Monday, July 31, 2017

Wedding Week (Part 3/3)

We were finally coming to the end of what had already been a marathon week. All of the fruits of our labor were slowly, but surely coming together for good. Since we had made such big headway all through the week, we were able to do exactly as we had hoped for Friday--relax and prepare! All of us girls (Mom, my sisters, and I) headed to Enid to pamper ourselves and get our nails done! Aunt Pat even joined us for her first-ever mani-pedi! :) It was wonderful to be so relaxed. After we finished at the nail salon, Emily dropped me off at Thomas' hotel, from which he and I left to greet Heather, my bridesmaid from Florida who was my missionary friend who I met back at OSU. She was staying at Liz's house, so we figured it'd be nice if we were there when she arrived so that it wasn't awkward for anyone. We talked with her for a bit, while waiting for Liz to get home for her lunch hour and unlock the house. Liz gave Thomas and Heather a tour. Afterwards, Thomas, Heather, and I all went to lunch at Katy's Pantry. Heather loved it every bit as much as I had anticipated she would. Thomas loved getting to know her a little better, as it had been a long time since they'd last talked in person! I loved getting to spend some downtime with her! Of course, we had to share a sugar cookie...when in Rome, ya know!

After lunch, Thomas stopped by his hotel room to grab his rehearsal clothes, and we headed back to my house, where we got ready for rehearsal. It seemed oddly surreal to be at that point! Emily came and did my makeup, as promised! Before we knew it, it was time to head to the church! Thomas and I arrived at the church an hour early, anticipating early arrivals. To our surprise, one of Thomas' groomsmen, who is notorious for showing up late, who Thomas may have told that it started a half hour earlier than it really did in anticipation of his tardiness, was waiting for us at the church upon our arrival. He had been there for at least 20-30 minutes already. Eventually, Thomas broke the news to him that the rehearsal actually started at 6, not 5:30 like he originally told him. They shared some laughs!

I busied myself as much as I could, only to ford off my nervous energy. Little by little, everyone filtered in to the church. We were in full-on host(ess) mode at that point. My usual center of attention awkwardness that I've told you all about already set in, yet again. Once Fr. Ed arrived, we got started. It still felt surreal! The only members of the wedding who didn't show up were the pianist and one of Thomas' groomsmen who was just returning to DFW from a business trip, so I'd say it was a success.

Highlights of the rehearsal included Liz realizing that her escort (the aforementioned groomsman) wasn't there, so she had to walk in alone. One of my flower girls having a nervous breakdown (the older of the two, surprisingly). Side note, it was kind of adorable. This flower girl (Natalie) was walking with Cole, who was a very dutiful ring bearer. In her nervousness, Natalie walked down the aisle at a snail's pace. Cole was concerned for her, and kept pace so he didn't abandon her. We eventually had to instruct them to pick up the pace a little. I was a little concerned about how this would work once we came to the real deal. The groomsmen struggled a little to figure out how to enter their pew. (That was fairly comical, if a little painful, to watch!) We successfully made it through all three run-throughs and were completely finished, when Kyle came up to me with a concerned look. I could tell he'd been trying to get a point across to multiple people, to no avail, so he had to approach me. Andy was not far behind him with the same concerned look. They informed me that they (the candle lighters) were the only people who hadn't yet been instructed of their exact duties and when they were supposed to process up the aisle. Up to that point, I had a lurking feeling that we had forgotten something, and that was it. I repeatedly thanked them for alerting me, and we worked quickly to fill in that detail. I felt awful, but I knew they understood. I was also slightly nervous that they hadn't done an actual run-through, but Deacon Jeff assured me that he'd help them through and/or come to their rescue in the event of a catastrophe! We all milled about the church for a little longer, as the restaurant where our dinner was held that evening wouldn't be ready until 7:30 at the earliest. (We finished rehearsing around 6:45...Fr. Ed doesn't mess around!)

