Saturday, July 7, 2007

And so it is...

(It should be noted that it was my full intention to capture every memory of my wedding as soon afterward as possible. However, six days later, this drive from San Francisco to Yosemite with my husband [woo-hoo!] at the wheel is my first chance to write. The day after the wedding was filled with a gift-opening, then a lunch with the in-laws, picking up the pooch from the kennel, unloading wedding gifts, then a barbeque to send off some out-of-towners. Sunday was an all-day scatter to prepare for the honeymoon. Then every day of the honeymoon so far has been so fun-filled, that the idea of staying awake at night to chronicle my memories was more exhausting than the day’s activities. Thus, I hope my recollections of the day are still as crisp now, because this entry is serving the purpose of one day being able to “relive” the emotions of such a day. This will be long. )

In true storybook fashion, I awoke to the sound of birds chirping outside my bedroom window. At my mother’s, where central air is laughable, a window propped open with a ruler is the only viable cooling option for nights that don’t drop below seventy. Yes, in an attempt to be somewhat traditional, I slept at my mother’s, while Patrick slept in our hotel suite. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Waking up in my childhood bedroom painted as purple as the roses in my bouquet began my day of transition. Despite the fact that it’s completely untrue, I felt like I was waking up in that room for the last time. As much as it feels like nothing has changed, it also feels like everything has changed. By choosing to change my name, I feel like I have chosen to leave Emily [Maiden Name] behind. I retain all that I was, keeping myself whole and true, as well as my memories, but somehow still feel like I have a clean slate to build an entire life as Emily [Married Name]. It’s rather surreal. Much like the rest of my wedding day. Although it was completely unplanned, I spent the rest of my morning mourning Emily [Maiden Name]. My alarm was set for seven thirty, but those birds in their natural wisdom woke me at six thirty. I laid in bed allowing the realization of my wedding day finally being here to wash over me, taking deep breaths and trying to relax away my tense muscles and slight headache, until seven. My mom was still asleep, so against my inkling of doubt, I left my pajamas on and started walking. I figured it would help my tension slip away. The walk became nothing short of ritualistic. I walked past the church where I was baptized and confirmed; I walked to my elementary school and hopped on the swings. Swinging through the amazingly clear sky, I thought about my dad and I cried. Surprisingly, this would be the first of only two cries that day. I walked home (which wasn’t far, as my church and elementary school are both less than two blocks from my home) and did yoga in the backyard until the neighbor lady came out in her pajamas to water her plants. We exchanged pleasantries and I went inside, telling her I’d see her later, as she was of course coming to the wedding, having known me since I was a baby. Inside I ate breakfast and went upstairs to wake up mom. Already awake and taking out her curlers, she received the obligatory, “I’m getting married today!”, but I did not fall flat on my face (Friends reference).

We both got dressed and ready, loaded up the cars, and headed to the reception hall to drop off essentials (votives, cake service, guest book, photographs). We drove separately, as we would part direction after. I stopped at a local coffee shop, one of my previous haunts, for some morning sustenance. I was apparently glowing when I answered “I’m good” to their question of “How are ya today?”, because I felt the need to tell them it was my wedding day after their inquisitive looks. They helped me decide what would be best, then gave it to me for free. God bless locals. Almost immediately at the reception hall, we ran into my future mother and sister in law, as they (as well as darn near everyone else) were staying at the hotel that was also said reception hall. They helped unload, and later set up. When I brought my luggage up to the room, I found my wedding letter from Pat. Because we had decided not to write our own vows, we agreed to write a letter to each other expressing how we felt. Reading his letter alone in my hotel room was the second time I cried. I gathered my senses, then went back to the lobby. I rang my sister down from her room, as I was picking her up, then we went to pick up Kristin, literally my oldest friend (three or four years old I believe we were). The strength of our friendship, like most lasting twenty years, has come and gone like waves over the years. It is currently one of the best relationships in my life and I hope it stays that way forever. Few people have touched me like Kris has. She has that effect on most people. Anyway, the three of us drove to another friend’s childhood home, as we were arranging flowers as a group there. (Her parents were also gracious enough to let us have our rehearsal dinner there the previous evening. They are very generous and loving people whom I adore.)

