Our Journey - Part IV (wedding planning and the Big Day)

(Just now reading Our Journey series?  Catch up on Part I, Part II, and Part III.)

The night of our engagement ended with a small family birthday celebration at my mom's house.  I remember being excited about the gifts but couldn't stop sneaking glances at my sparkling ring.

And my family was excited.  Well, is there a mixture of shocked and slightly happy?  If so, maybe that's what they were.

And to be fair, they had just moved their first of 3 daughters out of the house.  They sent me off to college with a long-distance boyfriend who I saw maybe once every couple of months, so there wasn't much to worry about there.  I had a full ride to University of Memphis and had been talking about the medical field for the past couple of years.  I was rooming with the "pastor's daughter", so there was no chance of getting into any trouble at school :)

And now, 8 months into my college career, still a college Freshman I was engaged.

Let's just say, while we had their blessing, it took a little bit of time for them to warm up to idea.

It took everyone a little bit of time to warm up to idea.

That night I drove back to my dorm room in my 87 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with thoughts and wedding plans flying around in my head.

We decided on January 3, 2004 as our wedding date, and I quickly began planning.

This was long before Pinterest was around, and really before much wedding planning was done online.  So, I grabbed a few magazines and a 2 inch thick invitation catalog and got to work.

We traveled to Brinkley, Arkansas in a caravan of about 20 girls and women (the shop was REALLY happy about that) and found my dress. It was a strapless, with a band of sequins around the top and down the back and a simple veil to match.  The bridesmaids found their all black 2 piece spaghetti-strapped dresses - but to be a little edgier, they unanimously decided to tuck the straps in to create a strapless look.  And, I thought the perfect accessories for us all would be long gloves - black for the bridesmaids and white for me.  I'm telling you, we had style.

M and I found black suits at a small local tux rental store for the groomsmen, and to "set M apart", we picked out a jacket that was longer than the other's.

During that same spring, our pastor announced that he and his family were moving to Colorado to plant a church.  My roommate and best friend, our pastor's daughter, would be going with them.  While I understood their calling and need to leave, I was devastated to not have her by my side.

(A little history on our friendship - My dad got a job in Memphis in 1995 and moved our family from California to Olive Branch, MS.  He had already found Christ Pres. and we started attending in July of that year.  The church was planted just a year and a half before, so W and I were the only ones our age.  From our first conversation - well, her talking and my listening (do you see a trend in my relationships?) - over orange juice and donuts, we were inseperable.)

So, that summer, M and I decided to take our first road trip to Fort Collins, CO to visit them.

Let's just say that we REALLY got to know each other on that trip.

Let's just say, there may or may not have been a 2 hour debate about whether Salina, KS was pronounced "suh-lee-nuh" or "sun-lie-nuh".

Let's just say, that we may or may not have involved the poor innocent tollbooth worker in our ridiculous debate.

Let's just say, that the 2 hour debate may or may not have been followed by an hour long silence over said debate.

What can I say?  We were young and in.....over our heads?  No, love.  Let's stick with love.

The reason I bring up this trip is because an important part of our relationship and soon to be marriage was brought to my attention while we were out there.

One day, while sitting and talking to my best friend's mom about marriage, she asked me a question to the effect of, "So, are you ready for a life in the ministry?"  Not, was I ready to marry a minister.  Not, was I ready to be a part of a church.  But, a LIFE in the ministry.  She helped explain what that would mean, but I don't think I fully understood at the time.  But that conversation stuck with me.

We came back to reality.

I started my sophomore year of the UofM, living at home this time.  I was taking 18 hours, working 30 hours a week, commuting an hour in the car each day, and somehow managed to finish wedding planning.

M, by this point, was working full-time as the youth director at our church, planning the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon, and looking for a place for us to live after we were married.

We found a cute apartment right by the UofM.  It was an old house that was converted into 4 apartments - we had the bottom left section.  It had one bedroom, a small living room, bathroom, kitchen, washer & dryer, hardwood floors, and a small front porch.  It was a tiny place, but it was our place.  And I loved it.

Our church family graciously threw us an engagement party, a couple showers, and helped in numerous ways with the wedding.  They knew we had nothing to start out with, and by the time the wedding rolled around, we had a furnished apartment and everything we could possibly need.  We were blessed.

On January 3, 2004, we were blessed with temps in the 60s.  It was an absolutely beautiful day.

I packed that morning for our honeymoon in Lake Tahoe.  It's a miracle I remembered everything.  Mike's best man picked up my bags.  I remember thinking, this is it.  Here we go.

We had absolutely no money, so I showed up at the church an hour and a half before I needed to be ready and did my own hair and makeup.  My sisters, bridesmaids and I got ready together and enjoyed being with each other.  The helped me into my dress and veil, and I pulled on my long silk gloves.

M and I didn't see each other before the ceremony, so my anxiety and nervousness were through the roof.

About 15 before 7:00 PM, we all lined up in the church hallway.

Our grandparents and parents were being seated.

Arm in arm with my Dad, I began to get cold feet.

But not the cold feet meaning I didn't want to get married.

My cold feet were sheer fear of having all eyes on me as I walked slowly down the aisle.  I seriously think I may have passed out if I wasn't holding on to my dad's arm.  I was shaking.

One by one the bridesmaids entered the sanctuary doors to Canon in D.

The doors closed.

We took our places.

The song changed and the doors were opened.

I took a deep breath and stepped onto the white plastic runner that ran down the center aisle.

Everyone stood.

My nerves died down.  I didn't notice everyone around me.  My eyes were on my soon-to-be husband. And his eyes were on me.

I don't have a clue what was said throughout the ceremony.  I just remember feeling blessed that so many people showed up that day.  That we were surrounded by friends and family who were and would continue to be a support to our marriage.  That God had orchestrated this moment to be even though I, in no way, deserved any of it.

We were pronounced husband and wife and we.....well, you know.....kissed.

In front of 300 people.

And I am not one for public displays of affection.  At. All.  (Not that there's anything wrong with it.)

We exited and rode in our limo, with all of our wedding party, to Getwell Road United Methodist Church's gym for our reception.

We danced beneath sparkling white Christmas lights, ate delicious food that some dear women in the church had prepared, and left through a runway of glistening sparklers.

The night was perfect.

(To be continued...)

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all that have purchased T-shirts for our adoption!

We are currently at 56 shirts sold......6 over our goal for today!

We feel truly blessed!

I'll be placing the order tomorrow, so if you you haven't ordered and would still like to, you have until Noon.   Thank you again!

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