Once it was time to head to Enid, lots of people realized that they had NO idea where the dinner would be held (understandably, since almost no one was from Enid). So Thomas and I led a caravan to the restaurant. It reminded me of the old trucker movie "Convoy", so naturally, we had to listen to the old C.W. McCall song of the same name. It was great. During our trip, we assumed no one knew where it was, and we were also informed that that stretch of highway was thick with law enforcement, so Thomas (the usual lead foot) drove the speed limit. Suddenly, we were overtaken by Fr. Stuart, who zoomed past us! Obviously he knew where he was going! (No, he didn't get pulled over, thanks for your concern!)

We arrived to the restaurant, which was already full of people from our group. (They were closed to outside business that night, in case you wondered how it wasn't packed on a Friday.) I immediately started pouring sweat upon entering the restaurant. I asked Steve if they could do anything, but the owner told him that the building was old, and its HVAC system was at max capacity. We had an open bar for the night, so Thomas immediately grabbed me a drink to calm my nerves. After a brief while of appetizers and socialization, the blessing was said, and dinner was served. It was incredible. The only thing that could've possibly made it better was if it was about 15 degrees cooler in there. (I may or may not have used the "reserved" card on our table as a makeshift fan. Classy, I know.) Everyone mixed and mingled. It was perfect seeing all of our close friends and family hitting it off so well! At the end of dinner, Steve offered a toast, during which time the waterworks commenced for me. Then my sisters led us over to a laptop that had been set up, ready to play a video slideshow they had created out of pictures of Thomas and I through the years. I cried even more. (I think lots of people did, actually!) Apparently, during this time, my younger flower girl, Lakely (about 4 years old) was very concerned as to "why Miss Amanda was crying". Her mom gave her a quick lesson on happy tears, which of course, did nothing to quell her concerns.

After the slideshow, since I was already good and emotional, Thomas and I passed out gifts to the wedding party. We gave small introductions to all of the bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, and ring bearers. Why yes, I did tear up during almost all of my introductions. (Of course I'd cry whilst speaking in front of a crowd of about 65 people. Story of my life.) We also passed out small gifts to the remainder of our wedding party. It was a lovely time, I promise. After that, everyone continued to mingle and enjoy the night. It was everything we'd hoped it'd be and more! Perfect in every way possible!

Eventually everyone went their separate ways. Thomas dropped me off at home, and my sisters came over for our sleepover. (Side note: Emily decided that since the three of us had spent the evening before everyone's wedding together, we should continue the tradition for mine. Granted, Gina and I still lived at home when she was married. Emily happened to come over with Cody who was 9 months old who fell asleep at our house the night before Gina's wedding...I still lived at home, of course. This time was an actual sleepover!) They came over in their pajamas, and we all (Mom included) did clay face masks right before going to bed. Of course we all crashed on the couch before they forced me to wash off my face mask and go to my actual bed. It was comforting having everyone there, just like the old days!

The next morning, I was awoken by my sisters who greeted me with phone cameras, snagging pictures of me. We quickly packed up and proceeded to head to Enid for our respective hair appointments. Of course, everyone's hair turned out to look perfect! The fact that I didn't go to bed until about 1 AM was helped by my hair stylist offering me coffee (with creamer, because she's awesome), to help perk me up! From that point on, I was a bundle of positive energy! We headed back over to Liz's house, where Joe and Vickie, with the help of their friend Kendra, had prepared an AMAZING brunch for us! I loved having all of my favorite gal pals there. We cranked up all of our favorite throwback tunes and sipped on mimosas. (Side note: coffee plus a mimosa equals a very relaxed bride!) From that point, we headed upstairs to begin working on makeup. We had such a great time together! My source (Elizabeth) told me that Thomas was a huge bundle of nerves and tension. She told him that I was having the time of my life, so he should relax, too.

