This morning, I was on my way in to work when it HIT me. Like, REALLY hit me. We’ve been married for one month today. One entire month since that day full of fizzy joy and nerve-jangling excitement that seems like a total blur looking back. Honestly, most of the month since then feels like a blur as well, and I feel like I just need to sit and really try to get some of what I felt on that day out into this space, before even the blur starts to soften around the edges with time.
If I could pick one word to sum up that incredible weekend, right now it would have to be “surreal”. I know, you were expecting “love!” or “family!” or “happiness!” It was all of those things and so many more, and it still feels almost like a dream. Throughout the day of our wedding, I’d catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think “Who’s that girl? Oh right, it’s ME. This is ACTUALLY happening.”
That’s not to say that I feel like I wasn’t fully present in every moment of the day. There were just so many of them, that went by so quickly, that even now one can pop up and surprise me.
Despite that, there are still crystal clear moments that I can hold on to, like pendants on a chandelier. Eating breakfast together in the morning (I may have had a mini pumpkin pie, among the other smart “recommended bridey foods”) was the best possible scenario for us, because the minute I was away from Army Boy the butterflies started building up in my stomach. Running into the pizza place across from the salon, updo, veil and all, to grab a slice before heading down to the hotel. Dancing in the car on the way down to “Moves Like Jagger,” and staring in wonder at the perfectly blue sky. Army Boy whispering in my ear as he called me by my new name for the first time. Sneaking to the vending machine in the hotel after the night was over because we were dying for some Gatorade, and running into my cousins, who were on their way down to the bar to continue the party.
Moments like that keep coming back to me, but forming them into a cohesive narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end is what keeps eluding me. Maybe it’s because that day was so much bigger than a simple “We went here, and then did this, and ate this…”
I laughed more than I expected to, and definitely cried more than I expected to. I ate less than I expected to, and CERTAINLY drank less. We had our one glass of champagne apiece for the toasting, but I was SO. THIRSTY. After the ceremony, and the photos, and the featured dances, and the cake cutting, and ditching the veil and bustling the dress, someone get Momma a soda!
I still feel the stifling nerves of the moments before we left the hotel suite to head to the ceremony: Had everything come together ok? Were the guests going to be disappointed and underwhelmed? How on earth was I going to move in the dress all night?! Of all the emotions that I expected to feel on my wedding day, that sudden suffocating fear was not one of them.
I was still shaky minutes later, as I walked up to the wooden doors separating me from the ballroom. I heard our processional slowly fade out, and then the bridal entrance music started to swell, exactly where I’d asked the dj to start. I clutched my Dad’s arm like a lifeline, and then the doors opened…
The music itself was threatening to overwhelm me with tears, so I started to look at faces in the crowd, knowing that I’d lose it if I glimpsed Army Boy right away. I noticed the candles in the fireplace, and that some of my family was sitting on the groom’s side (My guests had filled the bride’s chairs, leaving later arrivals to fill in the empty spaces), and my college friends grinning like mad. Army Boys cousins were smiling encouragingly, and my aunt was openly weeping as I paused to give my mom a hug before continuing up to meet my soon-to-be-husband.
My first thought was that the grey tuxes were an AWESOME choice, followed by realizing that Army Boy was just as nervous as I was. When we were finally prompted to take hands, I finally felt myself starting to relax and come back to earth, knowing that this was about the two of us starting our lives together.
There was the mortifying moment when my nose dripped during the ceremony, thanks to the tears I was trying to stifle, and I was thankful for my something old- my Nana’s embroidered handkerchief in the pocket of my skirt. (Oh yes, I had pockets!)
There was the giddy excitement when Army Boy’s father handed the reverend our rings, even though we’d already said our vows and been handfasted. They were one of the first parts of our wedding planning that we completed, and we were so thrilled to finally put them on each other’s fingers.
Just like that, we were introduced as husband and wife, and recessed to some rocking guitar chords.
The rest of the evening is when everything kicked into overtime, between rushing around for pictures, bustling the dress, making our entrance, eating a little, doing table visits, eating a little more… Everyone tells you that the day will go SO FAST, but I didn’t entirely believe them. I mean, pshaw. I write things. I notice things! I-… hey, why does my foot hurt so badly?
Everyone that we hired to help us with our event played their parts to perfection. The reverend outdid herself, the dj kept the party going, and the hotel staff were nothing short of magical. (No really… our event manager was waiting for my Mom at the end of the recessional with a Grey Goose martini, three olives. Just like we’d joked during the rehearsal the day before.)
(Oh, and the moment that SAVED me when I was getting ready to launch into full on panic mode before the processional: We were standing in the hall, getting ready to enter the ballrooms, and the banquet manager was holding my train.
“This is always my favorite moment,” she said, not realizing that her words were going to become my life preserver as I fought to keep my breathing even. “The moment before the doors open, when it’s just me and the bride… Every time, I get to feel like I’m part of the family.”
That sentence touched me profoundly and made me realize that each event is fresh for them, even though it could turn into a collage of flowers and candles and sparkles. I owed it to EVERYONE to keep my shit together. And I did.)
I’m so glad that I did a lot of reading before the big day, especially some of the amazing bridal blogs out there. They helped to prepare me for the fact that people don’t change, just because it’s your wedding. If they’re typically late? They’ll probably be late. If they thrive around drama? They will probably bring some drama with them. But I was ready for it, and knew that the only thing that could turn hiccups into a full-on catastrophe was my reaction to them. I didn’t react. And everything turned out wonderfully.
All along, I told Army Boy and myself that my ultimate goal for the wedding day was to end the day sitting in the enormous tub in our hotel suite, taking the pins out of my hair and soaking our aching feet. (I mean, of course we were going to get MARRIED, but for some reason he and I fixed on that golden moment of “just the two of us” after the excitement was over.) And that is exactly how we ended our first day as a married couple. Plus some surprise rose petals on the bed (the amazing MOH strikes again!) with some relaxing bubble bath.
There may have been cheese curls and chocolate from our welcome bag too. Because we were STARVING.
I’ll neither confirm nor deny that fact.