• 66°

Well Worth the Wait

Patience is not one of Melissa Gates’ strong suits. That is an admittance she will readily make. But in the case of her wedding, she says it was well worth the wait.

“It was beautiful,” the former Melissa Myers says. “It couldn’t have been simpler, nicer. It was exactly the way I wanted. It was really good.”

That wedding came May 21 at Mimosa Ridge. But Melissa had been waiting on the day for more than two years.

“I knew (that I wanted to marry Michael) right before he left for basic (training),” Melissa says. “Before then I was leaning that way. But I knew for sure when he left for basic.”

That was in May 2008. The couple started dating in 2006, not long after Melissa graduated from high school. Nearly two years later, Melissa knew she was ready to marry him. Michael, on the other hand, felt the couple had some hurdles to clear.

“I had to see if she was going to stick with me,” Michael, a member of the Air National Guard, says. “That is a long time away from home, six weeks for basic and two months for tech school.”

So Michael went off to basic training at Shepherd Air Force Base in Texas and he waited for the letters to begin arriving.

“The only thing that gets you through basic is letters from home,” Michael remembers. But for the first two weeks of his time in Texas, no letters came. Michael acknowledges he was getting a little bit worried.

“I was scared to death. I wasn’t what I would call supportive at first. But once he got over there, I started getting used to it,” Melissa recalls. “It took me a good two weeks before I could sit down and write letters to him.”

Once Melissa finally started writing letters, she didn’t stop. She sent correspondence each day over the next several weeks, easing Michael’s tensions and the ribbing he had been receiving from his peers.

After basic training, there was tech school. The couple talked about getting married, but there was not yet a ring involved.

Michael finally resolved that May 13, 2009, a date he remembers well. He carried the ring around in his right pocket for most of the evening, remaining scared that Melissa would notice it or otherwise become suspicious. He eventually popped the question and Melissa moved one step closer to having the wedding for which she had been waiting for a year.

“We changed the date a couple of times,” Melissa says. “It was originally going to be a garden wedding in July. But then we read an article about Mimosa Ridge. I wanted to do that just because it would take some stress off my mom.”

So after three years of dating and waiting, Melissa and Michael left the stress of wedding planning up to someone else.

“They gave us a good bit of leeway with it,” Michael says.

“The colors were easy to coordinate,” Melissa adds. “Flowers were easy to process once I decided what I wanted.”

All in all, the preparations for the wedding proved to be a remarkably simple experience.

“There were times that we had a lot going on with the Guard,” Michael explains. “If we didn’t do (the wedding) through (Mimosa Ridge), I wouldn’t have made it.”

The wedding grounds also offered a nice neutral territory for the merging of two families that Melissa says are stark contrasts.

“It was good because it was a mutual ground for both our families,” Melissa says. “Our families are so different.”

And with Mimosa Ridge handling all of the arrangements, that freed Melissa up to worry when the wedding day came and severe weather struck.

“I was not even aware of the weather until we got on the road over there,” Melissa recalls. “The girls were there first. The girls were the ones that had to actually drive through it.”

The late afternoon hours brought hail stones and even a tornado. But, ultimately, Melissa would get her wedding.

“It was beautiful by the time the ceremony rolled around,” Michael says.

And by the time the ceremony finally rolled around, Melissa had exercised a little bit of patience. •