Daniel and I are on our honeymoon, and our first day was pretty dang close to perfect. Until three hours ago, anyway.
After a delicious hot breakfast complimentary of where we're staying, we drove half an hour out to the Dog Mountain Trailhead because all the locals we've met said it's the most challenging hike around. They weren't lying. The eight mile trek was insanely steep, and we did a lot of encouraging one another. But the view at the top was ridiculously beautiful, so it made the butt burn completely worth it. We relaxed and took photos at the top for about an hour before beginning the journey back down the mountain. It didn't take long for us to decide running was the only half-safe option because it was just too steep to try and walk down without hiking sticks. Needless to say, we had a lot of almost-falls and even more laughs at how silly we both looked free running wide-legged down the side of a pretty hefty mountain. It was an incredible four hours.
As we approached the car just after 4 p.m., I heard Daniel say, "Oh NO," under his breath. The back driver's side window was shattered. My purse was gone from under my seat, and with it went my license, social security card, bank account info, cell phone, and journal. My identity was in jeopardy, and the three hours I'd spent on the plane recording every detail I could recall of our wedding week in my journal were suddenly for nothing. Daniel calmly called the police as I helped by venturing into a full blown panic attack. I never leave my purse in the car like that--my dad taught me better. I feel SO stupid, and I've spent the better part of the last three hours bawling my eyes out while Daniel makes phone call after phone call to cover for his incapable, incompetent wife.
So, while he is headed back to Portland to fetch us a new rental car barely 24 hours after picking up our original one, I figure it'd be a good time for me to breathe and try to record what I can remember of our wedding day--again. But not where someone can steal it this time.
The weekend really began when my dad drove over Thursday morning to help me move stuff into the lodge and collect my thoughts on how I'd tackle decorating. I'd spent 14 hours the day before popping popcorn over the stove, and I was so excited to have the help. My dad is one of many wedding rockstars who really displayed his selflessness throughout the whole weekend. I hope I'm half as good of a parent someday.
After three hours of moving things around and coming to a standstill for lack of forgotten necessities, we called it quits and said goodbye til tomorrow. But not until he dropped his wedding present to us off at the house--a tandem freaking bicycle! SO COOL.
I spent the rest of the day running errands and attempting to tidy up the house a little, because three of my four bridesmaids were arriving Thursday night. Nat and Rachel got in and we caught up for an hour before heading out to XNA to pick up Kali. I was afraid we'd hit a deer and mangle our faces up for the wedding. I was starting to lose it a little by this point--the popcorn put me over the edge. :)
Friday morning I got up at 6 for my morning run, but this time I had company! Rachel is training for a half (SO proud of her), so we went on a very chilly run she dubbed "The Bridal 5K." Love it. It was a fantastic way to relax and regroup, even though we'd hardly slept at all. I was ready to take on the lodge and rehearsal!
Just before 8, we loaded my car and drove back out to the lodge for the second of four trips I'd take out there throughout the weekend. And let me tell you, having the girls there to help bring my vision to life, plus Daniel and my dad, was THE BEST THING EVER. They were superheroes. We knocked that sucker out in two hours, and it looked more beautiful than I had dreamed. I left feeling so, so thankful for them and had no idea at that point that I would only fall in love with them more over the next day and a half.
We headed to our very relaxing manicure appointment in Rogers after that and ran into traffic that caused us to be about ten minutes late. But the salon was understanding and we all still got the spa treatment--hand massages, hot towels, and bottomless wine. It was at that point I realized I hadn't eaten anything but a banana and an apple in three days, so I only had a sip. I chose a deep purple-ish color and a subtle gold glitter accent nail for my ring finger, and the girls all went with comparable fall colors. They have good taste.
After realizing I hadn't been eating, I also realized I hadn't been feeding my very hard-working guests. Worst bride ever. I immediately took everyone to Silk Road (mine and Daniel's favorite thai restaurant) after the appointment, and we took our food to go. Daniel and Matt were at the house finishing up the popcorn when we got there, and I attempted to eat a little. I think I had more nerves going than I wanted to let on--planning a wedding by myself was a kind of pressure and responsibility I'd never experienced before. And my plans were about to be showcased for all our family and friends. I wanted it to go well.
After eating, we got ready for the rehearsal. Charli got to the house just in time to ride out to the lake with us. We only ran through the ceremony once, because I couldn't get my brain to work quickly enough to address any questions I had, including WILL THE SPEAKERS WORK WITH THE BAND AND IPOD? We borrowed them from our church and knew nothing about them, and we totally forgot to plug them in and try them--oops!
After the rehearsal, the girls insisted I ride with Daniel so Charli drove my car. They texted me and asked if I wanted them to go ahead and get the wine for The Lord's Supper at the ceremony--again, superheroes. Daniel and I drove back to the house to let Penny in (it was FREEZING!) before heading to Dickson for the rehearsal dinner his parents organized.
We arrived to find our reserved table completely empty because no one thought they were allowed to sit there, which was pretty funny. So we spent the next two and a half hours mostly walking around mingling with our friends and family. It was fun watching my friends from childhood hang out with my friends from college and friends from NWA. After I pretty much almost fell asleep at their table, my bridesmaids snuck me away to go home. We had last minute things to do, so I appreciated it.
