When you date for nine years before getting engaged, you have ample time to fantasize about what kind of wedding you'd like to have. I knew I wanted to get married in my dad's backyard in Texas years before backyard weddings became the trend, and long before my wonderful groom was ready to take that step with me.
I can tell you now: Our wedding was worth every minute of that wait.
In fact, I think our marriage will be stronger because of it. Not because dating longer is somehow better, or because we already have several years of commitment under our belts, but because that period of struggle--when I was ready, and he was not--taught us how to truly communicate our needs to each other. It forced me to exercise understanding even in my most impatient moments, and it gave him the time he needed to feel comfortable taking that walk with me.
I'll say again what I said to friends who asked whether I thought we would ever get married.
"I would like to be married, but if it's not in the cards, I'll make my peace with that."
The truth is, I would have rather stayed unmarried to him forever than gotten married to anyone else.
It was never just about getting married.
It was never just a desire to have a beautiful wedding.
It was about the two of us finally looking outward in the same direction, and looking forward to a long life with someone I have loved for a long time.
And okay... maybe it was about the thrill of seeing him look at me that way as I walked down the aisle. You can't blame a girl for that.
My father shook his hand. The next-door neighbor gave the blessing. Our siblings did the readings.
We wrote our own vows.
And even planted a tree.
There were moments that made me smile.
And moments, of course, that made me cry. In this one, I'm reacting to my brother, who in a rare moment of sentimentality called his big sister beautiful. That's the funny thing about weddings. Every person who agrees to be there reveals their love for you. Not just the person holding your hand.
Rings were passed onto fingers.
And when he looked in my eyes and called me his wife for the very first time, I didn't know if my heart would be able to handle that much unbridled joy.
And just like that, I had a husband.
A long-haired, drum-playing, technology-obsessed, Croatian guy named Vinny from Queens.
He is really nothing like the type of guy I ever pictured myself marrying.
And so much more than I ever hoped my husband would be.
Nearly ten years ago, we sat on this swing in my father's backyard and discussed the idea of dating. Seems like so long ago. But it also kind of feels like it was yesterday.
And though there have been some dips and curves along the way, taking this road with him has been the greatest adventure of my life.
So far, anyway.
Stay tuned for Part II--The Reception!