Before the ceremony began, the bridal party, families, and officiants gathered together in a separate house on the venue property and waited. I'm serious, I had the best day! This time was one of the highlights for me. Nervous excitement, surrounded by my favorite people, knowing that so many who I love... who love Chad and I... were waiting outside to celebrate with us.
Waiting outside to walk down the aisle, I was audibly telling myself to pay attention, to soak it all in and be present. I looked at the crowd, by then seated but looking over their shoulders at us off in the distance. I saw our pastor friends standing beside the groomsmen and my future husband. The music started.
JR and Josie Barela. My wonderful new mother and father-in-law. It's not lost on me how lucky I am to have such a sweet relationship with them. Not everyone is so fortunate. For at least seven years, they have been family. When Chad and I broke up years ago, I remember Josie saying, "Well I didn't break up with you, did I?" She loved me through and through, in every season. There were lunch dates and phone calls and check-ins over the years that kept us close. JR and Josie have always been there for me. One time I showed up at their house with a heavy heart and they took such good care of me. JR and I may or may not have shared most of a bottle of wine and Josie and I cried for hours. I'm so constantly blessed by them, and couldn't be more thankful to finally, officially be a part of their family.
By now, it's surely no secret how much I love and adore my mommy. So I'm going to focus on that man in the hot-pink button up right there. Greg Humbles, when asked if he'd be interested in walking my mom down the aisle, only hesitated because he didn't want to draw any attention away from Chad and I, being an unfamiliar face to many walking arm-in-arm with such a cherished and protected woman to all. He was so thoughtful, but since I welcomed the idea of any stolen attention, he agreed to be a part of the day. Greg is an answer to my prayers. He is clever and caring and takes care of my mom. They have fun together, and they both so much deserve to have fun. Thanks for being around, Greg.
I stood, mostly hidden, and watched my two families walk down the aisle together. I watched my best friends go ahead of me, one by one. I watched my future husband at the front of the crowd, looking like a major babe, waiting for me.
"Are you ready?"
Levi took my arm and we moved forward.
And this is that special, long-awaited, much-anticipated moment I wrote about in my last post. That significant walk down the aisle toward the future, next to someone who understands the importance, and is ready to share in the experience.
Here, the moment my brother gave me away.
And then it was us.
Chad and I decided to have two officiants at our wedding, and we were honored by the amazing pastors that agreed to share in the ceremony. Before Chad moved to Nashville in 2013, he had been attending Pastor Dave Row's church and grew in relationship with him and the church as a whole. He'd play on the worship team there when he came back to visit and I started a two-service Sunday routine. My home church was locally pastored by Pastor Donovan Medina during the time it was under the name Mars Hill and now under it's new name: North.
Pastor Dave Row is one classy man. His father's heart has majorly impacted Chad and I through who he is on Sunday and every other day of the week. He is my sweet Emily's dad, so of course I think so highly of him, because he raised such an awesome girl! For Chad, he has played the role of not only pastor, but mentor and friend as well. He has related to Chad and connected with him on things theological and not. He talks books and music, and has always taken interest in what Chad is doing professionally and personally. He is supportive and encouraging. We're so thankful to know him and have him in our lives.
Pastor Donovan Medina. I can't really express how thankful I am for him. He has been there with my family through some of our darkest days. For awhile I couldn't figure him out, because in my head I was convinced that we communicated far too differently to communicate much at all. I was used to pastors who would ask questions because they had the right answers, and they wanted to share those. It's the style of teaching that I responded to and could recognize. But Pastor Donovan taught me so much over the last several years by simply asking questions in an effort to understand where I was at, and accepting me in that moment. And he taught me so much by sharing honestly where he was at too. He leads by example and shows love from a place of acceptance, not from a place of having all the solutions. It's not what I had ever known before, but it's exactly what I needed in the season of time spent around him, and God knew that and provided that. I'm truly proud to call him my pastor and friend.
Pastor Dave shared a short message and Pastor Donovan led in the exchanging of vows, prayer, and pronouncement of marriage. Among my favorite photos from the wedding are the ones where the entire crowd of our closest friends and family are all extending their hands in agreement of the prayer over the first few moments of our marriage and beyond. They are powerful images and so special to me. I'm so thankful to have started that way, inviting Jesus into our lives together, and to have had so many believing along with us.
they were man and wife!