There are no words to describe how honored I am to share Marlise and Ben’s story with all of you today. Submitted by the bride herself (a referral from the lovely Lauren of Every Last Detail), this beautiful, classic vintage wedding was brilliantly photographed by DnA Wylie Photography.
Marlise and Ben’s story touched me in ways I cannot even begin to describe to you. What this couple went through on their wedding day and the days that followed is unimaginable. The strength of their love was put to the test and not once did it waver. Their faith in knowing they would face whatever came their way together is inspirational. I can truly say that my life has been changed by their story. Marlise’s words resonated so deeply within me that I have decided to let Marlise tell her story in those exact same words. It is my sincerest hope that you will read each and every single one as I did. I realize it is a bit long, but I promise you, it’s worth it. This is a story of strength, love, and faith that rocked me to my core. Open your heart, as I have done, to Ben and Marlise.
It was January 15, 2011. The start of a new year, fresh beginnings, and the day of my long-anticipated wedding. Everything leading up to that moment had been perfectly planned. I had taken my time in finding “Mr. Right,” opting to travel the world and live abroad while those around rushed to the altar.
Due to my detailed list of “must-haves,” many thought the qualities I longed for in a husband could never be found in just one man. I wanted him to be artistic, fashionable, bilingual, sensitive, passionate, cultural, and a man of faith. He needed to have a good sense of humor, a passion for cooking, be musically talented, and enjoy the great outdoors; someone who could surf or snowboard would be a bonus.
I was 32 years of age when I met Benjamin Myers three years ago. We were both hired by a start-up television network where he worked as Art Director and I as Content Manager. Several months into the job, I learned that Ben had been raised in Spain as the son of missionaries. The fact that I previously lived in Spain, and was also raised by missionaries (from Africa), immediately piqued my interest.
Born in Texas, Ben moved to Zimbabwe with his parents after they graduated from a Bible College in Dallas. Ironically, my parents attended the same school, at the same time and actually met his parents in 1975. After two years in Africa, Ben’s family moved to Spain where he was raised until the age of sixteen. Returning to the States, he attended high school in Seattle while I was in Spokane and then went to study music in Germany while I was living three hours away in Switzerland.
Our paralleling paths triggered uncanny similarities that reached far beyond the lands where we had lived. We both spoke German and Spanish, and embraced a European lifestyle consisting of late dinners void of processed foods. Instead of watching television, our favorite pastimes were surfing, hiking, racquetball, and camping. Our tastes in music could not have been more in tune. The more I learned about Ben, the more I wanted to know him better.
On our first date, it was my intention to impress him with my cooking skills. I knew that he played the guitar, so I asked that he bring it along. His magical voice left me speechless, not to mention scatterbrained, and suddenly my fear of culinary failure left me turning to him for assistance. Within an hour Ben had created scalloped potatoes, steamed artichokes, baked tomatoes, and seared ahi on a bed of tortilla strips topped with basil vinaigrette and caramelized onions. I nearly pinched myself (and him) to see if I was dreaming.
That evening we sat in the backyard, watching the stars from a 2-seater Adirondack that overlooked the pool. “This is nice,” I told him. “I’ve never really done this before.”
“Done what?” he asked. “Sat on the couch?”
“No,” I said. “I’ve never sat in my backyard.”
Over time, I shared deeper aspects of my life and how I was driven by pressing deadlines and endless work. This seldom left time to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. This all changed abruptly when, a few months after we met, the television network where we worked went bankrupt. This gave Ben the perfect opportunity to teach me how to change my hectic pace.
What started out as panic about tomorrow turned into peace about today. Our lives were filled with adventure from surfing and tennis to snowboarding and cooking. Each night we made a point of watching the stars from what he appropriately named, “Ben’s Couch.”
While Ben supported himself by creating websites, my freelance writing assignments took me around the world as a travel journalist. It was during this time that I coauthored several Fodor’s Travel Guides for Random House and Ben produced his first solo album, Colorblind.
Last year, our “non-routine routine” came to a screeching halt when Ben was offered a position with one of the nation’s top advertising agencies. Despite his efforts to fight the traditional 9-5, Ben accepted the fate of societal norms with the hopes of someday providing for me. As an independent woman, I never asked him for material goods but rather just wanted to love and be loved. My family thought it peculiar that the question of marriage was never raised, yet I knew it was simply because we had both learned to live in the present rather than dwell on tomorrow. Or so I thought.
That October, I received a call from a friend asking that Ben and I attend a bonfire at Ponto Beach, which also happened to be our surf spot. “Dress to impress,” he added. “There will be some music producers there from LA who are interested in meeting Ben.” The following day, Ben came home from work, grabbed a stack of his CD’s for the “producers,” and we were off to the beach. The sun was setting, the air was still and we were completely alone. Ben suggested we walk onto the jetty and wait for the others to arrive.
