Friday, June 26, 2009

Weekend Wedding - Part 5

Being introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Hammond to a room full of everyone we love was an amazing experience. The deejay played instrumental music that made it sound like we had just won a game show or something, but in a good way. We walked through the door, grinning brightly. The room looked even more beautiful than I had imagined it. Everyone cheered, lots of people standing up from their seats. We made our way through the tables to the head table, which was a round table like the others, but right in the center of the room under the biggest chandelier.

We sat down with our parents to wait for the food—a brunch buffet was set up along one wall of the room, but in the meantime there was a fruit and pastry table open, plus the coffee and tea station. My mom went to get me a cup of coffee, which I was very happy to drink. I was starving, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat much of anything when the time came, either because of the excitement or because I’m a slow eater and would spend most of the mealtime talking.

I was right about that; the lady in charge of catering served our table rather than having us go up to the buffet like everyone else, and my plate was absolutely loaded with a wide variety of everything that was being served. I ended up swallowing just a couple of bites of a ham and cheese omelet, and I think one small slice of Canadian bacon. I did have another cup of coffee after the first, so at least I had my caffeine!

After everyone had eaten, the deejay announced the toasts; Daniel’s brother John, the best man, would be giving one. And although my sister Marie, maid of honor, had originally told me she didn’t want to do a toast because she would be too nervous, she changed her mind while we were at the reception and wrote a speech on her napkin. Marie started to give her toast first, but John took over when she couldn’t stop crying. His speech was very nice; he had everyone laughing but it was also very sweet. Marie tried again, struggling not to cry, with the people around encouraging her. My mom thought Marie just wanted a hug of encouragement when she walked over to our table a sentence or so into her speech. We were all surprised though when, amid many “aww”s, Marie handed my mom the napkin and cried, “Can you do it?”

“What makes you think I won’t cry?” my mom replied, somewhat laughing. So my mom ended up reading Marie’s speech with Marie sitting beside her, listening and crying. It was fairly simple, but beautiful. We toasted with champagne mimosas.

The last piece of the day that I was really nervous about immediately followed the toasts: the first dance, and then the father-daughter dance. But I shouldn’t have worried; Daniel and I were perfectly comfortable, as though we weren’t actually in front of all those people. We sang to each other, along with Steven Curtis Chapman as we twirled, dipped, and attempted to waltz (that part didn’t work out so well). But it was so much fun!

After the two special dances, Daniel and I went around to say hello to every table. I was worried that once we had gotten to everyone, we would have no time to dance any more at all. But we ended up talking to and hugging everyone with time to spare! We cut the cake, took some pictures out in the hall, I tossed the bouquet (which took two tries, since my first toss hit the ceiling) and danced to “Chicken Fried,” “Then,” and “Save the Last Dance for Me” (which, as you may have guessed, was the last dance). By that point, most of the room had cleared out. Daniel and I left to go to our hotel room, which was on the premises since we got a free night in a suite with our reception. I stood in front of the full-length mirror there in my wedding dress and finally started to cry.

I couldn’t believe that the wedding was over. We were married. Really married. All of the emotion of the past several weeks/months came crashing down on me then. Good and bad. I just had never experienced an emotional roller coaster of those proportions before. I imagine having our first child may be somewhat similar…

Once I had calmed down and realized how incredibly starving I was, we went out for dinner at a little Italian restaurant nearby. Of course we changed, but I kept my wedding jewelry on—I wasn’t ready to completely de-bride myself yet. Actually, I wore the jewelry to church the next morning, too!

While we were eating dinner, I couldn’t help but think about how everyone had told us to remember that no matter what, at the end of the day we would be married. Well, it was the end of the day. And we were!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wedding Weekend: Part 4

Our wedding Mass was beautiful. My nervousness didn’t entirely disappear, but it definitely got easier as soon as I took Daniel’s hand to walk to our seats. I had been worried that I would be too anxious to pay attention and pray during the liturgy, but that didn’t end up being a problem at all. I was able to stay focused and prayerful the entire time. And I remember every detail of the ceremony—I heard the organ music, sang along with every song, smelled the incense, and caught the eyes of several people in the crowd to exchange smiles.

The (small) bad part was that I was extremely warm throughout the whole thing, taking sips every so often from the water bottle Caroline had stowed beneath my chair before the ceremony and fanning myself with my program almost the entire time. I was afraid that I would faint; luckily, I didn’t!

My Aunt Alli read the first reading (from Genesis 2) and Daniel’s cousin Mary read the second (Colossians 3). They both did a beautiful job. The Gospel reading was from Matthew chapter 7, about the wise man who built his house upon the rock, which we just love (well, obviously we love it—we’re the ones that chose the readings!).

