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February 25th, 2004 Kim Colton | Hitched
 

Wendy and Chris Powers

FEBRUARY 13, 2004

     
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You don't have to go to a karaoke bar and hear someone sing "Summer Lovin'" to realize that there's something exciting about romance when the sun is out.

And yet, as much as Grease inspires fantasies about falling for someone while on vacation, there's also something totally depressing about starting a summer fling. You know that, sadly, the fling usually ends with broken hearts and promises when it's time to go home.

For the past two summers, Wendy Watson played Olivia Newton-John to Chris Powers' John Travolta. Wendy, an Austin, Texas, native, then 23, was spending her summer as a nanny for a Seattle family. On weekends, the family would head to a beach house in Pacific City, Ore. Enter Chris, then, 30, the slightly bald, but cute, next-door neighbor. They were introduced in the summer of 2002, but it wasn't until the following year that the real flame of a summer fling was lit.

When Wendy returned to Pacific City, she went looking for Chris. And in truth, it wasn't hard to find him in the small coastal town with a population of about 1,000 residents.

Chris says it took him a little while to figure out that Wendy had a crush on him. He never considered having feelings for her, he says, because "I thought she was too good for me."

Imagine his surprise, then, when Wendy volunteered to go on an all-day fishing trip with Chris. "He said, 'You know it will be a 14-hour day, and we'll be 30 miles out into the ocean,'" Wendy recalls. No matter, she replied. She wanted to go.

The two had plenty to talk about on the journey. At a backyard barbecue days later, they made plans to meet in Olympia after Wendy traveled back to Seattle with her charges. Their dinner-and-a-movie rendezvous ended with a kiss.

Here's where Chris and Wendy's love story changes course. Usually, summer ends and the lovers go their separate ways. You know the deal. Heartbreak. Tears. Etc.

Not for Chris and Wendy. Wendy was so taken with her new beau that she didn't want to go back to Texas. She was determined to find a job in Portland as a kindergarten teacher. When she found one and broke the news to family and friends back in Austin, they thought she was crazy, yet they weren't all that surprised. Wendy insists her friends have always known she was the most adventurous among them. And so, after hearing the news, they said, "Yes, that's you."

In August, the couple flew back to Texas to collect Wendy's belongings, which included a basset hound named Dixie, and drove to Portland in a U-Haul. For his part, Chris got a job as an iron worker in Portland and headed to town to be with Wendy. By Thanksgiving, Chris had won over the more skeptical among Wendy's family. When he asked Wendy's parents for permission to marry her this Christmas, they gave their consent.

Instead of planning a wedding that could accommodate families from Texas and the Northwest, the couple decided to be married by themselves in Paris this summer. Knowing that the French ceremony wouldn't be legal once they returned to the States, the couple considered a simple, civil ceremony in front of a judge. But Wendy--always the adventurer--heard about a local radio station's plans for a pre-Valentine's Day mass wedding, and she brought the idea up to Chris. Sure, he said, why not?

So in what might seem like a minor plot point in a romantic comedy, the couple said "I do" along with a dozen other couples in a ceremony that was broadcast live on Z100 earlier this month.

But it's this summer's Paris wedding/honeymoon the couple is planning that offers a sure sign that "Summer Lovin'" needn't always be the soundtrack to a doomed romance. Or the fodder of bad karaoke.

 
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