Another fabulous friend, Suzanne, agreed to be in charge of flower-arranging. With actual floral experience and a penchant for being bossy, she did her job perfectly. The flowers (assorted roses and nothing else but prairie grass to accent the corsages and boutonni√®res) were amazing. Other than being ridiculously cheap, it was very fun working together on something important. Later, Suzanne’s expertise would prove very beneficial when the groom’s rose dropped its petals mere minutes before the ceremony. She had prepared a second for just such an occasion. Sigh. No one appreciates preparedness more than me.

After all flowers were arranged, watered, labeled, and boxed for pick-up by yet another wonderful friend, “the girls” and I met for lunch at Olive Garden. I say “the girls” with utmost love and admiration. The women who surrounded me on my wedding day are mine, wholly influential friends whom I love without restraint. Only one other friend should have been there that day, but circumstance made it a tricky proposal. Because this is for my purposes alone, I am taking liberty to ramble whenever I feel like it. So, for my sake:

Les. My “big” sister who is hands-down the best matron of honor anyone could ever ask for. As she mentioned in her perfect toast which will be described later, she and I are closer now than we’ve ever been, despite her living 800 miles away. She is strong, brave, smart, wonderfully devoted to her husband of nearly two years, and the single-most charming person I’ve ever met. I’d gladly give my life for her, and I’m pretty selfish, so that’s saying a lot.

Jen S. My “other” sister. Jen is the friend who has been adopted into our family as one of us. She is as close to my sister as she is to me. Each of us now being in different states makes no difference to the strength of our bonds. Jen migrates to our home for the holidays, as her own is not even worth mentioning. She has a spirit that radiates into every aspect of her being, proven constantly by her many, many thriving friendships. I am proud to call her my best friend.

Kristin. Mentioned earlier, Krissy Dee (as only I am allowed to call her) has been in my life for nearly as long as I can remember. With her, I have memories that cannot be rivaled. In addition to all of the extraordinary events we’ve shared, she will forever be my friend if for no other reason that she was there when my dad died. There in every way a friend could be. My other close friends no doubt would have been if they were yet in my life, but they weren’t. (Jen lived in FL at that point.) Kristin is the most giving, loving person ever. She doesn’t have a selfish bone in her body. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Heather. It was Heather’s parents who opened their home to me and mine during such an intimate time. Heather is just like her parents in that respect. She is the friend who you can call when you just need to vent or pray or laugh or be bored with. And for reasons beyond me, no one gives good advice like Heather. She will also tell you when you’re wrong, or when you’re being unfair or stupid. She can be extremely honest when you need it the most. I hate that, but in a good way. Heather helps me to be a better person.

Angie. Ah, Angie. Angie is one of my kindred spirits. Though I hold all of my friends in highest regards, not all of them can I say I connect with on some odd level I will never understand. Angie and I are altogether 100% different and 100% the same. Never have I had a more rollercoaster like friendship than I have with Angie. Just like a rollercoaster, it thrills me to laughter and tears at every turn. There are some things about me that only Angie knows and vice versa. Not because we don’t judge each other, because we do and openly (yes, there’s a story), but because we might as well, as we often read each other’s minds. Life is boring without Angie in it. I know this for fact.

Jen B. I have told Jen many times that if I could switch lives with any one of my friends, it would be hers. She laughs every time, as I’m sure she has her trials as does everyone else, but she is completely admirable in every respect. She is a good mother who will surely be receiving many phone calls from me in the coming years, an amazing wife, one of the absolute most organized women I’ve ever met which she proves daily at both her editing job and her mothering job, and frankly, inspiring to all of the women in her life. Oh yeah, and I’m the godmother of her youngest son, which is an honor that still brings me to tears. If you don’t know Jen, you want to; if you do, you are extremely blessed.

Suzanne. I didn’t like Suzanne when I met her. Having now been her friend for eight years, I now know why: she is very intimidating. In our college group of friends, it could be argued that we pick on Suzanne the most. More than likely, this is because she takes it better than any of us do, but also because she has so many endearing qualities, we can hyperbolize them and poke fun. She does things I am afraid to do without even batting an eye. She tries. She tries new things, then tells you about them with remarkable passion. Despite this, she has a vulnerable side that is just as endearing. It brought me great joy during grad school to accompany Suzanne to the grocery store, because she was afraid to go alone. That’s love.

