Everyone says your wedding day will just fly by, but it wasn’t the case for me. It felt more like the longest, most surreal day of my life.
Being somewhat old fashioned and traditional, Dean was adamant about certain details. He didn’t want to see my dress, know anything about it, and didn’t even want to know what my hair would look like. He wanted it all to be a brand new fresh memory. He also insisted that we spend the night apart and not wake up together. He was serious about not seeing me at ALL the day of the wedding until I walked down the aisle.
Leading up to the wedding there was an abundance of tension, the majority of which stemmed from the stress of moving, spending WAY more on the wedding now than we’d intended (on the plus side, a lot of it will be paid off before next year’s repeat), and just flat out cold feet that caused us to question everything. I’ve been told this is all normal, but it was foreign to me. Naturally two nights before the wedding when I was pulling together the vows, prayers, poems, and order of events, I really lost my shit. The biggest thing nagging at me was the lack of my grandmother’s presence. Of all the things I wish could be different, it would be that she was still alive and healthy so she could have been there physically. Suffice to say, it was tearing me apart and I also got my period so I was a raging ball of anger and depression. I snapped, he comforted, and I realized why I was marrying Dean. Everything fell into place then and I didn’t look back.
Wednesday night the best man and his wife came over for a little while and I couldn’t sit still. I had to unpack or do SOMETHING with all my nervous energy. When it was time to leave, Dean and I had one quiet moment where we both got very emotional and said our goodbyes. It was really odd to be on the verge of tears over this, but we were both feeling that way. After they left, my mom promptly had her 175,908,374th “my baby’s getting married” moment and cried yet again. I went back to our new home and cleaned like a mad woman waiting on the arrival of my youngest brother from Michigan. Finally my brothers arrived and I calmed the fuck down. We ate pizza and watched South Park and it was perfect. We didn’t talk much, just chilled out, and all three of us were exhausted so we all went to bed. I needed that bit of normalcy more than they could ever realize.
Thursday morning arrived around 3am for me. I wasn’t sleeping much anyway and I couldn’t arrive with fresh clean hair so I washed my hair in the utility sink in the laundry room and then laid in bed for an hour before falling back asleep. Around 7am I woke back up and realized I’d have to wash my body at some point and couldn’t do it after my hair was done so I covered it up with a bandana and hopped into the hottest shower of my life. It was in this moment of stupid that I realized I was still me and still having my stupid moments – I would be fine on this crazy day.
After my hair appointment, I was running on pure adrenaline. I had maybe 4 hours of solid sleep the night before and I was cranked. Make up was next and my very sweet friend was my artist. She did an amazing job and thanks to her, not a single bit of that makeup flaked away or washed off. I didn’t even feel like I was wearing anything honestly.
After make up it was a blurred mess of men arriving to pick up suits and ties, phones ringing, waiting for my friend to show up, and then a rush off to Maryland to my grandpa’s house to finish getting ready. Mom, Niki, and I all got our hair and make up fixed up by helping each other. Then it was time for my dress. Lucky me, I had just gotten my period and it was my water retention day so my face swelled up to twice it’s normal size. The rest of me swelled a bit too, but between super brand new spanx and not having eaten anything all day, I got in my dress just fine. *whew*
The 20 minute drive that felt like an hour to the Gardens. The rain was off and on all day. It was either misty rain or full on raining. But it was bright outside. Something about the bright but cloudy day gave everything a special glow and made everything feel distinctly autumnal. And there’s something about the way the rain makes all the tree bark darker while making the color-changing leaves brighter. It is nature’s own artistic contrast and it creates a special kind of glow. I was hoping this feeling would translate in our photos and from the teaser I’ve seen from my amazing photographer as well as family taking pictures, it is definitely there. Sure enough, when we arrived at the gardens, it was raining again so my mom dropped me at the visitor center to stay dry. I put my veil on and then walked inside alone.
