There were faces in the pews on either side of that aisle -- faces that I couldn't really see in the darkness of the church, that I couldn't register in the exhilaration of that moment. All I caught was the sunlight glinting off of glasses and jewelry, casting little sharp prisms against massive columns speckled with the reds and blues of stained glass, columns that soared up to the sky.
I stepped slowly, a long lace train trailing behind me, a soft veil edged in crystals skimming silently over the floor. The pipe organ swelled and bellowed majestically, louder than the string quartet I'd hoped for but not powerful enough to shake the stillness I suddenly felt. It was like a hum, the feeling in my head and my heart while I walked slowly toward the altar. It was happiness and peace and excitement and pure, utter joy. Joy that sparkled like fireworks when I saw Kyle waiting for me at the end and smiling, his one dimple deepened by the shadows in the church.
That feeling is what stands out the most in my memories of our wedding. That, and the breathtaking sunlight, soft and golden, that shone down on our day.
Thus commences the last wedding recap I will ever write. Probably. I think one year is the official expiration date.
It wasn't perfect, of course.
There was a torrential thunderstorm that morning, one that sidelined us in the salon, our hair freshly coiffed, trash bags at the ready to shield us when it slowed to a steady drizzle and we could make a mad dash toward the car. Pretty glamorous, no?
The braid I originally got in my updo made me look more Calypso, Jamaican Sea Goddess than Elizabeth Bennett, and I had to have it pulled and yanked to loosen things up a bit.
My false eyelashes, long and lush and professionally done, ended up repeatedly catching on the blusher veil that I foolishly decided to keep down during the entire ceremony, sweat trickling down my hairline in the 90 degree heat.
(have you ever seen a cuter dimple than that?!)
There are things I might change if I could go back.
I was very insistent on my dark red peonies, with purples and blues for the rest of the flowers -- and I still love that look. Ditto the slate blue bridesmaids dresses -- they were gorgeous. But that color scheme was primarily so that we wouldn't clash with Heinz Chapel's bright red doors, and after the photography debacle, we had to beat a bit of a hasty retreat -- no photos at the doorway.
So if I had to choose again, I might go with whisper pink peonies for my own bouquet, and add soft pinks, peaches, greens, and whites to my blues and purples -- less of a color scheme and more of a hodgepodge of my favorite shades all scattered together. Which is a big no-no in any wedding planning advice ever written, but I think would have turned out just fine.
I loved my dress -- absolutely loved it. But in terms of both practicality (it slid down a lot toward the end of the night while dancing) and timelessness (I'd bet money that sleeveless dresses are "so 2010" in about three years), I might have searched longer and harder for a lace dress with sleeves, which was an impossible dream pre-Royal Wedding.
Let it be noted that I wanted lace sleeves long before Kate Middleton donned them -- she and I just think as one, clearly. I tried on well over 50 dresses, and I don't think one of them had real sleeves.
Finally, in hindsight, my gray rosetted flip-flops probably weren't the classiest and most sophisticated footwear choice for dancing the night away. I might have been better served by ballet flats. But I have my doubts that they would have been as comfortable.
There are some things that I would never, ever change, things that still stand out as my favorite choices, period...
Heinz Chapel. In spite of all the sweating and the rushing and the music constraints... yinz, that place is gorgeous. It is splendor and stone and stained-glass. It's what makes me think perhaps my color scheme really was really just right, those hints of jewel tones gleaming through the quiet darkness, the shimmering blue bridesmaids dresses set off against all the gleaming mahogany. It is exactly the type of space I always dreamed of for a wedding.
The bagpipes. Sweet baby Jesus, there is nothing that gets me like those pipes. When I hear them, anytime, anywhere -- outside of a hockey game, even -- I feel like I could turn a corner and see the misty hills and steely lochs of Scotland. To me, there seems to be something holy about that sound. Plus, could there be a more festive way to walk from a wedding ceremony to the reception? No, is the answer you are looking for.
The Twentieth Century Club. Oh, you classy, delightful little gem, you. An answer to the Duquesne Club, that imposing gentlemanly retreat where ladies of yore daren't tread. Your buttery yellow walls and soft green drapes and crystal chandeliers and marble fireplaces, your wall murals and black-lacquered bar tables and glorious vases and bouquets, your delicious chicken piccata and green beans almondine and those potatoes, oh. You were an answer to my wedding reception prayers. I loved you.
The tuxedos. Oh, the tuxedos. The gentlemen looked like the stepped out of a James Bond movie, basically. Or off the Titanic. Or right out of my dreams.
There are a lot of negative sentiments out there about marriage -- I stumbled across some of them just this morning. And today especially, I feel I have to stick up for this old-fashioned institution called matrimony. Of course marriage is not always easy. But what important things in life really are? It's enriching and comforting and challenging in the best ways -- the ways that make you stretch and grow.
You can never know the ins and outs of others, the complicated tangle of history and emotions and trust and values that makes up any union between two people. People grow and change, and the future is not promised for an infinite number of reasons, only a fraction of which are within our control. But that's what marriage is -- a leap of faith. For every couple. You go in on a promise and a prayer -- to love and lift each other up, come what may.
The thunderstorms that arrived the morning of our wedding day scattered that afternoon, giving way to deep blue skies and soft sunshine... but they returned with a vengeance as we left our reception that night. It was a downpour. Looking back now, it reminds me of a book I read in AP English as a twelfth-grader -- How to Read Literature Like a Professor. (Nerd alert).
Rain symbolizes baptism, and in that case, every wedding should have its share of showers. It is the start of a new life.
Our first year of marriage has changed us both, all for the better. Just like our wedding day, there's been love and excitement and faith and comfort and little hiccups here and there too -- but nothing we couldn't laugh off. And that right there, the love and laughter and promise to see any rough patches through... that is what I want, for all the rest of the days of my life.
Happy anniversary, Kyle. I love you always, but boy, I sure do like you a whole lot too.