Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Hitched" Without a Hitch!

I know, I know, that’s really dorky—but since I thought of it I just had to use it!

First of all, I would like to thank Caroline and Leanna for the beautiful entry they wrote last week while I was away—I’ve read it myself at least five times through. I love hearing about the day from the perspective of others who were there. As for Daniel and me, people really mean it when they say your wedding day is the happiest day of your life! But the range of emotions I felt within a single forty-eight hour period of my life was amazing, and rather overwhelming.

I took off work for the few days preceding the wedding, and I’m so glad that I did. I would never have been able to get everything done before the wedding if I hadn’t. On Wednesday and Thursday, my mom and sisters helped me to assemble favors and seating cards, which turned out to be much more of a nightmare and took up much more precious time than I expected. But they got done.

Thursday night my aunt, who is a florist, brought boxes and boxes of flowers and greenery to my parents’ house. She gave us some advice and went on her way. We grouped stems by type in vases and buckets all over the counters and island. For a few hours my mom and I, two other aunts, my eighteen-year-old cousin Lizzie, my sisters Annie and Jane, and my friends Laura and Caroline stood in the fragrant jungle that my parents’ kitchen had become and became florists ourselves.

The result was even prettier than I could have hoped for. My bouquet was absolutely gorgeous. It was simple perfection: a tight bunch of white roses and fragrant yellow orchids tied with sheer yellow ribbon.

Friday morning Caroline, Daniel, and I all woke up early to clean the house; Daniel’s groomsmen would be coming over that night after the rehearsal dinner and Caroline was having some of our friends over the night of the wedding, too. Caroline and I had nail appointments at ten o’clock, and I went over to my parents’ house an hour before that so that my mom could figure out how to bustle my dress. Although I had planned on having my train down for the ceremony, I decided that morning that I liked the way it looked bustled and would rather have one less thing to worry about during Mass (like Daniel or myself tripping over my trail of lace), so it stayed bustled from then on.

My combo manicure-pedicure (first ever for me) with paraffin dip took a long time, almost an hour and a half, but was very relaxing. Afterwards, Caroline and I rushed back home to pack for that night. My bridesmaids, Caroline the groomsmaid, and I would be staying at a hotel about fifteen minutes from the chapel that night so that we wouldn’t have to spend forty-five minutes of our morning in the car just to get to the wedding.

We left home at around 1:30 to make the drive up to the reception hall so that we could decorate there before the rehearsal, which would begin at five. I rode with Caroline and two of my bridesmaids, Marie and Nicole, all packed with everything I needed for that night, the next morning, and the wedding night. I wouldn’t be home again until Sunday afternoon. And I would be married! It was really happening.

Alright, I’m going to have to break this up into at least one more entry, maybe two. Suffice it for me to say, for now, that I am overjoyed to be a wife, and that the incredible nerves I would feel in the twenty-four hours between that point of driving away from my house and the following afternoon would be much more than matched by the happiness I would feel from the moment I took Daniel’s hand after my dad walked me up the aisle. And although my anxiety seemed very able to overwhelm me, that happiness was more than capable of overwhelming the anxiety. Talk about an emotional roller coaster!

Anyways, as I said, to be continued…

Sincerely yours, Mrs. Daniel H.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Beautiful Catholic Wedding

While Sarah and Daniel are on their honeymoon, this blog entry is co-written by Caroline, Sarah’s roommate/friend/coworker, and Leeanna, Sarah’s friend/coworker. Most of this entry is written from their joint perspective, with individual observations as noted.

Sarah and Daniel’s wedding day was absolutely beautiful, and even the weather held up when it needed to. Every piece of the ceremony made clear what is important to this couple…not only that they love each other, but that this love is rooted in faith. It was evident by their beaming smiles that Sarah and Daniel knew the significance of the sacrament they conferred on one another, and were receiving the graces necessary to start their new life together.

Caroline: I can’t say for sure about Daniel, he may not have been as nervous or he may have been hiding it to help Sarah, but Sarah was definitely anxious/nervous the night before the wedding! However, I think that her bridesmaids and I, a “groomsmaid,” helped to calm her down at least a little bit. Despite her nervousness, which continued as she walked down the aisle, once she was beside Daniel it all seemed to disappear. Both of them were so happy, and you could see it in the way they looked at each other throughout the entire day.

