the first day of the rest of our lives

It was 6 years ago.
The second my eyes opened I felt the butterflies. It was 7:27 in the morning and I lay there in bed smiling at the sun that warmed my face and the light chatter of loved ones. My body knew the events of the day and I couldn’t contain the excitement. I sat up as my best friend walked into the room.
“Are you hungry? We are all going downstairs for breakfast.” She asked with a huge grin on her face.
I replied with the same grin “I’m not sure. I think I am, but I have butterflies that are trying to tell me differently.” I went along anyway and just as I was about to enter the room that smelled of pancakes and fresh fruit, my ‘body guards’ stopped short and held me back.
One of them turned to me, winked and said, “I need to make sure it’s safe for you to go in there.” I scoffed and she sweetly replied “Just following directions.” I laughed and walked past her. As I entered I surveyed the room trying to guess each person’s story – something I often do when in a room full of strangers. I started at the man in the corner eating alone. I decided he was on a business trip and tired as he looked he was ready to make the long trip home to his wife, Susan and miniature poodle Cookie.  I continued to the left and saw that the rest of the room (aside from the tables that my party occupied) was filled with a middle school girl’s soccer team. By the look on the girls’ faces they won the tournament and by the look of their two coaches, whom I named Nancy and Eva, they were exhausted from the late night laughter of sixteen girls. While I was making up these life stories in my head, someone had made me an English muffin with butter and an orange. I sat on the chair that was pulled out for me, quietly and barely eating – just thinking.
I looked at the clock on the dashboard- it was just past noon and I could tell I was close by the smell of the flowers that filled the air in my car. When I drove up I was in awe –there were trees that were almost as tall as 4 story buildings and a little yellow building that was once used as a one-room schoolhouse. I put the car in park and just as I was closing the door my heart skipped a beat. ‘This was it’ I thought, never before had I felt so at ease and so much like I was going to get sick at the same time.
The next few hours were a blur of hair, nails, clothes, laughter, and anticipation. There I was sitting in the open room, people running this way and that all in a time crunch but somehow things were frozen around me and I couldn’t help but think about how even though I didn’t know when it would happen, I had been ready for this day, everyday for my whole entire life. Finally, I was ready – 30 minutes late, but I was ready.

I stood in the room, alone. I took a deep breath and turned to look in the mirror – I didn’t recognize the person standing before me, I couldn’t breath. Just then as I thought I had myself composed – my dad walked through the door. We both just stood there staring at each other crying. He walked across the room and we hugged- not having any words for the moment- the tears said it all. The moment we shared in that room is one that was just for us – and it was over too soon.
The door opened and all I saw was bright light – I knew it was time. I took my dad’s arm and we began to walk. For the next minute and a half I kept my eyes focused on my feet in fear that I would trip over myself as we walked to the end of the sidewalk.
As the pavement ended and we rounded the corner, I lifted my head, our eyes met and my heart stopped beating.  I had forgotten about my feet, about the 30 people that were staring at me, about the rush and the fact that I was late. The next 50 feet seemed to take years- but finally I was there. My dad shook his hand and with happy tears gave him mine.

We turned and faced each other. He talked about love and how he was created so that could spend his life showing it to me. I talked about faith and how he is everything I had ever dreamed of. He promised his life to me and I to him, then we were both asked one question to which there was only one answer- “I do.”

After I answered the most important question I’d ever been asked, I looked into his eyes and I saw my future, I cried and laughed at the same time, completely in awe that this amazing man standing before me was mine.
We walked hand in hand down the aisle to the porch where we happily greeted family as they congratulated us, laughed, cried, and shared with us sweet prayers that they had been praying over us for years.

While our families and friends laughed and fellowshipped inside, we soaked the day in as we wandered off alone so we could breath each other in and giggle as we called each other by our new titles husband and wife.

Later that evening, as the world faded away and all I could see was him, we danced slowly - he told me how much he loved me and how there was no greater night than this, I sang to him ‘Here we are on earth together, It’s you and I. God has made us fall in love it’s true.’
After we floated around the room high on love we took our seats, but my dad stood up and took my mom’s hand. Nervously she said “Jim! What are you doing? They didn’t tell us to stand up.” But then she heard it and her eyes began to well. He led her to the middle of the room and with all eyes on them, they began to dance. While Johnny Mathis sang ‘chances are, your chances are awfully good’, I cried and watched my mom have her own First Dance. You see, 36 years ago on the day my parents were wed, they didn’t get to have a first dance and in all the years since there wasn’t much opportunity to dance. My mom loves dancing, and my dad LOVES my mom. So we surprised her with this moment, where it was all about her and her love, the one God hand crafted for her! It was one of my favorite moments of the day, and it will remain one of my favorite moments I’ve experienced.
When my dear parents finished their dance and fell more in love, one of my sweet brothers shared a few words from God and blessed the day and the meal. We ate delicious food and fellowshipped with wonderful people, and we were asked to pick up our glasses of sparkling apple juice as the best man and maid of honor gave speeches full of kind words, happy memories, and lots of laughs.

He danced with his mom, and I with my dad. We cried happy tears, watching each other.

We danced, cut our cake, threw the bouquet, and found the garter. The night was happy and alive.

But soon, the night ended, everyone blew bubbles at us as we walked through the gate to get in our car and drive away.
We got into the car and I couldn’t remove my smile, I didn’t want to. Everything about this day had been more beautiful than I had seen in my dreams. My wedding. It was amazing.
It was the day that my forever started.
In the past 6 years, my love for you sweet D has only grown. You are what dreams are made of and I am so thankful that my dreams have come true. Thank you for being my best friend, my apple, my husband, my caretaker, my everything! You are my favorite favorite!!
*most photos courtesy of Memories by Michael. Others taken with point and shoot and other cameras by family and friends.

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