February 20, 2016: The Wedding
We woke up around 8 o’clock and had lemon tea delivered to our door by the home’s owner and Mom’s good friend, our gracious host, Candy. We stayed in our beds for a little while longer and got giddy excited about the day! Mom then suggested we watch our old favorite YouTube vid, “My United States of Whatever”. So we did. Three or four times, I think, and if you haven’t seen it, I’ll probably just include it here so you can see it now.
After we had a good laugh about that, we went to the dining room and sat at the table with Candy for a breakfast of fruit and yogurt. Candy had worship music playing and we sat visiting together for awhile before Candy led the three of us in a time of prayer over Mom and Greg, the wedding day, and their marriage. After the “amen”, we all got up to start getting ourselves ready. It was after 11 at that point and guests would start showing up by two. We had been taking our sweet time until then but figured they couldn’t start without the bride anyway!
Chad, Levi, and Brandi got to the house around noon and the boys started setting up the yard with tables and chairs for the ceremony and reception. I was dressed and in the middle of doing mom’s hair and makeup. She was calm and I was not that calm. Maybe I was more calm on the outside than I felt on the inside but I was getting very nervous and excited and hot. It was very hot in the room we were in. Jill and Jamie came and everyone started crowding in taking pictures with their cellphones because out of all the people who were planning on bringing cameras, no one did! Good thing iPhones take high-quality photos now. And a better camera did finally arrive… later.
We saw Greg approaching through the window along with the rest of the family and people started to gather in the yard. 2 o’clock came and thats when we all realized that no one really had a plan on how to start the ceremony. Candy and her husband Glenn ended up helping us get everyone to their seats while I ran to the back and tried to take a deep breath and have a quick moment with my mom and brother.
Whew. This is it.
We snuck to the back sliding door and Chad started playing his guitar.
The backyard was beautiful. It was spacious and green, with plants and flowers lining the periphery. On the farthest side from where we stood were rows of white chairs that formed an aisle. Standing in front of the intimate group of loved ones were Greg and his three daughters, Laina, Krista, and Julia. Two families joining together. I gave my mom a kiss on the cheek and started forward. Once I got all the way to the front and could turn to look back, Levi walked my mom down the aisle toward her new husband.
Greg and Mom, together with their kids, stood together for only a few minutes as Stan welcomed everyone and the ceremony began. It felt very surreal. Then we all sat down with the rest of the family as Stan’s wife, Kim, came forward and told the story of how Mom and Greg came to meet and begin their relationship. In short, Stan and Kim were both greatly used by God in connecting Mom and Greg in the beginning. They got to know each of them separately and pray for them and with them in different seasons before God ultimately led Stan and Kim to introduce them.
Greg and Mom went back to the front, exchanged beautiful vows… (Greg memorized his and wowed us all, while mom read hers then threw the paper in the air like a carefree, happy woman), and led us in communion before Stan closed in prayer and pronounced Greg and Jody… man and wife.
Chad closed the ceremony with a song as we all cheered and celebrated what God had done. It was beautiful. The entire thing. To know and understand that both of these people had been married before, that they had honored their vows before, that they knew the weight of their own words and were entering into that promise together again… it was just a pure and beautiful, God thing.
Family photos and toasts followed. We moved a few feet back towards the house and filled our plates with delicious food, sat around the tables set up there and visited and continued with stories and toasts. I didn’t give a toast. I had tried writing one several times in the weeks leading up to the wedding and I couldn’t get it out. However, my brother wrote this incredible toast in the form of a poem and it said all that needed to be said, really. You can read it here. Beyond that, each of my cousins gave a toast and I was so incredibly proud of them. Five boys that I’ve known and loved since they were born suddenly grew up and they are wonderful, articulate, mature young men that love our family so well and are so supportive. I’m not that much older than any of them really, so it’s probably cheesy that I get emotional over how much they’ve “grown”, but I can’t help it! I’m constantly thankful for the family Jesus gave me.
After dinner, as people started to get ready to leave again, I went to the back room where Mom and I got ready, and ran into Levi there. He gave me a hug and I started to cry. Read back on “When Love Grows” if you want the explanation for those tears I found in hindsight, but as wonderful as the day was, it was hard in some ways too. My grandma came back and found us there like that and joined in our hug. It was a really sweet moment, actually. My mom’s mom understood and she just loves us! Ugh! (I’m so lucky, seriously.)
A few minutes later, I was giving my mom one last hug before the remaining wedding guests formed a tunnel and whooped and cheered her and Greg through to send them on their way.
Chad, Levi, Brandi, and I helped Glenn and Candy clean up as best we could before we headed back to my aunt’s house to relax after such a full, wonderful day. The next day would be Mom and Greg’s reception in Ojai, where extended friends and family gathered to celebrate their union. A couple of weeks beyond that, they had another small reception in Albuquerque with friends there before packing up some of my mom’s house and making the move to Ventura to move forward in life together. What a special thing. The other day when my mom and I were on the phone she told me how sweet she found it that she got to go home with Greg. That for five years she’d go out, but at the end of the day she’d go home alone. (I reminded her that for a good little stretch of those years she actually went home with ME!… but I get it.) The point is, that Jesus answered prayers when he sent Greg to my mom. Their friendship and their union is proof of God’s goodness.