Ten years ago, on September 27, 2003, a mostly sunny Saturday in Endicott, New York, Nate and I got married. Its amazing to me how on that day, ten years seemed like a long time away. And now looking back, it hardly seems possible that that much time has passed.
As most couples do, we spent months planning details of our big day, going through pre cana preparations with the church, and stressing over nothing (although of course it seemed like EVERYTHING at the time). We smiled and laughed our way through wedding showers, grateful for the love of friends and family who celebrated and helped us prepare. We tentatively walked through our wedding rehearsal on the night before... starting to get nervous and excited and sick and smiley all at the same time. I don't think either of us slept much the night before. Its amazing how the mind races when you're on the eve of the biggest day of your life.
On the morning of our wedding, Nate went to breakfast by himself since he woke up so much earlier than anyone else. I went with my mom and bridesmaids to get hair done, and back to our room to get dressed. While my helpful bridesmaids got me dressed, I stared disbelievingly into the mirror.
Was this really happening? Was I about to marry my best friend? Was I about to pledge my forever to the person I knew was the one for me ever since the second that I saw him standing on the Eastman Quad at the University of Rochester?
Somehow in that moment - between the excitement and the nerves and the corset, and with the help of my best friends around me - I took a moment to take a deep breath. It was time.
The van arrived. My dad arrived. The girls started loading on the van. And at that moment, despite all the things I knew were right, I felt the worst nausea I had ever felt. The blood drained from my face. Dizziness. I thought I would pass out or puke right then and there. All over the details that I had stressed over to make the day perfect. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have packed anti-nausea medication in my overnight bag.
Our photographer came knocking on the door. It was time for some photos. I stepped nervously out onto the balcony. And there was my dad. Smiling. I could tell he was as nervous as me. But when you're as close as me and my dad, he can just give me a smile and things are alright. And that's what he did. I am forever grateful. The nerves subsided. I didn't puke on my shoes. Smiles.
We sang Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger' on the way to the church. I had made a CD of awesome music for the ride (to calm everyone down... err... calm ME down). But the CD player in the van was broken. So we screamed that song at the top of our lungs. And arrived at the church calm. And breathless and feeling like Rocky.
In the mean time, Nate had made his way to the church. He was hanging around with his best man, parents, and priest, calming his own nerves as guests spilled into the pews, listening to our beautiful soloist practice Ave Maria.
Then all of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, the church was filled. The organist started. We lined up. It was a blur. The doors opened. The moment was there. I hadn't seen Nate in nearly 12 hours. Would he recognize me in this get up? Would he turn and run? Did he feel as nervous as I did? God I hoped so (feel nervous, not run away).
And then I remembered the one bit of wedding advice that really stuck in my head from all the months of planning. A special cousin of Nate's told us to push out all of the eyes and the awes and the camera flashes and the nerves... just lock eyes as I was walking down the aisle and don't lose each other's gaze. I caught Nate's gaze. And I don't remember walking down the aisle. I just know that I made it there without tripping (thanks Dad) and that when my memory returned, I was standing next to Nate. We had made it.
We had some special readings at our wedding. We stood next to each other on the altar as the priest gave his homily. We were calm. We snuck glances at each other. We smiled. And then it was time for our vows. Turn on the water works. On this day, 10 years later, I still tear up thinking about our vows.
At that moment, it was just us. I still don't know if there were microphones or if anyone in the congregation heard any of the words we were saying or if we just looked like two sobbing kids standing in front of that church. We looked at each other and recited those promises through tears. Happiness. An overwhelming sense that this was right and true. We had no way of knowing in that moment in time what God and the world and the next 10 years had in store for us. Thankfully for us, we got that great advice 10 years ago and never lost each other's gaze. It was the same comforting gaze that agreed to relocate to North Carolina. The same strong gaze that held mine when we learned our twins would come too early. The same excited and disbelieving one staring into my eyes, holding gargantuan baby Matthew in the OR.
Though most in attendance didn't know it, there was a major flub with our ceremony. After our vows, we intended to have a passing of the peace in place of a communion, during which time on of our friends was going to sing. But the priest forgot about all of that, just remembered that we weren't doing a communion, and basically bum rushed us off the alter. Thankfully the organist caught up, and we walked out of the church a little flustered but smiling ear to ear. And our friend still owes us her beautiful soprano solo!
In the moments after, we were so relieved and calm and happy to be sharing such a wonderful day with so many great people. Drinks and food and laughter and music flowed. We visited and shared stories and tried to take in every moment and savor it. We drove golf carts, my dress strap broke, we ate cake... and oh, how we laughed. When I look back on the past 10 years, my strongest memories are not of the times when we cried or felt fear. My strongest memories are of those times that we laughed. Gutteral, out of breath, falling on the floor, cheeks hurting laughing.
I pulled out our wedding album to show to Luke, Will and Matthew the day that mommy and daddy got married. It was fun to flip through photos - silly and serious - and think about how much we have grown since then. I was struck by the dedication I forgot I had written in the front of the book, dated February 2007 - just one month before Luke and Will entered the world:
And the journey begins...
I am not disappointed that it has taken me more than three years to assemble this book. As I look back at these photos now, I am reminded of what a wonderful wedding day we shared with our friends and family. We have grown so much since September 2003. And now, as we anxiously await the birth of our sons, I can only say that I think we've grown as much as we have in order to prepare ourselves for this exciting journey. Although I know we're headed for challenges ahead, I feel strongly that with you by my side, as my best friend, confidante, and unrelenting source of calmness and strength, we will continue to be stronger together than apart and be the best parents we can possibly be. I love you more that I ever knew was possible.
True then. Truer today. Happy anniversary to us! I look at us and I am so proud.