“You are Cordially Invited,” I read over the invitations one more time. That was almost nine months ago now. May 17th, 2008 was a day that I will never forget. I woke up to prepare myself for the day ahead. I showered with borrowed shampoo, made up the guest bed, and I took a deep breath remembering both, the happy and the sad tears that had preceded my peaceful sleep the night before. Days like these make it difficult to pinpoint a person’s exact emotions.
My mom and sister, Amy, were already at the salon awaiting my arrival. I walked downstairs to find my dad in the kitchen looking a little uneasy. We both said a few things that didn’t seem important, a chat about weather, something about the day’s paper, just small talk. After finding a bite to eat, my dad muttered, “I was just thinking, well, I think a lot you know, and I thought, that’s the last time you’ll take a shower and get ready here.”
A few tears trickled down his clean shaven face and I light-heartedly reassured him that I’d come home and get ready again anytime. After all what does a girl say to the father-of-the-bride on her wedding day?
When dad and I pulled up to the salon mom and Amy were standing inside, hair curled, make-up perfected. It took two hours to turn me into the magazine bride I had planned to be.
With my veil in place, I was half bride, half girl, in my jeans and t-shirt as we headed for the church. The wait was almost over and my emotions would be glad. The ride was a long one as I thought of how different this new life would be. To be away from my family and the place I called home for so many years was dismaying. Then I envisioned Will. His tall, sturdy, stature filled my mind. I could see his dirty-blonde hair, his glistening blue eyes, and those perfect moist lips. I dressed him in the tuxedo we had chosen and mentally pinned on his boutonniere. It was in that moment that a sense of calm came over me and I knew that he filled every void I could ever have and would be my happiness when times were sad.
Half of the day had already hurried by and at 12:00pm we were turning past the church sign that read, “Congratulations Will & Ashley!” After making a call to be sure I would remain unseen, my family rushed me inside each carrying a piece of me, a corset, shoes, bags of necessities, and all of the many layers of silk, lace, and bows that a bride could need.
Inside, my four bridesmaids were giggling, curling hair, and giving each other last minute make-up touch ups. All of them had gently slipped into their creamy light-yellow dresses and tied their white satin sashes into perfect bows that rested just below the waistline on their hips. The girls assisted by holding my seven foot train while my sister morphed into my maid-of-honor and helped me into my gown. The little flower girl, miniature bride, and junior bridesmaid gasped. My junior bridesmaid whispered, “Now she’s a princess.”
In those next few minutes things got a little out of control. Pictures were being taken from all angles, people were talking and laughing, and it became chaotic. I was feeling overwhelmed. It couldn’t have come at a better moment, in that instant, my wedding planner cleared the room to give me a minute alone with my parents. I hoisted all thirteen feet of material that weighed on my shoulders onto the bed and sat in the pile of silk, pearls, and lacey fluff. I was given hugs and grins, and I caught a glimpse of tears from both mom and dad. A face peaked in and indicated, “It’s time,” and a crowd of people gathered around me, even the photographers, to help me balance my A-line gown on five and a half inch heels up two flights of stairs.
When we reached the top we stopped just outside of the sanctuary’s double doors. My wedding party stood in line in the order in which they would walk. One by one our closest friends disappeared through the tall wooden pathway that lead to where my future husband waited. I could hear the musicians finishing the last song and for a second everything was quiet and I felt my heart stop.
Daddy smiled and I took his arm. “You ready?” I asked. He nodded and like a fairytale the doors swung open. The aisle runner rolled out and touched my toes and at the first chime of “The Bridal March” the congregation rose to their feet. With every step there was an exhilarating sensation. I looked down and noticed our hand painted aisle runner with our names in yellow surrounded by flowers meticulously brushed in red. Fresh yellow and white rose petals had been sprinkled heavily down each side of the runner leading the way to where my handsome groom stood. To my left and right were our wonderful guests and in front of me stood the special people
Will and I had chosen to take part in our magical day. They were backed by columns strewn with white silk and flowers. Following close behind me, holding tight to my train were three very important little train bearers.
As my walk came to an end I could see Will’s face. He was everything I had hoped for, everything I had imagined on my journey to the church earlier that had stilled my emotions. He looked nervous yet calm, but there was no question of how good looking he was. The moment his eyes met mine I saw them fill with tears. All day I had searched for words to describe how I felt, to explain to myself what it was that I thought, and with one breath-taking glance he said it, love. The letters are few, the definition is long, and the description is near impossible. He had given it so freely and with such ease that I knew then my greatest gift in life was to be his wife. It was then that every other emotion faded and all I could feel was love.