I saw you walking through the church lobby this morning, and I could see it written all over your face: you are feeling overwhelmed. When I asked how you were doing, how the wedding plans were coming along, you sighed with the weight of all the details. You told me the exact number of days left until that life-changing day but without an air of excitement. Instead, your expression bemoaned how few days were left to prepare.
My heart hurt that the joy of this time was being stolen from you. In all the stress of planning, I don’t want you to lose sight of what is most important. As one who has been married for over a decade, I view your countdown from a different standpoint—from someone who is years past the commencement of her own marriage.
There is a picture on my refrigerator of you two. It is the one you are leaning toward each other, jeans rolled up, feet covered in white beach sand. Somehow the photographer was able to catch the exact expression of your budding romance in the shot. You wore that special smile only he can bring out of you while he held you close like a treasure.
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Dear friend, I want to remind you this wedding is all about marrying that man, the one in the picture. The one who dropped everything to repair your broken-down vehicle. The one who helps you babysit our kids so we can go on a date. The one who makes you feel beautiful every day. The one who holds you through laughter and tears.
A wedding is just an event.
But after the wedding, you get to be married to your best friend.
The memories of my wedding are a little fuzzy these days after almost 14 years. On occasion, I crack open our dark brown wedding album, blow the dust off the cover, and marvel at those younger versions of ourselves. We are leaning into each other in our own photos. Like you, I am also wearing my special smile only he can bring out of me. I need these photos as reminders. Our wedding, which was the result of four-and-a-half intense months of planning, is now just a blur in my memory. It flew by so quickly, we barely had time to eat our food or enjoy our guests before our friends were rushing us out the door. Ignoring our protests, they flung rice at us while our stomachs growled. Or was it bubbles? Who can remember?
When our love was first sparking, this caring, fun, thoughtful man showed his affection through shared strawberry milkshakes or pink and purple carnations. Using up all of his cell phone minutes on our lengthy conversations, or holding hands under twinkly lights, his blue eyes staring at me while butterflies flipped around in my stomach.
Sure, after 14 years, he still brings me flowers and holds my hand. But through the years, he has shown me in so many other ways how much he loves me. Like the time he held me close after my aunt died. Or how he pushes me to run after my dreams. When he stood, unflinchingly, by my side through all three of my children’s births. He’s a tough one.
His love took on a different appearance after we became parents. He showed his love for me by doing housework, rocking a crying baby, or getting up in the middle of the night with a child who couldn’t sleep. Or in the way he makes sure my own needs are being met as I pour myself out daily for each member of my family.
And somewhere in the middle of all the practical ways he shows me love, he still manages to give me movie kisses in the kitchen—he dips me, still leaving me dizzy after all these years.
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You have a man like this. A life with him is waiting at the end of your countdown. The wedding is just the jumping-off point. You will run out of that reception, showered by rice, or bubbles, or whatever detail you choose, and you will spend the rest of your days exploring how to love each other well. When you are feeling overwhelmed with caterers, photographers, showers, and guest lists, take a moment to soak up this knowledge: you are about to marry your best friend.