Anne. Anne is super-special because she is the reason I have my husband. Anne was a junior when I was a freshman, and I have looked up to her ever since. Even though sometimes she’s clumsy, Anne is the most graceful person I’ve ever met. She is smart, funny, beautiful, basically every guy’s dream. It is only by the grace of God that the guy who captured her heart also happened to be Patrick’s best friend. Despite that obvious connection, Anne is inspiring because she follows her dreams. Even though she had a lucrative job with a national company, she quit to get her PhD. Another friend with bravery I know nothing about.

Ellen. I miss Ellen. Having moved to Ohio after her marriage four years ago, Ellen is an elusive friend. I am very blessed that she was able to come home for my wedding. She couldn’t make it three years ago to the “summer of weddings” (three weddings in nine weeks), but did come for Suzanne’s wedding two years ago. We hadn’t seen her since. Like with all good friends, during the two days we spent together, it was like she had never left. Five years ago, Ellen gave me a magnet for my birthday that read, “My world is better because of you.” It is on my fridge now and forever, because it reminds me of my dear friend Ellen who lives so far away. Her heart is so pure, however, you can feel the friendship from Ohio.

Molly. Molly was not with me that day at Olive Garden, but was there the night before and the night of. Molly’s new. She doesn’t belong to any group of friends; she and I don’t have a history of stories to reminisce about for hours; and we didn’t go to school or on any trips together. She is just my new girl. I have so many great girlfriends, that for a while, I didn’t think I’d have time/emotion/etc. for another. I haven’t “made a new friend” since early college. Molly is proof that kind of thinking is ridiculous. Having worked together for two years, our friendship bloomed like a morning glory. Thankfully, however, it won’t close like one. We clicked. I would be so bold as to put her into the category of kindred spirits. No other explanation exists for how comfortable I felt with her so quickly. Except for maybe that she’s an amazing woman from whom I can learn a lot. I feel like I have known her forever.

Wow. How blessed am I? And I even have more friends; these are just the ten that I can’t live without. Sure, Les is family, but she’s still a friend to the core. I’m very lucky they were all available to spend my wedding day with me.

So, there we were at Olive Garden, enjoying never-ending soup, salad, and breadsticks, with a cute waiter, and they all decided to share what they liked most about me. To be honest, I don’t remember what everyone said, but I was extremely touched by each. We laughed, we ate, we celebrated in a way that annoyed all tables around us. A high school friend came over to offer congratulations and a kiss on the cheek. It was a very special lunch that will never be forgotten. I worried momentarily that my mom might be hurt that she wasn’t invited, but then I dismissed my worry because these moments were meant to be spent with the women who have grown with me. And even though my mom and I have an exceptional relationship, it is a relationship that is unlike any other. She is my mom, first and foremost, our friendship comes second. With these women, the friendship comes first.

I don’t want to leave anything out, but it is only lunchtime on a very full day and already I have rambled on and on. To preserve some sense of editorial ability, I will condense the next portion of the day. From OG, we went to J.C. Penney to have our hair done. Yes, all ten of us. I was at first disappointed that we weren’t all sitting next to each other (I apparently have no clue how this salon thing works), but we all looked beautiful at the conclusion of an hour and a half. The stylists at JCP are geniuses. We were served baklava and juice, and they put up with our yelling across the salon at each other. I will send them a thank you note.

From there, it starts to blur. Once I saw myself with a bridal hairdo, including a veil, I suddenly realized this was all real. All theories and concepts of my wedding were suddenly materializing into actual fact. I felt like I was going to puke, and it wasn’t because I ate five breadsticks at lunch. It wasn’t cold feet; it wasn’t worry (as everything I had previously been freaking out about had been taken care of); it was just an emotion I’d never felt before. It was an intense anticipation of what I was sure would be the crowning moment of my life so far.

We went to my hotel room to get ready together. Jen B. so lovingly ironed my dress, Heather did my make-up beautifully, the photographer came to take pictures of us, and everyone hustled and bustled (literally in some cases) around me until suddenly it was mere moments until the limo arrived. Suzanne and Jen helped me into my dress and shoes, Les put on my necklace, and then the great reveal. I looked into a mirror, and I was a bride. It was breath-taking. Not because I looked so wonderful (although I did), but because it was like seeing someone else. Everything had come together so perfectly, it was shocking that the moment was almost here. But it was. We got into the limo and drove away. When we came back, I would be a married woman. Wow. I don’t remember what we talked about in the limo, but I’m sure it was fun. The ceremony site was beautiful and set up almost perfectly (a couple flower pots needed to be moved). The boys had done a great job. (As this chronicles my wedding memories, it does not include the details of my enfianced and his circle of friends. They spent the day golfing, then doing everything I asked of them including picking up, setting up, and taking down many wedding details. They were awesome.)

