When it came down to our wedding ceremony, I had no qualms about my choice in groom or my choice in words. But the idea of standing in front of 115 camera-wielding people? TERRIFYING. For months leading up the big day, I would get nervous just thinking about the task that lied before me. So when October 26th rolled around, I was a huge ball of anxiety.
Minutes before the ceremony, I was hiding out in one of the bedrooms just off the front yard. I could hear the DJ playing the songs that John and I had been putting together for months. I could see all of our guests finding their seats and chatting with their neighbors. I knew that I had no choice but to suck it up and put on a brave face. John and I saw each other plenty before the big moment, and I remember finding comfort in holding his hand before we stood in front of everyone.
Finally, our day-of coordinator was shuffling the bridal party out the door. IT WAS SHOW TIME. I was all kinds of terrified until I actually got out there and saw everyone smiling back at me. Oh, it’s just our friends + family. A group of 115 people doesn’t look so intimidating when they’re all smiling at you.
All of a sudden, I was CALM. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so peaceful in front of so many people before. I tried to make eye contact with as many of our guests as possible. I think I may have even said a few hellos as my dad and I made our way up the aisle. Then I took John’s hand and I knew: WE GOT THIS.
Our good friend Jameel officiated the ceremony and I listened to each and every word he said because I knew he would be hilarious. (He totally was.) Then it came time for the vows. John and I had chosen very early on in our engagement that we would be writing our own vows and not revealing our words until the actual ceremony. While this contributed greatly to my pre-wedding stress, it could not have been more perfect in the end.
We alternated reading back and forth between each section of our individual vows because we liked the way that it sounded more like a natural dialogue than a formal speech. I loved saying my words out loud. They were straight from the heart and I was proud to share them in front of all of our loved ones. But even more than that? I loved hearing John read his vows. I tried to concentrate on his every word and take mental photos of the way he would look me in the eye, and then nervously turn the page. He was his usual adorable self and I was so happy to be the recipient of his heartfelt words.
I remember high five-ing over one of my vows. I remember watching the last of the bridesmaids + groomsmen rounding the corner and walking up the aisle. I remember my dad purposely slowing our pace down so as to savor every moment. I remember looking back at our guests as the ceremony was taking place. I remember hearing laughter. I remember my maid of honor quietly reminding me to hand her my bouquet as I took my spot with John (thanks Val!). I remember slipping John’s ring on to his finger. I remember hearing the first few notes of our recessional song “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys. I also remember shimmying a little bit..! (Or maybe a lot!) I felt so comfortable and so at peace with all that was happening.
And before I knew it, we were married.
All photos by the amazing Katie Pritchard Photography.