“What’s that?” I asked pointing to the water’s edge. “It looks like a couch. It looks like our couch.”
My first thought was that someone had stolen our furniture and for some odd reason, decided to carry it across a peninsula of boulders. The closer we got, the more I insisted that it was in fact, “Ben’s Couch.” There it was perched on the jetty, surrounded by water on three sides. As the sun melted into the sea, I looked down to find a bottle of champagne and two glass flutes. And then, I knew.
Taking my hand, Ben bent down on one knee and asked, “Marlise Elizabeth Kast, will you be my best friend, my lover and my wife for as long as I live?”
He opened a small box that cradled a stunning diamond ring, one he had personally designed. Wrapping my arms around his neck, I whispered “yes” into his ear, and began to cry. I couldn’t believe that I was going to be Mrs. Myers.
Within a week of Ben’s proposal, we had found our wedding venue, Twin Oaks Garden Estate located in San Diego County. Nestled among a towering 100-year-old forest, the property featured a garden gazebo, rose arbors, cascading waterfalls and a historic Victorian Schoolhouse dating back to 1890. The four-course dinner would be served in a tented pavilion of gathered chiffon and crystal chandeliers. We were immediately sold on the idea of having a vintage-chic wedding until we learned that the only available dates were in mid-January or in the year 2013. With less than three months to plan the big day, we signed the contract, both pleased with our decision to marry sooner than later. For a total of $10,000, we would have the wedding of our dreams.
That following week however, I was offered a writing assignment that required me to travel to Mexico. At the time I was frantically meeting another deadline on a travel guide about Bolivia, making it impossible to focus on wedding plans. We lost an entire month of planning due to my workload, and we hadn’t even thought about wedding invitations. Fortunately, Ben had the ingenious idea of creating a paperless wedding invitation that would include a video and website to be sent electronically.
Admittedly, when he first showed me storyboard sketches and introduced his idea, I was unsure about the Charlie Chaplin concept. But within two days, Ben had recorded the footage (with his iPhone), edited the film, and had built an entire website from scratch. The end result turned into this which generated a flood of positive feedback from our 75 guests. Responses were instantaneous, allowing us to create our final guest list within a week.
From that point on, every wedding detail fell into place. With an eye for fashion, Ben suggested we keep the wedding colors timeless and classic by sticking to black and white. This made planning simple, right down to the flower selection of black calla lilies and white anemones.
Rather than have a large wedding party, we decided to ask Ben’s brother to be the best man and my sister to be the matron of honor. Our niece and nephews would serve as the flower girl and ring bearers. Since both our father’s are ministers, we would have them officiate the ceremony together. Live music would be provided by Ben and his dear friend, Tad.
At the time, my sister Heidi, who was eight months pregnant, feared she wouldn’t be able to find a dress suitable for the wedding. Together we headed to a maternity store where she tried on three black formal dresses. Her first choice was originally $350, marked down to an astonishing $35. When we went to pay for the dress, it was discounted by an additional 95 percent, meaning the dress cost us a whopping $3.50.
Each day was filled with such blessings, making the planning virtually stress-free. As January 15th approached, we were thrilled to learn that months of nonstop rain had thankfully come to an end, and we would in fact, have blue skies and near 80 degree weather for our wedding.
The ceremony was scheduled for 3:30. Hair and make up would take place at my house between 10:30 and 1:30 and we would arrive at the venue in time to dress for the 2:00 photo shoot. Little did I know, none of that scheduling would come true. Just moments after the stylist began my hairdo, my stomach started cramping, I broke into a sweat and then began to shake uncontrollably. I tried to hide the pain, pretending to be strong for fear of creating panic in those around me.
Symptoms quickly worsened, to the point I was soon curled up in bed, writhing in pain and convulsing. The clock was ticking and no one knew what to do. Ben and his two sisters knelt by my bed. The pain increased and the vomiting began. My sister Heidi rushed over and insisted we head to Urgent Care. It was now 12:30.
With my sister driving, Ben sat in the backseat and held back my hair. My eyes were bloodshot now from the projectile vomiting. I was led into the examination room while Ben and Heidi filled out paperwork. She had been resolute until she saw Ben write in his relationship to the patient as “husband.” The doctor diagnosed me with a urinary tract infection, which seemed implausible giving my degree of pain. I was quickly administered two shots of antibiotics.
Meanwhile, my parents who were already at the venue, started making arrangements with the wedding coordinator and photographers to delay the ceremony until 5 o’clock. As we left Urgent Care, Heidi called my mother to let her know the wedding would go on as originally scheduled. It was already 2:30, exactly one hour until the wedding. By the time we reached the venue, guests were arriving and I had yet to start getting ready.
