Our Wedding

Dear Jalen,

When I was planning our perfect wedding I envisioned something like this: I’d wear a beautiful wedding gown that fit like a dream. I pictured myself with my long dark hair, finally rid of that horrible short hair cut. I’d carry a bouquet of beautiful magnolias. Our ceremony would be an intimate outdoor ceremony attended only by our closest loved ones. There wouldn’t be a wedding march. Instead, I’d walk down the aisle to a beautiful instrumental version of a John Lennon song that I loved. We’d have a collection of photographs from the wedding that we’d look back fondly upon for years to come.

When planning a wedding, you can typically expect something won’t go as planned. But you typically don’t expect everything to go wrong. At least I didn’t anyway. After all, I had spent a lot of time and effort to make sure our perfect wedding would be, well, just perfect.

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When we checked into our room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, I didn’t waste any time to make sure I had everything in order for the ceremony the next day. Just like I had planned, the shipment of magnolias I had ordered for my wedding bouquet was waiting for me when we arrived. I tore into the box and immediately placed them in water and set them aside. They made the room smell heavenly! I took inventory of everything I had packed. CD of ceremony music? Check! Hair extensions? Check! I went through all of our reservations and confirmed each one. The makeup and hair stylist confirmed her arrival for the  morning of the ceremony and assured me again that she wouldn’t have any problem styling my hair using the extensions. I would finally have a good hair day again. Everything was going according to plan….until I woke up the morning of the wedding.

When I woke up the day of our wedding, the time flew by so fast. The hairstylist arrived early but not before I could start my morning off with taking another look at our beautiful wedding flowers. As I made my way over to them, my wonderful Maid of Honor intervened to brace me for what I was about to see. It turned out the magnolias that were perfect in every way less than 24 hours ago were now completely wilted magnolias moments away from death. I didn’t understand. What the heck happened? I picked them up to take a closer look and their petals fell around me. Evidently when I had set the flowers aside the day before, I didn’t realize I had set them directly in the path of the air conditioning vent. As I slept the night away, blasts are arctic air were blowing down directly on them and they didn’t survive. Only one flower remained relatively unscathed. I didn’t have a bouquet for the wedding and even in Las Vegas a bouquet of magnolias can be hard to come by at a reasonable cost.

There wasn’t any time to dwell on it. The hairstylist had arrived early and was ready to get started. I pulled out the hair extensions but despite her previous assurances, she declared they weren’t anything she could use. Evidently, they weren’t cut to her liking and although I encouraged her to cut them up however she needed to make it work, she was unwilling to cut them at all. I wouldn’t

Holding hands during the ceremony.look like my normal self for the wedding, I’d have to endure this horrible haircut another day. On my wedding day. I couldn’t think of worse day to ever endure a bad haircut. Not only a day to endure it but that haircut was going to resurface again for the rest of my life any time I looked at our soon to be captured wedding photographs. In the hairstylist’s defense, she did style my hair in small waves. It was nice. Especially given what she had to work with. The problem is, it was a hairstyle I don’t think I’ve ever worn in my life. It certainly isn’t a hairstyle I have ever worn since. It just wasn’t me. It didn’t look anything like me. In fact, as soon as I saw it all I wanted to do was get her out of the room as fast as I could so I could jump in the shower and wash it all away so I could start over myself. Only, there wasn’t time. A limo was arriving to take me and my maid of honor to the ceremony location in a few minutes. I had to get dressed.

I carefully stepped into my strapless wedding gown. Just earlier that week, it fit perfectly. An hour or so before the ceremony it wasn’t fitting so perfectly. Or fitting really at all. The size was now too large. Evidently the stress of planning a wedding had taken a toll and as a result, I had lost weight. I basically had to hold the gown up against me to keep it from falling down. It seemed unbelievable. It still seems unbelievable to this day but it happened. There wasn’t anything I could do, our ride was waiting and it was time to go.


So there we were. My beautiful supportive maid of honor and I walking through the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel. I had taken the last magnolia from what was to be my wedding bouquet and placed it in my hair. It was clinging to my hair for dear life while I was clinging my gown up to my chest for dear life. I remember R.E.M.’s song “Orange Crush” was playing as we made our way across the lobby to the limo. I felt so ridiculous. So ridiculous that all you can really do is just laugh about it and wonder what next?