I had 10 minutes to myself before the panic set in. My dress had hit a puddle so the bottom was wet and I remember dragging this wet short train on the tile floor thinking “oh dear, look at the mess I’m making!” You know, because that’s totally rational. I picked up the pacing tempo and walked back and forth a TON. Everyone was down at the gazebo waiting on me and I was all alone inwardly losing my shit. The people who run the gardens kept checking on me and I said “I just need my dad and I’ll calm down” and not long after he showed up. I’d held it together all day until that moment and the minute I saw him I burst into tears. Maybe it’s because I NEVER thought he’d be there to walk me down the aisle or maybe it’s because of his sobriety, but whatever it was, that moment is locked in my head as one of the moments I never even dreamed of but was elated it was happening.
The photographer came by a few minutes later to get a few pre-wedding photos and then I heard from the gardens staff that the groom was MIA. Groom, best man, and best man’s wife were all late! So dad started to make me laugh and told some jokes. He was nervous but doing his best to bring me back down to earth and it worked. I don’t know how much later it was, but before I knew it, we heard on the walkies that the groom had arrived! We gave them 2 minutes to get settled then dad, photographer, and I all started making the long walk to the gazebo. The rain had started back up so dad walked me with a purple and turquoise umbrella down the long sidewalk. We get to the gazebo (which has a little bridge) and everyone says “STOP! We don’t have the music!” So there I am, standing with my dad just waiting.
But then it all started back up and just as we began walking again, the rain stopped! I was still a little unsteady until I walked around the corner and saw Dean. The minute I saw him, everyone melted into the background. I only saw him and only saw myself rushing to get to him. I gave Niki my flowers and then grabbed his hands and just could not stop smiling. I was on cloud nine. There he was and there I was and holy shit, this it is! We’re really doing this! It was really real.
The ceremony is a complete blur. It was a bit of a mess and it also went by so fast that I almost wanted the minister to repeat it to make sure we got everything. A while back, I had “I carry you in my heart” engraved on the inside of Dean’s ring. To go with that, I was going to read the poem “I carry your heart” by e.e. cummings. But I realized there’s no way in hell I could do that so my maid of honor took over. She’s tough (tougher than me I think) and I knew she could do it. She thought she could too. But it turns out we’re getting soft in our old age and she made it 2 lines in before crumbling into tears. She recovered and finished with grace, but it’s one of those moments I’ll never forget. I’ve seen her cry three times in our entire 22 years of friendship and that was one of them.
After the ceremony, my organization skills took a hit. I have no idea if we got all the pictures we wanted because everyone kind of scattered about and I forgot my list of photos I wanted. I know there are a few I didn’t get, but I’ll live with that. Fearing more rain, everyone scooted off to the restaurant and to decorate the car. Dean and I went into the gardens a bit with the photographer and spent an hour snapping some truly great photos. We laughed the whole time and were just deliriously happy. I stepped in mud and my shoes sank into the ground more times than I can count. My dress took on a collection of leaves, dirt, and water and was thoroughly stained by the time we were done, but we didn’t care. The world could have ended it wouldn’t have mattered because we had each other. The rain was completely gone and at one point there was even a touch of blue sky overhead. Eventually we parted ways from our mega awesome photographer and headed to the restaurant to meet up with the family.
On the way there, the skies started getting darker and darker. The wind picked up and by the time we got to the restaurant it was POURING rain! (in fact, by the time we left later, the temperature had plumetted at least 20 degrees!) It was like the storm had held off just long enough for us to get married and then said “time’s up, bitches!” Thankfully there was an overhang so I didn’t get wet while Dean parked the car. We walked inside and were greeted with applause and cheering and then set down to have a fantastic Italian feast. The food was great, the waiters were fantastic, and the company was stellar. Everyone was happy and being so sweet to each other. It was everything I’d hoped it would be and then some.
When we got home after everything, we got out of our semi wet clothes and into comfortable loungy pajamas. We crawled into bed and snuggled to keep warm because of how cold it had gotten. Soon enough we had a little naked time but quickly went to bed because the next morning we were off to Myrtle Beach for our minimoon! It ended up being a fantastic little trip to the beach and wile it was cold and stormy for part of it, it was pretty and relaxing and full of the things newlyweds do together when they’re all alone. My favorite moment: walking along the beach collecting shells and talking about our lives as though nothing had happened… except it had and we were married.
And it was perfect.