It was a bright sunny spring day in April when I walked down a candle lit church aisle in the silk satin ballgown of my dreams. My father kissed me on the cheek as I took the hand of the handsome young man waiting for me. I looked into his deep chocolate brown eyes, promised a forever love, & sealed my vows with a kiss. And thus began the year from hell. Wait what? I find it convenient that story books always end with the kiss. Have you ever noticed that? Of course they always say they lived happily ever after & I know that’s what I expected as I took that walk down the aisle.
So as with any good fairy tale, I’ll start off our love story with “Once upon a time….
I was one of the only protestant kids attending a small Catholic school. It was eighth grade & I was debating which boy I would ask to the Sadie Hawkins dance. For those of you who might not be familiar with the concept, a Sadie Hawkins dance is one where the girls ask the guys instead of the usual way around. I had narrowed it down to 2 boys & called my best friend Catherine who used all of her 14 years of wisdom to help me choose the right one. The winner was a boy named James who sat next to me in class & enjoyed flirting with me in all the usual 8th grade boy styles; tickling, hiding my things, & pulling my shoe laces when I propped my shoes up on his desk. We secretly met at the school gym for the dance because I wasn’t allowed to date boys. We went to take our official picture together & I giggled nervously as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder for the picture. After that dance we were inseparable & became the “it” couple of our eighth grade class. We held hands during class & recess which drove our teachers crazy. And on our eighth grade graduation trip to Six Flags he stole his first kiss at an indoor theatre show, which he then wanted to see again…so we did. I feel I should mention that the Great Purse Incident of 1996 took place during this same trip & it’s highly debated to this day. All I can say is when somebody agrees to watch your purse while you go on a ride without them, they should hold on to said purse until that person returns & then hand them the purse not leave it sitting on a bench where it could be forgotten & then stolen! Yes he left my purse on a bench & it was stolen along with my money, camera, & most importantly all the awesome pictures I took with my $5 disposable camera. To this day he says that he watched my purse until I returned & it was my responsibility to pick it up off the bench but I left it with him & thought he was holding onto it so we all know who is to blame (cough James).
Well as young love tends to do, it fizzled & was over by the summer. He transferred to public school & I stayed at our small private school. But the following year I transferred to the same high school & ran into that young boy who had grown taller & whose jeans had become tighter thanks to his new “kicker” crowd (the name we gave to the country crowd). I ran in a different circle but during school testing our last names were so similar that out of our 600 plus class we were put into the same room. It had only been a year but he had changed & a spark was lit. We rekindled our friendship along with our flirtation ways but nothing beyond that. During college he moved away & I began dating someone who I continued to date for the next 4 years. During those years I always knew when James had broken up with his latest girlfriend because I would always get a phone call that went something like this “Are you still dating what’s his name”, “yes” ,”ok call me sometime” which we both knew was call me when you break up with him, which finally happened in my senior year of college. Coming out of that relationship was like coming out of a dark prison & stepping out to the sunrise over a calm ocean. I breathed in the light, the peace, & the stillness with a sense of freedom like I’ve never felt before. I was picking up the pieces of my life when I prayed “Dear God please let the next man I date be the man I marry, I just don’t think I can go through this again.” Little did I know that 100 miles away James was experiencing something similar to myself & saying the same prayer. I finally made that phone call to James that he had been waiting years to receive. He agreed to drive to my college & take me & my roommate dancing. I had full intentions of setting him up with my roommate that night but that all flew out the window when I opened that door. Gone was the skinny boy from my high school memories & there stood a tall, dark, & handsome man in his place. I remember my heart feeling like it had literally skipped a beat, my nervous laughter began, & I’m pretty sure my face was flush red as I thought “this can’t possibly be James.” But there he was, with a big smile on his face, dressed like he stepped out of a Banana Republic catalog, chewing a piece a gum, & smelling like Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani…. be still my heart. And just like that, the little fire that had been burning inside of each of us since we were 14 years old became a roaring fire.
Within a matter of a few dates I was done. I was ready to get married & wasn’t shy about telling him. And here is where you’ll start to see the differences in our personalities. When I want something, I go for it 110% & jump in with both feet without looking. James on the other hand is slow & steady and rarely, if ever, impulsive. So his rule was we had to date 1 year before we got engaged because he only wanted to do it once & so he was going to do it right. And much to my utter dismay he actually held true to his word & made me wait a whole year & then some! After 16 long month of impatiently waiting, the day finally arrived. It was a dark, cold, Christmas Eve evening & we had traveled back to our hometown. He took me to a local park to exchange gifts & we sat on a bench under a dim sidewalk light breathing in the brisk cold air. He pull out one final gift, it was a figurine of a mouse holding a big ring behind it’s back with the title “I have a question for you.” I looked up & he was on 1 knee in front of me. I wish I could tell you all the beautifully thought out words he spoke to me but honestly I felt like I was living out one of the slow motion scenes in a movie where everyone starts talking in deep drawn out tones as the character struggles to figure out what in world is happening around them. I was like a deer in head lights & completely stunned as I looked down at a sparkling pear shaped diamond in a black velvet box. One of the most profound memories I have of our engagement, I mean the one I will never forget, is seeing him throw the ring box on the ground & in my mind thinking “why the hell is he throwing my ring on the ground.” But in my stunned state I hadn’t seen him take the ring out of the box before tossing it so I just stared at the box on the ground for a few minutes… which probably explains why I have no idea what he said to me. But somehow I managed a YES! & we began planning our wedding.
I knew I wanted a spring wedding & if he had asked me over that year of dating like I wanted then everything would have worked out according to my plans but alas planning a wedding in less than 3 months just wasn’t going to cut it. So we had a 16 month long engagement & I feel the need to stop here & share a few words of wisdom with all you newly engaged ladies. Do not under any circumstance extend your engagement passed a year unless you enjoy torturing yourself with never ending changing decisions on things like what shade of pink your bridesmaid dresses should be. I planned & replanned our wedding about 5 times during that year because every new bridal magazine had something even better than I had seen before & I just had to have that instead. Thank goodness this was before Pinterest because I think all the choices would have made my head explode! The best decision we made was to enter premarital counseling at our church. God blessed us the most kind, patient, & understanding premarital counselors who became more than mentors, they became friends. God knew we would need their friendship, love, & support in the future. Their words of wisdom over the weeks we spent together made a lasting impression & we both came away with a new understanding about each other & the marriage we were about to embark upon. We went into our marriage with eyes wide open & hashed out everything under the sun from the big things like finances & in laws, to how many kids we wanted, household choir responsibilities, & even what kind of dog we wanted. There wasn’t anything that wasn’t discussed before we made our choice to move forward in marriage & I know this was God’s way of preparing us for what that next year would hold.
Below is a video montage we played at our wedding which shares our love story in pictures 🙂