Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fairy Tale - Part II

Time for the most surreal part of the day. I walked out of the house and through the tent. Suddenly my stomach was in knots and I had a hard time not crying. I was in awe, looking at all the people sitting and waiting for this event - our event! - to begin. All the planning and preparing was as done as it was going to be. Through the windows I could see my knight in shining armor, waiting for me. It felt like a dream, and I was determined to remember as many details as I could. My stomach was in knots because all those people were there for us, and yet I had not been able to say hello or hug them. What a strange feeling. I had a hard time not crying because, finally, I was marrying this man. We had been waiting so long - two and a half years of engagement.

Somehow, even with the issues with my dress and only having an hour to get ready, as the clock struck 5:30 I was ready to walk toward my almost-husband to the song Feels Like Home. The walk to become his wife was magical. I was keenly aware of everyone, but unable to focus on anyone but him, standing on a small rise, breathlessly waiting for me.

Although breathlessly is totally inaccurate. My photographer (and BFF, Carmen), told me later that she had to move away from him because he kept muttering things like "Oh my god," under his breath as I walked toward him. She knew she would get teary, and you can't see through a camera lens very well that way.

During the ceremony Benjamin read a statement about family that he and Josiah had written together. 

"Family doesn't always mean people who are related to one another. My brother and I agree that it really means people who stick up for each other and love each other a lot, and that is what is represented here today. Our family is those things and more. 

We have been given a great example of respect in my mom and Ariel. Ariel has been a great addition to our family. He's made a lot of things better and a lot of the change in me and my brother's lives can be partially attributed to his coming and living with us. At first I didn't like him. I was skeptical of who I thought he was. But of course, when I got to know him, I realized I misjudged him. 

Because I had such a strong tie to my mother at that time, I was pleased to see he treated her in a loving way. He also took time to know Josiah and I, to understand us. We weren't beneath him and he didn't just see himself as someone over us. He didn't take our respect, as some step-parents do, he asked for it. Because of this, I'm happy to say he has more than earned me and my brother's respect. 

As a result, we all have a great relationship, and have fun doing things together. I've learned a lot about family, and my brother and I can both say our perspective on family has really changed and grown in the last four years, watching Ariel and Mom. As they say in the movie Moana, "We wish them happiness right where they are." 

(Evidently my dad found it appropriate to bring his dog to the ceremony, so all of the pictures of my family have the dog in them, cutting Josiah off in many of the pictures. In some of them, I've been able to crop the dog out, but then I'm also cropping out family). 

Then Ariel and I read our vows to each other, which we'd written. 

Mine to him: I can't believe the love we've found with each other. I know we aren't "supposed to" let another person fulfill us or be our source of happiness, but the way you and I compliment each other, the effortlessness of our togetherness, the fact that we are happier than we have ever been - it's almost impossible to not let that happen. We have now loved each other for 1,415 days, and they have been the most fulfilled days of my life. You are the most selfless person I have ever met, and, more than anyone, you deserve to be loved, and loved immensely. It is the biggest honor of my life that you chose me to be the one to do that. I take you again today to be my husband in life. I say again, because in my heart I made that commitment to you long ago. I promise to be your partner in adventure, your consolation in disappointment and frustration, your biggest fan, a companion you can completely trust, and your sanctuary in this often uncertain world. I promise to communicate fully and fearlessly, to support you as you strive to achieve your goals, and to continue to proclaim how perfect you are for me. I will always love you, respect you, and cherish you, knowing that with you as my equal and my inspiration we will continue to build a better life together than we could apart. Through sorrow and success I will walk hand in hand with you wherever our journey takes us. I see my vows to you not as promises, but as privileges. You are the best part of the rest of my life. 

His to me:
Beth, my love, my friend and companion
Today, like every day before and every day after this one...I vow to love and respect you...
     To be faithful and honest in all things -- to be the shoulder you cry on...and sleep on. 
     To be the one you call on for anything and everything. 
I promise to make you smile
     To encourage you -- to support your every desire and goal -- to be the one you count on...the one you trust in
     To carry you when it feels like you can't go on anymore
You walked into my life four years ago -- that act would almost instantly fix everything that was broken in me
     You've shown me kindness, love, and a gentleness I've never felt before
     Because of you I believe in love again.
Thank you for having my back -- for supporting me....for listening and teaching me to hear you
     Thank you for just being you...
I swear to love and cherish you until time stops....
     And you becoming my wife today will make me the happiest man alive

He had a difficult time getting through it. He had a rough last couple years of his marriage, and his ex continues to be unkind, unfair, manipulative, and dishonest with him (and about him, to others, including his children). It was a huge part of why he was so emotional during his vows to me.

I lightened the mood a bit by pulling out tissue for him. 

We didn't have anyone standing up with us. We really felt like each person there was one of our Best People, as Ariel's dad so wonderfully put it when we were with them in February.

When it was time for the rings, we decided to have Josiah bring them in FBI-style, to this Stealth music, ala this photo I found online :

Benjamin even had a little safe box like that for us to use. However, every wedding has at least one saga, and this was ours. I had forgotten, in the rush of only having an hour to get ready after our rehearsal, to put the safe with the rings in it where I told him it would be. So when he went to get them, of course they were nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, my BFF Stephanie was the heroine of the day. She was back at the tent, where Josiah was supposed to get the rings. She took off a ring she was wearing, the DJ gave Josiah his, and that's what Josiah ran up with, no safe box, but at least something to continue the ceremony with!