Somehow, every detail was perfect, including the song Ben sang taken directly from the pages of our two journals. When he vowed to love me in sickness and in health, I knew he meant it because of what we had already endured.
During cocktail hour, the photographers worked with the minimal light they had left in the day. They took us to a small orange orchard beside the estate and managed to take all of our wedding photos in less than twenty minutes. It was there that I collapsed, knowing that the pain I was feeling was much more than a urinary tract infection.
Other than our families and the photographers, no one realized that I had been sick. Between the dancing and cake cutting, I made secret trips to the bathroom, now suffering from both nausea and diarrhea. The night came to an end and virtually everyone said it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever attended. As we drove away in our “just married” car, I could feel my stomach swelling which caused my dress to cut into my skin around the waistline. Without complaint, Ben spent our wedding night pulling out bobby pins, telling me everything was going to be alright.
The next day I lay in bed wondering why the pain was only getting worse. As our dog gently rested his head on my stomach, I suddenly sat up and screamed in agony.
Calmly, but without a moments hesitation, Ben said, “Get in the car. We’re going to the hospital.” That evening the ER was completely full, which meant that I spent the next 8 hours on a gurney in the hallway. Ben sat on a stool beside me, taking the only spot where he wasn’t in the way, which happened to be in front of the drug supply room. Each time medication was requested, he had to wheel away. Neither of us slept a minute that night due to the beeping monitors and new patients being rushed into the ER. We saw every sort of trauma imaginable, ranging from broken bones to a drug overdose.
Matters only worsened when I was admitted as an in-patient. Five CT-scans, two urine samples, three blood tests and one ultrasound later, the doctors still couldn’t determine what was wrong with me. We were scheduled to leave on our honeymoon the following day and no one could give us answers. Each night, Ben would lay beside me in the hospital bed, telling me we were going to get through the pain together. By day six, it was determined I had an infection in my fallopian tubes, curable by heavy doses of antibiotics and a drain. The procedure however went horribly wrong when the infection spread from my ribcage to my pelvis, causing me to go into shock and my blood pressure to drop to 60/40. The next several days were spent in PCU where nurses battled to lower my 103-degree temperature. I was also informed that the damage that occurred could cause infertility.
It was difficult to share the news with Ben, especially because I knew how much he wanted to be a father. With tears rolling down my face, he kissed my forehead and said, “My main concern right now is getting you well. And, if it turns out we can’t have children of our own, then we’ll adopt.”
I could not have loved him more than I did at that very moment. Two days after I was released from the hospital, we finally went on our delayed honeymoon––a week of snowboarding in Mammoth and a week of surfing in Mexico.
The next trial we will face comes in two weeks when tests will determine if we can have children naturally. Oddly enough, my heart is at peace, simply because I have a man who loves me no matter what might come our way.
I cannot even begin to imagine what that day was like for them. Or the days that followed. A true testimony to love, strength, and faith is in these two. And looking at the photographs of these two, you wouldn’t know. You wouldn’t know how much pain Marlise was in or how worried they both must have been. Because she is radiant. Her smile is so bright and full of life, nothing could rival it. And you can see just how very much in love Ben is. It’s in his eyes. He’s so full of love and you can see that he would do absolutely anything for her.
It brought tears to my eyes to hear how he pulled the bobby pins from her hair and told her everything was going to be alright on their wedding night. How he stayed by her side and laid with her on that hospital bed fighting right along with her. How he told her his main priority was getting her well. That is devotion. How they finally met after all those years of paths that almost connected. That is destiny. The words he used to propose… made my heart stop. That is Marlise and Ben. And that is true love. It’s everything Heart Love Weddings is all about. It’s everything that I am about. It’s from Marlise’s words (and from someone very close to my heart) that I coined the phrase: “Don’t just live in the moment. Love in it.” Marlise and Ben are a true testament to that phrase.
As for the details of this beautiful day? Where do I begin? Wow. The venue is just incredible. The tented pavilion of gathered chiffon and crystal chandeliers were simply stunning. The colors and flowers, so very simple yet timeless. Her dress, so very elegant. She was radiant. And together, Marlise and Ben were stunning. There is nothing more beautiful than a man and woman in love.
Marlise and Ben, my heart goes out to the both of you. Your story has touched me and changed my life in ways you cannot imagine. Congratulations on becoming husband and wife! We wish you both so much love, strength, and faith in the years to come! I know you’ll face whatever comes your way together, hand-in-hand, as you’ve already done. I sincerely hope that only good news and good things are ahead of you! Thank you for sharing your story and touching the hearts of so many.
Wedding Dress: Something Blue Bridal Boutique