Saturday, September 8, 2012

my life: the wedding

Currently doing a auto-bio series, hoping to reflect, learn, and grow...and for you to get to know this blogger better!  To catch up read:

The day began with me waking up in the hotel room soon-to-be-hubby had made me stay in the night before.  My last night as an unmarried woman, a bed all to myself.
I awoke and, of course, went for a run.   This is how I would start any day off wedding day should be no exception, I thought.  A good call - it energized me and gave me time to reflect.

Then it was time to go with all the ladies and get our hair styled at the a nearby salon.   This was a bit of drama, as I did not like the way it was done and got really emotional and ridiculous thought I looked like a boy.  Everyone tried to assure me I still looked feminine even with my hair in a classic french twist, so eventually I got over it and we went back to my house to get dressed.

Our amazing photographer Tracy Abston was waiting there with her assistant, to photos of all the details.

I put on my gown and shoes with the help of my sister, my matron-of-honor, and finally put on the veil.

At that moment I felt like a bride.

Then we were off to Ault Park, where we would both have the ceremony {in the gardens} and the reception {up on a hill in a gorgeous stone pavilion.}

We decided to do our "first look" and all our formal pictures before the ceremony, which turned out to be a great plan.  The lighting was great, not too sunny.  It was hot, however -- very steamy!  You can see here I was starting to get a bit 'melty' in my gown.    Ladylike, I know.

Then, the sky darkened.  Everyone started to get a bit nervous.  The weather report that morning had said only a 20% chance of rain.  The odds had seemed to be in our favor.

But rain it did.  Near the end of our photo session.  Most of the wedding party had left already, but a few of my sweet bridesmaids and my family was still there.  All my nearest and dearest got drenched.  The photographer and all her equipment got drenched.

I, the bride, was spared, however.

My friend Rachel's wonderful parents sacrificed their own dryness to give me their large black umbrella.  The only umbrella anyone brought.

I might have been upset, but the situation was too comical.   Plus, we got photographs that are completely priceless to me.  I will never forget that moment, under the umbrella, watching the scene unfold.  Ladies' makeup running.  Perfectly styled hair ruined.  Dresses soaked.

Thank God the bridesmaids' dresses were black!

Everyone kept a sense of humor about it all.  {I have amazing friends and family.}

The rain stopped and everyone made their best attempt to salvage hair and makeup, because soon it was time for the ceremony.

The white chairs were set up in the rose garden near the wooden arched trellis crawling with flowers and vines.  The wedding party and I would soon make our grand walk down the huge expanse of lawn amidst the flower beds and all would be just as I imagined it.  Birds singing, music playing.

Or not.

Down came the rain.  Again. All the chairs drenched.  No end of it in sight.

I did not witness this, as I was up at the stone pavilion, in the ladies room with my sister and my dear friends Rachel and Lindsay, preparing for the ceremony.  I had no idea about the downpour.

Apparently everyone made a pact:  "Don't tell Greta anything is wrong!"

Also, someone, very intelligently said, "Get Greta a glass of wine."

Did I mention I have amazing friends and family?

Rachel came in the restroom with a glass of chardonnay.

My sister told me calmly, "It is raining but don't worry, they are moving all the chairs up here and it is going to be absolutely beautiful!" In fact, many people kept coming in and reassuring me.  I just sipped my wine and nodded.

Any other day this lack of control and complete turn of events would have crushed me.  But what could I do?   I had spent nine months planning this day, each detail.  I had been in control...but now I simply wasn't.  God had decided to bless us with "lucky rain."  What could I do?  The ceremony would have to be moved.  What could I do?  There would be no grand walk through the gardens.  What could I do?  Nothing would start on time.  What could I do?

So I sipped my wine in that bathroom, let everyone continue to assure me everything was going to be great, and practiced my vows.
Outside the bathroom door was pandemonium.   The chairs were all moved not once, but twice.  They ended up just inside the stone arches, because the rain was not letting up.  Guests were even helping move chairs.  Drying off chairs.

The musicians and vocalists, some lovely folks we knew from church, finally were able to set up and start playing the pre-ceremony music.  Guests started to finally be able to settle down into seats.  Programs were handed out by my two handsome brothers, who then escorted our families - in to their seats at the front.   Those were the things that mattered.   Having all our family and closest friends gathered closely around us as we made the most important vows.  The rain was merely an unexpected bump in the road.

Although our stroll up the aisle was much shorter than I would have liked, it all came together.  The service began with singing, everyone singing, a few praise songs.  I really wanted our ceremony to be God-focused...and although some may have found it time-consuming, I loved it and felt so connected with my family, friends and Jesus while we sang together.   As a pastor's daughter I had grown up singing in church and youth group, both in church, at youth events, and around countless campfires.  Music has always moved me, and on my wedding day it was no exception.

My father, of course, led the ceremony.  His message coincided with our 'wine theme.'  One of our Bible passages was the account of the wedding at Cana, which ends with, I think, the most apropos verse for our day, "...but you have saved the best wine until now."  To me, besides being the first of Jesus' miracles and a classic New Testament account, it was a metaphor for our romantic lives:  when it came to our relationships, we saved the best one for last.  For forever.

In his sermon, Dad talked about Paul and I being "juicy grapes" and how our lives and relationship with Jesus would only get better with age.  He even brought a cluster of grapes from the farm I grew up on, which he gave to Paul and I to sample during the ceremony.  In my eyes and heart it was all very meaningful and perfect.

Instead of a 'sand ceremony' or unity candle, we chose to take communion together, taking our wine from a wine glass.  Again, to keep the event focused on not only our relationship with each other, but also our relationship with God.   While taking holy communion is something that moves me every time {I tear up every Sunday} it was particularly meaningful and emotional that day.

Our vows were written by us, and spoken from memory.  Paul's were longer and poetic and amazing.  Mine were short, sweet, and to the point.  There were tears from both of us.

It was a longer ceremony than probably most are used to, but I wouldn't go back and change one thing. We were pronounced man and wife and walked down the aisle together.  A marriage six years in the making...

Everything after that is kind of a blur, but I'll tell you the memorable parts...

A beautiful little speech from my dear sister, and verrrrry long speech from the best man.

Dancing with my loving and wonderful father to Annie's Song {I grew up listening to John Denver with him.}

Drinking a lot of wine.

Lots of people drinking a lot of wine.

Dancing!  It was an amazing party for many of us.  Most memorable songs:  Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy and Thank God I'm a Country Boy.  I adore that so many got out there and got buck wild!  Those are, very truly, my kind of people.

One of the groomsmen taking my sweet little Gram for a spin on the dance floor {John, she still remembers and loves that dance!}

Getting very sweaty from all the dancing.  And my dress getting very dirty.

People leaving the reception with full bottles of wine in their fists, as the barkeeps had decided to open them all preemptively.  Whoops.

Piling into one of the courtesy taxis we had hired, a box with the top layer of our cake on my lap, and heading to our hotel after an amazingly fun night.

Ordering pizza.  Of course.

Even now...with Pinterest and everything else...

I would not change one detail.

Even the rain.
Here are just a few pics from the day...

Thank you for a beautiful five years, love...