This love story started with a simple question between two old high school friends when Annie called Michelle and asked, “What would you think about being set up with Marty’s best friend’s dad?”
Annie Konkus’s son, Marty, is best friends with Jackson Simon, who lived next door with his single dad, Mike. Annie had a feeling her next door neighbor might be the perfect fit for her friend Michelle, who was also a single parent raising two young boys. Annie put on her matchmaker hat and started showing each of them the other’s Facebook page, making sure to bring up hobbies and qualities both shared.
With Annie on the job, it didn’t take long for both parties to agree to meet. In order to get things rolling, the two couples planned on doing a double date.
“Annie gave Mike my number. He called and the rest is history,” says Michelle. “We didn’t even need to start with a double date because we had an instant connection.”
Six months into their relationship, the couple traveled five hours south from their hometown of Columbus, Ohio, to Lake Cumberland, near Jamestown, Ky. Mike regularly traveled down to Lake Cumberland several times a year to visit friends and hang out at the lake. This time, he brought Michelle to introduce her to the houseboating lifestyle for the Lake Cumberland Thunder Run, an annual powerboat poker run. The couple stayed on a friend’s houseboat and during a sunset cruise, broached the subject of marriage for the first time.
“The night was perfect with the sunset stretched out across the entire lake,” says Michelle. “That night on a houseboat we decided if we were ever going to get married this is how we would do it.”
The following February, Mike got down on bended knee and asked Michelle if she was still willing to take a chance on the conversation they had eight months earlier. Of course, she readily agreed, and, one year after meeting, the couple was officially engaged.
The couple was completely serious about having a houseboat wedding. Looking forward to the upcoming boating season, they started brainstorming possible dates. The couples’ combined five kids had sport commitments, a family vacation to Maine scheduled for July, and the kids would need to be back to school by the end of August. They decided on a June wedding, which meant a short engagement filled with planning.
You can imagine the bride’s dismay when she Googled, “catering near Jamestown” and the first entries were KFC and Taco Bell. Not excited by the thought of putting out buckets of greasy chicken for her guests on her big day, she reached out to Debbie Schumann and the team at State Dock. The couple previously arranged to rent two 90-foot houseboats from the Lake Cumberland marina and now needed some guidance on the resources available nearby.
“Fortunately, Debbie led us in the right direction and we couldn’t have done half of what we did without her,” says Michelle. “She suggested a caterer who was able to do everything from the food to the cake, to the linens and flowers.”
With Debbie’s help, all that remained was to hire a photographer and the couple had everything taken care of.
The plan was to marry at sunset on Lake Cumberland on the top deck of a houseboat and it went off without a hitch. The two boats departed at dusk to the middle of the lake where the boats were then tied together so everyone could witness the nuptials. Michelle had her hair done and got dressed on shore, but she didn’t want to miss the party while cruising out. So she threw on her shorts and tank top and mingled with friends and family on the cruise out to the lake. Right before the ceremony, she donned her wedding dress and joined her man in front of their 85 guests.
They said their vows as the sun set over Lake Cumberland. Their kids, Michael, 17; Emily, 13; Jackson, 11; Trace, 9; and Tanner, 7, enjoyed front row seats for the event. The caterer set up cocktail tables for guests to stand around during the ceremony. The bride’s concerns that people would not be able to see were quickly laid to rest with everyone agreeing it was one of the best weddings they had ever attended.
A destination wedding on a houseboat was exactly what Mike and Michelle had in mind and, luckily, their respective families were able to partake in the fun. The group of 40 spent Thursday through Sunday hanging out on the boats as they prepared for the big event.
“Our wedding was more than a ceremony; our extended families got a vacation out of it,” says Michelle. “Mike’s parents kept telling us that having their entire family—kids and grandkids—on a four-day vacation was the most special thing.”
The families weren’t the only pleased participants. Mike and Michelle’s friends from Lake Cumberland, their “boater family” as the couple affectionately call them, didn’t need to be asked twice to stay at the lake for the weekend.
“All the boaters appreciated not having to leave the lake for the weekend,” laughs Michelle. “As you know, boaters don’t like to leave the lake for much of anything during boating season.”
Now the wedding is over and the Simons are busy building their lives and blending their families together. While each had been married previously, the couple know how fortunate they are in finding one another.
“With us, I think the second time around we look at things differently,” says Michelle. “We’re older and wiser and realize small petty things don’t matter. Because we’ve both been through rough times, we knew exactly what we wanted. Spending the rest of my life with Mike was an easy decision.”
As the couple prepares to celebrate their first anniversary, their kids know exactly how they should celebrate, by renting a houseboat on Lake Cumberland, of course.