Life seemed to be going as planned for Will St Onge. A caddie for Klara Spilkova, a player who was coming off a medical exception and looking forward to a solid rebound in 2020, St Onge was also excited about getting to work after a break in February. He also had special plans for the spring.
“Maria (Carter, his girlfriend) and I had gone to the Philippines in January for mission work,” St Onge said. “It was my first time being there. We spent five weeks there.”
Maria, who works for Golf Channel and is on the road at most LPGA Tour events, has family in the Philippines. Her mother is a native Filipino and Maria goes on mission trips to the islands often.
Once she and Will returned to the states, his plans crystalized. “I went back home (to Connecticut) and then went back to visit Maria in March in St. Augustine (Florida) because we were going to be traveling together to Phoenix (for the Founders Cup),” St Onge said. “We left (for Arizona) a couple of days early because we were going to spend some time in Sedona. That’s where I planned to propose to Maria.”
But, as we all know, things changed.
“We were in the Atlanta airport and got a text that the first three events (back in the U.S.) might be postponed or canceled,” St. Onge said. “When we got confirmation, we turned around the went back to Jacksonville.
“Maria and her sister Anna lived in a house in St. Augustine near the beach and I went back and stayed on the couch at their place,” he said. “We spent a month (of lockdown) there and I really couldn’t figure out when to (propose). Finally, her sister’s fiancé was coming in and our paster and his wife, who is Maria’s best friend, were going to meet us at the beach. So, I asked if they could come a little early. That’s when I proposed and Maria accepted.”
Bell Rock in Sedona would have been a perfect backdrop. But a beautiful day on the Atlantic shore wasn’t bad.
Then the questions for the couple became: When, where and how do we get married?
“We had thought that we would get married just before (The Lotte Championship) in Hawaii,” St Onge said. “That was before the COVID cancelations hit so that idea was shot. So, not only was it a question about when we could do it, but also a question of who could be there and what it would look like. There was a lot of uncertainty.”
They originally wanted about 150 friends to attend a traditional service. COVID shut that down.
“Maria just decided that the only thing that mattered was that our parents were there,” St Onge said. “We decided to do it on the second of July in Connecticut where I’m from. My dad and his sister share a lake cottage and they said we could use it. Maria’s parents came up and her sister drove up from Florida. We had a beautiful summer wedding ceremony on the dock in front of nine adults and three children.
“Our paster was on an iPad on a music stand at the end of the dock. So, our paster married us from afar, which is not legally binding. But my aunt, who is a justice of the peace, came over the made it official after the fact. We then synced the phone to a small speaker and danced on the patio. Neighbors cheered us from next door.”
Not only is the couple happily married, they have a story to tell their grandkids about how it all happened.
“We had no idea what to expect and pulled it down to the absolute minimum,” St Onge said. “It was wonderful. There was a rainbow the night before over the lake when we had a rehearsal dinner. And we had the service early, about 10:00 in the morning. Maria was going to have her friends do her makeup, but they had a group Facetime instead. The people who would have been bridesmaids got together with her online and talked to her while she got ready.”
The newlyweds now agree: the most joyous events in life are the ones you make with those you love, regardless of the circumstances.
“I know this has been a tough time, but it has to be most exhausting for people getting married,” St Onge said. “But we were fortunate. For us, despite everything, it was just an awesome time.”