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.

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