9 months of engagement. In retrospect I could say that it almost felt as long as 9 months of pregnancy. I said “almost.’’ Not quite like it, but the months definitely dragged by. I had said yes to my high school sweetheart and then 9 months of wedding planning proceeded to follow.
The to-do list was very long. Establish a budget, pick a wedding color, try on wedding gowns, look at budget, order cake, pick out flowers, look at budget, research bridesmaid dresses, line up musicians, look at wedding hairstyles, look at budget, talk to photographer, look at budget, etc. etc, etc. My fiancé thought we could keep the wedding simple. I agreed. Simple turned out to mean “low in cost” which meant a lot of extra research and DIY work was required.
There were times when I wondered if it would be better to just elope. I love planning parties, but this seemed like a lot to get lined up! My mom reminded me that marriages on earth are a picture of our marriage to Christ and that is no small deal! One day we will be sharing in the “marriage supper of the Lamb” with our perfect Groom and in a small way, my union to Mike would represent that holy bond between God and man. So we continued on with our planning. And we did enjoy a lot of it. This was giving us a chance to work on a big common goal together; to see how well we did at being a team.
In preparation for the big day, there was also marriage counseling and plenty of long talks. I remember engagement being a hard phase. Committed and ready to be this man’s wife, but not yet fulfilling that role, I sometimes struggled with knowing whether I belonged under my dad or under Mike. Reminds me of my relationship to God. I belong to Him, but yet I am not yet united with Him, and the struggle between those two realities is real.he struggle is real.
The week of the wedding arrived and the planning and hard work paid off. It was a relaxing week, for the most part, and I enjoyed the time with family and friends. At the rehearsal Mrs. Huber told our wedding party “Mike and Chrystal have spent 9 months preparing for this day and from here on out their work is done. If anything goes wrong, they don’t get to know about it. You come tell me.” I remember feeling surprised and then relieved to realize she was right! We could just relax and enjoy these special moments now. So we did.
Later that night I lay awake in bed, trying to recite my personal wedding vows in my head. Why did I have to be so wordy? I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to remember everything I had written down. Struggling to sleep, I pulled the “maid of honor duty” card on my sister Rachel who, somewhat begrudgingly, agreed to give me a back rub and listen to me rehearse my wedding vows. I finally slept.
Honestly, a lot of how things played out the next day are kinda a blur in my memory. A happy blur, but a blur nonetheless. I remember…
…our flower girl having a blast twirling in her dress.
…my sister doing my hair.
…exchanging letters with Mike around the corner of a building and wondering if he had seen any of my dress peeking out.
…my dad coming into the room to get me and giving one loud sob before gathering his composure and leading me down the aisle.
…congregational singing of “I am His and He is mine” while I stood beside the man I was about to marry.
…Mr. Huber giving the challenge.
…making it through the vows and only stumbling once.
…parents praying for our marriage.
…our first kiss (while I stood on a stool!)
… new family hugs in the back room afterwards.
….floating on cloud 9 as we entered the reception hall as Mr. and Mrs. Stauffer.
…talking to lots of people.
….kissing. Lots and lots of kissing. Some people have no shame when it comes to tapping glasses.
…looking out over the tables at the reception and feeling overwhelmed by the fact that all these people were here simply to support us as we began this adventure called marriage.
…bubbles that didn’t blow. (Useless “Dollar Tree” bubbles!)
…riding away in a horse-drawn carriage and hearing Pastor Walters yell “We’ll see you in Sunday School tomorrow!”
…pictures with the groomsmen, bridesmaids, etc.
…and then finally, just Mike and I left alone…. ready to start our lives together.
And while marriage has certainly had it ups and downs, by God’s grace, we are now approaching seven years of marriage. Day by day, step by step: loving, often stumbling, forgiving, and getting back up. It’s been a wonderful and growing journey for both of us and one I wouldn’t trade for the world.