When we said our vows during the Rite of Marriage, I had absolutely no problem either remembering the words or projecting them so that everyone could hear me. And I will never forget the look of love on Daniel’s face as he spoke those words to me, too: “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

We had a little bit more trouble with the rings. First, we couldn’t get them off the pillow easily at all because the ribbon bow had turned into a knot. Then I really had to push, with both hands, to get Daniel’s ring over his knuckle. Now that it’s on there, it definitely isn’t going to be coming off without a fight—and that is perfectly fine with me. I love seeing that ring on his finger!

Everyone was smiling. Everyone was happy. Cameras flashed. The Mass continued, and Daniel and I received the Eucharist for the first time together as man and wife. The liturgy ended with the lovely Nuptial Blessing that Caroline and Leeanna posted for you last month, and just like that, I got a new name! Actually, not “just like that” at all—it’s taken me the whole month to get most of my name-change stuff finished. I only made it to the MVA to get my new license this past Wednesday! But I heard Father Rick say, “Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Hammond,” and then Daniel was kissing me. It was pure and simple bliss.

I forgot to take my bouquet from Marie when Daniel and I walked back down the aisle at the end of the blessing, which made me feel funny because I had nothing to do with the hand that Daniel wasn’t holding. But I’m laughing about it in all the pictures.

After hugs all around in the sacristy while the rest of our guests made their way to their cars, we took pictures with our immediate families and the bridal party in front of the altar before leaving for the reception. My cheeks were killing me, but in a different place than they ever had before as a result of having to smile for lots of cameras. The pain was more directly under my eyes, in the muscle covering my cheekbones, whereas in the past (high school and college dances and graduations, etc.) it had hurt closer to my mouth. I guess that is because I was more genuinely happy than I had ever been before!

On the way to the reception, with Daniel driving my Dad’s car since it is nicer than either of ours, I discovered that I am rather a fan of riding down the highway in a white dress and veil and having everyone who passes us do a double-take, pointing out to their own passengers the bride and groom in the other lane. It’s such a silly thing, I guess, but I’ll admit that it made me feel a little bit like royalty. In the meantime Daniel and I were so busy laughing together, reveling in the fact that we were really and truly married, that we missed our exit. The next exit wasn’t for several miles, so we lost at least ten minutes just turning around and backtracking to find our way.

We made it to the resort eventually, of course, and stood in the hall with our bridal party waiting to be “presented” to all of our family and friends in the banquet room.

Now, I’m going to pick up at the beginning of the reception next week for a several reasons: 1) Because I know how much you all love the anticipation, 2) To avoid my word count going way over my usual entry, 3) Because I am getting very tired and want to go to bed, and 4) So that I can enjoy reminiscing about my wedding day for yet another week!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wedding Weekend: Part 3, The Big Day!

When the alarm on my cell phone went off at 6:10 on Saturday morning, I sat up immediately and swung my feet to the floor. I didn’t hit snooze at all, which was a surprise to both me and my friends even though it was my wedding day.

I showered, brushed my teeth, and put on capris, flip-flops, and a button-up shirt that I would be able to change out of without ruining my up-do. With a Quaker breakfast cookie and a cup of chamomile tea from the hotel’s continental breakfast in hand, I rode to the hair salon for our 7:30 appointment; all but two of my bridesmaids were getting their hair done there. And since I had already had my hair consultation two weeks prior, I knew exactly what I wanted and the lady was able to get started right away. The food I forced myself to eat while she was working tasted so dry—stupid nerves. The butterflies in my stomach were stronger than ever.

Luckily, I guess, having a morning wedding meant that I didn’t have to spend all day being nervous. There wasn’t time for that. By the time my beautiful up-do was finished it was already after 9:00, and we planned on leaving the hotel by 10:15.

While Marie and Laura were still having their styles done, the rest of us rushed back to do our makeup, get dressed, and pack up our bags. I did my own makeup, which took me about fifteen or twenty minutes, and got dressed with the help of my bridesmaids. Once every detail was in place, I felt like a princess… but there wasn’t time to stand around feeling beautiful, either, so we grabbed our bags and hurried out to the cars again.

When we arrived on campus, the parking situation was horrible because of the fire department picnic going on that day. We had to park in the grass next to the chapel, and a few raindrops were beginning to fall. As I was unbuckling my seatbelt, horror of horrors, I looked down and noticed that the chain of my necklace was broken! That put me over the edge, and I started to flip out.

With my necklace hanging in two pieces from my neck, I made it into the vestibule on the right side of the chapel that was serving as the bride’s room. My cousin and bridesmaid, Maria, went into the sanctuary to bring back her sister, my cousin Catherine. She is the one that made my jewelry for the wedding, and that wonderful girl even thought to bring her tools with her to the wedding just in case! So she took my necklace out to her parents’ car to fix it and had it back, good as new, in less than five minutes. Crisis averted.

