When I woke up on the morning of my wedding, I wasn’t nervous. In fact, contrary to what everyone had told me, I’d even slept more than seven hours the night before, which is impressive considering that the rehearsal dinner didn’t end until after eleven. I fell asleep with barely any effort, and I woke up the following morning feeling refreshed and ready to face the day. My wedding day.
My morning began with a leisurely breakfast before my entourage arrived around ten. Even as the hairdresser and make-up artist were hard at work, I was not in the least nervous. I was excited, yes, but not nervous. I was still breathing normally, and as lunch time approached, I was actually hungry (which is very unlike me before a big event).
After lunch, the hair stylist finished my hair, and the final process of dressing loomed before us. I was fortunate- the dress that I had chosen was not at all complicated to put on. While the photographers eagerly waited for those first shots in my wedding dress, I couldn’t have been calmer. Even as we snapped a few photos before climbing into the bus that was going to carry my bridesmaids and me to the church, I was still very much at peace.
The drive over was short- the church was just across town, and even with traffic and the red lights against us, we easily could have made it in less than ten minutes. We spent those ten minutes laughing and singing, even though I would be married in less than an hour. We arrived a few minutes before three, and we all waited patiently for the signal that we should enter the church (my parish church is small, and there’s really nowhere to go while waiting for your wedding ceremony to begin). And suddenly I forgot how to breathe.
The change was probably imperceptible to my bridesmaids, but as the seconds (or minutes) ticked by, I grew steadily more nervous. I found it difficult to breathe, and I forced myself to take deep breaths to prevent myself from hyperventilating. The only thought in my head was, I’m about to get married.
Though I had been fine all morning, suddenly the reality of the day hit me. I was getting married. Me. Married. No longer a ‘miss.’ No longer a Sulick. I was going to become a ‘missus.’ I was going to become a Whitmore. In just a few minutes.
I found myself unable to think anything else. Feeling the nerves kicking in, I silently prayed ‘Hail Mary’ after ‘Hail Mary’ until my breathing returned to normal. And then I kept on praying.
Finally the signal came, and we disembarked the bus one by one. I watched as all of my bridesmaids filed past me smiling, until it was just my Matron of Honor and me left. And then she was holding up my train, and I was stepping off the bus.
As I walked up the steps, I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. It would be no good if I tripped on my way into the church. Not the best way to start a wedding. Once inside, I tried to keep the butterflies in my stomach at bay as I watched my bridesmaids walk down the aisle one after another. And then it was just my dad and I. Then it was my turn.
Until then, we had done our best to keep me hidden. The doors of the church span the length of the entire entrance way, but from where I had been standing, I could just make out Andrew at the front of the aisle. I wondered if he could see me.
And then the music stopped, and the song I had chosen began to play. My dad offered me his arm and I began the long walk down the aisle to my future husband. As I walked, my eyes skimmed the faces in the congregation, out of a curiosity to see who was in attendance, but they kept returning to Andrew. As I neared the altar, I stopped looking around. Once I could see his face, his smile, I could look nowhere else. The butterflies stopped fluttering. My breathing slowed. My shaking hands finally steadied. As I looked at Andrew, as we faced one another just in front of the sanctuary, there was only one thought in my head: I’m getting married.
I’m getting married. To Andrew. To my best friend and the love of my life. Why should I be nervous? This was the best day of my life. I knew that there were people watching us, but it didn’t matter anymore. It didn’t matter that I was the center of attention. It didn’t matter that I was standing in front of over a hundred people, over two hundred eyes directed at Andrew and me. None of that mattered anymore.
The only thing that mattered was that Andrew and I were getting married. His presence beside me gave me strength and confidence, and my vows flowed easily from my lips. As I promised to love Andrew for rich or for poor, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do us part, time seemed to stand still. The world seemed to stop spinning. Everything around us seemed to blend and fade until it was just Andrew and I facing one another. He slipped a ring until my finger, and I slipped one onto his, and then everything came back into focus. And then the truth hit me- Andrew and I were married. Married. We were one flesh, united for life. In that moment, I couldn’t have been happier.
Those few minutes of unbridled nervousness faded into recesses of my mind, replaced by the overwhelming sense of peace. The peace that I felt as I met Andrew’s eye as I walked down the aisle. The peace that I felt as I took my place beside him before the altar. The peace that I felt as I took his hand and exchanged vows and rings. The peace that comes from knowing that you have finally found the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with and you’ve gone and married him.
It’s a peace that extends beyond the wedding ceremony, beyond the wedding day. It will extend through our entire lives, the foundation of our marriage. This is the peace that can only come from Christ and doing His Will. It’s a peace that will support our relationship in good times and bad because it is not based on our feelings, or even on our love alone. It is rooted in the peace and love of Jesus Christ. Andrew and I have both been offered the peace and love of Christ, as well as the mission to offer it to one another for the rest of our lives. I must love Andrew with the love of Christ, and where the love of God is, the peace of Christ will remain.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!