When we got to the house, I started the Jim and Pam wedding episode of The Office as Lizz began baking apple pies and the other girls helped make a garland for the bridal party table. I gave them their gifts and it was probably more fun for me than it was for them--I love giving things to the people I love. Daniel and Ryan stopped by to bring me a steamer for our dresses.
The girls again proved themselves as the most quality friends a girl could ask for by letting me go to sleep while they finished baking. I brought Penny into my room for our last night in my bed alone. I'm not sure how long I tried to sleep before I actually did--my mind was moving from one thing I still needed to get done to another.
I set my alarm to 8 a.m., but woke up at 7:12 ready to start my wedding day. I took a long hot shower and talked to my dad on the phone about the last of the last minute things--filling coolers with ice, when he should be at the lake, etc--before sicking Penny on the girls to get them slowly moving. We had two and a half hours before we needed to head to the lodge.
Lizz and Charli got ready in my bathroom with me, and I appreciated the company. I struggled with a pair of fake eyelashes I'd bought for the big day (Lizz pointed out that I have unusually small eyelids--the lashes laid against my skin and looked SCARY) before deciding to give up and just put mascara on.
I walked around with my camera a little to test the film feature and turn the settings to where Taylor, Rachel's husband, would need them to film the wedding. Lizz filmed me putting on my flower crown. The last thing I did before packing up to head out was write a letter to Daniel, which helped me get my first cry of the day out.
We left the house at ten til 11 and stopped at the Inn at the Mill to pick up Michelle, our photographer and new friend. When we got to the lake, we ran around putting a few more things in their places--a rug at the front, popcorn in the baskets, and pies on the stumps my dad cut for us from a beautiful cherry tree.
I announced I was about ready to get into my dress and start just-girls photos just before the boys pulled into the parking lot and began walking down the hill to the lodge. I put my undergarments and dress on the bathroom alone before coming out into the ceremony room. Nataley zipped and tied the back while Lizz held a full length mirror for me and Michelle took photos. Just after I got my dress on, Daniel was spotted coming down the hill and I was sent into hiding in the women's restroom until he was secured in another restroom. We went outside behind the lodge for a few photos. We took the first few without our bouquets before I remembered them, and Abby and Charli ran in to grab them for us.
I was then forced back into the bathroom for the last hour and a half leading up to the ceremony. Although I spent most of that time alone, it felt like ten minutes. Time would not slow down--this wedding was HAPPENING whether everything was ready or not. But, my girls made sure it was, and I am so thankful for the crazy work they pulled off in those last moments before we walked down the aisle. They were so wonderful--they came in to check on me and ask if anyone or anything else needed to be addressed, and ran out to get it done and then returned to tell me how it went. The speakers, camera, food, wine, organization of family, rings, Daniel's gift, and so many other things wouldn't have happened without them.
During my time alone, I listened to people arrive and the band sound check. They sounded SO GOOD, and I felt myself getting even more excited. I looked in the mirror and told myself, "This is my wedding day. I'm marrying Daniel. I'm present in this moment."
Around 1:20, the girls brought Daniel's gift and an accompanying letter to me. I read the letter and immediately did two things: began crying and knew exactly what was in the two boxes he'd sent me--Popeye and Olive Oil mugs. I'd stolen my dad's Olive Oil mug and took it with me to college and one of my roommates broke it senior year. My dad told me Popeye stories every night while tucking me in as a little girl, and he collects all kinds of Popeye stuff. It was a comfort thing--he and I are very close. Daniel remembered how devastated I was when that mug broke and decided to use it to prove a point to me. In the letter he said a lot of sweet things, including something along the lines of, "I'm not going to try to replace your dad--I want you to know that. I'm going to come alongside him in making it my mission to protect you for the rest of my life." OH MY GOSH--this day was going to be perfect.
He ended the letter with, "I'll be waiting for you at the front of the room. I'm ready to see my bride." I lost it. Seriously? I get to marry this man?
The girls teared up with me when I explained the gift. After they ran around one more time to check on things, they returned with our bouquets. It was almost time. At about 20 til 2, I asked Kali to pray over us. She didn't disappoint. Kali has the sweetest heart and talks to the Lord like she knows Him well, and I so appreciated her doing so on behalf of Daniel and me and our upcoming marriage. She had us all tearing up again, and it was good.
In those last few minutes, I used the restroom while trying not to pee on my dress and fixed my eye makeup. So many happy tears already, and the ceremony hadn't even started! What a blessed girl I was. The girls told me Ronnie told them he would lead Daniel in right at 2, and I looked at my phone about ten times during those last ten minutes. Ronnie held up his promise--at 2 the music shifted and the girls peeked around the bathroom door. After Daniel passed by, they opened it so I could watch Jake and Kyle lead the grandparents and then Daniel's parents and my mom in. My brother looked like he was taking his job as an usher seriously, and it was very sweet. I was proud of him in those moments. A minute after Jake walked down with my mom, there was a brief pause and the band began playing "Sigh No More." It was time. The girls fanned out of the bathroom hallway to stand beside the boys. I walked forward and began to shut the door behind me, but it creaked loudly. Zach looked at me and laughed a little, and I appreciated that moment because it brought me back to reality. This wasn't a dream, this was real life where doors creak at inappropriate times. I was really about to get married.
