So many moments I want to remember. Not for a second can I begin to capture them here. I think I've hesitated to put words to the moments because I'm quite sure I can't adequately express my heart. So, let's just try to catch a few moments.
::This was a small, intimate wedding. Of all my girlfriends, only two were there. They came with their cameras and they offered us the gift of their art. Forever, we will remember the wedding through their eyes. For me, I know I entrusted wedding memories to kindred spirits who know my heart. That's a rare treasure. Several years ago, a photographer named Lori asked if I'd like her to take pictures in the bluebells. I hesitated, because those woods are so very special and personal to our family. I couldn't fathom a photoshoot there. Mike encouraged me to jump at the chance. All through that beautiful day in the woods, Lori kept saying, "You have to meet my friend Ginny. You two--you're a lot alike." I met Ginny in those same woods a couple years later. And our friendship has grown into a treasure of my heart. The gift of these pictures is just the beginning. The gift of their understanding was priceless.
::Mary Beth was terribly sick the week before the wedding. So many of my logistical plans hinged on her. At the last moment, Kristin suggested we invite Mary Beth's darling friend Molly to be one of the family for the weekend. And Molly--lover of weddings--enthusiastically jumped in. I think that between eleven o'clock Friday evening and the march down the aisle Saturday, Molly spent eight hours curling hair. She was sweet and gracious and wonderful and willing to do anything to make the day fairytale perfect. Girlfriends. They're the best.
::Seven minutes before I was to walk down the aisle, Patrick knocked on the Bride's Room door. He insisted that Michael needed to see me immediately. Fighting panic, I practically sprinted across the back of the church to the sacristy. I looked at all the people gathered and briefly wondered if the groom had cold feet. I ducked inside and Michael held a small, tissue-wrapped package. "Kristin and I don't want you to cry. But we thought you should have this before the wedding." Inside, was a handkerchief embroidered with the familiar words of a bedtime story I've read a million times in the last 24 years. They were the words my children have sung at bedtime into Mike's voicemail when he is away. When I first read Love You Forever, I thought it was creepy. What mother picks up grown sons when they are sleeping to rock them? Totally weird. As my boys have grown though, I've understood the message. Mothers never stop wanting to make the world safe, to keep their babies close and ensure they know they're loved. Never. When my friend Jan saw a picture of the handkerchief, she said, "Nothing could have made you happier." She is so right.
::All weekend long, I got text messages and emails and sweet notes from girlfriends who were holding me in prayer. Never have I seen the Holy Spirit and the communion of saints so visibly. Not a one was hurt that they weren't there. They understood. And then they prayed.
::There was moment before the girls walked down the aisle that I think has escaped everyone's camera. Just outside the sacristy door, my five boys gathered themselves into a huddle. I'm not sure what all was said. I hear that Michael told Paddy how much he appreciated the latter's decision to forego earrings on this day. What else? I don't know. I just know that the sight of them there filled my heart to its fullest and made my husband's eyes spill over. Patrick's girlfriend Hilary was sitting next to us. I caught her eye. We looked at Mike. And the three of us shared the moment. One day, God willing, I will be very old. My memory will fail. I dearly hope that someone will remind me of that moment. I never want to forget.
::The plan for the recessional was for me to take Sarah's hand and Mike to take Karoline's hand and my arm and then for the four of us to walk down the aisle. Karoline escaped Mike and skipped all the way down the aisle. Oh, yes she did. And she caught the spirt of our joy as she always does.
::This was a handmade wedding. The flowers were a gift of love from Kristin's roommate. Kristin sewed her own veil and upcycled her rehearsal dinner dress from a vintage wedding dress. We had a wedding favor party in my kitchen on Nutcracker weekend and assembled darling gifts for guests. The cake was the creation and gift of Megan Kampa, one of Michael's childhood friends and homeschooling buddies. It was carried into the reception hall by their friend Billy, now a marine. Hours and hours of love went into the details. And hours and hours of love are still being poured into the photographs. Handmade. Heartfelt. So good. (Lots of those pictures are on Instagram @heartofmyhome or you can click the camera icon on the sidebar.)
::I thoroughly enjoyed the little chats I had with Kristin's friends and relatives. Small weddings are truly wonderful for making meaningful connections. I don't think I've ever known a more thoughtful bride.
::Nicholas gave a toast that brought the house down. It was so good that the wait staff in the room left to go get the rest of the staff to come hear the twelve-year-old who is now seriously contemplating a career as a stand-up comic. He'd have to take his ghostwriter with him. Christian, no doubt, is a gifted speechwriter. Genius was the word I heard more than once.
::Hilary caught the bouquet. Everyone--everyone--was ever so glad. Perfect. Just perfect.
::Michael swept Karoline up to dance Sweet Caroline. Not a dry eye in the house.
::At the end of the evening, after Ginny and Lori had headed home, Michael played the song that Mike had chosen for our first dance twenty-five years ago. My husband held me close and I could not take my eyes off his face. I just kept saying, "We did this. We did this." I didn't mean the wedding. I meant something much, much bigger. God. Mike. Me. Together for something big. Mike understood. I'm pretty sure there are no pictures of the dance. I'll never forget, though.
All photos: Ginny, who spent her birthday with my memories.
In The Heart of My Home
I'm Elizabeth. I'm a happy wife and the mother of nine children. I grab grace with both hands and write to encourage myself and others to seize and nurture the joy of every day. I blog here with my daughter, Mary Beth, a wholehearted young lady on the brink of adulthood.