Walk in my front door (take your shoes off), go up 7 stairs, head down the hallway on your left, then enter the first door on the left. Oh, wait. You can’t because the floor is completely covered in wedding presents and decorations. It’s a glittery, snowflakey, boxy, bow-y, magical wonderland that gives a small glimpse into the beauty that was yesterday.
On January 10, 2014, my sister became a wife, and it was beautiful.
On normal mornings we don’t wake up with smiles and immediately listen to a sweet song about having a marriage that cherishes your spouse and looks ahead rather than behind. It was a beautiful moment, a pause for excitement in the quiet of 7:00 am.
It was beautiful.
With coffee in hand, she drove off to get her hair done while I pulled blueberry scones out of the oven and the family sat around drinking coffee. Then we pulled out our curling iron to bring our hair up to par. We added sparkly things to it and an inordinate amount of bobby pins and hairspray.
It smelled like caustic aerosols, but it was beautiful.
Then Brooke sailed in the door with curls pinned up on the back of her head. “I know how to put my veil on; you just stick it in then put two pins on the sides. She said it’s really easy!”
The photographer arrived with her cameras in holsters on her hips, like the artist version of a old west gunslinger – but with curled hair and red lipstick. She orbited around us while I dressed Brooke’s eyes with browns and tans then hung around the house, snapping pictures while friends and family came over for soup. We were warm and smiling and eating with people we love.
It was beautiful.
Then they all departed to leave us to our last minute preparations. I finished pinning my hair up and dressing my face, and Brooke and I sat at the kitchen counter as we had done so many other times throughout our lives, eating cucumbers and hummus and talking about how we felt like we should have something urgent to do. But it seemed the most pressing need at the time was snacking. We planned out our departure time and what we needed to make sure we didn’t forget to bring with us.
At 1:40 we started to get bags put together and hang garments in the backseat of her Hyundai. We put honeymoon luggage in the trunk and every little thing we could possibly need, including fancy shoes and mittens in the backseat. We hugged Mom, Dad, and Grandma goodbye then set out… to buy gas so we could make it to the chapel.
It was beautiful, something as normal as pumping gas, because we were together. Neither of us had to go through the day alone or without someone to be there for the little things.
I drove. We sang along to music, talked, and laughed. Something about the finality of an era has made every moment together during the past month even sweeter, more beautiful.
The incredible florist and her team turned the chapel and reception room into a wintery wonderland (in the truest sense of the word “wonder”) while the bridal party donned charcoal dresses and suits and ventured outside to capture the moment. The photographer stood in the snow, dancing a little every time she got a particularly good shot and promising us that the pictures looked so good they’d be worth the cold. The personal attendant ran around giving people mittens and checking on things, communicating and rearranging the train.
The bride was beautiful, the groom – dashing, the bridal party – elegant.
Later we all sat in the dressing room, re-fueling with turkey sandwiches and – in my case – pretzels, grapefruit juice, and granola. Once our blood sugar levels got back up, so did our excitement. The groom and groomsmen left, and it was just us ladies, talking, taking turns holding the bride’s heavy bouquet which had a shape that didn’t lend itself to being set down. Then, before we knew it, it was 6:45, so we gathered around the bride to pray.
It was a holy moment.
The next thing we knew, we were walking down the aisle in twos then standing, waiting for the doors at the back to swing open and reveal Brooke and my dad.
The organ signaled, the doors opened wide, and even though I know exactly what I was going to see, it took my breath away. My lungs got all tight because there’s something so beautiful about watching a proud father escort his radiant daughter to her new husband, walking in between crowds of people who love them.
It was so beautiful that tears crowded my vision.
The tears came back, too, when they started to repeat their vows. I had to start blinking fast as Alex stared into my sister’s eyes without once looking away, vowing to love and cherish her, forsaking all others for her until death separates them. I think it was then that I knew just how beautiful it was – how beautiful and good. The whole evening felt like a prayer and blessing over Brooke and Alex’s marriage. As Lloyd talked about how neat it was that all these people had stopped what they were doing to come show their support and love for Brooke and Alex as a unit, I watched many of them nodding their heads in agreement.
Relationships are beautiful.
Lloyd prayed for the couple at the end, and I know the breath of God descended on them. It was impossible to be present and not experience Heaven’s love and see a glimpse of what the kingdom of God is like.
It was beautiful.
I ended my evening by waiting in Brooke’s car for the couple as they walked through the crowd who had stayed til 10:30 to wave goodbye with glow sticks. May your marriage be filled with light, it seemed to say, and color!
At so many times that day, I found myself pausing for a deep breath, because there’s something about beauty that makes it hard to breathe. There’s something about seeing the holy and sacred that makes your lungs seem temporal and unnecessary. There’s something about watching your sister make a huge life change that causes you to gulp for air, but the thing I keep finding impressed on me is how every aspect of their wedding day sparkled: the people, the interactions (because who’s going to be nasty at a wedding, especially one that has this aroma of Jesus?), the outpourings of love, the gifts, the beautifully dressed people, the glittery flowers, the Holy Spirit, the love between two wonderful people.
It was beautiful.