Fireworks lit up the sky as Lopez islanders Ross and Rebecca MacDonald were pronounced husband and wife. It was the Fourth of July, but for these newlyweds, it was an exceptional Independence Day.
“I feel like the luckiest guy in the world,” Ross said.
Though they lived near to each other, in Columbus, Ohio, the two hadn’t met until a neighbor’s Halloween party in 2015. Ross noticed Rebecca across the room and made a point to go talk to her, he said.
“He offered me a glass of wine and I only said yes because I thought he was moving,” Rebecca said with a laugh.
She had noticed his house was up for sale, Ross’s plan was to move to the west coast where he had was originally from.
When Rebecca asked him when he was moving, Ross’ response was “not until I have a glass of wine with you.”
As they chatted during the party, Ross discovered Rebeca’s daughter was working on a 4H project caring for two bee colonies and needed some assistance. Ross promised to send her the contact information of an entomologist colleague at Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio, where, as fate would have it, Ross and Rebecca were both employed.
A week after the party, Rebecca emailed Ross to thank him for the contact, and wrote: “I’d still love to have that glass of wine.”
Ross admitted he had been hoping she would say something to that effect, and did a celebration dance around his living room upon reading the words.
The two met for wine and continued on to have dinner as well. As they walked the six-block walk back toward their homes, Rebecca held Ross’ hand for a block and a half, he said, adding, “I felt like a 15-year-old on his first date. Yet I was 66 and Rebecca 13 years younger.”
While scoping out areas in Washington for Ross to relocate, the couple visited the San Juans. Lopez became their favorite of the ferry-served islands, and one particular house drew their attention. But that house was out of their price range. Fortunately for Ross and Rebecca, it didn’t seem to be selling, and as a result, the seller eventually dropped the price.
“What are you going to do now big shot?” Rebecca teased her then-boyfriend.
Ross made an offer on the house, and he said couldn’t believe it when the owner accepted.
Rebecca filled in for a teacher on maternity leave at the Lopez School District. However, for a majority of the time, her work took her elsewhere, and the McDonalds had to cope with the struggles of a long-distance relationship.
“We had to figure out how to make it work as a couple,” Ross said.
They didn’t know anyone when they first arrived on the island. To remedy that, they opened up their new home to anyone and everyone who wanted to watch the fireworks.
That party had grown steadily each time, especially this year, Ross explained.
“We sent off invitations, and I told everyone they really should come because I was going to surprise Rebecca and ask her to marry me,” Ross said.
The surprise was really on their friends, however. Rebecca had already said yes and good friend Dave Sather, a marriage officiant, agreed to wed them immediately after Ross proposed.
Ross noted that one friend was worried that Rebecca would say no and that he would be embarrassed in front of a large group of people.
“I told her I was confident Rebecca would say yes,” Ross said.
The friend remained concerned, asking, “But what if she says no?” So, Ross said he told her he would make a bet that within three days Rebbecca would be his wife. Being a three day weekend because of the holiday, his friend was convinced there was no way the couple would be married in such a short time.
More than 90 people gathered for the holiday celebration, and just before the fireworks began, Ross kneeled before Rebecca.
“I asked her two questions: one, ‘Will you marry me?’ and two, ‘Will you help me get up?’” Ross said.
As soon as she said yes, Ross was back on his feet and Sather began the service. Rebecca’s two daughters joined her side with flowers. She has three children and Ross has a stepson.
Red, white and blue cake was served along with prosecco for the adults and sparkling cider for the children.
“It was a lot of fun. It took people a while to realize what was happening,” Rebecca said.
Friends approached the couple later that evening wondering if the couple really had just got married. Ross noted that everyone was very happy for the newlyweds since they knew how they felt about each other.
“We are super thankful to be on Lopez,” Rebecca said.
”It’s a really wonderful community,” Ross said, adding, “Remember to hold out for your dreams.”