Before we knew it, it was time to head down to Bison to get dressed. I rode with Tonisha, as we reminisced about all of the good times we'd had up to that day. I loved getting to ride with her! Upon our arrival, we were greeted by my flower girls, who just finished having their hair done. They were absolutely precious! Soon after, the florist arrived with our flowers, and the photographer arrived to start grabbing pictures of everyone. We all had our sights on 4 PM, when Thomas and I would be doing our first look. Slowly, everyone started getting dressed from that point. It was REALLY surreal. I think that was the only point at which I felt even slightly nervous. Of course, that was when I called upon Heather to pray over me, to help ease my tensions. I love having friends who'll do things like that :)

All of a sudden, it was time for me to get dressed. Once I was dressed, Lakely was absolutely enamored with me. She would randomly come back to my room, and just peer at me with a look of pure admiration and joy. I loved sharing those moments with her...I like to think she'll carry those memories with her for the rest of her life. It was perfect. (Natalie was busy talking to her new bff, Cole, who she thankfully warmed up to at the rehearsal dinner the night before.) Kyle and Jakub (who was LOVING his suit) periodically came back to chat with me. They too looked at me with admiration I don't usually receive! I think Kyle was starting to realize that I would soon be leaving them for Texas, so he was trying to soak it all in. For all of his orneriness and peskiness, it was a welcome change to see him being so loving and sincere. I also cherish that time we spent. W

Then, it was time for the first look! I was led out to Thomas, who was standing outside of the beloved shrine. I greeted him, and we shared our pure joy. It was nice having a few quiet moments with him before being inundated with everything and everyone. We shared a prayer, thanking God for getting us there in that moment. From then, we started our photography session. By some miracle, we accomplished all of our necessary pictures and had plenty of time to spare, so I was whisked away to the commons to sit, while guests arrived and were seated.

In all reality, everyone was pretty calm in the Commons. I mean, all of the necessary pictures were done up to that point, and everything was completed. We had nothing to worry about. Then, moments before we were instructed to start lining up, Jakub rammed into a wall and was inconsolable. He who was (as of the day before) handling his ring bearer duties quite well, was having a meltdown. (I probably would have too had I been in his shoes.) Scotty, one of his favorite people, came to the rescue and calmed him down. He was fine as we processed along the sidewalk to the front doors of the church. Everyone was in their respective places. I peered through the windows on the church doors to see that it was PACKED, no spots left open whatsoever. I haven't seen my church that full in a long time. Honestly, I think the last time I saw it that full was for a funeral. We were all ready!

Jakub, who had all but recovered from his sudden head trauma, was tapping at Gina's legs, saying something about his feet being sweaty. (He was wearing cowboy boots and long socks as part of his ringbearer attire.) We all kind of disregarded it, until we looked down and realized that he had taken one of his boots off and his red Paw Patrol socks (a gift from Thomas) were showing! Gina quickly gave him a "pep talk" could probably guess what was said!

Everyone processed in without a hitch. My cousin Jakub (one of little Jake's namesakes) played a beautiful accompaniment line to "Trumpet Voluntary". It literally brought me to tears. Natalie summoned her big-girl courage and calmly walked in, assured that her mom would be awaiting her once she made it to the front. She and Cole managed to make it down the aisle at a much quicker speed than the night before! Jakub and Lakely went up, just like they had practiced, except Jakub decided to plop down at Gina's feet, unlike how he'd practiced the night before. Instead of immediately processing to his seat where Jeremy was awaiting him, Jeremy had to intercede and walk him over. Leave it to kids to provide much-needed levity! :)

Finally, the big moment: my dad and I walked in. It felt like a small eternity as we waited for Fr. Ed to invite the crowd (no exaggeration) to stand and for the music to start. I wanted to let my pianist play for a bit, because I wanted to enjoy my processional song, "St. Anthony's Chorale" by Haydn. It was unique and absolutely beautiful! I kissed my dad bye as he handed me off to Thomas. I was teary-eyed, of course.