Leeanna: The first time I saw Sarah on Saturday was as she walked down the aisle. She looked very nervous…not because of what she was about to do, but because all eyes in the church were on her! (Sarah is not someone who likes to be the center of attention.) From the moment she reached Daniel’s side, however, the nervous look was replaced with a confident smile.

Both: The most striking moment of the ceremony was when Sarah and Daniel said their vows. As Sarah has mentioned, she and Daniel memorized their vows instead of repeating them after the priest. They both spoke the words so loudly, clearly, and confidently. We didn’t realize that this seemingly small touch would have such an impact, but it allowed them to speak “till death do us part” directly to one another – making clear how genuine their words were.

Father Rick, who said the Mass, has known Sarah and Daniel since they were in college. Because he knows them so well, he was able to speak from personal experience about how supportive they are of one another and how willingly they have dedicated their lives to one another since they started dating. He talked about an understanding of “all the days of my life” and how hard it is to picture all of “those days” from the wedding day. He encouraged the newly married couple to think God’s time when days are tough.

It was beautiful to see Sarah and Daniel’s strong Catholic faith as they presented the gifts of bread and wine to the altar, then later received Communion for the first time as husband and wife. The sacraments of matrimony and Holy Eucharist were intertwined so that the couple’s love pointed to the love of Christ. As Christ offers his body and blood for the Church, Sarah and Daniel offer their lives to one another. The prayers offered by the congregation, priests, and all of you during that Mass will certainly assist this faithful couple throughout married life.

We’ve heard for the past few months, through her blog, how much Sarah cares for Daniel. We work/live with Sarah so we often hear about her love for him. Something that was evident during the ceremony and reception was how much Daniel CHERISHES Sarah. During their first dance, he twirled her around the dance floor, then held her close and sang in her ear. He looked at her with so much love and a huge, boyish grin.

Caroline: In fact a few of our friends told me they had never seen Daniel so incredibly happy, smiley, and so completely filled with joy.

Both: We think everyone at that wedding and reception could see that Sarah will be safe and treasured with Daniel for the rest of her life.

Of course, the day was complete with memorable quirky moments. For example, Sarah’s youngest brother, who is not yet two, screamed through most of the ceremony. As such, he spent most of his time in the back room! Her other little brother, age 8, was the ring bearer. His facial expression was an attempt to hold back smiles as his eyes looked back and forth at everyone watching him walk down the aisle. Her four sisters were also involved as the flower girl, “bridesmaidens,” and the maid of honor, and it was great that they were all a part of the big day!

All we know since the wedding is that Sarah and Daniel arrived safely in Florida. She will be back next week to fill you in! As our last duty as bloggers, we’ll leave you this prayer of blessing for Sarah and Daniel that was prayed during the ceremony.

Nuptial Blessing

Father, by your power you have made everything out of nothing.
In the beginning you created the universe
and made mankind in your own likeness.

You gave man the constant help of woman
so that man and woman should no longer be two, but one flesh,
and you teach us that what you have united
may never be divided.

Father, you have made the union of man and wife so holy a mystery
that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and his Church.

Father, by your plan man and woman are united,
and married life has been established
as the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin or washed away by the flood.

Look with love upon this woman, your daughter,
now joined to her husband in marriage.
She asks your blessing.
Give her the grace of love and peace.
May she always follow the example of the holy women
whose praises are sung in the scriptures.

May her husband put his trust in her
and recognize that she is his equal
and the heir with him to the life of grace.
May he always honor her and love her
as Christ loves his bride, the Church.

Father, keep them always true to your commandments.
Keep them faithful in marriage
and let them be living examples of Christian life.
Give them the strength which comes from the gospel
so that they may be witnesses of Christ to others.
Bless them with children and help them to be good parents.
May they live to see their children’s children.
And, after a happy old age,
grant them fullness of life with the saints
in the kingdom of heaven.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Wait Is Over

I'm getting married tomorrow! And I don't have much time to write this, so pardon my brevity (honestly, I'm rather surprised that I just used a word like "brevity" at a time like this). I am so excited, but so nervous right now, which I'm sure you could have figured if you have been reading my blog for the last several months.

A friend who was recently married (in December) told me that her prayer as her wedding approached was "for unshakable serenity, graciousness, and a sense of humor." I think that's just perfect, so I've been praying it too.

