I woke up early and laid in bed for hours, relaxing, enjoying the knowledge that this was about to be one of the happiest days of my life, and brainstorming my vows, which I'd been working on for weeks but that never quite came out right.
Eventually I arose, got a glass of water, blogged, wrote in my journal and T's, and wrote my vows, fingers flying across the keyboard, everything lining up perfectly as if I'd planned to wait until this day all along.
I went outside once in my sheep pajamas to help set up the caterer tent. I didn't help much (it was hard!), and eventually I was ordered to go back indoors and relax.
From then on, I was pretty much on my own - I wasn't allowed to help (not complaining!) and, just as was best, I got lots of time for contemplation and prayer.
It's no small thing, joining your life with another's. And I really can't, now as I think about it, understand how people who's entire day is filled with rushing and stress and clock watching can really align themselves with the sacred act that they're about to perform.
So, I relaxed. And I wrote. And eventually I showered and put rollers in my hair to set for an hour or so, and this is where things started to pick up.
As bridesmaids arrived and I began to get text messages and people called and notes were sent back and forth between my groom and me, the tension built.
"I'm not nervous," I remember telling someone. "It's just that I'm noticing that I've begun to shake."
And it was true. Once my vows were written, it was all smooth sailing from there. I fixed my hair, tucking pins topped with blue flowers and pearls here and there, sliding my "something borrowed" tiara (from one of my best friends' wedding in October) atop the completed 'do, applying and reapplying lipstick, kissing a tissue in between layers so the color would last, tying on a garter, buckling on my silver shoes, and needing to get totally naked in the hallway (the only space that would fit this task) in front of 5 people (all women, don't worry) because of the thinness of my satin wedding gown, which did not bode well for any type of seam (I was beyond embarrassment and finally understood how women in labor must feel when they just don't care).
My Dad came in and hugged me ten times, not saying much, his eyes saying more than any words could. My brother came in with a suitable awed curse word (gotta love him). At one point I looked over to see my about-to-be mother in law standing in the doorway with that I'm-gonna-cry, it's-only-a-matter-of-seconds face, which is very cute. We snapped pictures and I adjusted that blue flower pin over my right ear that kept falling out, as I licked my teeth, paranoid about lipstick on them during the ceremony.
Finally it was time to go downstairs and line up (my butterflies are returning even as I type this, what a feeling!). There was a dicey moment where T was a wall away from me, so a small traffic jam (don't go down there!) ensued,
A couple more hugs and they were on their way. I walked out of the other door (I was coming from a different place than everyone else) and had a blessed moment outside alone, taking a few deep breaths, saying prayers to the Presence that I felt all around me, as thick as honey, and bending down to straighten my train, laying my veil down into place over my face, seeing the world through a white haze, everything blessed, everything beautiful.
Then it was time. A friend came out to hold my train as I rounded the corner. My walking music started. And in I went.
I couldn't see my groom at first because of the curvature of our aisle. I stepped onto our little brick path off the patio (laid that morning!) and then down onto the grass between the rows of guests' seating. I saw relatives and friends on my left, and my new relatives and friends on my right. I did my best to walk gracefully, since these new shoes and the uneven lawn didn't quite make it an automatic activity, and then I saw him.
Then up onto the brick, beneath our arbor, in front of our amazing minister whose grounded and serene presence meant so much in the holiness of these moments, and to him. He stepped forward to lift my veil, carefully laying it down against my back (because of instructions during the rehearsal to avoid any lumps or catches, for photoing's sake), and smiling at me, both of us here, now, meeting each other again and like we will for the rest of our lives, in full love and communion.
It began. We'd written every word of our ceremony together, getting the approval from Cheryl (the minister) along the way, each sentence dripping with thought and meaning. And as we stood, looking deep into each other, emotions swirled around us. Not only ours, which would have been enough, but I could feel the love and blessings of everyone gathered there all around. I felt as if I were in the middle of a river, currents brushing against me constantly, emotionally both bracing myself and letting everything in, fully aware that the words I was about to say would be the most important ones I ever have said, and probably will ever say, and that God was right there, listening.
Cheryl talked about this occasion and the importance that every marriage ceremony holds, especially ours, and each of our fathers gave a reading that we'd picked after hours of research.
When it was time, I, with a wiggle, withdrew my vows (unexpected? Maybe. Inappropriate? If you ask some, I'm sure they'll say that yes, perhaps the placement was. But hey, where the heck else was I going to keep them? Besides, a little humor and inappropriateness in the middle of a sacred and God filled ritual certainly describes our ways of being perfectly!), and read them to Terry, my voice ringing, my soul singing, my heart opening to his as I felt our individual selves combine with the words we said. We'd set a 150 word limit, but mine were more like 600. I'm not sorry. And then, once I was done, he came out with a perfect and short response which blew me away and cemented our bond even further. A couple times tears threatened to stop his speech, and he'd reach up and brush his nose with a thumb. Everyone else thought he was wiping tears, but I saw what it was - a magical "don't cry" button that only worked that way - the thumb nose brush. Good to know.
And then there was the ring exchange, and the handfasting, and as each cord was tied I felt our union deepen and become more real, until they were all tied and the Apache Wedding Prayer was said to bind.
An announcement of marriage, a long kiss (cheers from our guests included),
Then the rest of our party and our parents followed and we stood in a knot, talking and laughing and hugging. My face was cramping from all of the uncontrollable smiles, so T and I did a little yogic lion face to stretch out (it totally worked).
Then off to a nearby spot for pictures,
And back for the reception, which included rain (which only heightened the awesomeness of the day as we all sat at our tables under the big tent), and which also inhibited most dancing (though not all of it, and we made up for it a week later and then some),
talking, thanking, congratulating, and general merrymaking til late into the night.
One of the best parts of the whole night were the congratulations that came from random folks as we walked through the lobby in our wedding attire.
Then, other best parts came, of course, which aren't for blogging :)