You know that saying, “If it can go wrong, it probably will?”
That was my wedding day.
I don’t mean to say that in a “Woe is me” kind of way. Because the reason, in fact, that I’m even writing this is because the imperfect day was simply the most perfect day I’ve ever experienced. It was my dream wedding. I had a couple of people hint that they wanted to hear the story–and of course I wanted to write about it. So here it goes.
We originally planned to get married next summer. But after the normal humdrum of planning a wedding that didn’t even really personify us anyway and realizing that it wasn’t what either of us wanted, we decided to actually do something we both would love. We’re both laid back and don’t like fancy, so we knew that the perfect day for both of us would be small, intimate, and be all about us and not about the impression it would make or the fuss it would take. We invited just a small group–and we gathered in our favorite hiking place beside a rushing river.
So we made simple phone calls to those we wanted to invite and set aside the wedding planner, the outrageous costs, the decorations, the hooplah, and the invites. We settled for nature and wildflowers on a trail instead, the sound of the river served as the music I walked up to my groom with, we used boulders for chairs, and a bonfire and hotdogs and smores for our reception.
It barely took any planning, we stayed well under a thousand dollars, and it was my dream wedding.
But just as unconventional as we are–so was the day.
It rained–but we danced in it.
We woke up that morning to rain.
Lots of it. And the irony of it all is there was a burn ban the three weeks leading up to our wedding. So from worrying about not being able to have our bonfire to worrying about if the rain would extinguish the fire–it was a series of laughs.
The guests we invited, 23 people or so, showed up to our home to caravan to the trailhead. They were already starting to get worried that the trail they would have to hike would be more of a mudslide that afternoon. I worried too–especially in a white dress with sandals. It was a disaster waiting to happen. But I breathed in. I adjusted my flower crown. And I made the walk with a hammering, excited heart.
The rain cleared just in time. Once there, my mother-in-law got stuck on the drive up, my father-in-law tripped on the rock leading to the watery altar we were to be married at and bloodied up his elbow, my step daughter had to trade her cute white sandals for pink tennis shoes because of the mud, and my grandpa and aunt got lost on their way to the trailhead and ended up missing the whole ceremony.
But we all laughed about everything the entire day. Even my grandfather, who got lost on his way to the ceremony, said it was a beautiful drive and he loved it. And my other grandfather, who has bad knees and a sore back, stopped along the walk to whittle a walking stick and get to the top, despite how tough it was for him.
During the reception when the rain returned during our first dance and the protective tarps were blown off the decorations by the wind and my muddy bare feet turned to prunes, we couldn’t stop laughing and I became breathless in the hilarious and perfect moment of it all. I was the happiest bride of them all amidst everything.
We did everything on our own–and became closer for it.
Everything from the decorations to the location to the flower crowns on mine and Mia’s heads–we made everything. We stayed up late watching movies and painting the over sized cue cards together, we went shopping for the groceries as a family and planned the S’mores bar. We got on our hands and knees and weeded the backyard where our bonfire was at, stubbing our toes on roots and falling on precarious woodpiles as we strung lights. We picked flowers from a field to make my eclectic bouquet and I created the ribbon around it that hung photos of those we’ve lost and hearts sewn from the fabric of my dad’s suit jacket.
The entire process we did together–and it reminded us why we were getting married. It was because we’re best friends.
We took detours–and loved the view.
Traffic from Leavenworth was atrocious and our caravan got stuck in the stop-and-stop traffic on our way back to the reception in Monroe. Not an exaggeration, by the way. Some people actually got out of their cars and grilled burgers on the side of the road for fellow travelers. Some of our guests were even two hours late–showing up hungry and frustrated once they finally broke through. But we were determined not to let the traffic get us down. So we took offshoot trails and detours, winding around the countryside and marveling at the new landscapes we saw out our car windows. We found some new spots to take pictures and found ourselves the first to show up although we were the last to leave. We were never afraid of getting lost–we were just determined to keep moving.
We got dirty and messy–and it was beautiful.
By the end of the night my feet were dark brown, my perfect white dress was stained with everything from pollen to mud to spilled champagne, and sitting on the tree stumps around the bonfire roasting marshmallows made way for stickiness in my hair and Jeff’s face, ash on my cheeks, and dirt on my bum.
But by the end of the night as I loosed my hair I felt that I looked perfect–exactly the way I wanted to look. And exactly the way Jeff loves me. Marshmallow hair, dirty feet and all.
My wedding dinner was made on a grill and my wedding cake consisted of graham crackers and hershey chocolate and my first dance was in the dirt, smiling up at my groom through the misting rain.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If I could do it all over again I would will the clouds to rain again. I would still choose to get stuck in traffic. I would eat too many S’mores and get a little tipsy on champagne mixed with rain as I danced to “Hooked on a Feelin'”. I would still kiss my groom with marshmallow lips and hold him so close I could smell the woods where we said I Do and pledged forever. I would still have my daughter hold on to my dress everywhere she went and have her get that dirty hand print on my back. I wouldn’t want a thing to change.
Life is so messy and never goes according to plan. No matter how much we schedule or detail or organize, the rain will fall where it may and your hands will get dirty and your makeup won’t stay. Nothing is ever for certain and you may find a million reasons to complain if you don’t first find the two million reasons why you shouldn’t.
Remind yourself of who you walk the trail with. The ones who make the trek through the chaos and hold your dress up and remind you to smile when the day is anything but perfect. The ones who still vow to love you when nothing goes right and who still vow to be your best friend when you’re being anything but perfect. The ones who are there when you wake up in the night and feel alone–the ones who show up when everyone else cancels. The ones who defend you when you’ve messed up and piece you back together when the world sets out to shatter you.
Nothing is certain.
Except for him.
My groom stood on that perfect rock on that perfect stretch of river, waiting with our perfect daughter in hand–a handsome, groom I’ve loved for so long. I will forever enjoy dances in the rain, long detours, muddy trails and wildflowers bound with string–I will forever be grateful for plans that don’t go according to plan and laughter in the wind as things tumble over.
Because with him, it’s already perfect.
With him–I can’t even feel the rain.