Does anybody still live-blog? I haven’t seen any of those in a while. Once, in my old blog, after I had had cancer surgery, I wrote about it as I might have done if I’d had the means and the ability to blog about it as it was happening. Given the fact that the whole wedding experience was about that surreal, I think I might try the same approach in describing the day my marital status changed entirely. If you read the cancer surgery post either right before or right after this one? You’ll be able to tell the difference between weddings and surgery.
(One of the differences I can tell you right now is that I had a whole lot better sense of time even on high-powered drugs than I did on 3 March 2012. Times below are approximate. Except for the texting ones. I can look those up.)
6.30 a.m. Snooze button.
6.39 a.m. Okay, that’s enough of that. I get up and head into the shower. Sounds like TWCN is awake downstairs. And some adult (not my dad, who is in Southern New England with his mother and his mother-in-law in order to get them ready for the wedding on time) is up with her.
6.50 a.m. Get out of the shower. No one is making any noise any longer. TWCN is fast asleep. Maybe I imagined it.
6.51 a.m. Text from my Paul. It says, “<3 ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ .” Tradition says the groom can’t see the bride before the wedding on the day of, but it never said anything about texting.
7.10 a.m. Learn from my mother that TWCN has been upstairs to visit her about 5 times in the night, and also intruded on her parents’ slumber about that many times. When I mention that I slept through all of this, TheBro says, “That’s good. I didn’t sleep a wink the night before my wedding. Or the night before yours, either, apparently.”
7.27 a.m. I text my Paul a bunch of these: ” :* ” Then I ask him if we’re bringing our computers on our honeymoon. This makes me feel sheepish, as if for either of us to want to do anything else on our honeymoon that didn’t directly involve the other one is somehow suspect. He says yes. He also mentions how little sleep he got. Obviously for different reasons than the presence of an over-excited three-year-old. I eat breakfast and do a cursory drying of my hair, but I don’t slave over it because I’m about to pay someone else to do that, and besides, it’s raining out. I mean, drizzling. People who believe in omens say that rain on a wedding is a good one, and even though I don’t–officially, anyway–if I don’t mention it, someone else will. As far as I’m concerned, it can rain or not, but if it rains and a) turns suddenly colder so that all the melting snow turns into dangerous driving or b) ruins any chance of outdoor photos, I will be a bit put out.
7.52 a.m. Pour myself a cup of coffee in my travel mug. I never remember to use my travel mug, but somehow it seems special and self-pamper-y to bring a coffee with me to get my wedding-hair done.
8.00 a.m. Show up at the Hairdresser Down the Street just in time. The young woman doing my hair lets me in. We are the first ones there. Nicole the Magnificent Photographer shows up shortly thereafter. Let the games begin!
8.30 a.m. My hair is taking on the sort of corkscrew curls I would have died for as a child (even though corkscrew curls were never in fashion during my lifetime), but am now not sure is quite the thing I’m going for. Still, I have hopes that this is the first step in a process.
9.00 a.m.Other hair stylists and clients are showing up, as well as a half-blind cat who is entertaining himself (and the rest of us) by chasing his own feet up and down a small flight of stairs.
9.30 a.m. My hair doesn’t quite look like the photo I brought in, but it’s not bad, and my hair stylist has attached my new, bought-on-eBay-for-a-tiny-fraction-of-the-original-price lace-flower wreath-crown-thing to my head so firmly that if there were going to be dancing (which there isn’t, to TWCN’s disappointment but nobody else’s), I could do a flip over someone’s arm (if I could do a flip over someone’s arm) and it would stay on. Nicole loans me her umbrella and we head to my parents’ house. She says it’s silly for the bride to drive herself and her mother to her own wedding, so we drop my car off and she takes my mother and me to the church.
10.00 a.m. Arrive at church. Nicole absconds with my dress so she can photograph it without me in it, and I put on all the other stuff that goes on underneath it.
10.10 a.m. Sister-in-Lu and TheBro arrive with the children. Sister-in-Lu and the children come into the Bride’s Room. TheBro stays outside. Fortunately. I am wearing my “smoothing undergarment” and a slip over it, with a white-and-sparkly shawl over that so I don’t freeze to death. Oh, and a wreath on my head and too-tight but also sparkly shoes on my feet. TWCN looks at me bemusedly and I say, “Don’t worry. This isn’t Auntie Jenn’s special dress.” She continues mute but looks mildly relieved. And then distracted, because she is now being put into her special dress–the one in which she danced all over the house on the night they arrived.
10.15 a.m. The dress returns. I put it on. Then I stand around for a long time, waiting to get married. Sister-in-Lu takes TWCN and Smiley Guy, now all dudded up, upstairs to their stations. Mom goes up, too, and comes back periodically to tell me what other surprising guests have arrived and how wonderful it is we ended up opening up the ceremony to anyone who wanted to come. Based on what she’s telling me, I think she’s right. Nicole is off photographing my Paul or something.
