Festivus Ceremonious Maximus

It’s Latin for “rockin’ great start to the party, y’all”. That’s paraphrased, of course, but just barely. Whatever the root and origin, the ceremony was big and festive and bright.

ladies in waiting

I am waiting on a landing of a cement staircase. Hide The Bride, I think this game is called. I strain to hear the music I’m told has started. I think I hear a banjo, but then again my ears are ringing. I am so ready to skip to the altar that my body’s started to malfunction. And then, as the guests settled calmly into chairs overlooking Broadway, I climb the last steps of singledom. With help of several Aerial staff members and that cardiovascular endurance I’d been training, we manage a MacGyver-esque clever-and-covert mission to hide all twelve feet of my puffy dress and all three feet of my puffy hair.

This round of Hide The Bride is so successful that I can’t see or hear much of anything outside the glass-lined loft. I am irritated at first, that I can’t grab a lighter and sway to the sweet beats of live music on the deck, but then I grab my dad’s arm, and suddenly I am thankful for all this quiet.  I am just a few feet from the hustle and bustle of city buzz outdoors. I am a few feet from Garry Wood, a musician I’ve never actually met who filled in and saved the live music dreams for the ceremony a mere week before the day.  I am just a few feet away from family, from a blogging friend I’ve yet to meet in person, from my former youth pastor set to officiate the I-Do’s, from a photographer’s all-seeing lens, from my future husband. I am holding my dad’s elbow, and everything is quiet.

The men, I learned, already filed onto the rooftop, moseyed to a beautifully calm version of M.Ward’s “Here Comes The Sun Again”. Then, it is our turn. I hear Garry and accompanying banjo-playing friend begin with our slightly quirky entrance song, Brandi Carlile’s “If There Was No You”: “Then my jokes aren’t funny. The truth isn’t true, if there was no you“. A bridesmaid turns and looks at me before she rounds the corner to face the faces. It’s time to get married.

One word to describe the bridesmaids’ look would be fancy. A second word might be smokinghot. The gorgeous Stella & Dot necklaces  (courtesy of the fabulous Coretta) you guys selected were the perfect way to bring some formal flair to their otherwise casual sundresses. The shabby chic fabric & brooch bouquets were the perfect pop of color against the all-white attire. Crafted by Etsy artist Autumn Art, you voted on those pretty keepsake pieces, too!

Mimi & The Young Stud, dressed in fine formal wear from Target.

Such a fierce hug, I think I broke my old man’s elbow.

Me, freaked out with all the crying of the tears.

Our pastor, Matt, spoke for a bit about marriage amounting to choosing one another especially on the very worst days. It was a pretty surreal moment having him oversee this union. He was the Bible camp chaperone. I was a teenage dufus. Now he is the legally binding ceremony of matrimony chaperone. I’m a fully grown dufus. Afterwards, Tom and I (as planned just one night before the wedding) decided to speak to each other in a totally personal and intimate way. Yes, personal and intimate and over a loud wireless mic for all the wedding guests in front and tourists snapping pictures on the street below to hear.

 He cried. Wept might be the right word, and it was actually my favorite part. His vows were sweet and simple and drowned in tears of a dude just so happy to be there. He spoke about our friendship, the bad days still being so much better by my side, and lots of other things I could barely hear beyond the sniffling. I took away from his vows gratitude, and- as I kicked off my towering red heels to look him in the eye- all I could think was thank you.

Most folks recommend for the happy couple to write from the heart when penning one’s own vows. With a down-to-the-bones honesty and simplicity, Tom’s vows absolutely were a reflection of himself and the way he loves. So my vows? Well, I consider them a success in that they certainly were true to my being: ridiculous and rambling on and on and on.

Kicking off the red kicks.

Oh God. The tears. They were contagious.

My So-Dumb-But-I-Really-Mean-It Vows

There are a lot of things I don’t understand. Like how the weatherman call for rain on sunny days or how Thomas picked up breakdancing without any proper training or why Pop Tarts come packaged in pairs, but the box tells you to seriously just eat one. More than all of these great mysteries, I am the most confused by you. I don’t, even on our wedding day, understand why you love me. Why are you here on my ugliest days? Why do you take on my storms? What is in it for you?

It wasn’t until I read this quote that I started to get it. Anne Lamott wrote …

[At this point a truck or motorcycle or some heavily throttled something revved and honked on the busy city street below. Suddenly I forgot all things. All. Things. I couldn’t remember what I was saying and had the strange panic that I’d worn the wrong underpants, the ones without my name and Return To Home Address If Lost scrawled across the waist band. The monster engine rumbled again…]

Um. Anne Lamott. Anne Lamott said, um, she said “Hemi?”. Uhhhhhh. Oh God. Um. Uh. Errr. She also said “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace- only that it meets us where we are but never leaves us where it found us.”.  I knew then that God took mercy on me the day He handed you my hand. In my life you are grace, the shelter from bad, the shining example of what is good. You met me where I was and I am forever changed.

You show me the very best way to celebrate. You take the worst days and teach me that the messiest times are worthy, too. There is joy even in playing in the dirt with you. You made me a mother, gave this little life of mine purpose, and gave me peace in knowing that this child will watch us through the years and know certainly and exactly what real love looks and lives like. You came and turned this world upside down only to show me that it’s now finally right side up. So today and everyday I take this love of yours I so don’t understand. I take this gift and I say thank you, thank you, thank you.

