Gwen's Surprise 40th Birthday Party

01 June 2013

... The initial surprise ...

Thank you!

I want to thank everyone (around 200 people) that came to help make Gwen's 40th Birthday an incredible and wonderful surprise; and 150 more that wanted to come but couldn't, but wished Gwen a happy birthday otherwise. She was completely surprised and deeply enjoyed reuniting with all of you.

The weather was perfect, Cold Stone was delicious, the party was amazing.

Missionary serenade

We were blessed to have the local missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come near the end of the party to serenade us with the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee", and then lead us all in singing "Happy Birthday" to Gwen.

Elders Langbata and Hatch - singing "Nearer My God to Thee"
Elders Langbata and Hatch
singing "Nearer My God to Thee"

The slideshow

I originally anticipated around 50 people to show up for the initial surprise, which I planned to show an awesome slideshow I put together for Gwen for her birthday. I was happily overwhelmed when I learned that there were over 100 people and all were forced to relocate to the backyard. Unfortunately I didn't get to show the slideshow until the end of the party to the few people that were left. For the rest of you ... please enjoy "Gwen's Surprise 40th Birthday Slideshow" on YouTube.

Note: I can't embed it here nor will the video work on mobile devices, because the slideshow contains four copyrighted songs and YouTube automatically blocks in certain instances. Please enjoy it on your Computer through the YouTube website; and my apologies for the inconvenience!

I tried to fit as many people as I could from Gwen's life so far in the slideshow, and still keep it under 15 minutes. I hope you enjoy it.

This was the hardest part to work on and not blow the secret. There were several times Gwen would bring something up in conversation that would remind me of one of the photos I was digging through, so I would bring it up before I could remember not to. She would ask, "You sure have been going through a lot of photos lately... What are you up to?!"

After breaking out in a cold, hopefully invisible, sweat... I would reply, "I'm looking for my favorite picture of you that looks like a "Glamour Shots" photo from college in your (Dixie) Rebelettes uniform. I can't find it ANYWHERE, and I've about torn the house apart."

I even got her to help me look once or twice. ;)

Incidentally, here is the photo (courtesy of Jennifer Walker and Kathy Handley who have backup copies for me!) And you can see why I was looking so hard... dang, I'm not worthy of her!

Gwen: Dixie Rebelette
Gwen - Dixie Rebelette
(and Vision of Loveliness)

Thankfully the deflection story worked every time and we were able to keep the surprise intact.

Huge undertaking

This was the largest project I've ever had the pleasure of taking on, and am so grateful to so many who have helped me make it a successful and fun gift to present Gwen on this milestone birthday. I began in February 2013, inviting everyone I could find that has been a part of Gwen's life. Some of you helped me track down friends from Gwen's childhood, high school, colleges, the many places she and I have lived while married, all different stages of her life. Others helped me gather photos for the slideshow. Others helped me execute the surprise plan, including implementing contingency plans to make sure it wasn't spoiled. We had a few close calls, but we pulled it off, and it was the best! Just take one look at the surprise photos and the video above and you'll see what I mean. It was worth every ounce of effort and time put into it, and it wouldn't have been possible without all of you!

Special shout-outs

Special shout-outs go out to Amy and Nick Powell, Melanie and Kevin Banner, Kathy and Bill Handley, Jennifer Walker, Cindy and Carl Simpson, Diana and Ryan Ball for their awesome help with setup, photos and the one thing I forgot to plan for... WATER!

Thanks again!

I hope everyone enjoyed the party as much as Gwen and I did. I know some of you were able to reconnect with other friends you haven't seen for a long time, and watching those moments made the party all the sweeter for me.

So thank you again! Now enjoy some photos from the party...

All my love,


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