Notes (two very short ones)

I have finally posted the second half of the wedding report (see the next post down). Amazingly enough, it went up in the same month as the first half.

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Naomi and Jessi talked me into signing back up for Silhouette this season and my first article went up today. If/when you check it out, look over the site—there are several excellent writers this season, working in a number of different styles and genres.

Deo Gratias, Part II

The second half of the wedding was just as good as the first :)

Lou and I each hugged our parents at the top of the aisle. Dad put back the blusher on my veil, and here he is handing me off to Lou:

... and we made our way up the altar stairs for the welcome.

Casey took this shot of the full church from the choir loft in the back.

Dad St. Hilaire gave the first reading, which came from the Song of Solomon. Lou and I picked out the readings together; this one had some of my favorite verses from the great Song. "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear in the earth ... For love is as strong as death, and jealousy is as severe as Sheol ... Many waters cannot quench love; nor can the floods drown it."

Then John led us in the singing of Psalm 148—a song of pure praise.

Lou's brother Terry did the second reading, which came from 1 John 4. "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us ... Beloved, if God so loved us, so we ought to love one another."

John led us in the Easter Alleluia, and Father Qui-Thac read the Gospel. For this we chose John 17, Jesus' high-priestly prayer. In a room filled with Christians divided by the events of the sixteenth century, and with some who profess other faiths or no faith, the prayer of Christ for His Church seemed wholly appropriate. "The glory which Thou hast given to Me, I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one ... that the world may know that Thou didst send Me."

Our pastor, Fr. Scott, gave the homily, reading from letters he had asked Lou and I to write him about why we had chosen the readings we did and why we had chosen each other:

From there, Fr. Scott returned to his seat. When he stood up again, we all rose and Lou and I and our wedding party ascended the altar stairs again, this time for the vows. "For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part."

Having my dad, who is a licensed Baptist minister, lead the exchange of rings, was Fr. Scott's idea. I thought it was brilliant. It's always been important for me to have my dad take part in my wedding ceremony. Dad, for the great love he bore his daughter, swallowed his fears of being too emotional to get through it and agreed. He led the little exchange beautifully.

"Louis, take this ring as a sign of my love and affection, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

And we were married.

My new cousin, Fr. Kenny, gave us our nuptial blessing.

We sealed it with the customary kiss—and very sweet it was, too.

Fr. Scott presented us as "Mr. and Mrs. Louis St. Hilaire", and my new nephews led the way out as the congregation sang "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee".

"Mortals join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began ..."

As the crowd made their way out onto the front lawn, Fr. Scott presided over the signing of the marriage licenses.

When that was finished, Beth and Andy led us outside, where the Knights of Columbus gave their 4th Degree member/former Grand Knight and his bride an honor guard. Seriously ... it's hard to top having cool guys with swords around ;)

Casey took this shot of us out on the front lawn, where Lou kissed me joyfully in front of everybody. That's not a Wal-Mart backdrop, folks: that's the real sky.

From there the Knights led us in solemn procession over to the gym, where the reception was to be held.

We greeted people as they came through the doors, a sort of impromptu receiving line—it wasn't planned that way. It worked well, though. Mary stuck close by me, very sweetly; my new niece! I acquired at least 75 close relatives in joining the St. Hilaire family, I think.

At this point, several months' worth of pre-wedding stress had evaporated into an almost giddy joy.

They say you never stop being your daddy's little girl. This is true.

Lou's dad was our M.C. He was the natural person to take the job, and did it very well.

Fr. Kenny led grace:

... and I think it's hilarious that Lou and I bowed for prayer like this, facing each other. I'm kind of easily amused.

Our wedding supper was made by Chef Alex Chavez of
Lotta Fuda, and I recommend him and his company anywhere—he did a fantastic job. Several of the ladies from church, along with the Knights of Columbus, did all the serving and kitchen management and cleanup, and without them—especially Pat, Elizabeth, and Sherrie—I don't know what would have happened. They made it possible for us, and for our parents, to relax and enjoy the day. We had for favors Hershey's kisses in various colors and 'holy cards' with our name, wedding date, the "That they may be one" verse from John 17, and a Raphael picture of the holy family.

Toasts came after dinner, and Andy made us all laugh by reading his off a sheet of toilet paper. He had clearly written at least part of it the night before, since it contained suggestions from his 24 hours of married-life experience.

We thought it was pretty funny.

... although he made me cry, too; it was so sweet. Beth likewise made us laugh and cry. Here she is explaining the way Lou's fedora proves he is the perfect man for me:

Lou and I were the last to give toasts, which were directed to our parents. There just weren't words enough, but we did our best.

We cut the cake Mom lovingly made and decorated—the thing was amazing. I highly recommend chocolate Creole cake at a wedding, and she even got my white lilies on it. No, we did not smear it over each others' faces.

This is the front of the wedding program with my bouquet. I designed and made the program, and had a lot of fun doing so. The graphic at the top is a trio of longtime Christian symbols: griffin, cross, and lily.

Andy, Lindsey, Lindsey's dad, Terry and the boys, and the Herrings got hold of our car. We got honks and thumbs-up till Wednesday of our honeymoon, when we finally went and washed the thing off. They put so many streamers on that we had to pull over about ten blocks from the church and take them off, with much laughter.