He handled it SO well! Although he told me later he was about to break down crying because of it. Below Benjamin was consoling him, telling him that no one noticed. In reality, almost no one did!

Our recessional was to a portion of Love Never Felt So Good

I love Ariel's thumbs up here.

Then it was time for a few photos while all our guests carried their chairs into the tent and figured out where they were sitting. 

My family:

Ariel's family:

With his dad and step-mom. I adore them both!

Able to take photos after I figured out where I'd put the real rings!

Evidently we dazzled everyone in attendance that day. People said they were brought to tears a few times, and that our wedding was how they should all be. The weather was chilly, but warm enough that we could be outside for the ceremony, then move into the tent for the reception, which was the plan all along. As evening faded, the lights in the tent glimmered, casting a magical glow. Brew and spirits flowed, and we toasted with wine, not champagne. Dancing and karaoke were also part of the night of celebrating, the highlight for me being when my man sang Suddenly to me. It was a fantasy evening, with so many people we love.

Not being cake people, we booked an ice cream truck. Todd and Brent, of Witty Pork's, were awesome and we would recommend them to anyone (their other truck is a pizza truck with a wood-firing oven inside - it is also awesome).

They made-to-order 65 ice cream sandwiches - one for each guest. We requested peanut butter cookies with Snickers ice cream in the middle. Then each guest was also able to order more desserts of their choice.

My mom gave a very touching toast:
It’s great to see the couple surrounded by so many family and friends as they exchange their vows today. Again, thank you all for coming. So just a bit of advice because that’s what mom’s do, right?...
May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet; Enough trials to keep you strong; Enough sorrow to keep you human; Enough hope to keep you happy; Enough failure to keep you humble; Enough success to keep you eager; Enough friends to give you comfort;
Enough faith and courage in yourself, your jobs, and your country to banish depression;
Enough wealth to meet your needs; Enough determination to make each day a better day than yesterday (than the one before). 
Beth, always do your best to bring out the best in Ariel no matter what life throws at you. And Ariel, you are a wonderful gentleman who loves Beth a lot and your commitment to family is  unquestionable. We welcome you and your family into ours.   As you know, marriage is a test of real love and you can expect both good and bad times, including some rough storms. 
Ride through those storms together.  As long as you weather the storms together, your marriage will endure. No matter what, keep the faith and your sense of humor and you’ll make it through those storms just fine.
I love you both and God bless.

Here’s to a lifetime of happiness!

Ariel's dad's toast was shorter, but no less meaningful. He basically wished us a lifetime of love and happiness like he's found with his wife (Ariel's step-mom). I have loved getting to know them and watching how much they love and respect one another. If we have even a fraction of what they have, it will be more than what most people have.

Our first dance was to Sara Evans' I Could Not Ask For More. 

I took off my glass slippers to put on my dancing boots.

We tried our hand (voices) at karaoke as a family, which did not go well. I learned, however, that Benjamin's got a really good voice. So much so that the choir teacher at his school, who was at the wedding, is going to try to get his schedule changed next year so he can get into choir.

I love the photo below of Ariel and his dad laughing together.

Interestingly, when you get married in your 40s, some things are not as  one might expected. I don't know if it was because most of our friends are around that age or older, but there seemed to be an unspoken rule that if you stay too late, you'll turn into a pumpkin. A number of people left without even saying goodbye, quite early in the evening while I was in the house getting my dress bustled.

We sent them home with favors that again were a nod to Match - matchbooks that I'd transformed with our photo and our date.

My brother.

 My besties, without whom this event would not have gone anywhere near so smoothly.

Josiah was so happy to see us finally get married. About three years ago, when we were walking him home from school one day, he asked when we were getting married and said, "When you date, there's a little love. When you get engaged, there's more love. And when you get married there's the most love." Then about eight months ago he asked us if we would get married on his birthday, which was earlier in May. We told him we already had a date arranged, but what he didn't know was that Mom was going to ask all the guests to sing happy birthday to him. He was embarrassed, but clearly thrilled.
More dogs at the wedding. I didn't mind them at the reception, though...

One thing the DJ did that was really cool was invite people up to dance according to how long they'd been married, so if they'd been married for 50 years or more, then 40 or more, then 30, etc. all the way down to "if you love the person you came with" to "if you don't want to sit anymore."

A few weeks before the wedding the DJ told us he'd previously had such poor experiences DJ-ing private-venue weddings that he swore he'd never do them again. He decided to do ours because we seemed to have things pretty together and be fairly low-key. After the wedding, he said he'd never hesitate if they were all like ours. 

The DJ packed up an hour early because there were so few people left. I guess the positive side of that was that we weren't TOO exhausted when we headed home, and had the energy left to head to this corner of the town we live in. Our first date four years ago had been in town, and as I walked home, this was as far as I let Ariel walk me. He kissed me on this corner and has kissed me on this corner every time we've driven or walked past it since. It's a special corner.

(Most photo credit: Carmen Williams Photography