Sixteen years ago today, I walked down the aisle holding on tightly to my dad’s arm and approached Andy at the altar. We both said, “I do.” The rest is history, as they say.
The day we got married was something out of a fairytale. I wore the Stephen Yearick dress that I had saved for with all my bonus dollars. It was cream toned and hand beaded and had a sweet little train that bustled in the back. Andy was looking handsome as ever in his crisp, black tuxedo. The two of us stood together in our church surrounded by hundreds of people we knew and loved. There was a vintage car waiting for us in the driveway that was there to whisk us away for pictures after our nuptials.
The reception was incredible. My mom was the event planner for this wedding and she truly amazed us. She transformed the hall into a “Night in Paris”. We had an ice sculpture crafted to look like the Eiffel Tower and there were custom made candy bars with our picture super-imposed over the Paris skyline. There were white flowers everywhere. Roses, lilies, hydrangeas, all cascading from table arrangements and the ceiling. Thousands of tea lights illuminated the tables and we were welcomed by a seventeen piece Big Band playing the classics.
Our song was, “In the Mood” and we danced and celebrated the entire evening. We never wanted the night to end.
The wedding truly was something out of a storybook. It was a night that many people still talk about today. It was amazing. But to me, what is more amazing is what has become “Our Story”.
You see, Andy I didn’t just meet in our early twenties and start to date. Well, we did, but there was history to our relationship before we even knew it. I was out one evening with high school friends and saw him standing at a table with some fellas near where we were gathered. I thought he knew some people I was with, so I approached him, asked if he was with our group. I then followed it up with the question, “What’s your story?”
He looked at me confused, but then proceeded to tell me that he did not know any of my high school friends. He was simply sharing a table because the venue was crowded. We small talked for awhile and then it was time to go — we exchanged business cards (Ha!) and planned to talk again.
I played it “cool” with Andy, but I was secretly hoping and praying he would call someday. He did. Andy always keeps his promises. He told me he would call and he did. For weeks he would call every other day at 10pm. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday…you get the drill. This went on for weeks. We would talk for one hour about almost everything. We shared details about where we worked, our college experiences, our hobbies, and our dreams. I’d ask him where he went to high school, but he wouldn’t tell. He said, “If there is ever a lull in the conversation, I’ll let you know, I’m sure we’d have some shared friends.”
Finally he asked me out after a month of the alternating night phone calls. Andy was very methodical in his approach. We went out to dinner at steakhouse near where we lived. We had a filling dinner and grabbed a beverage at the bar before heading out. A man approached us and asked if we had already bought the Christmas tree for our home. We were both shocked and quick to let him know we were only on our first date. Perhaps this man knew something we didn’t.
He told with us that he was selling fresh cut Christmas Trees for his children’s Catholic school. As soon as he said the name, Andy and I shared that we had both gone to Catholic school growing up. We looked at each other and immediately realized, this was not the first time we had met.
Come to find out Andy and I had gone to school together since we were seven. I was in a grade below him, but we grew up going to school in the same building for seven years of early lives. Andy also discovered an old VHS tape with him playing eighth grade football filmed on it. He asked that I come over to watch it before we went out one night. Sure enough, there he was, young and lean in stature (I can see where our oldest gets his looks from) getting ready to enter the huddle. His dad was the cameraman and he panned over to the cheerleaders. There I was, young and lean too, Coke-bottled tinted glasses, wavy blonde hair, cheering him on for his game. His dad zoomed in on me, zoomed back in on Andy, and then came back to me for a final zoom in shot. Unreal forshadowing of a couple who would be married someday.
Our story is fun, our wedding was magical, but our marriage is something else. Is it perfect? Nope, but it is the most special marriage I could have dreamed of. I don’t know if I ever believed in having a soulmate or someone who could just truly balance me out. But I should have believed. There are often times where we are thinking the same thing and don’t even need to speak to acknowledge what is on our mind. He knows when I need encouraging, I know when he needs support, we know what each other needs.
Our marriage is fulfilling. It is filled with our amazing children and family. Our union is strong. Our faith is the underlying element in our marriage. Trust is a given. Forgiveness is a must. He knows I have his back and I know he has mine. I still look at him and think he is the handsomest guy in the room, because he is.
So it’s cheers to you, Mr. Pepperberry. Thank you for picking me to be your “Forever Girl” and continuing to craft “Our Story” with me. Thank you for your loyalty, your passion, your love for life, and your commitment to our family. I love you with all my heart and am absolutely thrilled to be continuing this ride, called life, with you.
Happy Anniversary, Andy.