Sarah LeMien and Travis Dean will not arrive at First Church of Christ in Redding in a horse-drawn carriage on August 9, nor will they arrive on horseback, Ms LeMien has decided.
“It’s hard enough planning a wedding, without throwing in horses,” she exclaimed.
But without throwing in horses, there might not be a wedding in the works, she admitted.
It was a brief ad in the “Late Classified” section of The Newtown Bee that caught the eye of the Sandy Hook resident one September day in 2012: “I have two aged geldings — and I am looking for an experienced rider to trail ride with. Once or twice during the week early morning (be at my barn by 7 am; home by 9 am). Maybe a Saturday or Sunday when my daughter isn’t around. I’m on Easton-Redding border…”
“I’m horse crazy. I can’t get enough of horses,” admitted Ms LeMien.
A rider since she was 5 years old, Ms LeMien had sold her own two horses when she started college, but the UConn English major still sought out opportunities to be with and around horses. The September 2012 ad grabbed her attention at a good time. She had answered another Bee ad previously, riding for that horse owner until that family moved away. Although she was already exercising two other horses, “I wanted another horse to ride in my free time,” she said.
She had no idea in answering the second ad, placed by Cindy Dean, that she had put her life on a whole new trajectory.
“I met with Cindy and we got along. She would talk about her daughter and her son sometimes, while we were riding together. One weekend, her son was visiting from Boston, where he was in school. His little dog, Annie, went with us on the ride,” recalled Ms LeMien.
Pretty soon, Ms Dean was talking about Annie, and what a well-trained and wonderful dog she was. Ms LeMien was a little surprised when Ms Dean starting going “on and on about ‘Travis is going to be such a good father some day.’ She kept talking about all these wonderful things about her son,” said Ms LeMien.
It was not off-putting, but she started to wonder if her riding partner was trying to set her up with the son. “I had a boyfriend, and I honestly thought it was a little lame that a guy would have his mother set him up,” she said. She just nodded and kind of blew off the thought. But in the next couple of weeks, Travis seemed to slip into their conversations, whenever Ms Dean and Ms LeMien were on the trail.
“Then, she told me about a family tradition for Thanksgiving morning, of taking the horses out for a ride,” Ms LeMien said. This year, though, the daughter, Megan, was occupied with her own husband’s side of the family. She asked if Ms LeMien would be interested in taking part in the ride.
“I’m thinking, me and Cindy. But two days before Thanksgiving, Cindy says she can’t make it. She asks, ‘Do you want to ride with my son?’ I thought, well, it could be fun,” Ms LeMien said. She had briefly met Travis on one of his weekends home. “He’s my age, and I knew he was cute. That helped,” she laughed.
She was impressed, first of all, at how well Travis rode, a trait she appreciated. Before she knew it, the two had been out riding for an hour and a half, twice what she and Cindy normally would do.
“We just clicked. Then, we sat outside for three hours and talked, until his mother called out that they had to get going. So I went my way,” said Ms LeMien.
It was not too many days, though, before she ended an already rocky relationship with her boyfriend.
“I just had to see [Travis] again,” she confessed. Knowing that he worked at the Maple Row Tree Farm in Easton on weekends, she began stopping by with a cheeseburger or coffee “and talking.”
By Christmas break 2012, they were seeing each other every day, and officially dating. “We were crazy about each other,” she confessed.
That crazy-in-love feeling saw them through his move to Colorado after graduating from North Bennett Street School in the spring of 2013. “He’s a goldsmith, so I understood he had to find work wherever he could get it. Goldsmithing is kind of a dying trade,” she pointed out.
In December of 2013, they decided to make the relationship permanent. “We were engaged that December,” she said, and she joined him in Colorado.
When her fiancé found work in Stamford, they returned to Connecticut, and began planning for their August 9, 2014, wedding.
“We’re very happy and I’m very blessed. I think of all the things that led up to this. Sometimes, I miss my horses and wish I hadn’t sold them. But then I wouldn’t have been looking for horses to ride or seen that ad. I would have passed right over it. It’s funny,” Ms LeMien mused, “how the little things conspire to bring you to where you’re supposed to be.”
Currently, Ms LeMien is working at Palmer’s Market in Darien “doing a little of everything. I do some advertising and promotion, the off-site events for catering, and I’m trying to set up an e-commerce site.” She is fairly certain that Palmer’s, known for its elaborate and beautiful wedding cakes made on site, as well as its gourmet catering kitchen, will fit the LeMien-Dean wedding into its busy schedule.
“My boss is my mother-in-law to-be,” she said. “Cindy not only found me a husband, she got me a job in the family business. And all I wanted to do,” said Ms LeMien, “was to ride horses.”