Eight days ago everything changed. Everything. In what was with out a doubt the most overwhelming day of my life, in front of lifelong friends and family, and within the space of my home church community, I said yes and so did she. I can’t begin to share here, or even scratch the surface really, of how intense the emotions and how both nerve-racking and sobering the stakes were that day. All I can say is that I had tears behind my eyes for most of the night, and as my bride walked down the aisle it was as if a someone turned on a deafening noise that resonated in my being unlike anything I’ve heard before. She was breath-taking. She is breath-taking. Always. It was overwhelming.
Here are a few reflections on the experience both practical and abstract.
The waiting sucked. After all the preparations were made and there was nothing more for me to do, I had to wait. I waited as the girls got ready, did their hair, and got in their dresses. While this was going on I was with the groomsmen trying to kill time after we got ready, which only took a few minutes. I couldn’t help but over think everything. All I wanted to do was see her, but instead I had hours of smiling for pictures, shaking hands, and stressing out about the gravity of the occasion. As much as the waiting put my stomach in knots, I’m glad I had to go through it – it made the ecstatic relief of seeing her walk down the ailse all the more worthwhile.
Dressing up was fun. So far in my line of work my uniforms have been ridiculously casual. That said I really enjoyed picking out clothes, getting a hair cut, and looking my best. What’s more, is that as much as I may have looked decent, the girls looked out of this world! The Great Masters would have soiled their trousers if they could have seen how stunning the girls looked, especially the one I got to kiss on stage.
It’s tiring. Nothing new there. It didn’t take me long to feel like a politician as we constantly shook hands, gave hugs, and thanked people for being there. The nice part about it all is that it was so sincere. People genuinely blessed us with how authentically happy they were for us. We could have spent days conversing with loved ones and celebrating the moment, but the limited time we had made it all the more exhausting.
It wasn’t for us. As much as I thought the day would be for us, so we could be married and start living together, I was surprised how much our wedding was really for everyone else. Communities need periodic reminders of what is important in life. Things and themes like love, commitment, joy, beauty, and even the institution of marriage are often forgotten amidst the busy pace of most of our days. One of the things I learned was how much this day actually meant more to others than it did to us. It was encouraging to peoples spirit as it seemed to re-center them on what is at the heart of our lives. Realizing this lesson was humbling, because this was not our goal, nor was it even on our radar. Our wedding and weddings in general are our cultures’ way of passing on to the next generation a glimpse of what is at the core of society – the family.
It was awkward. I suppose every social gathering has the potential to be a little awkward, but weddings carry an extra emotional attachment that can be both awkward and even hurtful. Will close family make the trip to celebrate with us? What will my friend think when they find out I didn’t include them in the bridal party? How do I approach the person who didn’t get invited? Will So-and-so run into their Ex? Will Uncle Mohammed make a scene? These are all questions that we encountered and reminded me that no event is above human nature.
Toasts/Speeches are awesome. Unfortunately in our society we don’t often stop to tell people how we really feel. How cool is it that for a moment a large crowd pauses to hear the words of a friend or family member as they give a toast to some one that means a great deal to them?!? Maybe our toasts were extra special because they were for us, but I’m really starting to think that we should give more toasts. In addition to relationships there is so much in life to celebrate and drink to and it shouldn’t just happen at weddings. Cheers!
It goes by so fast. Holy crap it goes by quick. I’m sure everyone says that, but seriously, it does. For the better part of a year we were looking forward to that day, and now it’s gone. Just like that. There just wasn’t enough time to talk to everyone we wanted to and soak up all that was going on. Multiple times in the night I had to stop and take a breath to remind myself that it was my wedding day. It’s too bad weddings can’t last a whole week or month – that would be sweet! Unfortunately we’d probably go broke right quick.
Celebrations rock. Jesus described Heaven as a wedding party and his first miracle was providing a second round of booze at a first century Hebrew wedding reception. At some point a friend of mine commented to me about just how much fun he was having and I brought this up. “This is what Heaven is like man!” I said with a beer in hand. Man it was fun. Everyone was there. There were so many people I deeply love in the room and an endless volume of memories to boot. We danced, ate, remembered, prayed, drank, and danced some more. If for now we can only catch a glimpse of what eternity can be like and the real thing will be that much more unimaginable, I’m definitely looking forward to the party that Jewish carpenter is going to throw when he welcomes his bride home for good.
It was worth the wait. As a young Christian couple we worked hard to preserve certain parts of our relationships for after the vows, the rings, and the pronouncing. In today’s world this seems bizarre, outdated, and stupid to many, but let me be clear: it was worth it. Unequivocally, undeniably, with out any doubt, worth it. Looking back on how great our wedding, night, and honeymoon were I can’t imagine doing it any other way. It was so fun, silly, and special. I know I risk sounding pious, judgmental, un-PC, or even harsh by saying this, but I feel bad for those who choose not to wait and I hope those younger than us feel encouraged and compelled to fight the fight and wait for true love. I just don’t want people to settle. As a young male I know firsthand the pressures and confusion of our overly sexualized culture, and after reflecting on recent developments I’m confident and humbled that things transpired the way they did for us.
There is grief afterwards. Some one I love told me once “to live well is to grieve well”, meaning that life is a long adventurous series of saying goodbye to temporary experiences and freedoms that cannot be relived. On our wedding day we said goodbye to being single once and for all. After all the tables are cleaned up and we’ve unwrapped all our gifts there is a sense of sadness as we move forward in life and the wedding becomes a memory. We can’t go back. All we can do now is celebrate and give thanks for the fact that we were able to enter into such a sacred space. I don’t think I expected to feel so sad about the fact that it’s over. I think that’s a good thing as it speaks to the level of joy that was had. I also think that the sadness is a glimmer of heaven seeping through my consciousness as I’m reminded that I’m still here on earth. So far that day was the closest I’ve come to what I imagine it to be like, if only it would have lasted longer! Until that day when we are ushered onto the shimmering shores of the hereafter, and everyone we love is there to party forever, life will be a series of opportunities to bear witness to what our souls truly long for and reminders that we’re not there yet.