Whew. We had a whirlwind of a weekend. There was eating, primping, praying, celebrating, drinking (for those of age and not with child as I am), laughing, crying (out of happiness and for a little girl or two sometimes out of pure exhaustion) dancing, and lots of reveling.
My baby brother is a married man! Woo-hoo!
I hugged him at one point, tears in my eyes, and whispered, “I’m so happy for you. I highly recommend marriage. It’s a great thing.”
And it is.
We had a manic, meltdown Monday. I have three very over-tired, over-excited girls on my hands, and I’m not exactly at my best form either. My husband came home from work and gave each of us a kiss and said to us individually, “I missed my girl so much.” We’re each his special girl in our own special way. Then he took care of bath time. He played Go with Madeline while I got the littles to bed. And I thought, “God, I love this man.”
I hope I’ll always look at him the way my brother gazed at his bride. He couldn’t stop smiling (or crying) during the ceremony.
Since I was a bridesmaid, I was privy to his handsome, happy face when his back was briefly turned to the rest of the congregation. I saw the way he adored Megan, my new sister-in-law. I saw him quickly swipe a steady stream of tears away. I sniffled myself and tried to keep too many tears from falling upon the silvery, satin material of my dress and leaving behind water stains.
It was a beautiful ceremony. Both Josh and Megan got choked up during the vows. Megan was a gorgeous bride – her dark hair pulled half up with soft curls falling down upon her back. Her ivory, beaded dress was stunning. Her simple veil perfect. Her bright blue eyes glistened. A lot of eyes were glistening.
The photographer commented on how she looked just like Katy Perry. She did – a very classy, lovely version of Katy Perry.
One of my uncles said my face as I watched my two oldest daughters walk down the aisle carefully clutching their perfect pomanders of pale pink roses was one of pure maternal joy and pride. What polite ladies they were. It was a long day for us all; yet, they were so composed and such sweet flower girls.
The girls let loose like the rest of us at the reception. I personally just needed to sit for awhile while my husband made me guzzle several tall glasses of water after I started cramping a bit, but soon I felt like my old self – just a slightly bigger, pregnant version of myself and was tearing up the dance floor, kicking off my Sunday shoes to “Footloose” and soothing my soul with some old-time a-rockin’ roll.
The funny thing was all the current cool songs sounded unfamiliar to me, and I’d think, “What song is this?” and then look out to the dance floor and see one of my many aunts singing along with their teenage children. I’m so out of the pop culture loop, but I could sing right along with Farmer Jason and Golden Oldies! (However, I could picture Katy Perry in my head. That counts for something, right?)
Now a few words about my mama. She looked radiant in a long, plum dress I helped her pick out months earlier. One of the highlights of the reception was watching my dad, looking dapper himself in his tux, and my mom (who celebrate 40 years of marriage this August) dance to their song, “Mack the Knife.”
One of my cousins pointed at them smiling and dancing and said, “I want what they have.”
Who wouldn’t want the kind of no-strings-attached, for better or for worse kind of love they have? My brother and I have very good role models when it comes to making this marriage thing work.
Another big highlight was dancing with my brother to “Color My World” (which my uncle, who was also on the dance floor, wrote). The song came on, and Josh sought me out and asked me to dance. Then he grabbed the photographer and asked, “Will you please take a picture of my sister and me dancing?” I choked up at the end and hugged him, not wanting to let him go. I’m so happy for him.
My big brother was the best man and gave a quick toast and speech, and he said, “We all know about self-centered people, but Josh is one of the most other-centered people I know.” That’s him. He’s always looking out for everyone else. He’s the only guy that while sitting in the airport waiting to go on his honeymoon would remember to wish his big sister a happy Mother’s Day.
Another favorite memory from the reception was witnessing my mom and Josh’s mother-son dance. They donned cub hats and danced and sang along to Eddie Vedder’s “Some Day We’ll Go All the Way,” a song about the Cubs some day going all the way. Fellow Cubs’ fans were singing along and at the end of the song, clapping and whistling erupted and a few “Go Cubs!” were heard. It was the perfect song for my mom and Josh, and seeing my beautiful mom in a formal gown wearing a Cubs hat was just so her.
Then, of course, I loved spending time with family and snagging one dance with my husband. A relative pulled me aside and told me that Dave looked good in a suit. I agree.
I also loved watching my three girls mingle. Madeline was in her element. She’s a little sieve for happiness and energy; she keeps ick out of her life and denies tiredness even when the rest of us are about to pass out, bones aching, eyes heavy. Her cumbersome boot and broken ankle doesn’t slow her down a bit despite my husband and I constantly barking, “Walk, don’t run! You can’t jump like that. You have a broken ankle!” She danced with my cousins and took around Gaba’s camera and clicked lots of pictures.
Rae danced, too, but eventually she settled down by my feet like an exhausted puppy. She didn’t close her eyes, but she rested her tired body and just quietly watched happy feet shuffle across the makeshift stage. Then she crawled on my lap and snuggled. I ran my fingers through her curls. She smelled like flowers.
Mary Elizabeth worked the room, smiling at everyone she met. At the rehearsal dinner on Friday, we had the pleasure of sitting next to a Father Frank, an Irish priest who’s a close family friend. Rae told him her favorite saint was Cecelia. Then he told him when Mary Elizabeth started climbing out of her high chair, eyes glinting, mouth grinning, that “M.E. is an imp.” But an adorable imp she is. She, too, started to lose her steam around 9ish. We ended up rolling into our driveway at 1 AM on Saturday night.
On Sunday my parents hosted a family brunch, so we made an appearance (after the girls pampered me with breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day, handmade cards, and costume jewelry they most definitely picked out including huge, dangling butterfly earrings). It was another fun but long day.
The girls had a hard time falling asleep on Sunday, and we are all a bit worn out. We hope to squeeze in pockets of quiet time into a typical busy week in May. Madeline has lots of rehearsals this week for a homeschooling choral performance this Friday and Saturday.
I didn’t take many photos at all, but I’ve shared a few shots below. I was too busy as part of the bridal party being in a lot of photos, and my hands were always busy holding a child’s hand or resting on my tummy to feel the baby join in the festivities with his or her own dance moves. Thankfully, Megan’s other bridesmaids were a lovely bunch of girls who were eager to help me with the kids and just so fun to be around. There was absolutely no tension all day before the ceremony. Megan was not only a beautiful, graceful bride but a relaxed, calm, and kind one as well.
It will be nice to reclaim the rhythm of our daily life and to embrace a slower pace in the coming weeks, but I wouldn’t trade this busy, joyful, and fun weekend for anything. I love weddings. I love getting dolled up. This time I had fun watching my girls pluck at their shiny ringlets and grin as they twirled their frothy skirts. I love praying among friends and family and then later dancing among them, too. I love watching the bride float down the aisle. I love a wedding’s hope and how it seems to offer everyone – not just the newlyweds – the gift of a new beginning.
This wedding marked not only new beginning for my brother but a new beginning for me as well. I’ve inherited a wonderful sister. She’s down-to-earth and sweet, and she likes searching for cheap but chic shoes just like I do!
I am truly, truly blessed. This weekend was yet another reminder of just how many blessings abound in my life.