OUR WEDDING DAY - My memories
Our wedding day was beautiful. I had been checking the weather twice a day for a week, praying away that 10-40% chance of “AM showers” and watching it fluctuate. LA weather in January for an outdoor wedding is generally not a worry, but I still didn’t want the ceremony area to be wet for the guests. I woke up on the morning of the wedding and there was a shining sun and blue skies out my window- no dark clouds to be found. It was 75 degrees and sunny. It was perfect.
I was so lucky we were able to have our rehearsal and party two nights before- our rehearsal dinner was a New Year’s Eve party, and the wedding was the 2nd, so people had the 1st to celebrate the new year and rest how they chose. We got all our tasks and partying out of the way, and I was able to spend the night before the wedding with Alex (my MOH and best friend). We went out for an early dinner at a fun LA vegan spot nearby and came back the hotel to do final prep. Alex set out breakfast for the bridesmaids and I wrote my vows into my vow book and my note for Avery, and we were in bed before 10. I was so happy to wake up well rested (around 7:30) and have plenty of time to prepare myself for people to arrive.
My bridesmaids, hair stylist and makeup artist, and videographer showed up and we talked and got ready till around 11:00. Alex and I then (VERY carefully) loaded up my dress into my car, and we drove over to the venue, only about 10 minutes away. We took getting ready photos in the bridal suite, I peed for the last time before getting into my dress (pro tip for brides), and then my bridesmaids and my mom helped my get into my dress!
I opened Avery’s gift while he was in the groom’s suite next door, getting ready and opening my gifts. I loved the sweet card he wrote for me and was so excited for our first look. He got me a beautiful pair of earrings from a jewelry company that employs survivors of abuse in Asia. I got him a nice watch (which looked so good on him that day and now he wears it every day!) and a handkerchief that has a note his dad wrote him, in his dad’s handwriting, embroidered into by a woman I found on Etsy. He also wore his dad’s pocket watch, engraved with “my only love”, which his dad wore on his parents’ wedding day. It was so special to have these piece of his dad with us on that day.
Avery and I were lucky enough to have Cava (yes, Cava in LA!!) brought to us for lunch by our housemate Drew. I scarfed down as many bites of yummy mezze as I could without messing up my teeth and makeup, touched everything up, and went out to meet Avery for our first look! His back was toward me, so I saw him before he saw me, and my heart was aflutter. I was so excited to see him and oh man, he looked gooood. Our first look was so sweet, we just laughed and took each other in and prayed together, thanking God for this gift of our wedding day.
We went off and did photos just the two of us while everyone else had lunch, then did wedding party and family photos by the barn. It was a little bit of a struggle getting the smallest ones (Rylie…) to behave for the photos, but we got to laugh and have fun with it. It just felt so easy and I surprisingly felt very calm. We could hear Zoe and the musicians practicing Be Thou My Vision for the ceremony. It was lovely.
We got out of the way and lined up in our processional order before the guests arrived. Aiyana and Jenica fixed each other’s flower crowns and we made sure everything was in order.
For those who don’t know, we had our processional song composed originally for us. Zoe, a friend of friends in LA, is starting a music composition company and offered to write our wedding song. She met with us and asked about our story, our relationship, and our music tastes and came up with a beautiful song for us to walk down the aisle to (and also have forever!). Since we first said “I love you” while watching shooting stars in a meteor shower, and our rings represent the stars and the earth, she titled our song “Stardust”. It was a recurring theme on our wedding day, with mentions of stardust in Alex’s toast and my mom’s sermon. But anyway, our song. I heard it played as my mom and Mike, Avery and his mom, and the wedding party entered in. And then the tempo changed and it was my cue. Everyone stood, and my dad and I began walking in. The first face I saw sitting by the aisle was McKinnon, full of emotions, and it made me so emotional. I was so excited to see her, and everyone, and Avery at the end of the aisle. My dad passed me over to Avery and we walked up to the altar.
My most memorable thought from that moment, is WOW this place is beautiful. I could not help but look around, stunned at how incredibly well decorated as well as naturally lush the ceremony area was. I loved the arch at the altar, decorated with sunflowers, and all the green surrounding us. It was perfect. The ceremony was perfect- my mom’s homily was beautiful and represented us so well. The worship and communion was beautiful. Wendell Berry’s poem The Dance was read, as well as a section of his writing on marriage and community. It just felt so perfectly us. I loved Avery’s vows and reading mine to him. I kept having to breathe, make sure I wasn’t locking my knees, and look around at the friends and family with us to just take it in and remember those moments.
And then we were married! We processed out of the ceremony to Lord of the Rings theme music. We took more pictures. Mom and Alex and Joe signed our marriage license. Our DJ brought us drinks and we had a few minutes of calm just to ourselves before getting introduced into the ceremony, so we looked around and took in all the beautiful decor.
This is already really long, so I won’t go into too much more detail on the rest. It was so, so fun. We got to finally hug and greet everyone. We danced, we ate amazing yummy food, we took polaroids, we heard toasts. Our first dance was so fun and special, dancing to our song, Strangers in the Night. I never wanted it to end. My dad and I danced to Make You Feel My Love and Avery and his mom danced to Dear Avery. Our friends and the kids danced with us to Cut to the Feeling and Jai Ho, which was a blast. There was a full moon that night, and it was so beautiful watching it start low and huge in the sky and rise as we danced. My uncle Wayne, who is Lakota, gave us a blessing in Lakota, for a long and prosperous life together. It was so special. We tossed the bouquet (together, to all the singles) and took the mic at the end of the night to thank everyone and express how meaningful it was to have people there. It was a perfect day and we didn’t want it to end. Avery looked so good and I felt so beautiful. Some of the most important people in our lives were there, to celebrate us, in a day which beautifully represented our relationship. But then it was time to leave, so we said our goodbyes with tight hugs and gathered our things. And then it was just us.
