May 24, 2008. I’m 22, a freshly minted college graduate with an English degree and no job prospects. Jeremy, my groom, is also 22, also newly graduated, and also jobless. Our real diplomas haven’t even arrived in the mail yet. It’s Memorial Day weekend, and we’re getting married.
Honestly, I don’t remember much of that day a decade ago when we said, “I do.” I don’t remember much of what people said to me, who was there, what we ate, or what happened between waking up on that humid late-spring day and ending the night as a Mrs. I remember bits and pieces, flashes of memories, tiny details and general feelings, like…
The sound of a boat during our vows.
We picked Memorial Day because it seemed convenient at the time. My dad suggested a fall wedding – he actually suggesting taking a lump sum payment to elope – but I didn’t see the point in waiting after dating for nearly four years. So we settled on a date three weeks after graduation, which happened to fall on a holiday weekend, and we chose a venue right on the water. Enter boats. Enter noisy boats. Enter everyone pretending to enjoy a sweet and simple ceremony with the WHIRRR of a motor punctuating every line. Yet somehow, we said our vows. And I guess they worked since we’re still here ten years later.
The world’s most awkward wedding kiss.
When Pastor Tim said, “You may now kiss the bride,” I panicked. Not a PDA person, I dreaded this part most, even more than the dancing that everyone (read: my mom) insisted on including in the wedding day lineup. I became consciously aware of the 150-or-so bodies packed into the chairs behind us. Some of those chairs included family members (siblings and parents even!). We barely held hands in front of our families. I had seen plenty of friends cross this milestone, and they made it look natural. But we didn’t look natural at all. We looked like people who had never heard of lips, let alone how to use them. I’ve got the photo to prove it.
Dancing with my dad.
Jeremy and I picked crooner music for the evening’s festivities. For the father-daughter dance, Dad and I chose Frank Sinatra’s “You Make Me Feel So Young.” I remember the smile on my dad’s face, probably the biggest one I had ever seen. The dance itself went as well as you could hope for two people who didn’t want to dance in public. But the real memory here is the one that came before it, the one where my dad and I rehearsed our dance in my parents’ kitchen a couple weeks beforehand. My mom laughed and laughed as my dad and I silly-danced to Sinatra. The finger-wagging and awkward flailing didn’t make it into the final cut on the big day, but the memory of that father-daughter dance takes me back. Back to being 22 and silly, back to simple joys and new beginnings.
Making a pitstop at Walmart en route to The Chattanoogan.
Jeremy forgot shoes to change into for when we left, so we walked barefoot to the car from the reception. It made for cute pictures, but since we were leaving for a week-long Disney trip the next day, he needed actual shoes. After trying and failing to stop by his parents’ house to pick up his shoes (locked door), we stopped at the only place open late at night on Saturday: Walmart. My first act as a married woman? Browsing through the Walmart shoe section for a pair of tennis shoes that would weather Disney terrain. I remember walking the aisles, the lights feeling brighter than usual after an evening outdoors, and looking down at my hand in wonder. A thin, white-gold wedding band now sat below my sapphire engagement ring. Twenty-two and married.