If you are just seeing this, don’t forget to go back and read the first five parts of the Team ’76 series:
This was it. The day had arrived.
My recollection of our wedding day is still pretty vivid, which I'm guessing is to be expected when such a monumental occasion happens in your life. Exactly one year earlier, I didn't even know who Paul was and was seriously starting to accept the fact that I might in fact be one of those ladies who "never marries." I was becoming OK with that and instead of fighting my single-hood, I was accepting it as God's plan for my life. I was 34, had a great job, lots of great friends, lived in a condo I adored in a city I adored even more. Life was good. Sure I bemoaned different aspects of my single life, but all in all, I was in a good place.
Now here I was, waking up at 7:30am on my wedding day, still in a state of wonder that it was actually my turn. My turn to put on the dress. My turn to walk down the aisle and say the vows. My turn to join in covenant with someone who loved me the way I never really thought I deserved to be loved.
Surreal hardly describes the feeling.
It was a Friday and the wedding wouldn't even begin until 7pm. I was looking forward to having most of the day to relatively relax, put together some last minute details with my amazing helpers Lisa and Darnell and then heading to the hotel around 1:30 to start getting ready for the rest of the afternoons activities.
When I arrived at the hotel, I went to the getting ready room and organized all of my stuff. I was the only one there for a while and it gave me some time to kind of enjoy the fact that even on today, my wedding day, I had time to be alone and reenergize before the crazy-ness that was sure to ensue once everyone started arriving.
My amazing and talented stylist Melissa was first to arrive and we got started on my hair. Soon after she arrived, my bridesmaids and make up artist arrived as well. Then things start to get a little blurry. My mom showed up at some point along with my ridiculously talented photographer, Angie Arms. Once I got into my dress, things started moving even quicker. I knew the boys had arrived but I wasn't sure where they were. I was relying on everyone else around to make sure I was where I needed to be, when I needed to be there.
When it was time to head downstairs for the first look, all I remember is being excited. So excited to finally see Paul since I hadn't seen him all day. I knew he would be in his dress uniform and would look incredibly dapper. The anticipation was building and I was so excited to see the look on Paul's face as he turned around and saw me not only as his girlfriend or fiancee, but as his bride. Angie led me to where he was at the end of this beautiful breezeway and they counted down until Paul could turn around.
After the first look we did all of the bridal party photos and some photos of Paul and I. We were on a time crunch at that point as it was nearing 7 when the ceremony would begin. It was at this point, that the coordinator we were working with pulled Paul and I aside to give us some info. At the time we booked, she had informed us that if the presidential suite was available on the evening of our wedding, they would comp us the stay in that room but she made no guarantees. When she pulled us aside, she pulled out some keys and said, "its all yours!" while taking us inside an unbelievably amazing suite that was directly next to the reception room. Paul and I were stunned. The room was bigger than my condo and the shower alone was the size of my living room. It was amazing. We were so excited to receive such an amazing gift from the hotel just moments before walking down the aisle. Nice move, Edgewater, nice move!!
I heard some conversation about there being horrible traffic and some people were running late, Paul's parents included! But when the time finally arrived, everyone was there and on time.
We lined up to begin our processional and I remember the wrong song was playing as my mom, grandma and Paul's mom were being seated. I was kind of freaking out about it because the song I had wanted to walk down the aisle to was "At Last" by Etta James, it was just such a perfect song for me to walk down the aisle to. But instead of instrumental music for my mom, grandma and Paul's mom, the DJ played my song instead!! I was briefly sad about that but my best friends and bridesmaids Amanda and Brandy assured me all was well and it was no big deal and "its all good, you are about to go get married!!" I was so glad they were there!
My dad walked me down the aisle and as I walked the extremely short distance up to the front I became overwhelmed with emotion. Mostly about the fact that all of these people were there for us!! Some had traveled thousands of miles to make this trip. Some had taken time off of work and paid good money just to be there in that room with us for this celebration.
It still makes me tear up at the thought.
I was so humbled and appreciative for everyone who came that saying thank you a thousand times would never convey what I felt at that moment.
I pulled myself together for the ceremony. Well, Paul and I both cried a few times during the ceremony but for the most part we held it together. After we walked down the aisle and cheered that we were finally man and wife, we went out to the front of the Edgewater for some family formals. Everyone else went to a cocktail hour while the hotel set up the reception in the room we just had the ceremony in!
Once the reception started everything moved very quickly. Paul and I did have an opportunity to sit and eat for a few minutes, but before we knew it we were listening to speeches and cutting the cake. When the dancing began we were able to say hello to people and thank them for coming, but as expected, you feel pulled in a thousand different directions and can't give your attention to everyone.
Our reception was perfect. Nice and short and not drawn out. We got all of the important things accomplished and then as people trickled out we were able to say goodbye and thank you for coming. The reception coordinator at the hotel was so, so, SO good. He kept checking on us to see if we were ok and if we needed anything. Paul mentioned he was getting a little bit of a headache and five seconds later, he gave him some Motrin. He also fixed a full plate of food and extra cupcakes and left them in our room in case we were hungry later. I can not say how impressed I was with the staff at the hotel. Booking at this hotel was not the most expensive option we had, but I felt like they treated me like I spent a million dollars to have my wedding there.
At around 11, they rolled out cookies and milk to anyone who was still there and Paul and I decided it was time to retire for the night. We showed Kyle and Kaylee the room and then his parents took them for the night.
As we sat in the room resting our tired feet and looking at the pile of gifts and cards that sat in front of us and just soaking in all of the excitement and joy of the evening, we just felt so blessed. So blessed to be afforded this opportunity to have this celebration and to have so many people we knew and loved join with us and celebrate too. We knew many big things were in store for us and our future and what a way to celebrate the beginning of it all!!
Next up in the series: The Honeymoon