you were going to pass through arriving at Craigendarroch Resort. We were sad to leave there because we wished for just a little more time of complete rest and relaxation.
From Ballater we had a lovely drive to Cruden Bay. We were fortunate to spend the night at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel where while visiting the same hotel in 1897 Bram Stoker wrote the book Dracula inspired by Slains Castle. Danny got to the 15th hole when the wall of fog started coming in but he made it to 18.
The next morning we left and headed to St. Andrews and stayed a few days at the Old Course Hotel. We had a corner room above the 17th tee. I told Danny that I believe there are a hundred ways to say “fore” and “$#!%” in many foreign languages as the golfers hit their longshot off of that tee.
It was the most memorable trip we have ever been fortunate enough to experience. We plan to go back as “we fell in love” with Scotland.
Any advice for newlyweds?
Audrey: Marry your best friend. If your significant other is not your best friend then please establish your friendship first. Once you can look at each other and see your best friend then you are ready for a marriage that will last.
During our forty years there has been a time or two when either or both of us could have called it quits. I don’t think either one of us would have actually done that but I am just saying the pressures of life, circumstances and many things we do not have control can infect a marriage and make living together very difficult. The infection can be silent and slow or vicious and cause a rapid decline, both of which are very deadly. It is the friendship that will be the medicine that sooths and heals because the bottom line is, as speaking for myself, I could not live without my best friend.
The 3 Ds: We learned quickly the 3 Ds were important: “dialogue daily,” “date weekly,” and “depart quarterly.”
The words explain themselves fairly easily, but the first “D,” “dialogue daily,” was to make an intentional time and place to have conversation with our spouse on a daily basis despite our hectic schedules, and preferably without our children interrupting this time. The next topic,
“Date weekly” was exactly that, to have a planned and purposeful date weekly with our spouse without our children around, even if the date was at home. If it was possible to go out for the date, that was even better.
The third, and over the years I have found the most difficult of the 3 Ds to accomplish, was literally to “depart quarterly” from home, without the children (we were told not to feel badly for leaving them with Grandmother and/or Granddad, other family members, etc.), for at least an overnight stay and preferably for an entire weekend.
I have worked at this last “D” the most over the years, and as indicated it has been the most difficult to accomplish. At times Audrey and I literally went thirty miles to local hotels for “one night stands.” We have definitely have not been perfect at the “3 Ds” over the years, but they have been a bedrock of our marriage.
Over 40 years of marriage later, and approximately 30 years since learning of the 3 Ds, there is no question working (and sometimes it literally seems “work” to do the planning and preparing involved to pull this off) at the 3 Ds has been the greatest single, yet simple plan, that has helped to make our marriage lasting, strong, and absolutely “fun.”
To say that Audrey and I are more in love than ever, more happily married than ever, and better friends than ever would be a huge understatement. If you work on your marriage you can make it stronger and deeper than any relationship on earth you could ever have imagined. This strength in a marriage truly becomes the reality of what many of us expressed in our wedding vows, the matter of becoming “one flesh,” the possibility of two souls becoming as one.
The 3 ‘D’s is superb advice for married life. Anyone else? Alie x
Photographer – Faith Dwight Photography, Bedfordshire, UK
Minister – Reverend David Barr, Glenmuick Parish Church, Balloter
Adviser – Lauren West, Event Specialist, Classic Event Rental, Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Danny’s Jacket – Lamont Sporrans
Venues we Stayed at – The Old Course Hotel, St. Andrews; Kilmarnock Arms Hotel, Cruden Bay; Craigendarroch Resort, Ballater and The Marine Hotel, Troon