Our Mass began. Both of our lectors and our deacon did a fantastic job proclaiming the words of Sacred Scripture. Our vocalist's voice was angelic. Fr. Stuart won everyone's hearts with his heartfelt homily, talking about the journey Thomas and I took to get there, interspersing with his well wishes for our marriage. I sniffled off and on, in awe of everything. We exchanged vows and rings, and Mass continued. Finally, we were at the end of the ceremony, and Fr. Ed, in his usual dry humor said, "I think it's time for a kiss! Go ahead, Thomas!" We sealed our covenant with a kiss, as Eston (our pianist) dazzled us with his rendition of "On Top of the World". Why yes, we left the church to an Imagine Dragons song! Fun fact, that was the song that was playing the first time Thomas and I said that we loved each other at Thomas' first TEC retreat! We thought it was only fitting that we play it again! As we entered the narthex, Thomas picked me up and spun me around, in celebration of what we'd just accomplished! We quickly walked back, so that we could sign our marriage license and finish up a few other pictures. In making our wedding day timeline, my photographer and I played it safe and assumed we wouldn't make it to the reception until about 8 PM. (Our wedding started at 6 PM.) We were walking in the reception around 7:15! We loved that we didn't have to be quite as rushed at the reception and that she could get plenty of candid shots!

We were quickly whisked into our first dance, "Swaying to the Music" by Johnny Rivers. It was the perfect slow, sappy love song that wasn't overused! Shortly thereafter was the father-daughter/mother-son dance, "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. From there, our best man, Nick was kind enough to have made Thomas and I plates of food, so we sat for a moment and scarfed food down so we could start socializing! It turns out that socializing at your own wedding reception is incredibly difficult. You can't make it more than a foot or two before you see someone you want to greet or being stopped by someone to talk or for a photo op. We made an earnest effort to try talking to everyone there, but of course that didn't happen. Such is life!

We cut our cake soon thereafter. As per Thomas and I's previous agreement, there was no "funny business", as Thomas called it. He did NOT want cake smashed in his face, nor did I, so we were nice and civilized. The cake was absolutely beautiful and delicious. After the cake was cut, Nick the best man toasted us, as did my sisters. Somewhere in there, I was tired of missing out on all of the dancing, so I hit the dance floor. Sometimes Thomas danced with me, sometimes he didn't. I had fun either did he!

All of a sudden, I saw Thomas' sister Elizabeth emerge, wearing a flat-billed OSU ballcap backwards on her head. I had no idea what was coming, but I knew something was about to go down. It turns out that not long after we were engaged, she took the initiative to start writing a song parody toast to us to the tune of "Ice Ice Baby", which happens to be one of my favorite 90's throwback tunes! It was pretty impressive, to say the least. She put a LOT of time and energy into it, and we absolutely loved it!

We also had our bouquet toss and garter toss. I know, they're cheesy, cliche, and painful for the single crowd. Oh well, we still did them! When Thomas did the garter toss, he decided to have a little fun and throw out a large pair of women's underwear. Naturally, the men all split apart. When he flung the garter back, it didn't go far at all, but his cousin/groomsman, William caught it! My bouquet toss ended with my good friend from St. John's, Hannah, catching it! It turns out that those things are slightly more anticlimactic when you're the ones involved, but it was still fun nonetheless!

We socialized and danced quite a bit, until it was becoming apparent that Thomas was losing steam quickly. We scheduled to have a limo available to us from 11-2:30. We really didn't plan to have a "grand escape", but we did anyway! My dad had the foresight to procure 150 party poppers, so they were passed out to everyone who made a tunnel for us to run through on our way to the limo door! We entered the limo, covered in streamers and confetti, as we rode off into the night!

We had a perfect ending to our perfect wedding day! We really couldn't have asked for a better celebration! We're immensely grateful for everyone who celebrated with us, who helped us, who offered prayer for us, on and on and on! We're so blessed!

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