What next turned out to be the next half hour or so as we made our way to the ceremony. I would forget about holding up my dress. I’d forget about how bad I looked. I would even stop speculating what on earth your dad was going to think we he sees me make my entrance walking down the aisle looking like this. That’s because I, with my maid of honor, would be gripping the seats of the limo with white knuckles as it drove us to the wedding. We may have been riding in a limo but the driver was driving it like it was a Ferrari. He took the corners so hard we literally slid and fell into the sides of the vehicle. It was crazy. When we arrived, we felt lucky to have just survived let alone try to look good.

This handsome man has no idea what is about to come walking down that aisle.

The ceremony attendant whisked us up to a waiting room while they set up the cd to play the music I had selected for the ceremony. A few minutes later, she came back to let us know it wasn’t working. She couldn’t figure out what was wrong, but the cd just didn’t work so it couldn’t be used for the ceremony. The way the day was going, I can’t say I was surprised. The way this day was going it would be a surprise if it did work correctly. She remarked on how easy going I was about it, that normally brides are very specific and particular about where the music was to begin and end. Truth is, by this point, music was the least of my concerns.

Jalen, even though it would seem everything went wrong with the wedding (Okay, it wouldn’t seem like everything went wrong. Pretty much everything did go wrong.), we still had the perfect wedding. A perfect wedding isn’t the beautiful wedding gown that fits like a dream. A perfect wedding isn’t about carrying a specific kind of flower in a bouquet. It’s not even in the details of the song you want played as you’re walking down the aisle. At the end of the day, you can plan for all of these “perfect” things but none of it really matters.

Making my entrance.

The ride to the ceremony had our adrenaline pumping but we made it there safely. The wedding music I had prepared didn’t work but the ceremony location had a spare cd of wedding music and walking down the aisle to the wedding march wasn’t so bad after all. I didn’t have my magnolia wedding bouquet but the ceremony location had a bouquet of white roses for me to carry. We pulled a single white rose out of it for my maid of honor to carry and honestly, the simplicity of that looked rather elegant. Sure, the wedding magnolias were dead but one survived long enough to stick with me through the ceremony and hide a portion of my hideous hair.

Though, even these other arrangements didn’t make the wedding “perfect”.

Honestly, by the time I made it to the aisle, I didn’t feel beautiful like I had hoped to. I felt like a hot mess. An embarrassing, hideous, train wreck of a hot mess. But, as I stepped onto the aisle and looked up to see your dad, it didn’t matter how I looked. He still stood there at the end of the aisle. Maybe he was a little confused at what exactly he was looking at to remain frozen, but he remained at the end of the aisle and married me anyway. That alone made me feel absolutely beautiful and continues to make me feel beautiful any time I think about it.

And wouldn’t you know? Wearing a strapless gown that is too big for you also has its advantages. At least, from the tall groom’s view anyway. Ha ha

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On our wedding day, we were surrounded by so much love and happiness. Our wedding was perfect because we got to share this moment in our lives with our loved ones.

Our loved ones

Our loved ones

Our wedding was perfect because it was the start of a our wonderful lives together as a married couple.


We said our vows at the “Grand Garden” overlooking Lake Las Vegas, where in the middle of the ceremony, a couple on kayaks paddled across the water and up to where we stood saying our vows. They stayed on their kayaks, silently watching the ceremony. That was a little weird. Okay, it was noticeably weird. The minister stopped speaking when he noticed them. He made a wise crack about paparazzi and continued on with the ceremony. The couple remained sitting on the water behind us because and that’s okay. With so much ugliness in the world, it’s so nice to bask in love and happiness wherever you can. Our wedding was perfect because it was love and happiness that even complete strangers wanted to be a part of and would paddle across a lake to do it.

Although the wedding day was off to a rough start, the remainder of the day and the week following was one of the best times of our lives.



PS I’m still looking for our wedding video. I’ll post clips some day when I find it.



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