Love and Marriage, Week 1
This week we’re talking about the beginnings of our love stories, from meeting to engagement to wedding.
I’ve often talked about the how, where, and why of our relationship and how it started. You can read some of my favorite memories of our relationship here, and our engagement story here. But I’m more than happy to recap again.
We first met at the young ages of 15 and 16 years old when our church youth groups teamed up to go to Guatemala on a mission trip. Our first interaction happened on the first leg of our trip, when he discovered it was my first plane ride. He proceeded to tease me the entire flight from Denver to Dallas. He made the trip… memorable. But it was our last night in Guatemala, when Jon, I, and a couple of other teens sat around playing cards, talking, and joking. As I looked at his gorgeous blue eyes and his contagious smile, I just knew he was going to be someone special in my life. I had no idea how special…
Fast forward 12 months, and a boyfriend (for me) and a girlfriend (for him) later, my family decided to attend Jon’s church and we were soon flirting again. It was my senior year in high school and I thought a fun fling would be a perfect way to end my high school career. After all, I had plans that included an out-of-state university in the fall and a high school boyfriend certainly didn’t fit those plans, but something light and fun was perfectly ok. However, within a couple of months, we had fallen in love and I was already looking at colleges closer to home.
The summer after Jon graduated from high school, we broke up for about six weeks. It was a heartbreaking six weeks, for both of us, in different ways. But we were certain of one thing at the end of it, we wanted to marry each other. Of course, at 18 and 19 years old, we also knew that we needed to wait awhile. Some of our friends who’d married right out of high school were already divorced, and we had some maturing to do. We each lived on our own, we’d attended college, we got jobs, but spent more time together than apart.
On Jon’s 20th birthday, he proposed. (I highly recommend reading the engagement story.)
Both my parents and Jon’s parents helped us with the wedding as much as they could, but Jon and I both worked two jobs during our 14-month engagement to pay for our wedding. Ultimately we both wanted a day where we got to celebrate with all of our loved ones, and so our invite list grew to 500. And while I’d love to say that we were incredibly popular (ha!), we both came from huge families and that’s who made up the majority of our guest list.
It was a long engagement, too long in my opinion. But it allowed for some intense marriage counseling during that time, and it was counseling that we needed. Jon’s parents separated about three months after we got engaged and it rocked our world. Mostly because we’d so admired their marriage during our dating years and we wanted to model our own marriage after theirs. But between the Family Life Conference, marital counseling through our church, with my uncle and his wife, Jon’s cousin and his wife, and even outside counseling with a licensed therapist, we received the BEST marital advice ever…
You can’t model your marriage after anyone else’s marriage. Each marital relationship is so unique to the couple, that it can’t be replicated. What works for one couple, won’t work for another.
And I can attest to the truth of this advice over and over again. I love my sisters deeply, I love my brothers-in-law too. They’re all happily married, but… shhhhh, come closer… I could not be married to their husbands. And trust me, they would never want to be married to me. (Ha!) What works for my sisters in their marriages, would never work in my marriage to Jon. And vice versa. The four of us have settled into our marriages, we’re thriving and we’re happy. And it only works for the couple in it.
May 31, 2002 dawned bright and early. Several of my nine (yes, 9!) bridesmaids arrived at my parents house for mimosas and brunch, then we all trekked to the beauty salon to get all nine bridesmaids, the mother-of-the-bride, the grandmother-of-the-bride, and the bride ready for her big day.
Honestly, looking back, much of the day is a blur. So I’ll just highlight some of the more memorable moments of the day…
- Dad never saw my dress before that day. He was adamant that he wanted to be surprised too. He came to the bridal room at the church, and was speechless when I walked out.
- Jon and I decided to do a sneak peek before the ceremony and so we could get pictures out of the way. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous to walk around a corner, but the moment he turned and I saw the smile I’d fallen in love with back on that Guatemala night almost 6 years earlier, everything just made sense.
- Right as the ceremony began, Jon’s older brother, Josh, came over to me and brought me to tears with the private conversation we had as he told me how happy he was for us and how excited he was to have me as a little sister.
- I remember hands shaking after our vows were said and we were lighting the unity candle and having communion together as husband and wife. It was done, we were married.
- At the reception, watching all of our loved ones eating and laughing and enjoying themselves, Jon and I looked at each other and marveled that we’d done that. We had worked hard to bring it all together and there was such a satisfying feeling knowing that we’d paid for most of it.
- Josh’s toast will forever stand out to me. Prior to the toast, he’d handed out keys to several women in the crowds, young, old, family, friends, etc. And when he’d mentioned that since Jon was officially off the market and he would need those apartment keys back, woman after woman came up and handed the keys to Jon. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life.
- Our first dance as husband and wife. Jon and I have had a song from the very beginning of our relationship, its Mark Wills “I Do (Cherish You)”. We’d even had the words “I Do” engraved on our wedding bands, not for the vows, but for our song. It sounds cliché but its so true, the rest of the world simply faded away. I don’t remember a single person or sound except for being in Jon’s arms and singing those words to each other.
Its hard to believe that Jon and I have known each other for over half of our lives. Time has flown by, yet seems like its just always been this way. He and I.