When we first spoke with our priest about the ceremony, he asked if we would be adding things like a unity candle or additional readings. We said no–just a straight up Catholic wedding ceremony and mass. Walt and I both like tradition (heck, we’re UVa grads; how can we not?) so knowing that we were going to be sharing the same experience as thousands of couples before us felt right. And for me, the setting was especially meaningful. St. Thomas Aquinas was the first church I went to on my own, instead of following along with my parents. I was also a member of the Catholic Student Ministry, through which I even met a few of my bridesmaids. Even though I hadn’t grown up going to this church, it felt right to be married there.
By the time my dad and I got to the church, our guests were mostly seated. I waited with the bridal party and my parents until theceremony began. Family processed in, followed by Walt and the groomsmen, and then the bridesmaids. Then it was time for the big walk down the aisle.
As I mentioned in the previous post, having the first look was a wonderful way to see Walt on our wedding day for the first time. That meant walking down the aisle was a different kind of thrill–instead of the rush of butterflies I felt at the first look, I hit pure adrenalin.
A few weeks before the wedding, I realized that I’d have to say my vows out loud. It’s not that this was a surprise, exactly–I’d been to weddings before–but I’m not that comfortable as a public speaker. And soon I’d have to declare my undying love for my partner of choice in front of a hundred people? How was that sane? I was afraid I’d get nervous and stumble through the vows or turn bright red. But in the moment, I didn’t feel nervous at all. Even with a hundred or so people watching us, saying our vows still felt like a very intimate moment. Plus, after we exchanged vows, our priest told us that we could kiss. Both Walt and I were probably thinking “Already?” so we were very enthusiastic about our first kiss as a married couple.
Even though the ceremony was fairly standard, it ended up feeling very personal. Good friends did readings. (Confession: Ipushed for a couple of readings in particular because they’re referenced in Madeleine L’Engle books.) Another very talented friend, Heather Hightower, served as the cantor. Walt was a member of the University Singers in college, so we asked them to sing as well. (Note: it’s awesome to know musical people.) And though we didn’t know the priest beforehand, he performed the ceremony beautifully. Guests even asked my parents afterward how long we’d known him! All of these elements combined to make a ceremony that was very grounded in tradition but had personal touches throughout.
And then we were married! After more than eight years of dating, including three years of long-distance, it was official. So of course we had to party.
(to be continued in Part IV)