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The story you've all been waiting for! Written by the bride herself!

The day I had dreamed of for many years was finally dawning...gray and gloomy. I woke up to my alarm clock, allowing myself just enough time to get dressed before I headed off to the hairdresser's for my 9:00 appointment. The whole way there I was watching the sky, looking eagerly for any sign that it might clear up sometime that day. All I got for my trouble were a few rain drops.    

I got a bagel and coffee at Dunkin' Donuts and managed to finish most of them before my stomach decided to clamp up. I was trying not to be nervous and at the same time thinking, "Wow, this is my wedding day. I'll never relive this moment!" Talk about clamping up!    

We had to wait a while at the hairdresser's before they were ready, but finally I was on the chair and explaining how I wanted her to do my hair. We talked about my veil, which I had brought, and the overall look. I couldn't believe that *I* was actually the bride. I sat quietly most of the time, occasionally mentioning the weather (which she told me was supposed to clear up) or talking to one of the other girls who were with me. We were the only ones there, so it was a very personal and enjoyable time.    

When my hair was done, my sister, Sara, offered to do my makeup. She did an excellent job, impressing me very much! I can still hear her saying, "Let's see, do you have a foundation line? Oh, yes, you *do* have a line!" and fixing it for me. All the while I was thinking about how much I had to do when I got home. Getting dressed seemed like the easy part at that point.    

As I drove home, I had to duck the whole way because the hairdo added onto my regular height was taller than my car. LOL. I was afraid I'd have a sore, stiff neck all day long - but it did give me a better view out of the windows. I saw the sky was starting to brighten and there were specks of blue on the far horizon. Maybe, just maybe....    

At home, I rushed upstairs and started to pack for our honeymoon. (My biggest advice for brides - don't leave this until the day of!) It seemed to take forever, probably because I couldn't think straight. I just pulled out a range of clothes for different weather and said, "Ok, I could wear that...and that..." and tossed them in. (I ended up with way too much stuff!) I rushed around feeling out of place with a ton of curls on my head and plain old clothes on!    

The last few hours or so at home are such a blur! Sometime around noon I finished packing, after talking for a few minutes with my sweet great-grandmother on the phone (a nice breather in a hectic time!). The girls were supposed to be home but they weren't yet. My flower girl and her family arrived downstairs; I suddenly found myself bashful and didn't want to go down. :-) The flowers for myself and my attendants arrived, and then I had to go down to receive directions on how and where to carry them. I was stunned. The flowers were beautiful. I had already noticed that outside, the sun was glorious, and there was a tiny, cool breeze. The day would not be nearly as hot as it had been all week. Somewhere in there, Kelly and Mel appeared to pick up my car. I was rushing through the hallway as they came in and barely had a chance to talk to them.    

At some point, my brothers, Dad and cousin came home with their tuxes in a frantic rush to get dressed. I was running around trying to pack and my brothers were asking me how they were supposed to wear their cuff links! Like I really knew! All I did know was that they all looked handsome, and Anthony looked so cute with his too-big hat. They had given it to him free at the tux shop because they didn't make one in a small enough size for him. He showed it to me and said, "Is it ok for me to wear a hat?" I didn't know what to say. It *was* too big, after all... I asked him, "Do you want to wear it?" He said yes right away. "Sure, then!"    

Back upstairs, grandma was ironing my "going away" clothes and I had given up on waiting for the girls. Mom helped me get into all my wedding layers, which wasn't too hard. She had already ironed my dress, so it looked beautiful. I went to get my necklace, which I had just bought for this day, and couldn't find it. The three of us searched everywhere, and it did eventually turn up, with my earrings. Grandma had offered me a cameo which she had just gotten reset, but I had previously decided not to wear it because I didn't think I liked cameos too well. Besides, it didn't really go with the time period of my dress. As I looked for my necklace, she asked me again whether or not I wanted to wear it. She said, "Let me show it to you." Then she took out the loveliest little cameo I had ever seen, set in a gold filigree. I was awestruck and said, "Yes, I'll wear it!" Grandma said I didn't have to; I said I loved it and I really, truly wanted to. So I did, and it was perfect. :-)    

The girls did make it home eventually. I didn't even see them or say hi, but I heard them rush up the stairs and into Sara's room. I think I said, "Hurry!" as I went downstairs to greet the photographer. It was time to start the pictures!    

I went into the living room first. I felt like a princess in my dress, floating around. It was glorious! I relished every minute. I realized my shoes weren't tied, so he tried to tie them for me, but he's a guy, what can I say. They don't have a clue about those ribbons that wrap around your ankle! :-) He said, "Do you have a veil?" Oh, the veil! I called to Mom, who was trying to get herself ready, and she came down with it. She and I went into the bathroom and she put it on me. Was I that person in the mirror? It didn't seem real! He took a few pictures there, then we went back to the living room. He started taking some by the window and in front of the couches.    

