The number one thing I heard in the weeks leading up to my wedding was how fast the day would fly by. Because I like to be prepared and know what I'm getting into, I made a mental note of this. The day will fly by, I told myself. And then I thought: but wait, how can I stop it from flying by? Which leads me to the number two thing I heard in the weeks leading up to my wedding, which was that I should try---should really, really try---to be present in the moment. Okay, I thought, got it. The day will fly by, but I should try to be present in the moment. I am prepared. I have done my homework. As god is my witness, I will stop this day from flying by!
Internet, you cannot stop your wedding day from flying by. You cannot even really be present in the moment, actually, because the moment just goes too damn fast. Honestly, it's like someone just presses fast forward on the day: the first half goes at a normal pace and then all of a sudden, it's one o'clock, and you're getting your hair done, and people are milling around you getting excited and then BOOM!, it's like someone slipped you a roofie and you wake up ten hours later and the wedding's over and you can hardly remember a thing.
My wedding day is such a blur. I know that I smiled a lot, not just from the pictures that I've seen, but because I remember thinking I just can't stop smiling, I can't stop. I even thought I was going to get in trouble in the church, actually, because I was smiling so much. Honestly, I was beaming like a crazy person from start to finish. I half expected the vicar to stop what he was doing, grab me by the collar, and say "now, are you actually taking this seriously, young lady? Wipe that grin off your face, this is important business!"
The day after the wedding---which is a very strange day indeed, by the way, probably one worthy of its own post; I don't think anyone really tells you how weirdly emotional you're going to feel---I wailed to Sean that I'd failed in my one important task of being present in the moment. "Everyone told me," I sobbed, "to take a moment sometime during the wedding and really look around and notice everything and take it all in. And I forgot to do that."
"But you know what," said Sean, calmly. "Everyone probably forgets to do that. That's why they tell other people to do it, because they never had time to do it themselves."
It's so true, Internet! It just keeps perpetuating itself! One day, some lucky bride really is going to remember to be present in the bloody moment, and the whole vicious cycle will be righted!
Regardless, there are things I do remember, things that I know happened because I kept a mental stockpile of them in my head to keep me tethered to the fact that yes, that did just actually happen, because hey, did that actually happen? is something we kept asking each for the 24-hour period before we received photographic evidence that it did.
I remember taking a swim the morning of the wedding, diving into the pool and slicing through the water, clearing my head of the fog that had built up after a night of fitful sleep and thinking married today, married today with the rhythm of every kick and stroke. I remember kneeling at the coffee table with both of my brothers as they helped me de-thorn roses and pull leaves off lisianthus, and later, sitting there alone while I made my bouquet, surprised at how therapeutic and calming it was, how I wasn't really nervous or stressed at all, how in just a few hours I'd be carrying this same bunch of flowers down the aisle.
I remember stepping into my dress, how it took just a few seconds when I'd envisioned it being a long, slow, drawn-out affair, how I unlocked the bedroom door and let the photographer in again, how I called to my mother and sister to help with the button at the top, how I stood there breathing in and out, in and out, in and out, while no-one could find the button and the car was waiting and oh my god, we've got to go.
I remember descending the stairs to see my dad at the bottom, the tiny picture my mother offered me that was always hanging on the wall in my grandmother's old flat, how my dad helped me tie it to the bouquet, how it was the first moment I felt the sudden sharp rush of tears, but held them back anyway.
I remember walking out of the house to the car in the driveway, turning back towards it for a second, and seeing the entire catering staff in their black t-shirts, standing against the garage, watching me, waving. I remember sitting in the back seat of a turquoise 1955 Chevy with my dad, how he'd cut himself shaving and I tore a tissue in my tiny purse in half and dabbed at it for him, how we talked about how it might be cloudy later, how I remembered a few blocks from the church that I still had the label on the bottom of my shoe, so I just turned sideways in the car and my dad peeled it off for me, easier than taking my shoe off and doing it myself.
I remember that we got there and it was somehow a strange surprise to see the photographer, stranger still to see the groomsmen milling around, and the vicar in his robes, how everyone looked at me with a weird sort of reverence. I remember the moments in the ladies' waiting room before the ceremony, and the weird flash of butterflies when it was time, like standing in the wings to go on stage and hearing the audience suddenly hush. I remember standing outside the closed church doors with my dad, listening to the organist inside, and how my dad said "now I'm nervous," and I said "me too."
I remember the moment when the doors opened and everyone stood up and that's when I looked around at everyone, that's when I paused time and froze it right where it was, 3:35pm on Saturday September 5th. And then we started walking and there was Sean with tears in his eyes, and when we said our vows, his voice was loud and strong, and mine got choked up, which was a total surprise to me because I hadn't seen that one coming at all.
There was a moment during the ceremony, a very clear moment, when I looked down at my parents in the front row, and I was just squeezed with happiness---I can't even explain it, it was like a visceral, physical burst of joy---because there they were, there we all were, and the moment was here.
And afterwards, walking down that tiny aisle---hold hands? no, hold me by the elbow, however we fit---I couldn't stop smiling, still couldn't stop smiling, couldn't stop all night.
I remember the ride back to the house, our Just Married sign fluttering on the bumper, cars all around us on the freeway honking, their drivers pressing against the windscreen with big grins and thumbs up. All the way home people congratulated us from their cars, everyone waving like the joy was contagious. And then at home, walking into the backyard to a shower of confetti, my grandma throwing fistfuls of it, my sister blowing bubbles, rose petals scattered across the lawn, and look, there was everyone, there was everyone we loved.
I remember a perfect moment during dinner, Edith Piaf on the sound system, the sky a pale pink, the lanterns luminous, an attentive waiter topping up my champagne, the pleasant buzz of conversation around us, and everywhere I looked, someone I knew. I remember the speeches, how my dad got to a part where we both choked up simultaneously, how as soon as it happened, Sean grabbed my hand.
I remember the first dance, how we got the twirl exactly right, although it's possible I don't actually remember the first dance after all, and have only seen the video one too many times:
I remember the dance floor being packed, the music all being exactly right, doubling over with laughter as one of my brothers did The Worm and then the other retaliated with some strange sort of breakdancing move and then, later, forming a circle around my brother and sister as they debuted a choreographed dance to Baby Got Back (somewhere there are videos of both of those things too.)
I hardly remember cutting the cake, but I remember the night being almost over---eleven already? but how?---and the taxi arriving and Sean and I keeping the driver waiting while we ran around and said our goodbyes, waving, waving, waving as the car pulled out of the driveway. I remember walking through the lobby of the hotel in my big swishy dress, thinking this is weird, I'm walking through a hotel lobby in a wedding dress, the tired clerk behind the desk smiling at us, a bottle of champagne waiting in our room.
And then that was it, the wedding was over, a whole ten months of work dissolved in a single day, which is about as strange a feeling as you can imagine. Because it does go fast, it goes so fast you can't even believe it, and no, you probably won't remember to be present in the moment, you won't remember at all. But at least you'll snatch a few memories here and there.
(All photos by the wonderful and talented Erin Hearts Court, who are quite likely the best photographers in the world, yes, I'm looking at YOU, Ansel Adams, you ain't got nothing on them.)