I loved my wedding day. It was filled with beautiful details that represented Eddie and I from the flowers to the guests to the location. I’ve held off writing about my wedding day because although it’s clearly a huge part of who I am, I don’t want it to come off sounding cliché or cheesy. So rather than writing about the moment we “became husband and wife,” or said our vows, or had our first dance as a married couple, I’ll tell you the story of how we got a free 8 x 10 wedding photo.
Let me start by explaining some of the wedding planning. We had 4 months to plan the whole thing. It would take place in July while I was on mid-tour leave from the Army Soldier Show. Eddie would take leave as well from Fort Bragg, although he still had to be kind of sneaky about it (Read the Frog and the Owl Valentines Day, Moment 10). In short, the Army has a policy against fraternization and we were breaking it by getting married. It was a bit of a juggling act. Eddie was in North Carolina, I was all over the United States, and the wedding would take place in Nebraska. Not to mention, Eddie’s whole family lives in Texas and my sister and wedding planner lived in Hawaii. She offered to put the whole thing together since every second of my time was occupied by the Soldier Show. I trusted her completely and she didn’t let me down.
I wanted to keep it small and beautiful. We had about 20 guests – siblings, parents, and grandparents only (and my best friend Deb, who I just call a sibling). It took place at Pioneers Park in Lincoln, NE, a gorgeous park where I grew up having fond family memories. It’s also where I had my graduation/commissioning party. I always knew I wanted to get married there. My sister and Eddie hunted the globe high and low to find the flowers I wanted, lilacs. We had a mix of silk and real flowers as lilacs are impossible to find in July.
The bridesmaids wore whatever dress they wanted (they all have impeccable taste). The groomsmen wore whatever suit they had in their closet. Eddie wore a killer tux and cowboy boots picked out by my mother (I also trust her completely). And I wore a simple, elegant dress that I found at a store in a Virginia mall the one day I had off from the show (I was dropped off and picked up by a government van and had only 2 hours to tear through the entire mall to find a dress). I found my shoes at Macy’s and amazingly enough, they cost more than the dress. Deb sang a gorgeous song, “Lullaby” by the Dixie Chicks, as I walked down the aisle with my dad. We had the reception at Lee’s, where I used to play the piano in college, and we ate apple pie instead of wedding cake.
Eddie’s family traveled up from Texas. My childhood pastor, long time family friend, and role model, Pastor Brooks, drove from Iowa to officiate the ceremony. Every detail of the day was exactly what I wanted. What I dreamed about.
The ceremony was of course beautiful and emotional. I didn’t feel nervous at all. I felt amazing. Beautiful. Confident. Eddie looked nervous. But soon all the elements of the day came together; family, the gorgeous day, the pond behind us, my pretty shoes, the music playing, walking arm and arm with my dad then joining hands with Eddie. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house...or park.
This included our photographer, Frank Ekeler, who approached me after the ceremony, still slightly choked up. “I have a policy that if any wedding makes me cry, I throw in a free 8 x 10.” Our wedding was perfect, beautiful, genuine, original, and meaningful. And that’s how I got a free 8 x 10.