I was always that little girl who would fantasize about her wedding day. I was to arrive in a chariot with a white horse, I would have a big beautiful ball gown and would feel like a princess. I would walk down a long isle in the most amazing church in town. Rose petals and flowers will be everywhere!
Psht….a chariot? I arrived in my Honda Fit. But, what the heck, my wedding was still perfect!
My wedding day was absolutely more phenomenal than I could have ever pictured as a child. Beautiful, breath taking, heart wrenching, tear jerking type of day. And I quote from a few of our guests, “Best wedding EVER! Hands down!” and “Hearing your vows made me and my husband fall in love with each other all over again. You reminded us what love was all about.” Pretty awesome. And it wasn’t rehearsed, wasn’t role played, it just….happened.
The wedding was September 16, 2012. It was a Sunday. The morning before, my husband had taken my son with him to stay at his best mans house, and I stayed home with my daughter. I was an absolute nervous wreck from the night before up until I walked down the isle. I seriously had about a mini heart attack every hour. I have no idea what I was so nervous about either! It was the day we had planned for nearly a year, the day I could not wait for!
I did a whole lot of laying around, hyperventilating, fanning myself…you know the drill. Everything in my head was an absolute mush. I don’t want to say I was getting cold feet, but being I have never been married before, have quite a bit of stage fright, and don’t do good in dresses….I wasn’t all too thrilled about having to walk down an isle in front of 150 people in a big dress. And quite honestly, I really just missed my husband. It was one of the first nights we had spent apart, and I felt so alone. Considering my husband is my best friend as well, I had no best friend there to calm me down! We hadn’t talked or seen each other, my son was gone as well….and I just wanted to desperately see them both.
All my bridesmaids took turns to let me know that everything was going to be fine, offered me shots of whatever tequila they were drinking. I couldn’t take shots, couldn’t eat, I felt if it went in my mouth it would be puked out. I simply couldn’t understand how they were all so calm!
I knew it was getting real the second our MAC make-up artist and hair stylist arrived. Things were happening so quickly! I had our wedding planner coming into our bridal suite taking my hand made signs to display throughout the winery. Outside the french doors I could see the chairs being set up out on the lawn for the ceremony. The caterer had arrived and they were setting up the dinner tables, putting down the beautiful linens my husband and I had picked out just a few weeks before. All of this was happening for me? It was so surreal.
And as I sat there while my make up and hair got done, a million thoughts were going through my head. Was my husband as nervous as I? Was he getting cold feet? Did he miss me? Did he even show up at the winery?!
I believe I put off putting my wedding dress as much as I possibly could until our wedding planner came into the suite and calmly said, “Mayra, I think its time you get your dress on. Ceremony will be starting in about half an hour.”
It was happening! My bridesmaids rushed to get my dress down from the hanger, they all delicately traced their fingers over it as they helped me into it. Talk about feeling a million emotions at once! I could compare those feelings to the same feelings I felt when my children were born and they were placed into my arms for the very first time. While getting my dress on, I believe I heard someone make the joke, “You still have time to run!” And with all honesty, it sounded like a good idea for a whole 3.5 seconds until I realized this is what I wanted! I was going to marry my best friend and the man of my dreams! In less than half an hour he would be my husband and I will be his wife.
My dress was one of the first things I had picked out almost immediately after being proposed to. I had invited my mom, sister, cousin and aunt to come with me to help pick out my dress. All along I knew exactly which one I wanted. I had seen the dress online one day and I knew THAT was my dress, no other could compare! It was perfect! I found the only bridal store in my city that carried it, booked my appointment and went on in to try it on! If only it were that easy. Inviting people to come with me meant everyone had their opinions on what they wanted me to try, everyone pulled atleast 10 dresses that they wanted me to model. What I thought would be a quick 30 minute appointment ended up being an almost 4 hour long appointment! I tried every style, cut, and fit you could name. But, all along my heart was set on the first dress I fell in love with. Luckily, my family also loved it. People always say you will ‘just know’ when you found the right dress, I got that feeling when I saw it online.
Shortly after getting into my dress, my 3 year old son came running into our bridal suite with his tux on. That moment will be cherished forever. He ran to me and said, “Mommy you look so pretty!” and gave me a huge hug. It had been two days since I seen him, and him being there and ready only meant my husband was at the winery and ready as well. I held him tight and thats when the first tears of joy came to my eyes. I wanted him to know that no matter who I marry, he will still and always will be the main man in my life.
So then, it was time! But, I knew I just HAD to see my husband before walking down the isle. The only thing that would calm me down was to be able to see him, to feel him, smell him and know he was still with me on this journey. I had to see my best friend. I told our wedding planner that before the ceremony starts, I want to be able to see him but to have him blind folded so he wouldn’t see me. Of course our amazing planner jumped right on it! One of my bridesmaids used the shawl from her dress to blind fold Chad. I was led down the stairs that took me to where Chad was waiting. And there he was! Suddenly all those nerves went away the moment I saw him. I walked up to him, and the second I realized that he sensed my presence he shifted in his chair and I saw his very own nerves crawling through his skin. I planted a kiss on his cheek, whispered, “I love you baby. See you in a few minutes,” and then walked back up to my bridal suite. That was what I needed! I was ready to get this show on the road!