We'd brought traveling clothes and changed in separate rooms. The last memory I have before taking Lou's hand and running down the lane of waving, cheering people is of turning to my mom and exchanging one sweet "I love you ..." It still makes me tear up to think about it. Lou's fedora made an appearance for the getaway dash.

... and we drove away.

What a moment that was! to be finally in our car, together, married and off to our honeymoon. I don't think I'll ever forget it.

For all the talk that the bridal business makes about 'your wedding day being the happiest day of your life' and 'perfect in every way', I didn't really expect it. I went into my wedding really just wanting everyone else to be happy and fearing that I would fail to achieve that. The simple fact that I was to receive Lou as my husband would have been enough to get me through the day.
As it turned out, my wedding day was the happiest day I had ever known, and so uniquely 'Lou and I', so sweet and holy and elegant and relaxed, that I can hardly imagine it being better. For days after, we commented over and over to each other about what a great wedding we'd had. It's hard to believe that it happened almost three months ago, though the blessed quiet routine of our newly-married life makes those short weeks feel timeless.

The liturgy of our wedding opened and closed with the words "Thanks be to God"—in Latin, Deo gratias. There are no better words to describe it.


If You're Happy and You Know It

Yes, I'll post the other half of the wedding report. Soon. I promise! It just takes an absurdly large amount of time to put together.

I woke up this morning with a deep sense of frustration due to having heard another cannon-blast in the war of hatred currently being waged against Sarah Palin, whom I very much respect. It was some nonsensical article (click
here for a biased report from the UK) about how she allegedly tried to get her ex-brother-in-law the state trooper fired, calling it an abuse of power, but reading the facts on that state trooper according to one who appears to have done his research, the guy needed action taken against him whether or not she had anything to do with it. (See #32.)

It's hard to remember, sometimes, that Jesus said his followers would be hated. (Not that the Left restricts their hatred to followers of Jesus.) I'd somehow never fully connected that with willful misunderstanding, malicious distortion, and criminally unjust accusation.

Anyway, I happened to be at Christ the King church this morning for my brother-in-law's baptism, and Pastor Grant Fishbook reminded me in his sermon that optimism is still possible and still important. Being a natural optimist, I liked this very much.

Take the story he told, which might have been true or made up, but was at least wholly believable. He said he went into a coffee shop and offered to buy coffee for the guy behind him in line if he'd answer just one question. The guy agreed, and Pastor Fishbook asked "What's right with the world?" "Not a [blank] thing", the guy responded. So Pastor Fishbook handed the guy his coffee and said "How's that?" "It's good," said the stranger. "That's one point for me," said Pastor Fishbook gleefully.

He used the same principle to point out that the guy had a little money and a job—two more things that were 'right with the world.' Then he read the passage from Philippians 4 that says "… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

There, I thought, is a timely reminder.

I've been giving thanks in threes lately—yes, it's gimmicky, but as a sort of trinitarian way of reminding myself to give thanks it comes in useful. For a good husband, a loving family, a warm home. For books and houseplants and lamps. For an enjoyable job and respectable bosses and good team members. I'm finding thankfulness a helpful part of maintaining optimism.

And I think
Trucker Tom had the right idea when he called into Father Roderick's podcast a few episodes back and suggested that people turn off the media for two weeks and see what it does to their attitude. If you listen to the news all the time, he said, you're going to think that we're all going to hell in a handbasket and everything's completely out of control. Sure, a lot of things are out of control, especially right now—but most of that is getting exacerbated by hysteria, which is amped up by doomsday reports from the news. Day-to-day life is still pretty good for most of us and we still live like kings compared to most of the world throughout most of history.

I like being cheerful. I'm not giving it up for politics—forget it. As for Sarah Palin, I'll be praying for her encouragement these next few weeks, whatever happens with the election.

Here's a link to my brother-in-law's blog (not the brother-in-law that got baptized today) for an
excellent comment on the importance of certain issues and a short comment by Mrs. Palin on the topic.


Deo Gratias

August 10, 2008

With many thanks to Casey Karbowski, our hard-working and quite gifted photographer, I've at last got pictures from the wedding. A full description of this event is likely to take me at least two or three posts, so here's the start.

Had I been the sort of girl to have my wedding all dreamed out before it happened, the actual event would still have surpassed it; as it was, it felt like all my wedding-day-dreams came to pass. The simple and the glorious came together for one sweet sacred beautiful thing, and in that context of absolute love, a better man than I ever imagined for myself took me for his own.

The single best piece of wedding advice I got came from Auntie-C, who told me to leave myself as little as possible to do on the wedding day and the few days prior. Thanks to both sets of parents (especially my mom, who insisted on my following that advice and on taking up the slack!), and to Beth, and Briana, I succeeded. Lou and I attended Andy and Lindsey's wedding the day before ours without much of a to-do list to worry over, which was good as both of us felt the strangling pressure of emotion ready to explode out of us at any moment. We got separated at their reception for twenty minutes or so, and the subsequent panic and almost tearful reunion in the parking lot might have done for a much bigger ordeal.