Once there, we took pictures, ate sandwiches, and waited. When Patrick showed up, I was hidden from his view. Les led him by his hand while he kept his eyes closed, so he could see me all at once in one moment. It was an indescribable moment. I only hope he feels the same. More pictures, more waiting. Pastor Steve arrived. The marriage certificate was signed, and everything started rolling. My bridesmaids and I held hands and prayed behind the mill (the wedding was held at an old stone mill) while wedding guests arrived. As we lined up for the big show, it all came rushing forward.

My mom walked me down the aisle, so she was standing waiting with me. We told each other I love you, teared up a smidge, and hugged. Anne’s husband Josh turned to look at me before he walked down the aisle. The way he smiled at me and gave me the thumbs up started me going. But not crying. I was certain I would be a sobbing bride. I made sure Heather used waterproof mascara even. But what came from my mouth was not sobbing; it was giggling. The anticipation I had since I saw myself in the mirror all bubbled out as a clear expression of joy. I giggled all the way down the aisle. And once my mom gave Patrick my hand, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Pastor Steve had wonderful messages and great things to say. I’m told both the flower girl and the ringbearer provided some form of entertainment. But all I could focus on were the eyes of my beloved. His voice was strong and unwavering as he recited his vows. Mine was the same, I hope. I would occasionally glance over his shoulder and lock eyes with one of his groomsmen, and they would make me smile even bigger with a wink, smile, or raised eyebrow. We exchanged rings; we were pronounced married; we kissed; we recessed down the aisle. It went so fast I honestly don’t remember it all. We chose not to video record it, but I don’t care. It was perfect. I felt it and could also see it on the faces of my friends and family as we left.

We suffered our first hiccough as a married couple when the limo got blocked in. A guest who had arrived late took a convenient parking spot instead of a wise one. Patrick had to get out and walk back to find the owner so we could leave. All was well, however, as one of my new sisters-in-law came to visit me in the limo. We chatted until Molly showed up to take my picture. Then Molly and I chatted. It was just a funny little thing that was really the only thing that “went wrong” all day.

Once we were free, we had the limo take us to Pub 500, the location of our very first date. Our intention was to recreate it. The couch on which we had sat was open, so we sat and ordered some drinks, the extent of our first date. We were, however, hungry, and I was very much wearing a white dress. So, we moved to a table, ordered chicken strips, and watched the ninth inning of the Twins’ game. They won. We sat as a bride and groom in a bar eating chicken. We won. It was one of my favorite parts of the day. Our first date as a married couple.

After a suitable amount of time had elapsed, we had the limo take us to the hotel. Les had arranged the bridal party and had discussed the order of things with the DJ. Applause filled the room as we entered the reception. It was so exciting to see the faces of our loved ones smiling as they ate, drank, and were merry. Our plan all along was to begin with the first dance, as we didn’t have a traditional dinner. By dancing ourselves, we were opening up the party to all. We chose to dance our first dance together to a song picked by our niece, “I’d Like to Think So” by Levi Smith. It isn’t a popular song, as Smith is a Texas artist with a small audience. It was perfect, however, as it could’ve been written about Patrick and me. Though the song was less than four minutes, it felt like forever, as we were both a little uncomfortable with everyone watching us. We had a plan to release the tension: weeks previous we had decided to make the second song something crazy that would certainly make people laugh. “Everybody Dance Now” by C&C Music Factory did the trick. At the last note of our slow, touching wedding song, we both busted into real dancing with the screeching lyrics. We had warned the bridal party to join us, and soon many people were out on the floor laughing and enjoying themselves. Mission accomplished. The next song was also planned: “In My Life” covered by Johnny Cash, played for my sister and her husband who didn’t get to dance to it at their own wedding. After those three songs, Patrick and I engaged in the cake-cutting ritual because our photographer had to leave. What I wouldn’t know until way later was that the rest of the cake was never served. Around midnight, we served cake.

