Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Here comes the bride...

So to recap -- I'm getting married!   Yeah you got that memo eh?   Well the day of crazy emotional swings had finally led to the ceremony...   

Walking down the path I couldn't tell you if there were other people or not.  My focus was pretty reduced.  Mum and Georgina were walking way ahead.  Then myself and the girls.  Dad was slightly behind, and Rebecca behind him.  She had us stop once for a photo, but otherwise I've no idea how many she may have taken.  When she saw Joe, she made a comment about "there's the real photographer" and darted out to the front.  Presumably went and found a seat :)

Almost there :)
As we got close to the end of the walkway, Georgina had Ted escort Mum to her seat.  That meant a lot to me and I was really glad they did that.  I have no idea if the guys were escorting everybody?  I'd assumed not just given the beach environment.  There's a lot I didn't get to see -- I have absolutely no idea who was sitting where.  Was there a bride side and a groom side?  Again, if I had to guess, I'd've said no -- but I didn't actually see at all.

Mum and Ted
We waited at the end of the path, blocked by the trees.  There were two ways we could go through -- but one involved ducking under a palm frond.  I saw the possibilities of that going all kinds of wrong -- getting caught in my hair, pulling the veil, etc etc, so opted for the safer route *g*

Same song although not exactly the same version...

I vaguely heard the first few beats of the music start.  Canon D -- that song's definitely going to make me smile any time I ever hear it from now on.  And the rest is a blur with moments of the oddest things being completely clear and other things incomprehensibly blurred.   Georgina sent Steph and Ted on their way.

Steph and Ted started things off, bravely risking the frond ;)
And my nerves just shot off the charts.  I don't even know why -- I had no doubts about what I was doing, I was super excited, and yet I was almost hyperventilating.  Georgina kept asking if I was okay.  I made a conscious effort to slow my breathing, half-listening to Jen joke with Brett.  Then they were gone too. 

I suspect the best chick and best dude were having the most fun of any of us :)
Georgina got my dad and I all set up to go.  We couldn't see around the tree, so no idea even when it'd be our turn.  But then she waved us out.  We took the alternate route from the others.  I vaguely noted the table off to the side, some people watching from the beach, but all I wanted to see was Chris and I couldn't.  All our guests were standing taking pictures -- or so it seemed to me.  A wall of people and cameras.  Of course the rational side of me knows it's tradition for all to rise as the bride walks down the aisle -- but at the time?  Yeah, the rational side of me was nowhere to be found.  Aisles are traditionally straight too, nicely averting that issue.  But ours had a bend.  I wasn't seeing individuals at all -- just a blur of faces and cameras.  Although that in itself was nearly enough to make me sappy again -- a whole *crowd* of people came all the way to Costa Rica just to watch us get married.  And they were all smiling. That's pretty amazing.

Me and my dad
Dad was talking to me -- not sure whether to keep me calm, him calm, or both :)  But it really helped.  That would've been very hard to do with any form of decorum alone.  The conversation itself is not mine to share, but suffice to say the content didn't matter.  The company and focus did :)

I was rather oblivious to the extra spectators at the time,
but in retrospect, I appreciate how respectful they all were.
And then I saw Chris.  He had leaned out to see around the crowd -- and that little thing meant the world to me.  I later learned he'd been pacing the entire time, but at that moment I had no idea.  Marriage has always been important to me, but he'd been honest with me that it was never something he really cared about.  And some part of me was still concerned that he was only doing it because it was important to me; I guess I hadn't even acknowledged to myself that fear that it was still one-sided.  But from that moment, when he looked out around the crowd searching for me, I knew it meant at least as much to him as it did to me.  And I wanted to be up there with him.  I didn't hear the music I'd spent so long searching for, or see any individuals in the large group of people.  I don't even remember that part of the conversation with Dad.  The man I love was waiting for me to come marry him.  Nothing else existed.
Looking for the bride
The crowd separated as we got there.  As I got closer, I could see Chris had tears in his eyes.  Dad said something to him that made me melt, but for the life of me I can't remember exactly what.  It was along the lines of "you're a very lucky man" but somehow phrased better.

The men in my life
I hugged Chris -- I know that's not how it's supposed to go, but that that moment, we were not part of a ceremony, or in front of everybody we know and care about, we were just us and he had tears in his eyes and I wanted to be with him.

It was so surreal.  It's weird the things you notice -- or at least I thought so.  I was completely oblivious to anything behind me, and not even the slightest bit inclined to turn and look -- even knowing it was all the people who matter most to me in the world standing there.  But I noticed a random stranger, walking on the beach, pause to take a photo from the distance.  How strange to know that the biggest moment of my life would be a footnote in a complete stranger's: "we saw this wedding on the beach…"

Some fairy tales come true
The angle we were standing on meant Chris had to squint into the sun.  Some part of me noted that and tried to figure out how to fix it -- it's not like they don't do sunset weddings almost every day.  All that needed to change was to move the back drapes slightly.  Ah well.  I noticed the couple people from our guests who had circled around to take pics and was happy they had. 

And then I wondered why I was noticing these things.  Trying to see everything.  To save every second.  It's taken me far longer to write this than the ceremony itself.  But I wanted to absorb everything. It was all just so perfect.  The wedding of my dreams to the man who means so much more to me than I'd ever dreamed.  And, in the most amazing twist of fate, seems to feel the same.  Pause, and replay.  It's still as incredible in my memory.

