My cousin’s wedding was the most family-involved wedding I’ve known so far. The day my sister and I were invited to be part of it, we were all having dinner at our favorite burger place. The occasion was actually a mash-up of a birthday celebration and wedding planning between my cousin, her fiance, and my dad, an ordained minister and the officiant of their wedding. The birthday celebrating was for my cousin’s mother, whose birth date was close to our dinner date, although me and my sister had ours coming up in a few weeks. With that in our own minds, we were handed gift bags before dinner was over. We assumed they were just early birthday presents until we read the cards with them.
“Will you be my bridesmaid?” My cousin wrote inside. I at the least couldn’t have been more delighted to accept! Being part of her wedding was one of several things I found to forward to as I picked up pieces from ending 2018 on a rough note.
Another one was finally leaving the stressful, painful, two-year burden of a job with hospital food service and starting an office with DHHR in August--something I’ve been interested in doing but opportunity hadn’t panned out before that point. Being on a “cubicle farm”, I had my own little nook to bestow my personality upon to make it my home away from home. One thing I had to have to accomplish this were photos of my cousin’s wedding from a few months before, and I finally had them around the end of September. I bought and pinned up what I call my favorite four: One of us bridesmaids and the bride while we were getting ready. My cousin wore a silk white dressing robe with Mrs. etched on the back. Us bridesmaids wore pink silk personalized ones over top magenta “bridal squad” shirts as we all posed together holding our bouquets. One of the whole bridal party posing on stage after the ceremony, including her new husband alongside his groomsmen with my brother among them. One is a somewhat candid photo of me, my sister, and our dad all smiling together, and a funny one of my dad and my sister.
Dad is also a chaplain in the Army National Guard. An Operational Religious Support Leadership Course training sent him out of town in the early summer and he couldn’t make home before my cousin’s wedding rehearsal. So mom was his stand-in for the night just filling the spot where Dad would be while the rest of the party was shuffled around the venue or stage until we were happy with the procession order and arrangements and everything. Mom was tasked with holding onto a “little black book”, or a small black binder that contained Dad’s sermon manuscript and the marriage, certificate which she managed to leave around the venue when we departed for the evening. We were close to ten minutes from home when we realized the book was not with us. At which point, Mom, my sister, and I were frantically attempting to reach my aunt, my cousin, or anyone we knew still at the venue by phone call or text to tell them to secure said book.
“I had one job!” Mom exasperated after we finally succeeded in reaching someone.
For me and the rest of the “bridal squad”, the next morning started early between the commute and the time we would spend at the venue getting ready. For at least five hours we took our turns with a family friend playing hair stylist and doing each other’s makeup before putting on our dresses and jewelry. Some candid moments we captured ourselves with our smartphones (cell service was spotty at the venue, so that was about all we could do with them) and others--like my favorite four--were taken by one of the professional photographers.
My cousin’s wedding was an outdoor event on the second calendar day of summer, so the weather was still comfortably spring-like. Not unbearably hot and just the right balance of light and overcast skies while they exchanged vows. The sun broke out more in time for the pictures and reception. The whole wedding party greeted the attendants on their way to dinner and cake which is where and when one of the photographers snapped the picture of my dad with his arms around me and my sister, all of us smiling. We were likely facing someone else’s camera, but still adjacent enough for the professional’s shot. In the mingling, they also managed to capture the funny one: my dad (incidentally with the “little black book” in hand) and my sister both with their heads slightly turned and their mouths slightly agape, as if they were saying in unison, “Mom had one job!” I’m not sure if the two of them knew a camera got fixed on them, but at the same time, their shared expression was too good to have been intentionally directed!
I was honored to be part of their big day and part of my cousin’s bridal squad and I could not wait to get my hands on the wedding photos after that day! For one thing, I was eager to make a wedding scrapbook as a Christmas present to my cousin and her husband. But still, too many beautiful, precious moments around the best parts of life were captured in photocopy that day. Too many as reflected by the overload of uploads that ended up on Facebook a month later. So my favorite four were a tough pick! But they were but a few of the blessings that made my 2019 and are on display in a new chapter and year of my life!