10.40 a.m. Girl-Talk Friend comes in to keep me company.
10.55 a.m. Mom comes down and tells me it’s time to walk upstairs. I do. My shoes are not comfortable but I think I can make it down the aisle in them. I cross the foyer and hide away in the coatroom. TWCN tries to alert latecomers to my presence, but I put my finger to my lips and she hushes right up, conspiratorially.
11.05 a.m. Grandma M. is playing the processional, but apparently my Paul and TheBro have not appeared as planned. Dad is trying to text somebody.
11.07 a.m. The men appear. Smiley Guy is given the ring pillow by his mother and coached to take it up to his daddy. I cannot see any of this, but judging by the roars of laughter coming from the sanctuary, he is doing what he did yesterday at the rehearsal–tucking the pillow under his arm and racing down the aisle, spiking the pillow like an American football on the stage in front of his father.
11.08 a.m. TWCN is wearing a gorgeous spring-green dress made by my mother (her Grammie), and a wreath of silk daffodils in her hair, also made by her Grammie, and carrying a basket with yellow rose petals. I can’t see this either, but I’m told later that, in direct contrast to her little brother, she is intently trying to follow yesterday’s instructions to drop only one petal at a time, and when they stick together, she stops and waits until she can get them apart before moving on.
11.12 a.m. and following: Finally my dad motions me, and I take his arm, and we are standing in the doorway, and there, down an aisle which seems much longer than I’ve ever noticed before, is my Paul, smiling. And between him and me are people from Now Church and Then Church and Starbucks and Nannyville and even Camp Long Ago, smiling. (Only one of those is actually the name of a place where I know these people from. See if you can guess.) It’s kind of overwhelming, and I’m trying to focus on my Paul, but . . . did I mention I was overwhelmed?
Pastor Ron says something welcoming, and TheBro says something about the joyful solemnity of marriage and prays, and then both of them sit down and my Paul is still there, and Dad kisses me on the cheek and moves to the spot in front of us, and I take Paul’s hand.
Then Dad starts to read us the vows for us to repeat and starts choking up. We do this in our family, and I wasn’t really surprised, but what did surprise me was that his emotion set me thinking (in that out-of-time kind of thought process where you think it without words) about what I was actually doing. Not that I hadn’t thought about it before, of course. I had been thinking about it, and heck–reading books about it. But the reality was hitting me in a way it hadn’t before. I was about to make a promise, out loud, in front of over one hundred of the most important people in my life, that I would love and cherish this man standing in front of me, forever. There is no shred of a second thought in my mind, but the astonishing magnitude of the promise kind of takes my breath away and I start to choke up, too. I can see Nicole swinging around to take magnificent photos, but I’m afraid I’m about to burst into tears, and as Dad regains his composure and starts reading the words I am to repeat, my voice trembles and quavers and shakes and I think that, absurdly, tears are inevitable, when . . . my Paul crosses his eyes at me. No one else sees it, but instead of tears, I burst out laughing instead.
After that little bit of suspense, the rest of the ceremony goes beautifully. Daughter-by-Marriage reads the Scripture verses we have chosen (Genesis 2.18-24 and Philippians 2.1-11), skillfully navigating microphone feedback. We and the congregation sing the hymns I have picked out (“The Servant Song” and “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus“), heartily and not as slowly as they are performed on YouTube. Grandma M on the organ? Rocks. (It’s an expression.)
We exchange rings, and Dad speaks to us about the nature of the promise we’re making each other, and then suddenly we’re kissing and people are clapping and we’re Mr and Mrs to each other. We turn around and face everybody, and I see more faces I didn’t notice the first time and I’m still overwhelmed and I’m smiling like crazy and we’re out the door and stopping and turning and everybody’s filing out and kissing us. Apart from one of the Brothers-in-Law whom I’m meeting for the first time in the receiving line because he and his wife live on the opposite coast, I know everybody coming through that line, and I am still overwhelmed. It feels like some kind of awesome and ill-defined reunion.
We take photos in the chapel and then head out to the family reception some distance from the church and take more photos there. The daffodils I’m holding look great against the rustic barns and the snow. It has stopped drizzling. There is a cake made by Cousin Wendy and it has daffodils on it and is a carrot cake, and my Paul and I feed it to each other sweetly, to the dismay of half of the family and the delight of the other half. Nicole the Magnificent Photographer doubles as a magnificent photographer and child entertainer. The inn staff ply TWCN and Smiley Guy with chocolate milk to stave off toddler and preschooler melt-downs, and it works. I snap my Paul’s suspenders and we laugh our heads off. The salmon is delicious and so is the prime rib. And then it’s over, and our family is leaving, and we are leaving, too, as husband and wife, on the first night of the rest of our lives.