It has been such a joy to share my love story here. Reliving the memories from the year I met and married my Blake has been so wonderful! It was a sweet road coming together, but not without its difficulties. This practice of thinking through and sharing our story here has both deepened my love for my husband as well as strengthened my love for the Lord. Clearly, it was His hand at work to bring a girl from North Carolina and a boy from Oklahoma together. One really clear example of God being at work to bring us together was before we even met. I haven’t shared this part of the story yet.
Weeks before we were to be leaving for our summer away in Santa Cruz, we both had decided against going. I had spent the previous summer away in Russia on a mission trip for 6 weeks so I thought maybe I should just pour into my family and my church instead of being away again. Blake had not been able to raise much of the funds that he needed to be there for the summer, so he wasn’t going to go. But, just days before it was time to head out we both decided to go ahead and go. He would be able to pay for things as he worked, I was going to stick to the original plan and head to California, and the rest, as they say, is history. ❤
Today we are celebrating exactly 11 years and one month of marriage. Nothing but His grace!
Enjoy the final chapter friends… ❤
6 months pre-wedding = The most stressful semester ever
After our super surprising spectacular engagement, we hit the ground running to plan our wedding. We settled on June 4th for the big day, which was merely a few weeks past our respective college graduation days, and only 6 months from the date of our engagement! My sister, who was already married, had paved the way for knowing which florist to use, which facility, photographer, etc. We already had tons of decorations as well, so we felt like we were ahead of the game. We knew we didn’t want a long engagement, so planning a wedding during our last semester of our senior years of college would seem like a great idea, right?? No big deal at all, right??
Well, it was STRESSFUL! So much so that I had some major health issues pop up during the course of the semester. (Think anxiety…Think lowered immune system… Think craziness!) I think I nearly had some panic attacks for worrying about how I was going to get everything done! But, God was gracious and helped us through it. After several big projects and tons of tests, my last college class came and went. (There’s a funny story behind my very last college class as well. Maybe I’ll elaborate on that one day!)
Everything was done, complete. My super stressful semester was over, and I was ready to graduate college!
After graduation it was even more so go time for the wedding. My dress was ready (my awesome $100 off the rack/incredible find!), the bridesmaids were set with their dresses (a very light green beautiful dress!), the flowers were chosen and planned for, the menu was in place, the music was set, and an amazing choreographed dance to Usher’s “Yeah” was created and practiced by myself and a whole lot of my fabulous girl friends! Just so you know, this was really before choreographed wedding dances really were a thing. This was 11 years ago. I consider us trailblazers girls. We prepared the way for all other choreographed dances that came after us! 😉
As stressful as my last semester of college was, the days leading up to the wedding were sweet, filled with fun, love, and friendship. God was so sweet to give me friends during my college days who encouraged me, challenged me, and pushed me to love the Lord more. And, we had a whole lot of fun together too!
The day before the wedding = The Hardest Day Ever
Friends and family from all over the country began arriving a few days prior to the big day. Even lots of our sweet friends from our summer in Santa Cruz! Everything was lining up to be wonderful, until the day before the wedding that is.
Things just weren’t working out. I was STRESSED trying to get things finished up. My sweet and wonderful wedding gift for Blake had taken a lot longer than I anticipated. Our music and pictures montage would not work for some reason. Trying to coordinate people getting where they needed to be was an unexpected headache. Then the rehearsal wasn’t as smooth sailing as I had hoped. There was anxiety, there was nervousness, and there were tears. I just wanted things to be perfect!
But as I was on the edge of falling apart, the day before what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, I remembered the best wedding advice I had been given by my sweet mentor (who had also given me amazing advice during my time of uncertainty about Blake. A wise, wise woman she is!):
“Something is bound to go wrong on the day of your wedding, but at the end of the day, you’ll be married, and that’s what is most important.”
So what if the montage didn’t work out perfectly? So what if the rehearsal didn’t run smoothly? So what if every little detail of every single moment didn’t happen seamlessly? I was going to get married! My heart had found the one it loved, and I was going to be his forever.
The day of the wedding = My Favorite Day Ever
After the fullness of the rehearsal dinner time, with its laughter, fun, memories, and love, Blake and I parted ways and prepared for the big day ahead. Me, my bridesmaids, and several other close friends all stayed the night together in adjoining hotel rooms. It. Was. So. Much. Fun! We chatted for a while and were able to enjoy a few more moments of this season of life. A season filled with ups and downs, challenges and victories, but most definitely marked by God’s grace and kindness as shown in the gift of friendship. I will forever be grateful for the people God placed in my life in those formative college years.
Saturday morning, June 4th, 2005 came and began my favorite day ever.
Every bit of stress, gone.
Every worry and care, gone.
Today was the day, I was going to get married!
All the girls headed over to the salon where my sister worked at the time. We had the whole place to ourselves, so we cranked up some music and got beautiful! It was so sweet to laugh and be silly with this group of girls who were so dear to me: my sister, my college friends, and some of those sweet girls who had been with Blake and I in Santa Cruz who witnessed our whole relationship come to be.
That moment felt exactly like what it should be and what it was… a celebration! Marriage is beautiful. It’s sacred, beautiful, and worthy of being celebrated.
After the salon fun, we headed to the church, finished getting ready, and took lots of pictures before the ceremony.
Then, clutching my sweet daddy’s arm, I walked down the aisle. The aisle is so symbolic, isn’t it? It’s a path, leading to something new while assisting you as you let go of the old. I saw many faces from my past with love and hope in their eyes for me and Blake. I saw my new family I was about to officially be a part of. Then, I was standing before him. He, once just my friend, then more, and now almost my husband.
My one hope for our wedding ceremony was that it would be glorifying to God. Every word spoken and every song sung was rooted in praising and worshipping the God who had brought us together. After the wonderful ceremony full with gospel truth, we were pronounced husband and wife! We walked back down that aisle and started our new life together! The whole day was truly a celebration, and absolutely my favorite day ever.
In the 11+ years that we have been together now God keeps showing us His grace and love. We have by no means had a perfect marriage. Lots of challenges, struggles, and difficulties have come over the years, but He has sustained us.
We know we have chosen to love one another, in good times and bad.
We know our feelings will ebb and flow, so we rest and come back to that commitment we made to one another before God, our family, and our friends.
We know the importance of communicating with each other and how it brings life and healing to our relationship.
I’m so thankful for this gift of my husband. I’m so thankful for the work the Lord did to bring us together. I’m so thankful for the years we have shared, and hopeful for the years to come. No matter what those years may bring, we will face it together. We are a team, and he’s my favorite ever. ❤
~Heather (the luckiest girl in the world)