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A Little Love Story

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The Story of Robert and Michelle Little’s Journey to Elope on San Juan Island

The San Juan Island Inn Collection hosts private elopements for couples who want to say, “I Do,” just for two. Little did we know what type of story would unfold when Robert and Michelle called to book their fall elopement at the Tucker House Inn. Now that’s a love story. They had a few requests – a beautiful setting and a real time live video to share with their family back home. We could easily deliver on a breathtaking backdrop particularly during the warm summer months.

weddings at the harrison house But this was November in the Pacific Northwest! Mother Nature was a real consideration. South Beach, while stunning, could easily whip the couple off the beach. Reuben Tarte with its northeast exposure might cast an unflattering shadow in their wedding photos. We suggested Lime Kiln State Park with its spectacular views of Haro Strait, the Olympic peninsula and Vancouver Island and a light house to offer shelter in the event of weather. 

Lime Kiln State Park is located on a rugged rocky outcrop on the west side of San Juan Island. Cell phone service is spotty at best and if you do sustain a connection it is often from a Canadian tower. We considered a live facetime, skype or facebook video but in the end Robert and Michelle didn’t want to chance a real time video stream in such a remote location. They opted for a professionally produced video along with a set of photographs so they could share their special day with family at an after party in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

So after nailing down a few other details regarding the cake and flowers, the date was set, November 17, and Robert and Michelle were ready to travel across the country to Friday Harbor for their big “adventure”. 

weddings on san juan island Not So Fast

Robert was realizing a childhood dream – to marry his sweetheart in a beautiful destination. Both had never been west of Chicago. When their Wednesday flight out of Dayton was cancelled due to freezing weather in the Midwest they decided to drive across the country. He called to ensure that their honeymoon suite, the Friday Harbor Suite was pet-friendly as they would now be traveling with two of their five dogs. They drove dodging winter storms and ended up in Minneapolis. 

Legal Formalities

Robert called Thursday morning to let us know they were still on schedule despite the weather delays. They thought they would make better time if they drove through the night. Robert and Michelle were going to rest for a few hours and get up and drive. They were worried they read the courthouse website incorrectly and wouldn’t have a marriage license for the wedding. We assured them that they could still have the ceremony. They could do the legal marriage formalities another time.

weddings on san juan island A Night in the Hospital

On Friday morning they called to say they hit a deer in Fargo North Dakota and totaled their car. They spent a night in a hospital. They were going to rest for the day, get a rental car and continue their drive later that evening. There’s 1,500 miles between Fargo and the Anacortes ferry terminal. 

No Photographer?

It was clear they were going to miss their Saturday wedding. We contacted Didier, the officiant, to check on options for rescheduling their ceremony. It was a tricky time as we were bumping up against the Thanksgiving holiday. We contacted Erin the docent at the lighthouse. She was leaving Sunday but would try to find a friend who could open the light house on her behalf. Lindsey, our in-house photographer was flying back East on Monday morning. We called three other photographers and serendipitously found Casey who happened to be on-island finishing a photo shoot. 

We spoke with Michelle and Robert to let them know we had everything rescheduled for Monday afternoon and that they should aim for the 8:25 p.m. ferry on Sunday. 

So Close, Yet So Far

Michelle and Robert called Sunday afternoon. They were still a few hours from Seattle and weren’t going to make the last ferry on Sunday. They were in danger of missing their rescheduled elopement. We suggested they drive to Anacortes and stay the night close by the ferry. They could be here first thing. Michelle was nervous about this plan and thought she would be too stressed for the wedding. 

weddings on san juan island The only other option was a chartered plane. We told them to keep driving toward Seattle while we worked on the plane. We needed to find not only a pilot but an aircraft that would accommodate their two dogs. San Juan Airlines to the rescue. We coordinated their flight departure with their anticipated arrival by ground. They drove to Boeing Field where the chartered plane was waiting. They arrived on the island at 11 p.m. Sunday.  Zed from Bob’s Taxi was there to greet them when they touched down in Friday Harbor and drove them to the Inn. When they arrived, we had midnight snacks in the refrigerator of their suite. They made it!  They were on-island for their elopement. 

In the frenzy of getting them in the plane in the dark, Robert left his keys in the plane. We tracked them down and they were delivered by San Juan Airlines before the ceremony. 

weddings on san juan island Picture Perfect Wedding at Last

Monday, the day of their wedding, was a picture perfect fall day. The two married with the sun shining over them in front of Lime Kiln Light House. It was a beautiful setting – a private ceremony in a place they had only imagined and dreamed about. They had multiple chances to cancel since leaving Dayton on Wednesday, yet they were resilient. Their determination tested our logistical resourcefulness to provide options at every step of the way. We helped them realize their dream. This is love.

Post Script:

As soon as they arrived, they immediately fixated on their return trip logistics. They decided to leave on Thursday to get back to Boeing Field to pick up their car and then drive to Fargo, North Dakota. 

On Thanksgiving, Kenmore Air and all the other air charter and rental car companies were closed. Their only option to get to Boeing Field with two large dogs was an Uber from Anacortes to Boeing Field. 

When they postponed the wedding, they weren’t able to stay the entire time in the Friday Harbor Suite as it was already rented for the holiday weekend. We blocked another pet-friendly cottage so they could stay five nights which was their original plan. When they decided to leave on Thursday we unblocked the cottage and it was quickly booked.

After they realized that transportation to Boeing Field was dicey on Thanksgiving Day, they changed their minds and decided to stay in Friday Harbor for the night. Unfortunately, we had no pet-friendly rooms left. They checked out and called around and couldn’t find another pet-friendly establishment with availability. They returned their rental car and headed to the ferry to Anacortes. Their plan was to stay the night on the mainland. 

As luck would have it, we had a cancellation for a pet-friendly room as they were about to board the ferry. They made their way back up the hill for their last night. They headed to the ferry on Friday morning and picked up a rental car in Anacortes. Their plan was to pick up their rental car that they left in Boeing Field on Sunday night and drive to Fargo. And this is where their story ends.

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