Jen came and took my flowers;
I'm glad she thought of that, cause I was definitely focused on the rings ;)
The ceremony itself was short but lovely.  Some of it brought tears to my eyes.  We were intending to include the traditional "in sickness and health" etc vows, but in a mis-communication we didn't have them memorized and the officiant didn't have them written down.  So we just skipped that section and went with what he had.  News to me, but certainly not something I was going to question at the time!   It is amazing to me that the man who married us -- who performed the ceremony that will forever improve my life -- I never spoke to and didn't even know his name.  I found it later on the marriage docs of course, but still….

Two little words.
When we said our "I do"s…  It's amazing how powerful that is.  Chris was super emotional, but when he spoke, his voice was calm and sure.  I was so overwhelmed, I just wanted to hug him tightly to me.  When it came my turn, I doubt my voice was much over a whisper.  All that I am, all that I have, and all that may come to me.  Frig, even writing it I'm tearing up.  Short, simple, perfect, and completely heartfelt.  There was only us.  No other people, or beach, or anything.  Just a girl and a boy promising to love each other forever and share a life together.  How did I get so lucky as to be that girl?

It's official!
The paperwork took only a few seconds.  Both our witnesses are left handed -- not sure what that means, but the symmetry made me smile.

You may now kiss the bride
When the ceremony was over, Chris kissed me as though he meant it *g*  Weddings have got to be the one place where PDAs are not only socially acceptable, they're actively encouraged.   We didn't really know what to do next, so we retraced the steps my dad had walked with me a lifetime ago.  Somebody handed me a glass of champagne and I had a quandary -- how to hold the flowers, Chris' hand, and the champagne all at once...  Needless to say, I wasn't holding the champagne very long ;-P

A toast to us :)
We somehow had a moment to ourselves, that ended far too quickly, before we rejoined the crowd to congratulations and were quickly shepherded over for photos.  Vicky, who still looked horribly pale, arranged and directed things while Joe shot the photos.  I was happy they didn't object to others taking pics as well.  Got a few shots in before we lost what Joe deemed was ideal light. 

Stealing a moment
We meandered over to the front of the gazebo and stood chatting w/ people for a bit.  Who?  About what?  I have no idea.  All I know is Chris never let go of my hand, and I wanted nothing more than to be as close to him as possible.  Some random dude was taking photos -- I would later learn he was another resort guest here from Texas.  Tim.  So completely random, but hey - if our wedding made him happy, awesome. And if we get extra photos…  Even better :)

When all was said and done...
We were starting to head toward dinner when…  Sea turtles!   Baby sea turtles had hatched and were digging their way out of the sand and making a break for the ocean.  They're usually supposed to hatch only at night -- the girls had been out late at night looking for them.  But they hatched at the conclusion to our wedding.  Yup, shown up by turtles *g*   Only I could have that happen.  But it was amazing  Super cute.  Seemed to be all flippers as they made their way to the ocean.  I was pleased the beach security guards protected them.  Unbelievable and awesome in the most literal sense of the world.  How perfect.  Especially as Chris had really wanted to include sea turtles on our invites and we couldn't figure out how to do so.  So the turtles hatching at the wedding was pretty perfect.

They were all flippers, moving so quickly.  Very cool to see.
Dinner was immediately after at the steak house.  We had to wait to be announced -- all kinds of official.  I think Chris was ready to help himself to the salads we were standing right by :)  Ted gave it a solid effort: "Mr Lauren and Chris Horsfall"  hahaha almost.

Waiting to be announced
There was a head table for the six of us and everybody else divided themselves among the three long tables.  Winston was at the center of the head table *g*  I later learned Chris C was responsible for that :)   Dinner was fine. I was a little disappointed in the service in that the head table was done desert before some of the others even had their main courses.  But nobody seemed to care.

Winston having a drink
Chris' dad made a short but super sweet speech.  Ted's was perhaps less poetic, but still heartfelt.  Brett finished off the speeches making a perma-claim to our couch ;)  I think he and Jen had as long a day as Chris and I did.   Later Jen made a super-sweet toast that made me smile.

I think Robin's speech meant the most to me
Then was just a matter of cutting the cake -- vanilla with strawberry filling.  Chris felt the need to squish some of it in my face.  Lovely ;-P  The cake topper was exactly the right size and way more interesting than any I've ever seen before :)  

Joanna lent me a napkin and after I cleaned up, I went to help hand out cake, but ended up standing and chatting with Mum instead.  Would've been hard to be productive wearing that dress anyways ;-P   One of the unexpected side-effects of the wedding was how close I felt to my family.  That was awesome.

Can only hope everybody realizes how much their presence meant to us
We'd had the tables set with pages that would make up our guestbook.  Included questions like "what advice would you give the bride and groom" and "how long have you known them?" -- I'm really looking forward to reading them!  Hoping everybody filled them out -- will be something to keep forever.

Winston played in the cake, and shortly thereafter Chris and I disappeared.  I heard after the party went on long into the night, but we were exhausted.

Such an incredible day.  Exhausting and amazing, nerve wracking and wonderful and overall perfect.  Line to remember: "may today be the day I love you the least."   So many other things I'm sure I've missed or forgotten.  I feel like a lifetime happened in that one day.  But how wonderful it was :)


I love you.  Forever.


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