I woke up well before dawn the morning of the wedding, and was too nervous to go back to sleep. Instead, I got up, checked my pre-wedding checklist, loaded up the car, wrote six thank-you notes, printed out my wedding speech and our vows, got breakfast at the local bagel shop, and then walked around the block for twenty minutes, reading my vows and speech out loud, so I wouldn’t stumble over them at the wedding.
At seven-thirty, I went to the makeup artist, and spent two hours there, getting my face painted and my hair done up. The process was far more complex than I’d expected – first a primer to make the makeup last longer, then concealer, foundation, and powder. Then some slightly darker makeup to slim my face and make the cheekbones more prominent, and to darken the curve of the jaw.
After that, she applied blush, which looked too heavy to me, but she explained that the blush powder would fly away over time, so she needed to apply more to make it last. Then on to the eyes – first a special primer, eye makeup foundation, powder, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and false lashes. I watched, fascinated, as she transformed my face completely. Truly, artistry!
The hair proved a little awkward. The florist’s headpiece, a wonderful confection of gardenias and orchids, turned out to be way too large – we really needed a single flower, not an entire headband. So we did the rest of the hair, drawn over to the left side of my head, pinned with the gold double-happiness pin, and cascading down in soft curls down the front, and agreed that I would stop by the supermarket on the way to the wedding and buy some flowers there.
Mike and I finally left at 9:30am. We arrived at the ceremony site a little later than anticipated, and many guests were already there. Thankfully, most of the wedding party had already arrived, and as soon as I arrived, they fanned out in all directions, setting things up and freeing me to focus on my own preparations.
I had planned to have my mother help me into the dress, but she was unfortunately ill with food poisoning, and (much to my disappointment) was unable to attend the wedding. So instead I chose my dear friend Lena, who had moved to India some five years ago and had flown in for the wedding. She helped me fix a few makeup smudges, fix a single gardenia bloom into my hair, and step into the dress. I was terrified that I was going to rip the hem or something, but she settled me down and got me into the strapless bra, the shoes, and the dress.
Finally, Lena took down the coat, held it for me, and carefully fastened the three hooks and eyes in front. She handed me my bouquet, a beautiful confection of white lilies and roses, accented with pale gold roses and feathery ferns, tied with a gorgeous gold ribbon – and turned me to the mirror.
I gasped. As much and as hard as I’d worked on the outfit, I was totally unprepared for the vision in the mirror…the beautiful, regal bride in the mirror couldn’t possibly be me. Could it?
I could have gazed in the mirror all day, unbelievingly, but the guests had taken their places, and my friend Herve, who was officiating, had started speaking. I scurried over as the others started their procession. First Mike’s parents, then Mike, then my father, brother, and mother’s husband, then…
Walking down the aisle was indescribable. Momentous, glorious, and yes, triumphal. A year’s labor for the wedding ensemble, now shown in all its glory, and a wonderful tribute to love and to Mike. The harp played “Trumpet Voluntary” as I made my way slowly down the aisle and turned to face the man I love.
Friends and family spoke, but I hardly heard them, being too occupied gazing at the man I was about to marry. My friend Lena, who is a Tibetan lama, blessed us with holy water. And then it was time for us to read our speeches to each other, and exchange vows.
Mike’s words to me were beautiful, heartfelt, and romantic. I started misting up as he said them to me. Then I read my words for him – a free verse poem – and by the time I reached the end, I was crying tears of joy. Then we exchanged vows, and rings. Finally, our officiant read out the words that bound us, and we kissed for the first time as husband and wife.
After being presented to the guests, we departed down the aisle to the joyous strains of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. We had a lovely lunch – old friends and new, family meeting family for the first time. The wine was wonderful – my brother, a vintner, had brewed four different wines for the occasion, and my sister-in-law, a graphic designer, had created beautiful custom wine labels for us. We spent time at each table, receiving congratulations and visiting with the guests.
Too soon, it was time to leave the reception. We stopped by the hospital to visit my mother – collecting stares as the newly wedded couple in full bridal regalia sailed through the hallways – bringing the wedding to her, since she wasn’t able to be at the wedding. (Fortunately, she was feeling much better, and was discharged shortly thereafter.)
After a dinner with family and close friends, the day drew to a close. We said farewell to friends and family, collected a few last well-wishes, and headed home to get some sleep before heading off on our honeymoon in Vancouver. We were exhausted, triumphant – and married.