When people have told me in the past I wouldn’t get a chance to eat at my own wedding, or that it would pass so quickly I wouldn’t know what hit me, I didn’t really believe that would be true. Maybe for others, but certainly not for us. We were having a rather small wedding (150 people), so surely we’d have time to enjoy ourselves and mingle with everyone. But I was wrong. It was a complete whirlwind. Dancing, talking, meeting people I will probably never see again. People left without saying goodbye. Don’t get me wrong, it was very fun and completely enjoyable. It was really everything we hoped it would be. But four hours goes really fast when you’re the center of attention. Something I will never forget are the speeches. Les went first and it was beautiful. For someone who was nervous as all get-out, she did an amazing job. She said she didn’t say anything she had planned, but instead spoke only of today. I wish she would’ve planned it, because then there would be a written copy somewhere. She spoke about how happy I was, how similar we are, and how much she loves me. There was more to it, of course, but I could never repeat it as elegantly as she did. It was extremely touching. I may never remember every word, but I will always remember how I felt: very blessed to have a sister like Les.

Patrick’s best man, Dave (as Pat has always referred to him; David, as he introduces himself), also spoke eloquently and off the cuff. Telling Patrick he loved him like a brother, he toasted our future and happiness. I had never met Dave before our rehearsal. I thought it would be a little odd having someone brand new to my life be such an important part of such an important day. But Dave is everything Patrick said he would be. I felt like I had known him for many years. It is easy to see why Patrick and he are such good friends. He is a wonderful guy, and I wish he and his wife didn’t live in Illinois.

I spoke next, also without plan. I joked about my poor speaking skills, thanked everyone for being there, thanked our friends and family, our parents specifically, and mentioned our loved ones who couldn’t be with us. Patrick’s speech was well-planned, as it was another little joke he and I decided would be a fun way to lighten the mood and make our guests laugh. Putting the microphone down, he took several sheets of paper out of his breast pocket. After fumbling with them a little, he straightened them, picked the microphone back up and said, “Go Twins.” People laughed hysterically. It was great.

As I said before, the rest of the night was a lot of dancing and talking. I can’t count how many people told us how wonderful of a wedding ours was. And though it is my own, and I am extremely biased, they’re right. Our wedding was magnificent. Everything about it was exactly what we wanted. Nothing was stuffy or impersonal; everything was expressive of who Patrick and I are as a couple.

I won’t share any details of the evening after the reception, but that time was just as wonderful as the rest. Now, our married life has begun in California, and we have nothing but excitement for our future. It really is almost scary how happy I am. I look forward to coming home, making my name change legal, finding room in my small kitchen for our many wedding gifts, and living out the rest of my life as Patrick’s wife.

(Two days after beginning this blog, I will finally stop. Obviously, I didn’t write for two days straight, I am on honeymoon after all. My apologies to my few readers for the length, but trust me, it could’ve been worse.)


Molly said...

Oh, hon, it was wonderful to read this.

And your sister did give a beautiful speech--I remember how she said she wanted to tell stories, or reminisce, but instead she spoke of the light in your faces--how happy you were to see each other (and a little joke about how you thought you were so pretty when you saw yourself in the mirror) and how that happiness is reflected, (I don't think she used a light metaphor, but I'm going to right now because it fits).

And it WAS a lovely speech.

And you two are a lovely couple. I think it's interesting how I have this sense that you've been married forever; perhaps you have been married many lifetimes. All I know is that I look forward to watching the two of you happily grow old together.

And thanks for the little blurb. :) I think we *are* kindred spirits, which is so strange, because I agree, our lives are already so full and so blessed, but there is always room for more!

Anonymous said...

Love you Em!- Heather

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this and remembering the details of your day. It made me cry a lot. It made me laugh a lot. I will never forget how happy we all were. I love you. And I love Pat. ~Les

AK said...

I'm tearing up as I read this - you and Pat had such a beautiful day! I hope the honeymoon has been wonderful. Love you guys! ~ Anne

Anonymous said...

As I read this I could not stop the tears rolling down my face remembering how happy you truely were that day. I pray that you continuely to live in that happiness for the rest of your life. It was such a honor to be a part of your day. You are my best friend, you are my sister! I could not be happier for you. You have found the perfect man! I love you and I love Patrick! ~ Jen