My journal today reads: Marriage, Day 1.
Based on that phrase, you can guess that I got married yesterday.
The ceremony took place in my parents' backyard in Lincoln, Nebraska. My best friends from graduate school were bridesmaids, and my groom's best friend and his brother stood up with him. My mom served as party planner extraordinaire, putting on the most incredible wedding.
Truly, the wedding was exactly what I would have imagined in a perfect scenario: casual, comfortable, sparkly, colorful, tasty, and super fun for all. Our color scheme was citrus--lemon, lime, orange. The maids wore the color of a fresh grapefruit, and our bouquets had interesting yellow balls and succulent plants. My hair was pulled back in a romantic up-do, off my face, waved and tucked into an elegant shape. My groom wore a charcoal suit with vest and gray and yellow checkered tie. The groomsmen wore simple gray pants and vests with white shirts. We looked effortless and chic.
The dance floor (i.e., the basketball court) was lit by four strings of lights running from our balcony, across the court to posts, creating the most beautiful ambiance. The colorful lanterns hung in the trees, providing pops of color in the greenery. Guests were seated all over the lawn, the basketball court, and even on the balcony. The bridal aisle ran from near our garage around the house, through the garden and ended at our water feature, a softly trickling waterfall. One of my bridesmaid's husbands officiated the casual ceremony in a way that met my wants and needs exactly. He got the job done with humor and just the right amount of reverence. Our music was provided by a friend of a friend who played soft guitar music during the processional and dinner.
The day itself was filled with adrenaline for me. I woke up nervous, comparable to the morning of a big swim meet. I had a power breakfast sandwich with my brother, and then met my maids for coffee and our hair appointments. My two maids, though they are good friends, could not be more different. Sarah is a feisty redhead who loves to be the center of attention. She's a samba dancer with a flair for the extravagent. Karen, on the other hand, is more comfortable with simple boho chic and deep conversations about life, God, and experience. At the hair salon, while Sarah and my stylists were doing their best to volumize our hair and add shimmer, Karen's was working to keep simple chic. While Sarah and I were applying our eyeshadow primer, glitter and bronzer, Karen was finished with her classic look, and checking in on my emotions. I couldn't have asked for a better combination of friends to take care of me on my day.
After a photo shoot with my maids, we went back inside so that the groom wouldn't see me until I walked down the aisle. About an hour before the ceremony, my nerves started to get the better of me. I got choked up and teary. Sarah told me to sip water whenever I felt the tears--because you "can't cry when you are drinking." The tricked worked somewhat, until my mom came in the room. All bets are off on the wedding day when it comes to emotional capacity.
As I stood at the top of the bridal aisle with my brother--my escort down the aisle--I felt confident and calm. I could see some guests from where I was standing, and I recognized them as old friends of my parents, people who knew me as an 8-year-old. When my uncles finally signaled for me, my brother and I walked carefully down the flagstone steps and onto the green lawn. My brother would later tell me that I walked really fast, but I don't remember the walk well.
What I do remember were the vows that my groom read. His personal, heartfelt vows were so sweet and endearing. He told our history about us as a couple and when he knew he wanted to marry me. When it was my turn to read he vows I had written, I felt the emotions overwhelming me. I took a sip from my water bottle, and struggled through the tears. I'm not sure how much people heard, but after the ceremony, almost everyone said that I had made them cry right along with me. Normally, I would be embarrassed to cry in front of 150 people, but at my own wedding, I think I have a good reason.
Following the tears, we kissed, and the "Rickroll" (don't look that up) was a little anticlimactic, though a huge relief for me. The wedding party wiped their eyes, boarded the golf cart and took a ton of pictures in a neighbor's backyard before heading back to greet guests.
About 3 kazillion pictures (professional and otherwise) later, we ate dinner, buffet syle: beef, chicken, veggies, greek salad, and berry salad. I drank "I Do" Sangria, and my groom had "Alien Blood" (PBR + Limeaid, his concoction of choice). After dinner, Alan and I made toasts to our parents and grandparents. My toast to my mom's parents was particularly moving, as their 60th wedding anniversary is in two weeks or so.
The wedding party also made tear-worthy speeches and toasts, after which my grandmother insisted that I announce the presence of two other important guests: my Saudi friends (also former students) who traveled all the way from Flagstaff for our wedding. It really made my night to see them at my wedding, even if they did give me a hard time about the tears!
The dance was for sure a highlight of the night. Alan and I had requested that people include a song request on their RSVP card so that we could simply create a playlist, rather than hiring a DJ. Our list, therefore, included everything from Ke$ha and Pitbull's "Timber" to someone's "Pennsylvania Polka" to Vince Gill's "Look at Us". To be honest, I was really nervous that the playlist wouldn't work, but to my surprise, everyone loved it! Alan's family loves dancing, and all of a sudden my Saudi friends are dancing to 80's music with Alan's aunts, my mom is singing along with Tom Jones, and I'm slow dancing with my grandfather (a man who pretty much refuses to dance for any reason). I had purposefully picked out a second dress for the reception so that I would be more comfortable dancing, and I'm sure glad I did. My wedding gown was beautiful, but it was hot and somewhat immobilizing! Once I was in my little white eyelet dress, I was ready to bust a move!
I wish I could put into words the amount of love that I felt on our wedding night. There is nothing like being the bride and center of attention for the evening. Our friends and family's love and generosity seemed to light the party, and I've never felt so completely and unconditionally loved in my life. There are so many wonderful people in my life, especially with the addition of Alan's family.
There's really no other way to express what I feel tonight besides incredible gratitude, coupled with exhaustion. I thought Cambodia was an adventure, but I can already see that being married is going to be the adventure of a lifetime.
Pictures to come!