So the moment came, I was alone in the suite with my mom while all my bridesmaids had left to get ready to go down the isle. My mom was going to be walking me down the isle, and halfway through my step dad would be joining us to continue the walk. In the suite, we were able to peek through the curtains to see the ceremony. Pachelbel’s song Canon in D began to play and I knew the ceremony had started and I watched as my closest friends and family took the long walk to their positions on the stage.
Then, God Bless the Broken Road by Rascall Flatts began to play which meant my kids were now taking there walk down the isle and I will be quickly joining them. The moment Chad and I had heard that song almost a year before, we knew that was ‘our song’. Word for word it was meant for us and it would be absolutely perfect for when I walked down the isle. I wanted my kids to walk down to it as well because Chad wasn’t just marrying me, he was marrying the 3 of us as we became one happy family.
My kids definitely stole the show. They were adorable with their canvas sign that I had spent several hours working on just days before. The sign read, “We are ready to share her. Here comes our mommy.” For so many years I was just a single mom to these precious little children, and suddenly they were going to gain a new parent and member of our family. I knew they were ready to ‘share’ me as soon as I had seen how quickly they fell in love with Chad just as much as he had fallen in love with them. For years I never thought the day would come, for years after struggling at a $12/hr job where I lived paycheck to paycheck and at times barely had enough to put food on the table, I never thought the day would come when life would give me and my children a break.
But the day had come. As I walked down the isle with my parents, I blurred all my guests out, ignored the flashing lights of their cameras and focused on just one person. My husband. He looked at me in awe, every woman deserves to have a man who will look at them that way. There’s no denying that I made the best choice possible the day I said “YES!” after he proposed to me. All of my wedding role playing I did with my sister and cousin as a child could have never prepared me for that moment. It wasn’t how I had always pictured it being growing up, it was better. I realized it was so much better because my prince was ‘real’. He wasn’t my sister or my cousin dressed up as a boy. And maybe I would have never even dreamed that he wouldn’t be standing to greet me but sitting in a wheelchair, it didn’t bother me one bit. That problem was solved as I made the choice that everyone but our priest would be sitting at the ceremony. Our entire bridal party and myself sat. I wanted to be at the same level as my husband.
Chad and I decided to write our own vows. That’s where the tears came from the guest. I heard sniffling throughout the white chairs and from the bridal party as we read what we wrote to each other. My own eyes got teary hearing Chad’s. He spoke from the heart, as did I. We both expressed ourselves in such a beautiful way during our vows. What made it beautiful was that it was real, the love and passion and time we had put into them to say what we were feeling right from the heart. When you speak from the heart, regardless of what comes out of your mouth…it will always be 100% truth.
Our guests felt the love Chad and I had for each other, Chad and I felt it even stronger than ever. No words could describe the energy that was felt within all of our guests and ourselves during the ceremony. It was amazing, precious and beautiful. More than I could have ever hoped for.
And there it was! We were husband and wife! What did I feel at this point? Pure happiness. It was my happily ever after. Nothing could ever prepare you for those feelings right after your announced as husband and wife. Just like no one could ever prepare you for how you will feel the day that your newborn baby is placed into your arms for the first time. The feeling is indescribeable, but beautiful. For so long I had waited for a moment like this to come into my life, and it did. Life wasn’t always easy for me considering I became a single mother at the age of 17 and again at 21. My years of struggles paid off. At 25, I was a married woman to my best friend and had two amazingly beautiful children. My life was complete.
The rest of the night consisted of dancing, eating and having a good time. Although nobody told me that it would be nearly impossible to speak to most of our guests! Our photographer had us pulled left and right for photographs all night long!
One thing that I could say did end up as planned just as I had pictured as a child was having my sister as my maid of honor. We always said growing up we will be each others maids of honors when we got married. However, I never thought I would be getting married before my big sister, but hey, it happens! My sister gave the best speech ever. At least it was the best speech ever to me. She brought up our ‘pretend’ weddings as kids and how happy she was for me to have finally found my prince. Let’s just say she had everyone, including myself, in tears!
I couldn’t have dreamed of a better wedding. Everything was perfect. But, I feel that it was perfect because at the end of the day, I married my best friend. Regardless of all the little things that could’ve (or may have!) gone wrong, none of it mattered. The greatest part of getting married is the marriage itself, not the party or the dress or the flowers or the food or the cake. Yes, we spent nearly a year of planning the perfect ‘party’ but we didn’t realize at the time the true importance of a wedding up until the moment we sat face to face, looked each other in the eyes and gave our vows.
And for whoever stuck it out and read this entire LONG wedding story, thank you! I love being able to tell my story because coming from a girl that had nothing, to everything…its inspirational for me. Not only was I the girl who didn’t have it all, but my own husband came from having absolutely nothing. Came from living a life on the streets and a life of homelessness. I was a single mother who had no idea how I was going to pay rent each month. And here we were, years later, married…happy…financially stable…and having all we ever dreamed of and more. Life doesn’t always play out how we pictured, sometimes it plans out even better.