“I, (name), take you, (name), to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
These familiar words are used in the sacred ceremony that joins two people to each other as a married couple. The vows are meant to last for an entire lifetime, which can sometimes prove challenging or even impossible.
The night before our wedding, at the rehearsal, the concept of a forever commitment came crashing down on me when the organist began to play the “Wedding March.” Because it was believed to be bad luck for the future bride to walk down the aisle of the church before the actual ceremony, I had asked a female relative to be the “pretend bride” while I watched and made sure I knew where to stand, what to say, when to kneel, and act like I knew what I was doing at the Nuptial Mass the following day.
I had made bouquets for all of my bridesmaids from paper plates adorned with bows from my wedding shower gifts and saved all the white ones for the practice bridal bouquet. Everything was going smoothly until that organ boomed loudly. It resonated throughout the sacred space and the corners of my rapidly beating heart. I panicked, ran out of the church sobbing, and sat myself down on the front steps.
How on earth could I have ever thought that I was ready to make a lifelong commitment to anyone? Forever is an awfully long time I thought. I am not sure that I am ready for this step. Oh, I was madly in love with my future husband, but could we stay that way forever and ever?
I felt someone’s arm around my shoulder, holding me tightly and assuring me that I had a case of “pre-wedding jitters.” My aunt told me it would be just fine and how lucky I was to be marrying the love of my life.
I continued to weep but she kept her arm around me and gave me a handkerchief to wipe away my tears of uncertainty. After several minutes, she gently helped me stand on trembling legs and led me back inside the church. Everyone was so caught up in the rehearsal, no one had noticed my meltdown, much to my relief.
The remainder of that evening, we were busy celebrating with dinner, toasts from family and wedding party members, and anticipation about the actual ceremony. There were cousins, aunts, uncles, college friends, and siblings joining in all the festivities, so I did not have time to dwell on my fears for our future.
The following morning as I made my way into the church, all decked out in my beautiful white dress and veil, I prayed that I would not have a recurrence of the “Runaway Bride.” I had been with my fiancé at the wedding breakfast, and we were excited and eager to become Mr. and Mrs. Happily Ever After.
As my father walked me down the aisle, he jokingly said nobody had seen the groom since breakfast. I briefly thought it was true until I caught sight of him waiting for the handoff at the altar, and all was well again.
Despite the fact that Daddy put out a blaze on the altar greenery, had to fire the inebriated accordion player at the reception, and our hasty retreat from the church to the reception venue without going back for wedding pictures, everything turned out fine. My mother might disagree, but we were blissfully unaware of all the faux pas that had occurred.
True to the admonitions alluded to at the wedding, we had good times and bad, all hidden from our love-blinded eyes, but we survived somehow. Expectations were high, but income was often low, yet we forged ahead with God’s grace. We became parents with no user manual and weathered the infant, toddler, teen, and adult years with our legacy offspring. There were sleepless nights, crazy busy days, and never enough time to do everything.
We have camped in a tent, driven cross country in a van, and taken in stray animals, children, and whatever happened to land on our doorstep. We are no longer young and beautiful when we see our reflections in the mirror, but in each other’s eyes, we are still as we were when we started this life journey together so many years ago. His is the hand I reach for before I go to sleep each night and grasp tightly as we continue our unbelievable journey.
I am so glad Aunt Betty Ann convinced me to say, “I do.”
Copyright © 2022 Mary Margaret Lambert