And then we all melted into a pool of tears and vaporized into city fog. The end. Okay, so maybe we didn’t miraculously morph into the emotional atmosphere, but the whole place got to ugly crying the likes have not been boo-hooed since Titanic became cliché. I could almost hear the internal dismay of every woman in the joint, all lamenting the fresh eyeliner streaming down their cheeks.  With all the sap and sobbing out-of-the-way, I put a ring on it.

Then Pastor Matt was announced us man & wife, quickly adding a “Oh snap in the name of Christ!” because he skipped the whole kiss bit.

 Feeling twenty pounds lighter with such an abundance of teary water weight shed, we exited the ceremony a little less serious and a lot more funky to an acoustic guitar & banjo rendition of Matt Kearney’s “Hey Mama”. Barefoot and clapping to the cocktail reception, the thought struck me that this day was already so good, and it was only just the beginning.

* click one of these million-and-a-half photos to enlarge!

42 thoughts on “Festivus Ceremonious Maximus

    1. Thanks, woman. Can’t wait for the details post. Somebody sent me some pretty delicious Japanese cookies that may or may not have made it all the way to the bloggy wedding dessert table 🙂

  1. Oh, dear Tori, your vows move me just as much now as they did then. You are a grace to all of us–a gift to so many. I love you, Sweetie, and was so, so honored to be a part of your Very Bloggy Day!

  2. Tori, your words always stop all all of other nonsense in my head and demand that I pay attention. But your vows go beyond that. I’m apt to remember these words for a very long time. And Tom has been given as great a gift as you have. Well done, indeed.

  3. Apparently I don’t have to attend a wedding to get teary-eyed…yep, it happened just looking at the photos and reading about it. Congratulations on your big day and I do hope you have a lifetime of happiness together. By the way, love the little dude’s designer clothes from Target. He’s adorable 🙂

  4. Geez! Best wedding ever. I might have cried a bit and vaporized into emotional mist.
    Your family is hot. Im so happy you have those awesome men. They’re so lucky to have you.

  5. CONGRATS! LOVE those vows! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have a feeling I’ll be frequenting yours as well. 🙂

  6. So many people put so much effort into planning the perfect day, into controlling every detail. I love how this all came together and ended up being the PERFECT celebration of the two of you. Really, the three of you. Everything fit together so well.

  7. Whoo hoo! I’m throwing belated rice your way – do you feel it raining down on your towering beehive? Way to write your goofy, tender heart in such a way that I’m tearing-up all the way up north here.

  8. I’ve been a teary mess looking at your photos (: Very happy for you and inspired by you always being you. Love your son’s RED shoes…so smart. And also, niiiiice booty girl!! (:

  9. awesome! congratulations and what a great way to stumble onto your blog. stopping by from sits

  10. A giant Awwwww! For all that sweetness. Beautiful pictures and vows and everything else on your wedding day: )

  11. Tears are contagious, indeed. I’m weeping just reading this post! Looks like an amazing day, Tori. Da-YUM, everyone looks gorgeous! (Love the red shoes, too. I didn’t say it before, but they seriously give me the cramps.)

  12. Um yea so what’s up with the pop tarts I mean who actually just eats the one?!?! This was beautiful and so sweet I loved every word!

  13. Okay, the vows. Wow. Those are some vows. And the photos speak volumes! I love your description of the moments before you walked down the aisle with your dad. And that Nashville skyline backdrop makes me want to take a trip to my old condo on West End Ave, drop by my alma mater at Vandy Law before getting it in at B.B. Kings with you and your girls.

    Speaking of which, your girls look A-MAZING! They totally complement you in your Vera, thank you very much. We do statement necklaces like nobody’s business at Stella & Dot. The new pieces for Spring 2012 are hotness and I can’t wait for the fall releases in July. The Metropolitan Mixed Chain necklace was the perfect choice even though you know I actually voted for the Sofia Pearl Bib necklace. Oops!

    I also have to say that all the red shoes, including on your cutie-patootie son, make me smile. Also, the fact that the blues in the skyline coordinate with your color scheme. Loving the recaps!

    “The fabulous Coretta” *curtsying*

    *in my best Russell Crowe*
    I told myself I was going to behave… but the Latin bit… I just couldn’t help myself!
    Sounds like such an amazing ceremony! I’m continuing to love the photos, and that venue looks pretty darn incredible, too! Wowza!

  15. Blog-bawl. Seriously ugly crying for all the beauty in this. Thanks – now my lips are puffy and I’m all mottled red and purple on my way to the gym I haven’t been to in we’re not discussing how long… where I will think on all the fearsome joy of that day for you, who I have not met, and cry some more.

    1. Awww, a good old-fashioned ugly cry is healthy sometimes. Take comfort that I might just be the ugliest crier of them all. Somehow I always end up blotchy and slobbering and a little bit cross-eyed 😉

  16. AWESOME Tori! I have only recently stumbled into the blogosphere and consequently spectacular people like you. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your wedding…I wept, bringing back some wonderful memories of my own (19 years October). Respect guys REDdog

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