The phone rang in the midst of it - and to my surprise, it was for me! Pastor Bard was on the phone at the church, and he said, "Nathan wants to say 'I do' but we don't have that in the ceremony." I thought, "Shocking! How could I have missed that?!" He continued, "Is it ok if you say, 'I do' instead of 'I will'? I'll say, 'Do you take this man...' instead of 'Will you take...' " At that point, it really didn't matter to me a bit! I said, "Yeah, sure, that's fine." Then we went back to pictures.    

We went outside next, and I experienced a day far better than I had ever dreamed possible. I had truly been prepared for rain, due to a previous "big day" - my high school graduation, when it rained so hard we were late because our roof was leaking!! But this day was breathtaking. The sky was bright blue and that cool breeze played with my veil. I was ecstatic - and not the slightest bit nervous. I can't even explain how wonderful it all felt!    

There were pictures, of just me outside, me with mom, me with dad, me with both my parents, me with my flower girl Amanda... Then the girls finally emerged through the front door and joined me on the sunny lawn. Their dresses shimmered and they all looked stunning. We lined up for a few quick photos, but then we had to go because we were already late. Peter was there to drive one PT Cruiser with the bridesmaids, and my dad drove Mom, Sara, Amanda and me. I walked down to the car door, which Dad held, then stopped. How was I supposed to get in, dressed like this? We made a quick decision about which side I should be on for when we arrived at the church (although in the end, it really didn't matter). Then I gingerly climbed in. (I have a picture of me with my tongue sticking out as I tried to get in!) The combination of leather seats and satiny dresses made for one slippery ride! Amanda nearly landed on the floor a few times. I felt like I couldn't sit still! I was probably the closest to bouncing up and down that I've ever been. I couldn't believe that I still wasn't nervous. (Very, very unlike me.) I was overjoyed.    

Mom and Dad were attaching their corsages as they drove. Dad had to call Mrs. Bard, to our amusement, and ask her which side they were supposed to go on. He called Nathan's cell phone and talked to Nathan first. Afterward, he said, "Nathan sounded really nervous!" then quickly added, "But don't tell him I said that!" We all laughed.    

The ride to the church seemed to take forever! I was occupied by trying to hang onto Amanda, or keep all of us from sliding around as we turned corners. Otherwise, I just kept smiling and thinking of everybody waiting at the church - of Nathan waiting for *me* at the church. Wow, what a thought.... I had written a card for him that morning and given it to my dad to take to him when they went to pick up the cars. Had he read it yet? It was a short letter that I had composed long, long ago and had been waiting years to write to him. I wondered if it made him nervous - or more calm?    

Finally we were there. The parking lot of the church was full of cars, but there wasn't a soul in sight. We were late, but that didn't bother me! Peter and Dad stopped in front of the church, and we climbed out. The photographer was already there. I wondered how he had gotten there before us. We were all talking and laughing, and I thought for sure the people inside would hear us! I don't remember going in (although I *do* remember we were still noisy!), but next thing I knew, I was ducking into the side hallway before anybody saw me. Shiloh, Katie, Sara and Laura were all around me, telling me I was beautiful, and I was trying not to giggle with excitement. I almost forgot to put my veil over my head, but remembered at the last minute, and the girls helped me.  

Then they were lining up, and the grandmothers went down the aisle... then the mothers... then slowly my attendants. I was slightly annoyed that I couldn't see what was going on, since I had worked so hard to plan it all out! I peeked my head around the corner to try to see the aisle, but I saw one of the guests instead, and quickly pulled my head back. "All right, that's enough," I said to myself, "you'll just have to wait for the video!"    

Dad was waiting for me in the entryway. It was time.    

I stepped out and took his arm. Suddenly my knees started to shake. This is it. My dream come true! I smiled at Dad, and we started to walk.    

The church was so full. I recognized my guests even though I felt like I hardly saw them standing there. I saw Nathan at the end of the aisle, waiting, so handsome in his tux. He was going to be mine. I couldn't help but smile!    

I was enjoying every minute of it. I wanted every step to last forever. But my dad seemed to be in a hurry to get the whole thing over with. Just as I passed Amanda with the video camera, I said to him, "Not so fast!" I didn't realize I said it so loud that anyone heard me! I felt like I was a whisper compared to the music.    

As we neared the front of the church, my mind suddenly went blank. I couldn't remember if Dad was going to lift my veil right away or if I was supposed to wait a little bit. I decided the safest bet was to wait. Then I saw Nathan's eyes. I wished I could talk to him. I would say, I love you. Did you read my card? Are you nervous? This is it! Can you believe it? But his dad was talking now, welcoming everyone to our wedding. Our wedding!    