We toasted Andy and Lindsey with glad hearts, however, and church afterward calmed us somewhat. We were named in the prayers. After church and a stop in the gym to add our favors to the reception tables, Lou went to spend the evening with three of his college friends from out of town, and I went home to my parents', where I burst into tears upon walking through the door for no other reason than being overwhelmed with joy and excitement and exhaustion. It felt great to cry off the emotional buildup, and I felt much better afterwards.

I faced breakfast on my wedding morning with my first real nervous flutters, but those were gone before preparations really got started. The preparations were simple, for me at least: not wishing to have to deal with stylist appointments, I hadn't planned on any, and Beth did my hair and makeup.

At about 12 noon, Mom, Beth, and Briana got me into the dress my mom had lovingly handmade for me. Mom never got clear instructions on what I wanted; she merely took thirty years' knowledge of her daughter, a little silk and alençon lace, and made me feel like a princess:

She had to trim, piece, and appliqué the lace across the silk by hand, all from a single sheet of lace just large enough to give her one real chance to get it right.

Mom has more pictures of the detailing on her site.

I made the veil, with direction and some help from Mom. It took an excessively large amount of time, but the result was worth it.

Beth did all the flowers for the bridal party, with some assistance from Mom and Briana. She, like Mom with the dress, had only vague instructions as to what I wanted and the raw materials, but her final product was flawless—everything I could have dreamed of.

There were a very few small, special details in the wedding that I'd planned simply because I really wanted them; the white lilies were one. Few flowers hold claim to so much sheer beauty, but their symbolic connections meant even more—the sight of one is, for me, an exhortation to bravery, purity, joy, and self-sacrificial love through Christ. I cried when Beth first showed me the bouquet she had made.

Briana, having made the trip from Montana, helped out with anything and everything and very patiently dealt with the fact that her best friend was mostly distracted during her entire visit. Here she is, looking quite glamorous:

Lou and I had decided we didn't want to keep our guests waiting during an hour's formal photo shoot between wedding and reception, so we planned our 'first look' for my parents' living room a couple of hours before the ceremony. He paced up and down the front walk until everybody was ready; parents and siblings and friends stood off to the side while I waited a few steps back from the door.

I tried to say 'hi' when he came in, but couldn't quite get the word out.

He still surprises me with his good looks sometimes ...

After a few family photos, we drove to the church. Getting into the car took some effort; I found the wearing of a massive tulle slip under my dress to be quite an experience.

We married in our beautiful parish church. It's hard to look at Gothic architecture and not think of God. The spire pointing steeply upwards into the sky, and the high ceilings indoors, leave me feeling very small and very full of a child's awe.

Our friend John Marvin was cantor for the occasion, and the master pianist and organist of the church, Matthew Ma, played the organ. The wedding coordinator hid me in the confessional for the prelude, where I could hear John sing Schubert's Ave Maria (which my parents had had at their wedding) and Lou sing a wedding gradual (a psalm in Gregorian chant). Matthew played the old pipe organ, at our request.

Mary and my parents stayed in the confessional with me, and Mom stood at the door and told me who was coming in—"Scott and Megan are here! And Bill and his family, and Brad Bauer! And there's Donna ..." I loved hearing every name she mentioned; it meant so much to me to have so many friends there. The crowd wound up being about 350 strong.

The ceremony began at three o'clock. Long before I met Lou, I'd made up my mind that I wasn't doing the "Here comes the bride" thing, so we made our processional more like a mix of Sunday morning church and family. John asked everyone to stand and take out their hymnals, and to the deep tones of the old organ, everyone began to sing St. Francis's "All Creatures of Our God and King". As they sang, Lou's nephews, David, John Paul, and Daniel, led the way down the aisle with cross and candles.

They were followed by Fr. Qui-Thac with the Book of the Gospels, then Lou's cousin Fr. Kenny and a longtime friend of Lou's from his monastery days, Fr. Paul.

Next came Fr. Scott, the officiant for the wedding.

Then came the wedding party, starting with my junior bridesmaid: Lou's niece, Mary. Mary did an excellent job in her role, making sure my skirt was straight, holding bouquets when needed, and looking very much like a princess herself. She wore her dress from her first Communion and we tied her hair back with a little piece of ribbon from my bouquet.

Two truly 'good sports' walked the aisle after Mary: Lou's brother Andy, married the day before, and my sister Beth, looking forward to her wedding four weeks later. Lindsey and Todd awaited them in the front pews. Andy and Lou had agreed to be each others' best man when they planned their respective proposals to Lindsey and I. Beth accepted her well-deserved role of maid of honor when I asked her just after my engagement. Her likewise well-deserved engagement came just three months later.

The finale of our procession was something very meaningful to us, something I'd planned since before Lou and I even met: Lou's parents walked him down the aisle, and my parents walked me. No one else on earth holds the roles our parents do in our hearts; we respect no one more than those four people, and we felt they deserved the places of greatest honor and the opportunity to symbolically, as well as actually, give us to each other.

I'll end this post here because it's getting a bit bulky for good old Blogger, but look for more wedding pictures in the days to come.