Or is it the beginning?
I’m standing in the foyer of the church in my dress that I bought from a shop called “IMAQT” (no lie, scouts honor, if I’m lyin I’m dyin) helped by a woman who looks just like Susan Powter in her STOP THE INSANITY phase. My dress costs more than my first car, but I feel like a smokin hot mama, so maybe it’s worth it. The train is really long and I feel sort of like Princess Diana (only I won’t tell anyone that because, hello, that is a dumb thing to say).
I’m holding my bouquet that was designed by some famous floral designer for Bride magazine that my flourist called to see if I wanted. We just switched out some ribbon and voila! It was perfect. My best friend Robin had bought the bouquet since she couldn’t be there for my wedding. It was her way of still walking down the aisle with me.
I hate my veil. I feel like the Little Mermaid, that end scene where Princess Arial has some cartoon crown tiara, but I let Susan Powter’s look-a-like talk me into it. Oh well, we’ll just look at the pictures one day and laugh at my Little Mermaid crown.
And wow, who knew I could have so much cleavage?
I’m staring at the double doors, trying to calm my breathing for the big moment, the moment when I’ll walk (hopefully not trip) down the aisle and I can’t walk too fast or too slow and everyone will be looking at me and I must smile because the cameras will be flashing and…and…ok, must calm breathing. Breathe in, breathe out. Good, Daniel-san.
My Altoid is gone. One of the groomsmen offered me one saying only, “Curiously strong”. Lance’s friends are really strange. And tall.
My mom is standing beside me and is doing her I-must-not-cry face. I can’t even look at her, I’m so emotional inside. So far, I’ve managed to only shed one, maybe two tears when I told my brides maids how thankful I was that they had come such a long way for a little wedding. A drive in the middle of summer all the way to the birthplace of the KKK is worthy of gratitude, lemme just say.
All the hard work folks had put in, the transformation of a dingy gym into a beautiful reception hall, the things our friends gave to us in order to make this day happen…there were no words.
Suddenly, I hear a trumpet and the doors swing open and Oh.My.Stars. everyone is staring at me. My mother takes my arm and we begin the long trek down the aisle. Must not trip. Shoes are really uncomfortable. Veil is annoying, keeps sticking to flowers. Wow, flowers are really heavy, what was I thinking? Should have gone for smaller bouquet. Look up, not at floor. There’s everyone I know, staring at me. Oh, God, must keep breathing. But then in the midst of all my insane thoughts, I look up and see my Lance. He’s a hottie in his tux, he’s smiling at me. And are those tears I see? Oh, God, must not cry. Must not cry. Am not a pretty crier. Not wearing water-proof mascara. Can’t wipe my eyes anyways as I am wearing ginormous veil.
And I’m there. I’m holding hands with Lance, very conscious of the fact that 9,000 eyes are trained on us. But I manage to forget about them as we start the ceremony.
Lance and I had decided to make our wedding ceremony a clear declaration of our faith in God. It was God that brought us together, God that made this all happen, it would be God that we would be pledging to love and honor each other to. And most importantly, it would be God who would help us to do all this, even in the hard times (although we had no idea what “hard times” would really mean). But our wedding was also a celebration of fun. Everyone who was there that day were people who we loved and loved us. We had a blast the entire week before the wedding, from cleaning the gym, to decorating, to the Bridal Luncheons and the Pretty Panty Parties.
The ceremony was simple, but sweet. Traditional, but fun. Light, but meaningful.
We said our vows, kissed and became man and wife. I was now Mrs. Reitzel Lance Murphy.
We didn’t stay long at the reception, so most of that was a blur to me. I shook hands with gobs of folks who I had never met, we got the silly pictures of eating cake and the weird arm-in-arm drinking punch thing. And then we were off.
I actually cried once we got in the car. I felt so bad that so many people had worked so hard to make the wedding a beautiful experience and then they were just going to have to take it all down. Such work. I wonder if this is how people who make movie sets feel.
We left in our wedding clothes. Lance’s groomsmen did the traditional trashing of the exterior of the car. They had tied Sun Drop cans to the bumper, sprayed shaving cream all over the windows, even put some kind of pasty food under the door handles. I should have known what to expect when Lance whispered to me that when the groomsmen walked down the aisle, they surreptitiously handed him condoms concealed in a handshake. We didn’t realize they had also removed the windshield wipers, which proved problematic during the thunderstorm that hit us in Birmingham.
We honeymooned at two different hotels, one in downtown Birmingham and at the Opry Land Hotel. Lance surprised me with the second leg of our honeymoon as a nod to the beginnings of our engagement. We had a ball.
Little did I know until later that ALL of the bridal party ended up with a stomach virus that made ALL of them vomit and/or have diarrhea. And when I saw ALL, that includes me.
Perhaps one day Lance and I can honeymoon again without the presence of Imodium AD. Sexy, lemme just say.
So here I am, 10 years later, looking at pictures of us, young and fresh, excited and smiling. Embarking on a life of matrimony. Wouldn’t it be great if an older, wiser version of you could speak from the future to prepare you? What would I say to myself before marriage?
I would say…
* Pick your battles. Some stuff is worth the fight, most isn’t.
* You’ve been paired with a man who is your total opposite. You think this may be bad, but really it’s the best thing for you because if you were married to someone just like you, you’d kill him. He will balance you.
* Being married means you are like one person. That means someone must lose an arm, someone must lose a leg. Both of you will struggle with this, but it must be done. (Actually that’s advice I got from an awesome lady, Mrs. Cloud)
* Being married is like living with a mirror. The junk inside you that you hide from the world will come out and it won’t be pretty. Be prepared. You’re a sinner and you’re going to sin. Not only that, but he is a sinner, too.
* Have fun! Be silly! Let stuff go and be ok with that!
* Not everyday will be trumpets and roses. Many days will be bologna sandwhich days. But that’s ok, because they make the filet mignon days extra special.
* And this is the most important, so pay attention: have grace with your husband. Forgive him. It will be harder at times than others, but CHOOSE to do it. The more you do it, the easier it is to do.
Ten years. I did, indeed, have much to learn. I had to learn how to communicate, how to forgive and receive forgiveness, how to view my radically different husband as a blessing as he balances me. I had to learn to have fun, that when I make Lance laugh, I know I’ve hit a home run. That sometimes just hanging out on the couch watching food porn while holding hands is just as special as a night on the town.
I also needed to learn to TELL Lance what I was thinking. To not be afraid to let this man inside my head. To learn to trust him with the innards of my soul. Don’t we all need someone like that in our lives? Someone to sort of spill out the intestines of ourselves and say, there it is, the real me. The cool thing is, he lets me see his innards, too. He trusts me and values my opinion.
I also had to learn lessons like not trashing my spouse to other people. How even in the spirit of haha, you guys wouldn’t believe what my husband did this weekend, can really hurt. Lance, to my knowledge, has never once done this.
And I had to learn that we can’t do this alone. That we need someone bigger and stronger to lean on. God is that for us. We based our marriage on a verse we found once. It’s Psalm 127:1 and it says “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Meaning, either He does it or it doesn’t work. We can’t have a marriage without God, because it will suck otherwise. The truth of it is, I’m a terrible person. I may be nice on the outside (and plenty of times am not!) but the inside I’m thinking all kinds of mean things. I’m really not a good person. Not many are. So in order to be a decent wife, I’ve got to have someone’s help, someone to teach me how to do things right. How to forgive and communicate and all that good stuff. And that’s God. It’s worked for us.
Happy anniversary, dearest. I hope it only gets better and better! Let’s go eat sushi and watch a movie!