Please pray for Daniel and me. You will be hearing from a couple of friends of mine next week-- I will be MIA, on my honeymoon in Florida, and I can't wait for a vacation! And you will be hearing from me again in a couple of weeks. Thanks so much for all of your thoughts and prayers as you've shared this journey with me. I can't believe it's finally here!

Friday, May 8, 2009

At the End of the Day...

I am getting married in a week and one day. And I am insanely happy. I’m also a little bit sad, but only a little bit—mainly in a sentimental, nostalgic kind of way. I will only be Sarah B for one more week. Still, I’m mostly happy. But tell me to cry, right now, and I will. I have too much to do, I’m stressed, I’m anxious, I’m antsy, I can’t sit still, I can’t focus. In one week and one day, I’m going to be all dressed in white (well, technically ivory) the way I always imagined it from when I was a little girl, and 140 people will be looking at me. So if I were to cry right now, they would not be tears of sadness. They would not be tears of joy. They would just be tears of everything.

Here’s an update on our honeymoon situation. Daniel and I decided to go to North Redington Beach, Florida (basically St. Petersburg) where we were offered a condo to stay in for the week. It turns out that we were able to get our money back from the resort in Playa del Carmen after all, and the airline waived its change fees for flights to Mexico. They won’t give us our money back, but they will give us a credit to use with them. They fly to Tampa Bay airport, so that worked out well. We still have $111 with them to use within a year. I’m not sure where we’ll end up going with that—obviously it’s not enough for a round-trip flight anywhere, and certainly not enough for two people. But that’s alright.

While we’re in Florida we’re going to Discovery Cove in Orlando, which is basically an all-inclusive tropical vacation for a day. If we can’t have our all-inclusive tropical vacation honeymoon that we had planned on for so long, we can at least have one day. The park looks pretty awesome, and it’s by reservation-only for just a thousand guests per day, so it won’t be crowded. The ticket to Discovery Cove also includes a 14-consecutive day pass to either Busch Gardens Tampa or Sea World Orlando. We chose Sea World. Of course, we’ll only really have time to go one day, but we’re really excited!

There’s still so much to be done, but I keep reminding myself of what everyone keeps telling me: “No matter what, at the end of the day, you’ll be married!” That’s the important thing. I still can’t believe there’s only a week left. Even as stressed and excited as I am, it just doesn’t feel like I’m getting married next week. I’m not sure what I expected it to feel like, though…

Friday, May 1, 2009

May Is Here!

I’m getting married this month! Everything is coming together fairly well, but of course there is still plenty to do in the next two weekends.

Our problem right now is our honeymoon… which we booked a few months ago for an all-inclusive resort along the Riviera Maya in Mexico. And of course you all know why that would be a problem. Of all the places a soon-to-be-officially-declared worldwide pandemic could erupt, it had to be Mexico. As of right now, we don’t know what we’re going to do. Naturally, our family and friends are worried and don’t want us to go, especially with the government advising against all but “essential” travel to Mexico.

When we found out how serious the swine flu was becoming, Daniel and I looked into changing our flight to somewhere else. What we found out, though, was that our airfare was non-refundable. The airline is waiving its change fees for flights to Mexico—meaning we could go somewhere else, as long as it was part of the airline’s network of airports. The airline flies to lots of cities in the continental U.S., but in the Caribbean they fly only to Cancun and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Anywhere in the continental U.S. that we would be interested in is more expensive than what we’ve already paid for our honeymoon, and Puerto Rico would be nice if it had all-inclusive resorts (which it really doesn’t). Otherwise, we’ll have to go over our budget because we’ll have to pay for our meals.

So, we were thinking earlier this week that we would have prescriptions filled for one of the two anti-viral medications that work on this strain of the flu and take them with us on our trip to Mexico, just in case. In fact, we have Tamiflu being held for us at the pharmacy near our house right now.

Now, though, since the swine flu situation seems to just keep getting worse and worse, we’re looking into other options again. We are hearing that Orbitz may be able to change us to a different airline so that we could fly into somewhere like the Dominican Republic, where there are all-inclusive resorts with rates comparable to the one we have booked in Mexico. I’m going to call Orbitz tonight to see what they can do for us.

Please pray that it all works out; this is the last thing we thought we would have to be worried about two weeks before the wedding. I hope that you all are staying healthy wherever you are!