The time had come, I clutched onto my father’s arms and walked towards the doors. These doors, you see, are no ordinary doors. These are 15 foot ceremonial doors. When the church remodeled over five years ago, they were very strict that only the priest celebrating Mass and the bride and groom got to walk through those doors. There before me, large as ever, were the doors I’d waited more than five years to walk through. And there beside me was the man who taught me more about love, life and marriage than words can tell. The photographer was snapping away as I was failing to hold it together. People were telling us to walk slow, take it in…but as the doors opened, their words faded as I clung to my father, breathed in, and crossed that threshold at long last.
I remember picking out the song that I’d walk down the aisle to very carefully, though I hardly remember hearing it all. I gazed at my husband-to-be and suddenly the walk was over, my mom was raising my veil, Anthony and my dad were shaking hands and my dad was giving me away.
In the blink of an eye we were up on the altar and the opening prayers were being read. I can’t even tell you how many times in those first few minutes that Anthony whispered to me how beautiful I looked. The readings we’d carefully chosen (Gen 2:18-24, Psalm 34, Eph 5:2, 21-33, John 15:9-12) were read, and we enjoyed every word of them, drinking in the profundity of God’s wisdom.
Then it was time for the homily. My spiritual director preached and he hit it out of the park (or sanctuary?). He teased about how his Facebook feed had been filled with “hashtag countdown-to-sloan-town” but that the Visitation – the feast day we got married on – was all about babies, so perhaps now our hashtag should be countdown-to-baby-town. He talked about how the feast of the Ascension was the day after our wedding, and Pentecost soon after that. He talked about being worthy (and not just because I wrote a book on it), but how worthy God is of our praise. The phrase I remember most from his homily is pursue the Lamb. Pursuing the Lamb and making Christ first is one of the most important habits in a happy marriage. The homily was brief but so perfect.
I distinctly remembering singing Hosea as the gifts were prepared. That song means so much to me and to us, because we both find such a deep connection with the book of Hosea. Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life took on new meaning on our wedding day. Consecration seemed to fly by and before I knew it, the two priests who celebrated our wedding Mass were bringing us the Body and Blood of Christ as we knelt in prayer. Communion by Matt Maher played in the background as we held hands in prayer, having just received Jesus in the Eucharist. We stood up, walked over to the St. Joseph statue and said a prayer to him for our marriage, leaving him a single red rose. We walked over to the statue of Mary – my favorite depiction of her that I’ve ever seen – and asked for her intercession for our marriage, leaving her eleven white roses. The moments we spent in front of her statue are some of my favorite from that day because I feel such a deep connection to her, especially as a new wife.
After we prayed for Mary’s intercession, we made our way back to the altar for the final blessing, and the moment we’d waited over a year for: our first kiss. We stood there, hands held tight, and bowed our heads for the final blessing. Then, at long last, we were pronounced husband and wife and told we could finally kiss! We leaned in – sans awkward head bobbing because we agreed the night before which way we’d lean – and smooched for the first time…and the second, third, fourth…I lost count.
We turned and smiled and began the procession out as I stopped to hug my dad on the way out. It was glorious, simple, beautifully Catholic, and everything I could have asked for in a wedding ceremony. The songs flowed together, the love – not only ours – was palpable and the pews were filled with friends and relatives from near and far.
I remember so much and yet so little from the ceremony. I remember saying our vows and getting choked up when Anthony said his. My voice was shaky as I repeated the vows to Anthony, feeling overwhelmed by grace and joy. I remember how heavy my bouquet was and not knowing what to do with it during the readings. I remember looking out during the readings in awe at how many people came, including kids from the faith formation classes where I work. But at the end of the day I remember thinking how perfect it all was – and that isn’t a word I use lightly. It was calm and peaceful, joyful and love-filled. It never really felt like the focus was us (maybe at the kiss though!), but that the focus was right where we’d hoped it would be: on the God who loves us first.
Join me Friday for my reflections on the reception, more love, and more pictures!