The guests are beginning to arrive. Breathe. My groom is in the hall across the cobblestone walkway, so I need to stay away from the window. Breathe. My bridesmaids are praying over me, and my mom is crying for the first time today. Breathe. The wedding party is lining up and the string duet has started playing. Breathe. It's your turn next. Keep breathing. Deep breaths, Chandler. Your dreams are about to come true. Such was my thought process as the joy mixed with nerves and a haze fell over everything like I was walking through a dream. The morning had been easy. Now I had to walk down that aisle in front of everyone I loved and try to hold myself together. I gave myself the best pep talk I could muster.
The rain was coming down slowly, and umbrellas saved the day for our maids and men as they waited outside the chapel. My sweet sister Raegan and Jeremy's best man Brad sang "What It Ought To Be" by Audrey Assad as the parents and grandmothers were seated. My groom got settled up front, and the couples walked down the aisle. I wish I could have seen this in person!
Then it was my turn. My daddy came and got me at the chapel and escorted me into place with an umbrella. Then I took a deep breath and he kissed my forehead before the doors opened and I saw my groom waiting at the other end of the stone aisle.
He was beaming and holding back tears. I thought I was holding back tears too, but looking back I think it was pretty obvious. Every hope I had for that moment came to life and all I could see was Jeremy on the other side. My mom stood up first and the guests had been instructed to stand up as I passed. I love the moment when my daddy gave me away, and you could see the love in his eyes and in Jeremy's. I am blessed with a daddy that has shown me what love looks like in the way he loves my momma and his girls. Although he tried to give me away before he was supposed to, we got through it and with the words "her mother and I," he took his place next to my mom who was holding her composure beautifully. We were blessed to be married by the pastor who had walked with us through our relationship, Mike Harder. About a year into our dating relationship, we read a book that challenged us to have mentors in our relationship that would speak wisdom into our lives and hold us accountable to a godly dating relationship. Our pastor Mike and his wife Tabitha filled that role for us, and I will be forever grateful. With both our parents in far away cities, I believe having a couple to set an example for us and to ask us hard questions was pivotal in our success.
The ceremony was so personal and filled with the Gospel. Amidst the standard vows and exchange of rings, Mike presented the Gospel and related it to the marriage covenant we were making. It was a priority for us that the ceremony be not just about us but about Jesus. Mike also asked us in advance to list things that we loved about each other. When he started to read Jeremy's, the first on the list was "She's so beautiful. Girl look at that body. She works out." Yes. Even the lyrics from "Sexy and I Know It" made it into the wedding. I blushed. We all laughed. I managed to hold my composure until I heard him say his vows, and I got that uncomfortable knot in my throat that warns you that you are about to cry. I only shed a few tears and then the happiness cleared the knot. After that second sparkly diamond band was securely on my finger, my sister Sydney and best man Brad sang "I Have and I Always Will" over us as we lit the unity candle and took communion.
Then his father and mine came to the front and laid their hands on us in prayer. I have never been more grateful for the wisdom of our fathers. As the music ended and the sniffles died down, I began giggling in recognition of what was about to happen. "I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride." We kissed. We smiled. We turned around. I could hardly believe it was over. We were locked in for life, and it could not have felt more right.
To be continued...