I saw my parents, all of my siblings, and a couple of aunts while I waited in the bride’s room. Caroline had left to fulfill her groomsmaidenly duty of ushering with the boys, but of course my bridesmaids stayed with me. Our photographer took some pictures. And the figurative clock kept ticking (there was no clock that I could see, so I had no idea how quickly time was passing). When someone announced that it was around five minutes to 11:00, my bridesmaid Michelle suggested that we pray a Hail Mary. I’m so glad she did; I had been thinking during the drive from the hotel that when we got to the church I would pray a whole bunch of Hail Mary’s to calm myself down, but since we had arrived I had completely forgotten. So, my bridesmaids and I stood in a circle, joined hands, and prayed. I can’t say that my nervousness instantly disappeared, or anything like that, but I did feel better knowing that I had at least looked in the right direction before I walked up the aisle to my beloved.

The next thing I knew, the girls were all lining up in the back of the church, with my Dad and me in the rear. The organ processional began and I caught a glimpse of Daniel as his brother walked him up the aisle, but it was not until everyone else had gone and my dad and I were the only ones remaining in the back that I could look up and really see him. I told myself as we started moving forward that I was just going to look at Daniel the whole way up; if I looked around at everyone who loves me staring at me and smiling, I would be too overwhelmed and I knew I would cry. I think I did tear up, but only a little. I just kept looking at my very, very soon-to-be husband and smiled (a very nervous, non-toothy smile, but still a smile).

And I’m really sorry, I honestly did not expect to have to drag this wedding story on for another week… but I’m going to! To be continued yet again… be sure to take a look at our wedding photo album!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wedding Weekend: Part 2

Just to let you know since some of you are wondering, there is going to be a wedding photo album posted on here very soon—I think by this time next week. Daniel and I are anxiously awaiting the photographer’s pictures ourselves! As for today, I hope none of you are bored by the fact that this entry is mainly going to be a list of events, but I’m picking up where I left off.

Caroline, Nicole, Marie, Daniel, his brother, and I got to the reception hall around 2:30 to start decorating. Another bridesmaid, Michelle, met us up there, as did my Mom and my Aunt Alli. We spent a little over two hours moving tables, assembling centerpieces, and arranging the personalized favors on a table by the door (which would also serve as a way of directing guests to their assigned seats). When we were finished, the room looked perfectly beautiful.

By that time we were in somewhat of a rush to get to the chapel, where the rehearsal was scheduled to begin at five. When we arrived on campus, we discovered that the big field right next to the chapel was all set up with party tents, grills, and loudspeakers. Apparently the local fire department was having their big “spring fling” picnic right there all day on Saturday, and no one in campus ministry was told about it until a few days before—therefore, we also were not told. Naturally, I was a little bit… shall we say, worried? That sounds like a nice way of putting it. I will leave it up to your own vivid imaginations to envision how I was feeling in my night-before-my-wedding stressed state. But I tried to put that worry away; there was nothing that could be done about the situation, and I had enough to be thinking about.

The rehearsal went well, as straightforward as rehearsals go. We had one run-through. I carried the ribbon bouquet made by my bridesmaids at my shower. Next came the rehearsal dinner, which was casual. We reserved the party room at the local Pizza Hut and ate their new pasta dishes, which were pretty good although I didn’t have much of an appetite. As the meal came to an end, I was really getting close to tears. In a few minutes, Daniel and I would be parting ways and I wouldn’t see him again until I was walking down the aisle. And that was extremely scary.

I hugged my family as I was leaving (except for Marie, since she was my maid of honor and would of course be staying with me for the rest of the night). I kissed Daniel good-bye. My bridesmaids and groomsmaid ushered me out the door and across the parking lot to the store, where we picked up two bottles of wine to drink at the hotel. Everything felt so strange, as though I was someone else. The ball was already rolling, but in those minutes after I watched Daniel drive away, I wanted so much to stop it.

When one of my bridesmaids asked how I was, all I knew to say was, “I’m just not feeling very favorable towards weddings right now.” Which was true. I knew that I wanted to be married to Daniel more than anything in the world. And I wanted the Sacrament. I just didn’t feel like I wanted the wedding. It was just too out-of-the-ordinary, too disconnected from my everyday life. I wasn’t just Sarah, the girl I had been my whole life. At least that’s how I felt. I was “the bride.” The disconnect was too large for comfort. The different-ness from my normal day-to-day world was somewhat, for lack of a better word, painful. I don’t really know how to explain how I was feeling.

But my friends took care of me. Almost as soon as we got to the hotel I felt more relaxed. I received a couple of gifts, gave the girls their jewelry for the next day, had a glass of wine, and talked for a few hours. Brushed and flossed my teeth, washed my face, laid out everything I needed for the next morning, set my alarm for 6:10 (our hair appointments were for 7:30) I shared a bed with Marie, the sister with whom I shared a bedroom for eight years of my life, and my cousin Maria and friend Laura slept in the other bed in the room. This was my last night as a single girl/woman. It took me a little while to drift off, but once I did, I got more sleep, and better sleep, than I had any night for weeks before that.

I warned you I might do this again—to be continued! Tune in for part three.