A few minutes before 5:00 p.m., the wedding coordinator told me it was time to get lined up for the processional. My heart started pounding with excitement. My dad and I were at the top of the stairs, and the first processional song started (“A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri; this is the song I selected for the parents, siblings, my BFF, and my closest aunts/uncles). I immediately started tearing up. I was so happy I could barely stand it! We walked down the stairs, and my beloved Uncle Pat and his husband, my Uncle Stan, were getting ready to walk in the processional. I ran up to give him a big hug and then I took my place at the back of the processional line.
The second song of the processional started (“I’d Love to Be Your Last” by Clay Walker; this is the song I selected for the bridesmaids and flower girl), and I had even more tears in my eyes. It was all I could do to restrain myself from rushing past the bridesmaids to get to David! I couldn’t believe the level of excitement I felt at that moment.
The time finally arrived. The DJ started playing my processional song (“Is That Alright” by Lady Gaga), and when my dad and I started walking, I had to force myself to walk when what I really wanted to do was sprint to David. The moment we walked through the doorway and I saw David, it was literally like everyone else in the room faded away. He was really all I could see. His eyes were locked on mine as well, and I could tell from across the room that he was crying. I was smiling so big that I felt like my cheeks were going to crack apart. I felt like I was starring in my own romance movie.
I reached David, the minister asked my dad who was presenting me to marry David, I handed my bouquet to my sister, but still felt my eyes locked onto David. We grabbed for each other’s hands and held on tight to each other. We mouthed “I love you” to each other as the minister started the ceremony.
The ceremony was beautiful. He and I could not stop crying, and we apparently started a chain reaction. I was told that all of my bridesmaids were bawling, I noticed the groomsmen repeatedly wiping their eyes (even the “cool” one who never shows emotion), and I had a lot of family members telling me afterward that they were crying throughout our ceremony. I had no idea that I would cry so much. We’ve been together for over 9 years, so I really expected this to feel like a formality, but I can honestly say that our ceremony was so much more.
David and I wrote our own vows to each other. Our minister had David go first. This is what he said to me:
“Today I put into words and vow what I’ve known for the last 9 years. When I’m with you I am home. I knew from the moment I laid eyes on you that you were my forever. And from this day forward my heart is yours.
One of my grandfather’s favorite bits of wisdom was, “Life has a way of making plans for you while you’re making plans for your life.” I am just so thankful and blessed that life planned for our paths to cross and intertwine. The blending of our families makes us stronger. You make me want to improve myself and be a better man, not just for you but for us so we can be a stronger unit and face any challenges that may come up.
I promise I will always be a listening ear, an open mind, and open heart. I will always be there for you and will stand up by your side to face any obstacle in our way. I am proud and grateful to be on this road with you and together we will be ready to face anything.”
I went next. Once I was able to stop crying enough to speak, this is what I said to David:
“I used to roll my eyes when I heard people say that they were marrying their best friend. I though people who said this were lying or exaggerating. How can your husband be your best friend? He isn’t a best friend; he is a husband.
But then we reconnected over 9 years ago, after not having seen each other since shortly after high school. I felt an immediate physical and romantic attraction, but there was something else that I couldn’t define.
As our relationship progressed, that “something else” started to take shape in my mind. At first, I had a hard time believing it. When something happened at work, I couldn’t wait to get home to tell you about it. Whenever I had a bad day, you were the person I most wanted to see, because I knew you would listen to me, give me a hug, and tell me that everything would be okay. When I have a success, you are the one I most want to celebrate with.
All these things are what I associate with best friend qualities. That is when I realized that you are more than just the man I’m in love with. You are my best friend and I’m so lucky to be marrying you today.
We have been together for a long time, and I never tire of hanging out with you. Whenever I come home from work or from Red Robin and your car is parked in front of the house, I break into the biggest smile. I feel so safe with you, not just physically but emotionally as well.
I promise you that I will still get on your nerves from time to time, especially when I start an argument over a fictitious cat. I like a good debate and that will never change. But I also promise you that I will always love you with all my heart. I will never stop trying to keep our marriage full of fun. I will always pretend to be interested when you talk about golf. I will always be here for you, cheering you on and supporting you. I will never stop believing in how great you are. You are my best friend.”
We exchanged rings, and of course we cried as we placed the rings on each other’s fingers. I was so happy that my hands were shaking. I wanted to kiss him right then, but I knew that I had to wait until the minister told us it was time.
We also included a unity ritual in our ceremony. We didn’t want to do the candles, or sand, or anything else “usual” or “expected” during a ceremony, so we initially weren’t going to do any sort of ritual. One day, I was thinking about the wedding, and I came up with an idea. I’d heard of cocktail, beer, and wine rituals, but I wanted something that was truly about us.
I started thinking about our favorite drinks. My favorite drink is Diet Coke. Actually, it’s more of an obsession versus a mere favorite drink. I have Diet Coke checks, a Diet Coke keychain, etc. David’s favorite drink is Jameson Irish Whiskey. I asked David what he thought of us mixing Diet Coke and Jameson for our unity ritual. His response was, “Um, no. That sounds disgusting.” I told him that I think we should do it precisely because of how gross it will taste. Everyone will be expecting us to act like it’s delicious. What if we show our true thoughts about how it tastes? He was game, so I told our minister that we wanted her to write it into our ceremony, and I also told her that we knew it would probably be horrible, so if she could write some sort of joke into the ceremony, that will be even better. To make our reactions more authentic, we agreed to not try to concoction in advance.
So, the minister introduced the unity ritual with some clever wording. I poured some Diet Coke into a glass, he poured some Jameson into the same glass, and then we took turns taking a drink. We both found the mixture to be revolting! I grabbed the can of Diet Coke, he grabbed the bottle of Jameson, and we each took a long drink of our own beverage to get the taste out of our mouths. Our guests were cracking up, and I blurted out, “That was DISGUSTING!” He said, “It’s just like our relationship. Disgusting, but it works!” Everyone laughed even harder when he made that comment!
The minister finished up the ceremony, pronounced us husband and wife, and we finally got to kiss! She only had two rules for us: We had to look at each other during the ceremony, and we had to kiss “like we meant it.” We followed both rules! It was a great kiss without being inappropriate. After we were done kissing, she introduced us as “Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell” and we walked down the aisle. I finally started noticing other guests at our wedding!
As soon as the recessional was over, David and I headed back to the front of the ceremony room to take some pictures. My sons came up to me and said that this was the wedding they’ve always wanted for their mom. They kept hugging me and telling me how this is all they ever wanted for me. My oldest son (who was almost 10 years old when I got married the first time) told me that my first wedding was very “robotic” and that this wedding made him get tears in his eyes. My son does not cry, so this was a huge admission for him.
The most special picture of the night was a picture taken of me with my dad, son, granddaughter, and grandmother. We have five living generations in my family, which is not a very common thing as far as I'm aware. Not only do we have five living generations, but my grandmother (who is almost 92) has "all her marbles" and was able to be at the wedding. I will cherish this picture always!
After we finished up with the rest of the “posed” pictures, we joined the rest of our guests for the cocktail hour. Our wedding coordinator was amazing! She made sure that David and I always had drinks in our hands, and she even made sure that she put together plates of the appetizers because she knew we would be too busy talking to guests to actually eat any of them. I’m so glad because they were delicious!
Before we knew it, cocktail hour was ending and it was time for the reception to get started!