1.2.2018 the best is yet to come
A year and a half ago, I was in a new long distance relationship, my first real serious dating relationship, and everything was peaches. People asked about how it was going and I was over the moon- he was perfect and everything was perfect! Long distance was the greatest thing invented and everyone should do it.
Turns out, that fun time known as the honeymoon stage didn't last, and long distance isn't actually the best way for relationships to happen. Who knew 2,500 miles between you and the person you love isn't super fun, right? But I've also learned that it's not impossible. It takes more than aphorisms like "love knows no distance" to get you through, so here's some wisdom I've gained about how to fight for love and make it last.
A little bit of my "credentials" for this post- I've only ever dated long distance (weird, I know) and while it hasn't always been great, I've been with my bae Avery for a year and a half. I'll also be sharing some advice from my friend Kelsey, who's been dating her man long distance for four years, California to Australia.
Avery and I are very different people and have seen those differences expressed in fights, struggles, doubts, storms in our relationship over the past six months or so, and learned a lot about how to talk through them in healthy ways.
To forgive is divine
If you're relationship is going to make it in the long haul, you're going to forgive each other of a LOT of faults. It's always good to express frustrations and feelings where you have them, so you can talk through problems and not leave them buried. But forgiveness is an absolutely vital discipline to learn to have a functioning and long-lasting relationship.
Everyone comes from somewhere. Learning about someone in a dating relationship, I've learned, is more than just learning about their personality traits and beliefs and values but learning why they are that way. Rather than holding differences between the two of you against him/her, try to understand why they feel that way and the things that have shaped their beliefs. A favorite pastor of mine talks about the relational value of mystery in the other person- they are a complex and unique individual who you can spend a life time learning to understand. Pursue them as such.
Forget the formulas.
As ironic as it is to say this in a blog giving relationship advice, you've kinda gotta forget others' formulas for success and figure it out as a couple on your own. For a while I'd see friends and say, wow, they've been doing this for this long and they never fight? or they're still in their honeymoon phase and never get tired of each other? or they're this far along and I'm behind... I must be doing something wrong. But the wisdom is tried and true, comparison is the thief of joy. There is no right or wrong way to date or timeline/formula to follow. Just because you're not exactly like that one "perfect" couple you know, doesn't mean you're doomed to fail.
For long distance relationships specifically, whether new or old or just for a season, here are some important tips I've found to be helpful in "normalizing" the distance.
Keep a date night, like you would if you were together.
Skype sessions are often squeezed in between classes and meetings and sleep, and we can only talk for so long before one of us has to go. So to have normal, relational time, we try to have a least one night a month where we have "date night"- no other plans, no interruptions, just time for the two of you to talk and enjoy each other. Make it fun: dress up, "share" a meal, prioritize loving and quality conversation.
I haven't always had this perspective, but lately it's been very helpful to think about how if I was physically with Avery, I wouldn't let people interrupt our dates and I would make them a priority and make myself look good for them. I've gotten used to saying to friends that I can't do x or y because I'm skyping Avery, and planning for it. It feels weird at first but it's the kind of commitment I would have to him if he were here, and he's no less important, so it actually helps things feel normal. I respect our relationship's importance and want to protect our time together.
Do things together. Read, watch movies/podcasts, play games.
Your shared experiences while apart are very limited. I get tired of just telling Avery about what I'm up to and hearing about his life instead of actually sharing memories we both have. Doing things like reading through and discussing a book together, watching sermons from each other's churches, praying together, or watching the same movies really helps bring us together around something in common during our time apart.
Here's the most recent book we read together, Loveology by John Mark Comer.
Find ways to be spontaneous.
Do things unplanned sometimes! Kelsey shared with me, "it's always going to lack in a long distance relationship because we can't just pick up the phone and head out on an adventure whenever we feel like it." But with enough creativity, we can work surprises and fun spice into our relationships. A friend of mine had a pizza with a note delivered to her boy on the other coast. Flowers or gifts are great. Send things to each other- handwritten letters, printed photos- my favorite is Avery's shirt he sent me recently, the one he wore on our first date. Get creative!
Always have a plan for your next time seeing each other.
Countdowns are great, aren't they? Whether it's two weeks or six months or a year, put flights and visits on the calendar so you have a sense of where you're going and how long you have to make it without them. Seeing a countdown wind down to zero builds anticipation and makes waiting worth it.
And on that note, have an end in sight.
Long distance can't last forever. As Kelsey says, "Talk about the future. It's going to come up eventually in the relationship so it's good to decide if you're both on the same page, both want the same things, etc. and compromise. It's hard to say that, "you have to come here" or "I have to go there" but discuss what would happen if that time were to come up and a decision needed to be made?" Commitment can be scary and long distance requires a lot of trust to promise you want someone in your future enough to keep them in your life with miles between. But it brings closeness and security in a special way.
As my friend Sarah said on her instagram the other day, "long distance romance is comprised of the daily and deliberate decision to love each other despite the difficulties of being apart." LDRs are hard. They're messy and painful and it's okay to miss your SO (and good to tell them you do). But love is always a decision, and this is another reflection of that powerful promise.
Christian, feminist, idealist, wife, poet, abolitionist, dreamer, adventurer.