By the time this post is published, it will already be a thing of the past. By the time anyone reads this, I’ll already be married and in Disney World for our honeymoon. But right now, as I write this, I have entered the period of the final countdown. I’m just a few days from getting married. In less than a week, my life will be irrevocably changed. Ms. Shannon Sulick will cease to exist, and Mrs. Shannon Whitmore will be born. This miss is finally going to become a missus.
I’ve waited a long time for this day, and I’ve jumped over a lot of hurdles to get here. I’ve endured bad relationships, and even worse break-ups. I’ve suffered from the pessimistic belief that I was just never going to find someone to marry, that I was going to spend the rest of my life alone. In an attempt to avoid that fate, I ran to the convent and hid from the world for eight months (some of my other reasons for discerning the religious life were more genuine). Realizing that I did not have a vocation to the consecrated life, I put on a brave face, went home, and tried to pick up my life where I had left off. And then I met Andrew, and my life was changed forever.
So what are the last thoughts floating through my head in the final days of single life? Am I already going crazy with wedding jitters and panicking about the details of our big day? Not yet. I’ve already been warned that I should prepare myself for the possibility that something might go wrong. I’ve already been warned that the last days before your wedding can be the most stressful of your life, but that you shouldn’t let it prevent you from taking the leap. I’ve heard stories about brides who purchased a second wedding dress because they were afraid that their first dress would be too poofy for dancing. I’ve heard stories about future husbands and wives who spent the days just prior to their wedding fighting constantly over the most insignificant details. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories, and a few good ones too.
So am I going crazy? No. After two years in active ministry, I’ve learned to take everything in stride. We must always be ready for the most unexpected turn of events. Kid threatened another student? Handle it. Not enough food for everyone? Handle it. Bishop arrived two hours early for Confirmation? Handle it. As a Director of Religious Education, you have to be able to think on your toes.
This skill is vital in my work, but it has also been very useful during wedding preparations. Loved ones drop out? Handle it. Reception room taken? Handle it. Dress doesn’t fit? Handle it (or let someone else handle it). Not enough time to balance wedding planning, a part-time job, and a full course load in school? Handle it as best you can, ask people to help, and pray. That’s how I handled it. And that’s how I’m handling these last few days before the wedding, and I imagine that this is how I’ll handle the wedding day itself. This is my wedding day. It’s only going to happen once, so I should do my best to enjoy it and not stress over the small stuff.
Preparing for the sacraments with my students have taught me that in the end, only one thing matters: that the sacrament is conferred. It’s okay if the students mispronounce a word while reading at Mass. It’s okay if someone trips as they approach the bishop. As long as the students receive the sacrament, the day has been a success. No matter what else might happen, my students have received the sacramental graces, and in the end, that’s all that matters. I held this philosophy as I was preparing my students to receive Confirmation and First Communion, but it is equally true for me on my wedding day.
At the end of the day, as long as Andrew and I get married, the day has been a success. No matter what else might happen, we’ve received the graces of Holy Matrimony. And in the end, that’s all that matters. That being said, I hope that I can tell everyone that everything went off without a hitch. A girl can hope, right?
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!