Jim Hamilton and Michelle Thomas both grew up in San Luis Obispo, both attendedSan Luis Obispo High School (albeit, at differenttimes),and she even lived next door to a closefriend of his. And yet, the two had never met –until 2004, when their paths finally converged.Michelle was celebrating a friend’s birthdayat San Luis Obispo’s Mission Grill. Jim was therewith a friend.
“I thought he was the most handsome guyI’d ever seen,” Michelle recalled.“She had a huge smile when we first caughteyes,” Jim said. “I can still picture the exactmoment like it just happened.”Michelle was the one to break the ice. Aft ershe introduced herself, the conversation andlaughs came easy. The two resolved to meet for adate the following week.
“It was after that date that I called my bestfriend and told her I just went on my fi rstdate with the guy I was going to marry,” saidMichelle. “I just knew.”
Aft er dating Jim for two years, Michellebegan to feel anxious about their future together.Little did she know, he was already looking for amemorable way to propose.He decided a trip to San Francisco wouldbe the right opportunity. “I wasn’t sure exactlywhen or how I would pop the question until Ispotted a rooftop garden at our hotel with viewsall around the city” he said.Michelle was taken by surprise when Jimgot down on one knee, uttered the famouswords and presented her with a ring he haddesigned himself.“She just hugged me and said, ‘You did it!’which luckily meant ‘yes,’” Jim said.
Both Jim and Michelle knew they wantedto be married in their hometown. Th ey alsowanted an outdoor setting that was romantic,yet relaxed. They decided to tour the DallidetAdobe gardens in San Luis Obispo where bothof Michelle’s sisters had held their weddingreceptions. One stroll down its tree-lined brickpaths, and the couple knew it was the right placeAlthough they hired an event designer,Elegant Details of Santa Maria, to pull togetherthe wedding arrangements, both Jim andMichelle were equally involved in planning.They pored over bridal magazines together,attended wedding fairs and spent hours withtheir event designer. Michelle, who acknowledgedshe wasn’t a “fussy bride,” was glad forothers’ input. She even asked her bridesmaids tochoose their own gowns, all in the same shadeof espresso brown.
“I know a lot of grooms kind of take a backseat in the planning process, but I couldn’timagine making all these important decisionswithout Jim helping me every step of the way,”she said.
The Big Day
On September 21, 2007, the night before thewedding, a rare early autumn storm sent downshowers just as the couple was preparing fortheir rehearsal dinner.“I didn’t sleep at all that night,” Michellelamented. “I remember waking up every twohours and running to the window.”Rain continued to fall on the morning ofthe event. But an hour before the 12:30 p.m.ceremony, the clouds lift ed and the garden wasbathed in sunshine.
“The morning was kind of chaotic, andI was focused on the weather,” Jim recalled,“but after the clouds parted, I was just calm. Iwanted to absorb every moment.”Michelle’s nerves were equally rattled, evenafter she had donned her gown and waited inthe bridal tent. But when the time came, shehugged her mother, took her father’s arm andbegan to feel more at ease.
Jim recalls being overcome with emotionat the first glimpse of Michelle. He immediatelysensed her anxiety and hoped to calmher fears.
“I wanted to make eye contact with herand acknowledge how great everything turnedout, how all of our worries didn’t come to be,”he said.
The ceremony was very traditional, yetthe couple found ways to personalize theday. Their officiate was Jim’s brother, JohnHamilton, who had been ordained throughan Internet site. Th e couple selected photos ofthemselves at various stages of their lives andhung them throughout the garden. They alsoassembled a cart of their favorite candies sothat guests could take home a sweet mementoof the day.
Even the reception fare, Santa Maria-stylebarbecue, was a form of self-expression. “It’swho we are – we’re not super fancy,” explainedMichelle. “A party for us is having a barbecuewith our friends.”
By the time, the couple left for their honeymoonin Maui, the stress of the event haddissipated, replaced by warm memories. Theywere even able to see the silver lining in therainstorm that threatened their day.“When the sunshine poured in, in a way itmade me appreciate the day even more,” saidJim. “Of course, marrying Michelle in a downpourwould still be my favorite day.”