The path of love isn’t always smooth.
Just ask Rose Ficco.
Growing up Italian, her mom a seamstress who was skilled at creating beautiful wedding dresses, Rose dreamed of a traditional “big wedding” – the dress, the flowers, the guests.
When she and partner Sam Fahmy decided to get married, they opted for something that was relatively new, back in 2003: a destination wedding. They chose Cuba as their dream destination.
The date was set for Oct. 27. Family and close friends were invited.
“I made an arrangement with a hotel in Cuba, and coordinated our wedding, as we needed to get our marriage license and find someone to marry us,” Rose remembers. “We purchased our tickets, bought wedding outfits for our bridal party, and for Sam.”
But then their plans unravelled. Rose’s mom fell ill before the wedding dress was finished – and their landlord gave them notice: a family member was moving back, and Rose and Sam had less than a month to find an alternative place to live.
There was no way they could pay for both a wedding and still come up with the first-and-last month’s rent for a new place – or pay for new furnishings.
They decided to invest in the long term. They cancelled their Cuban wedding and found another place to live, but as Rose says, “We started off with totally zero.”
They did get married, a month later than originally planned – but it wasn’t anything like Rose’s dream.
Driving past the Scarborough Town Centre on a day off, they decided to drop in and ask about a civic wedding. An overly enthusiastic staffer not only welcomed them but immediately booked a ceremony before a Justice of the Peace.
It was a rainy Thursday. There were only six guests – no family, just friends who happened to be available at short notice.
The JP terrified Rose. “He reminded me of Sam Kinison, a comedian who used to scream when he performed. When the minister spoke to us, he too was loud and not so friendly,” she says. By the time they were pronounced man and wife, she was sweating.
The ceremony itself took only six minutes.
“Now what do we do?” Rose remembers thinking. “It’s raining. It’s a crappy day… It wasn’t ideal.”
Rose and Sam decided to take their startled guests out for lunch – but it was still so early in the day that the only nearby restaurant, The Old Scott House, was closed. Rose knocked on the door, explained the situation, and fortunately, a soft-hearted manager welcomed the newlyweds and their party inside for a modest wedding celebration and brunch.
“I think my husband had liver and onions,” Rose says.
That was 19 years ago, and she still laughs about her “dream wedding.”
The marriage has endured – even surviving another “curveball,” as their 10th anniversary approached. Planning to renew their vows with all the ceremonies they missed the first time around, celebrations were once again put on hold when Sam suffered a serious motorcycle collision.
He was sidelined for 10 months. Rose cared for Sam during his rehabilitation, still managing to commute to work – until she lost her job, in December.
It was all pretty devastating. “Panic struck, and at no point were we in any mood to plan a wedding,” she says.
Through it all, through all the ups and downs, Sam and Rose have stuck together, grateful to have each other. Sam has been employed by a school board for the past 14 years; Rose has been self-employed since 2016, making her world-famous Rose’s Fiscotti biscuits.
“We’re each other’s best friend,” she says. “He’s my rock, I’m his rock.”
Laughter and a sense of humour are part of the glue that has held them together, and the “best medicine” for tough times, she says.
Now, as a 20th-anniversary approaches, they will have another opportunity to hold the wedding they never had. There are no plans as yet but, Rose says, “We have hope!”
And if it doesn’t happen? Well, she says, after all, which is more important? A wedding, “or the rest of our lives?”