I had a sweet second of eye contact with each bridesmaid before they left me at the back of the room. I signaled Kali and Zach to go right when Matt began singing, "Serve God, love me and mend..." I couldn't see how quickly or slowly they walked. Nat must have realized this when I did, so she leaned up and whispered to Rachel, "Go when they get to the front of the room." I appreciated that. I no longer had a job--I was allowed to focus on marrying my man.
Rachel and Matt walked, then Lizz and Ryan. Nataley grabbed my hand and said, "I love you so much," before walking, just as the band sang, "Oh man is a giddy thing..." My dad stepped up beside me and said, "Alright Jordi, let's go." He looked nervous and determined. I told him to wait a minute, we wanted a little pause during the first run through of, "Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free..." When the band began it for a second time, I said, "This is it," and walked behind my dad to his left arm.
I looked out into the room, but I couldn't see Daniel yet. The doorway didn't line up with the aisle, it was off to the left and everyone was standing. I reminded myself to look happy, something I often struggle with. I so badly wanted my face to reflect how I was feeling for Daniel in that moment. We walked a few steps to the right and straightened out, and there he was, and suddenly I forgot to pay attention to my face because his was so unexpected.
He was crying, like really crying. I've addressed my disbelief in Disney movies and fairytales, but for the first time in my life I questioned myself on those things because of the way Daniel was looking at me. I never thought I'd see a man look at me like that--I didn't know it was possible.
I'm so glad we decided to leave Daniel standing next to Ronnie as he did the intro to the ceremony instead of having him step to the other side of my dad where I couldn't see him. I didn't even notice Ronnie there until he began talking. He asked, "Who gives this woman...?" and my dad said, "I do." He shook Daniel's hand and hugged me and kissed me on the cheek before sitting down in the aisle seat just behind me. I grabbed Daniel's hand with my right hand, and somehow that wasn't enough, so I grabbed it with my left hand, too.
Ronnie discussed Song of Solomon 8:6-7 and then turned to Daniel. He asked, "Will you Daniel, have Jordan as your lawfully wedded wife?" and Daniel jumped the gun and said, "I will." I loved that. He was ready. Ronnie didn't miss a beat and continued on, and when he was done, Daniel said, "I will" again.
Then Ronnie turned to me and asked the same. I said, "I will." Ronnie looked at the audience and said, "I just want to be clear with everyone here. People get married and say these things all the time and don't take them seriously. But these words mean something...Daniel, do you promise to never divorce Jordan?" He said, "Yes." Ronnie asked me, "Jordan, do you promise to never divorce Daniel?" I said, "I do."
He asked for the rings and took them from Nataley and Tyler. Tyler pulled my ring off his own finger and the guests laughed a little. He said something like, "Anyone else want one?" and everyone laughed again. I laughed, too.
Ronnie told Daniel to place the ring on my finger and repeat after him. Daniel took my hand and slid the ring on and held my hand there as he spoke clearly and confidently. I believed every word. Then it was my turn. I surprised myself by not shaking when I took his hand and slid his ring on. I squeezed his hand while making my promises.
Ronnie explained that we wanted Communion to be the first thing we did as a married couple and stepped aside. We walked up to the table and read the passage in the Bible before Daniel prayed over our marriage into my ear. He then picked up the bread, broke it, and tore off a piece for me and for himself. He said, "This is my body..." and we ate. We picked up our cups and Daniel said, "This is my blood..." and we drank.
Then we stepped to the left and I sat down on the big stump my dad brought us and removed my moccasins. Daniel got down on his knees and gently dipped one end of the towel in the bowl of water and began washing my feet. He looked up at me and said, "I love you so much. I want to serve you." I touched his face. The band played "As It Was," an original of theirs. The water was cold, but I didn't care.
He dried my feet with the other end of the towel, and I stood up to take his place. He sat down and untied his shoes as I slipped mine back on and knelt in front of him. I tried to be as gentle with his feet as he'd been with mine. I dried his feet and helped him slide on and tie his shoes. He helped me up and I had a little trouble standing without standing on my dress. We walked back to the middle, where Ronnie met us.
He said he was very honored to be a part of our big day, and then said, "Daniel, you may kiss your bride." We kissed two lingering little kisses and one short one. I felt Daniel fist pump. The band began playing but quieted down when Ronnie said, "Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Rock!" and everyone cheered. We began walking before the music could begin again, but oh well. I walked back down the aisle holding hands with my husband, and it was glorious.
That's as far as I'm going to get tonight, I think. Although my eyes are exhausted from crying earlier, I feel better after reflecting on that again. What an absolute dream of a day. And today I had my first big opportunity to let Daniel lead and take care of me, even though my initial reaction was panic. He took my mistake like a champ. Marriage is good, you guys.