A few things were said, and then he prayed. I had an incredible urge to look up at the stage, where all the attendants were standing. I hadn't even really seen them up there yet. So I peeked for a few seconds, realizing as I did, that my uncle was right next to me, with the video camera on my face. Oh great! I thought. Now *that's* on video! Me peeking during the prayer for my own wedding!    

The ceremony itself went so quickly. Giving my testimony was easier than I expected. I was afraid I might go on and on, and I didn't want to drag it all out - but I also didn't know where I'd end it! I whispered to Nathan during Andrew's song, even though I had told myself I'd never do that at my own wedding. But I was dying to talk to him, to hear his voice and say something personal. It just... happened. :-)    

I remember the other little bloopers, too. Nathan dropped my ring before putting it on my finger, Shiloh had a coughing fit at the beginning of the ceremony, and I walked off down the aisle thinking only of my new husband and forgetting my bouquet! But it was beautiful anyway. As I had figured, I didn't make it through my vows without getting a little teary. After all, I cried during everybody else's in the other weddings I'd been to - I knew I'd cry saying my own! Nathan seemed so calm, so happy, so wonderful. I thought, He's really saying that... to me! God is good!    

Then the big moment came. Pastor said, "You may now kiss the bride." We had been waiting for this for a long time. I had given a lot of thought to the whole matter, and even though I would have it no other way, wondering why the first kiss had to be in public. I had always worried I'd make a fool of myself. But when he said that, every inkling of nervousness abandoned me and it went fine. Great, actually! :-) And I even hoped, rather than feared, that people would be able to tell it was the first time. That made it extra special.    

It was over. We were married. Pastor announced us, with a choked voice, as man and wife. I felt tears in my eyes again, but nothing could overcome the smile on my face. I kept waiting for the music to start before I walked, but I couldn't hear anything, so just started down the aisle anyway. (Forgetting my bouquet, as I already mentioned. In the video you can see Sara, my maid of honor, turn to Shiloh with a look that said, "What do I do with this?" She managed to carry both hers and mine *and* hold Peter's arm on her way out.)    

The entryway seemed to fill up right behind us. Everybody was giving everybody else hugs. (Good thing Amanda wasn't out there. She might have caught a stray one!) They asked me for the order of the receiving line, and we all moved out onto the porch and steps. Guests started to emerge...and kept coming...and coming...and coming... but I loved every one! I was thrilled at each person who came to my wedding. So many good friends and relatives were there to share my special day. I didn't tire of the hugs, smiles and greetings. It was all so special!    

When the last guest had exited, it was time for pictures. We did a few of just Nathan and me (husband and wife!), and I felt like I was on the verge of being absolutely goofy. I only stood still because I was starting to feel tired - and hungry. All I had eaten for lunch were a few crackers and strawberries. Somebody brought me some water and a few more crackers, which helped a lot. We took pictures with our immediate families and also with our relatives, then of the entire bridal party, and then just the guys. Then we went back outside into the cool, fresh air and took a few on the porch.    

The time was flying by. The guys brought the cars up to the steps. Nathan had already chosen the blue Cruiser for us, which Peter drove with Sara as passenger. The rest of the bridal party were split up into the read (Shiloh's choice) and green cars, and our parents rode in the taupe one. They had attached a "Just Married" sign on the inside of our car, which was visible from the outside but not obnoxious. As we all drove off, one by one, the car behind us started honking. Apparently, my dad started it all. Peter joined in the honking, and none of them let up until we reached Alpine Grove about 25 minutes later. That put me into fits of laughter every now and then. When I was allowed to breathe, that is. <wink> (Sorry, couldn't resist!)    

We took some outside pictures at Alpine Grove - on the bridge (with the sun right in our eyes, LOL), with all the cruisers, and just Nathan and I over by the river. It was a glorious evening to go with a glorious day. We were getting really hungry, though, and it seemed like 6:00 would never come. When it was about 5:45, it was time to go *inside* and wait! :-)    

All the bridal party waiting in a small room while all the guests were seated. We were a loud, laughing group! Everybody wanted to take some pictures, it seemed, and were very creative with the poses. (Ask Sara...) I kept saying, "What's taking so long? Surely everyone is sitting by now?" But the reports were always that we had to wait. So wait we did.    

When it was time, we lined up in the hallway, starting with the flower girl and ring bearer, ending with Nathan and me. I'm afraid we were still quite noisy! At that point I really didn't care, though. I was having too much fun! I could hear Mr. Karpenko announcing each pair before they walked in. Finally he got to us. "Mr. & Mrs. Nathan Bard" in public, at last! YAY!! :-) <throws confetti>


[wedding pictures]