It was finally here! The week leading up to MY wedding was here! The church told us we could start decorating Monday morning, so we moved all the wrought iron candelabras and lanterns, the tulle and the lights, bubbles, extra candles--so much goes into a wedding! On Tuesday, Kaitlyn arrived from Texas so she could be apart of all the festivities. Wednesday we had the Bridesmaid's Luncheon--that was so fun! My family provided delicious food and it was just time spent with some of my best friends in the world, celebrating them and letting them know how special they were (and still are) to me.
|At the Bridesmaid's Luncheon! (Kaitlyn, Hannah, me, Leslyn, Audrey--missing Sarah and Jessica!)|
|The mom's! Daniel's mom, Pam and my mom, Missy|
|My mom, me, and my grandmothers|
Thursday the girls hosted my Bachelorette party--nothing crazy! They took me to dinner in Little Rock and then we came back and celebrated with dessert from Cupcakes on Kavanaugh (a delicious gourmet cucpakery) and played some fun games.
Friday, June 18.
Daniel's 23rd birthday! I drove down to Little Rock and met him for breakfast at a cute little diner. When we got ready to pay, our waitress told us our ticket was already paid for. We inquired about who paid for it and she told us one of the gentlemen eating earlier noticed my car out front that said "Bride" and "Getting Married." He wanted to give that to us as a wedding gift. I've never had anyone do that for me before and I was so touched! Later that evening we had our rehearsal at the church followed by a dinner at the Country Club. I just remember thinking to myself, "I'm getting married TOMORROW! And it's not a dream!"
|the Bridal Party at the rehearsal dinner|
We went around and talked with everyone, thanking them again for their part in our lives and in the wedding and suddenly, it was just us. Daniel took me out to his car, reached in the backseat and pulled out a package. "Happy Wedding Day tomorrow."
Smiling, I took the package from him and inside was a little black box (every girl's FAVORITE present). I opened it and inside lay beautiful pearl earrings. I ooohed and aahhhed over them and promised to pack them in my suitcase so I could wear them the next week. Then it was my turn! I gave him my package and said, "Happy Wedding Day tomorrow." He opened it and smiled---it was a brand new ESV Bible and I had his name engraved (the binding was literally falling off in his other Bible). I also wrote a note on the inside cover:
"To my husband:
Today is a special day. We are joining our lives together so that we will be 'one' forever. I want this Bible to symbolize that start of our spiritual marriage. Use it as a tool and a guide to be the leader I know that you are. I love you more than anything in this world and I consider it an honor and a privilege to stand by you for the rest of my life."
"It's perfect. I will treasure it always."It was time to say goodbye, but THIS goodbye was the best one yet because in 24 hours, I would never have to say goodbye again! I got home and my mom, sister, and I stayed up talking until midnight. I tried to fall asleep, but it's like that scene in the Father of the Bride, where Annie wakes up her dad playing basketball outside and tells him she can't sleep because it feels like she's turning in her key; it's her last night in her room and in her bed in her parent's house. I think I finally drifted off around 2 am.
June 19, 2010.
I opened my eyes to sunlight streaming in my room. It took me a second to orient myself before it hit me, "It's my wedding day." A huge grin split my face as I got up, brushed my teeth, and walked downstairs to find my mom in the kitchen already cooking breakfast. "Good morning BRIDE."
"I made your favorite to celebrate--biscuits with chocolate gravy, bacon, and eggs." My ever-thoughtful mom, she'd probably been planning on this breakfast from the time I was 5 years old. That breakfast was one of the most treasured and surreal moments of my life--it was the last time I would ever sit at the same breakfast table with my family as an unmarried woman. It was so special! After we all finished and the kitchen was clean, my mom looked at me and said, "Want to go see how the reception decorations are coming along?" I gave her a grin as my answer. We loaded up in the car and headed to the Country Club where everything was already moving in full swing! My grandparents were there along with several other people from our church who volunteered to pitch in and help out. They were utterly transforming the place! Tables were being setup and dressed with tablecloths and vases that were yet to be filled with flowers; the mantle was being lavished with greenery and purple hydrangeas; the food tables were also getting a makeover with stunning purple vases that were sure to be filled with even more flowers. It was so much to take in!
|My grandparents expertly decorating the mantle|
|My aunt creating a beautiful floral arrangement|
Before I knew it, it was time to head to the church to get ready. Every girl dreams about getting her hair and makeup done on the day of her wedding and now that it was here, it was everything I imagined it would be--girl talk and fussing over everyone's dresses and shoes and jewelry and hair products. So fun! The girls helped me get into my dress and then I turned around so my mom could put my veil in my hair. Now, I had done really well up until this point not to cry. But when I turned around and looked my mom in the eye, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The weight of what I was about to do left me breathless and tears sprang to my eyes. She teared up too and hugged me, telling me she was proud of me and that everything was going to be alright.
We took pictures ahead of time for two reasons: 1) it was a better opportunity for us to spend time together alone and 2) it helped with the wait time afterwards. I got nervous before I walked in to see him! But suddenly, there he was smiling back at me, and I knew that everything was going to be alright and that it was the best day of our lives. It was a really special moment and I'm so glad we chose to do it that way.
After pictures, my bridesmaids circled around me and prayed over me and our marriage. Such a sweet time! I truly felt the Lord's presence, celebrating our union. Before I walked out of the room, Kaitlyn took me aside and whispered, "I've been praying that God would allow you to slow down and remember the small details of today--that it won't just be a blur." She's the best. I had told her months before, one of my fears was that I wouldn't remember anything about my wedding day, that it would all be a blur and a rush of dresses and flowers and people. I completely calmed down after that. Music started playing. They opened the doors and the grandparents got escorted, then the moms, then it was the bridesmaids and my niece and nephews as the flower girl and ring bearers. And then, it was just me and my dad. I looked over at him and he winked at me. And then it was time.
I had always daydreamed about walking down the aisle to my soul mate. I figured I would be totally calm and slowly walk down, smiling as everyone looked on. I remember it so vividly. The doors opened and it was like I was in a trance. I had tunnel vision and all I could see was Daniel down the aisle waiting for me; the music and the people and the lights and the flowers--all of it receded. All I remember about the walk down is my dad whispering to me, "You might want to slow down a little."
I made it to the end. My dad handed me over, placing my hand in Daniel's. I don't remember all of the Pastor's words to us. But I do remember the vows we said to each other--the ones we wrote together one winter night. I remember the unity sand ceremony--we chose sand because it symbolized where we got engaged. I remember after the unity sand ceremony when our parents came up to the stage and encircled us, praying over our marriage (I'm told there was not a dry eye in the room after that).
I remember placing the ring on Daniel's finger and proclaiming my love for him in front of God, our family and our friends. I remember the Pastor saying, "You may kiss the bride." And I remember hearing behind me, "It is my pleasure to introduce to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Lowery." WE DID IT! We were married!
It was the best day of my life. I will forever be humbled and grateful that God chose Daniel to be my partner in life. He is perfect for me in every way. Where I am weak, he is strong. And where we are both weak, the Lord is strong enough. I have learned a lot about marriage the past three years. We have gone through highs and lows and we've had our fair share of fights. But at the end of the day, the Lord is faithful and Daniel is still the man I choose to love for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. And I wouldn't have it any other way.