It’s a love story on a grand scale — five siblings marry in the temple on the same day and share their celebration.
Earlier this year the five Waldie siblings —ages 20-28 — were each dating a “special someone.” As the relationships progressed toward marriage, their dad suggested that if they were all going to get married soon, perhaps it would have to be a joint wedding and reception.
“Doug suggested it as a joke,” said mom Kristen Waldie. The Mormon family lives in Mesa, Ariz., in the Mesa Arizona Citrus Heights Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Not a joke,” said dad Doug Waldie, “more of a necessity.”
The oldest sister, Emily, started off the chain of events by getting engaged at Disneyland to Will Allen on March 24. They had met after he had moved to Arizona from Utah for work.
Her sister, Sydney, had met and fell in love with Doug Schaub and they were engaged April 16. During their courtship they had a healthy dose of University of Arizona vs. Arizona State rivalry going until he finally proved to her he could let go of his U of A ties when he proposed in Sun Devil Stadium.
Then two of their brothers — Bradford and Walker — joined in when they each proposed to their sweethearts on April 21. Each brother claims he was the first. Bradford, who was attending school at Oxford, was in Prague when he asked Megan Turner to be his wife, so the time zones were on his side. Walker asked Jillian Alger on the same day in Arizona.
Walker said Bradford and Megan didn’t tell anyone for three days so it didn’t count.
“There’s a little bit of competition between us,” explained Bradford.
“I did it first, no matter what he says,” added Walker.
As the family began making plans for four weddings, it seemed to make sense to combine them into one big event.
Originally the family considered having separate weddings on different dates, said mom Kristen Waldie, but adds that with family members out of state and some out of the country, there was no way they would have the time or money to fly in for each other’s weddings and son Bradford would be reporting to pilot training at the end of August and wouldn’t be able to attend later ones.
Then sister Brooke and Todd Cook jumped in by becoming engaged June 12. She recalls warning Todd that if he proposed before the “mega wedding” then she would say no.
“I kept thinking more and more about it and realized I needed to have my family at my wedding so later I told him we were going to have to join the big day,” Brooke said.
Although they met some resistance, the five siblings and their future spouses moved forward with making plans (in person and on Skype) to share their day on Aug. 10.
Megan’s family was planning a reception in Washington for a week after the wedding in Arizona.
“I considered that my fall-back reception,” she said. “So if I didn’t feel like I was getting my special day, well, then at least I had that.”
But she said the event went “better than I ever could have imagined.”
One by one the couples were married in the LDS Church's Mesa Arizona Temple; three back to back in the morning with a break for a luncheon and then two more in the afternoon.
“Our sealings were so individualized,” Megan said. “Then we got to sit back and watch the others; the power of unity and family was overwhelming. The event just showed us how important that is.”
“We do tend to do everything together," said dad Doug Waldie, the father of eight children — another one is married, one just started at Brigham Young University and one more is at home. “We’re the ones who would take all eight to the grocery store. But I never thought they would each give up their special day; they did it to be together.”
The Waldies say there are surprised at all the attention they received – from newspaper coverage to TV spots on local and national news.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this big,” said Kristen Waldie, who made four of the five cakes and most of the food for about 1,200 people at the reception, sewed special folders for those who received all five invitations and took care of many other details.
“My wife has an uncanny ability to not sleep,” Doug said.
“But I didn’t do it alone,” Kristen said. “We have a huge support system. During the last two to three months I don’t think there was a day that went by that I didn’t have someone call or come by and offer to help.”
The reception was at a large Air Force museum and signs were hung in different areas designating each couple’s space. They still had their own special dances, photos and cake-cutting but enjoyed the celebration together.
“I’m so glad we did it like this,” Jillian said. “The reception was so fun, just a big party. It was greater than I ever expected.”
Walker Waldie said, “What was most special was seeing everyone together in the temple. If we hadn’t done it together we wouldn’t all have been in the temple together.”
His sister Brooke agreed. “Down the road I won’t remember all the details but I will remember who was there.”
“There was a lot of happiness that day,” she added.
Jill Adair is a freelance journalist in Mesa, Ariz., and an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.