After the group photo (such a sweet idea, no?) the whole wedding party scooted away for more pictures, and we all began to mill about while the trollies rolled up to whisk us away. After a few minutes, the bride and groom again appeared, this time on the balcony for more pictures - much like Prince William and Princess Katherine of Great Britain. We oohhhed and aaaahhhhed some more: cameras flashed, the newlyweds kissed, the sun shone, and I felt an amazing swell of peace in my heart. Because I have known this particular princess my whole life. And I have never known her happier than she is in the arms of her Marine. As he dipped her in front of the cameras, she laughed and from two stories away we could all here her joy.
Back to the "carriage house" we went for the ceremony, where Mum was already busily smoothing things along (she was on the first trip down: I was on the last, typical). The fiddlers played, and the candy was devoured: the guest book was signed, the bar was opened, and Mum and I went around lighting the candles/tea lights that dotted everyone's candles. It was nice to hear everyone's comments on the ceremony: everyone seemed to find it as enchanting as I had! The new couple was introduced, and shared their first dance, a moment as perfect as you can imagine. He sang to her as they swayed. She smiled and leaned into his chest. I silently thanked God for their slice of joy, and prayed that it goes with them always. . .
Toasts - spoken tributes to her artistic spirit. To his service in Iraq. To all of our delight that they have each other.
Dinner was served: garden salad, pasta, the most tender and delicious fish. Delicious potatoes, and sweet chicken with peppers. Steak, and bread with cinnamon butter. Heavenly.
They cut the cake with his sword (is that against the rules? Should I not post it? Oh dear. I'm sure it's fine, after all there are going to be all sorts of damning pictures.) and rather than mash it in each other's faces, she smeared his cheek with frosting, and he dolloped some on her nose. He caved first, though, and hastily cleaned it off before stealing a kiss (I'm quite sure they forgot all about us for just a little while). And who wouldn't want to save every bit of that cake? Buttercream frosting, vanilla & chocolate cake, and fillings that included strawberries 'n'cream and chocolate-mint. Cake not your thing? Never fear! There was strawberry shortcake and fresh whipped cream too.
Then it was time to dance. The first person I was able to coax onto the floor was not Boyfriend. He's not a fan of dancing, and absolutely not a fan of dancing in public. But I digress: my first dance of the evening was of course with James. And Sissy, and Brother both joined. Then Boyfriend was suddenly on the floor too, and so was one of my other childhood friends. In some combination, we all danced all night: silly, sprinkler style dancing. Step-clap-step-clap dancing. Laughing and spinning and holding hands like children dancing. At one point, Boyfriend lifted me over his head, to my delight. At another, Brother took on the bestman (also a Marine and veteran of Iraq. From the bottom of my heart I thank these men for their service. . . but that is another post). Mum said the moment that made her cry was seeing us all there: me, and Sissy and Brother and Boyfriend, the bride and her brother and his best friend. Aside from Boyfriend, we had all grown up together, and under her watchful eye (at the daycare she used to run, which is how we all met). First dance classes. Paper dolls. Pretending to be Power Rangers. Marching in parades. Cheering at football games, attending art showings, running races uphill at night, with glowsticks to guide us. And now we stood in a circle, decked in our finest, celebrating our big sister. In many ways, the first of my mother's babies to leave the nest, though none of her own children was getting married that day.
I will never forget hugging them both: kissing Shauna on the cheek and squeezing Jake's hand, before they descended the stairs and set off. Into forever and a day - together.
My prayer for them is simple:
May you always look at one another with the same joy you did this weekend.
May God continue to bless you.
May you always be each other's joy & shelter, best friend & confidant.
May your love stay steady and bright
And your friends faithful and true.