I had visited the venue. I knew her fiance'. I had heard of plans, arrangements, tastings, fittings, and so many other things. I had been asked to perform the ceremony, and gladly agreed. I received the countdowns on Facebook and saw pictures for the showers, and the parties.
I drove to the venue alone. My sister joined my niece to assist in decorating the restored barn for the afternoon's celebration. As I drove to Harrisonburg, VA, I had time to reflect on my moments with my niece. It was bittersweet - it was one of those days that changes everything.
The ceremony was to be traditional; my niece and her fiance' did not want anything too long or too fancy. It was held outside the barn in a mowed field which featured a beautiful mountain in the immediate background. The weather was warm and wonderful.
She entered from the staircase coming out from an upper level deck of the barn. She joined her father at the bottom of the stairs and together they walked to the wooden arbor which had been decorated in lace and old-time roses. There she met her husband-to-be; they recited their vows and shared their rings - and before I knew it, it was over.
There were two moments I will long remember about that day.
First, I knew my niece would be a lovely bride, but I was not prepared for the beautiful image of this grown woman descending a wooden staircase. She was not just lovely - she was radiant. It was as if there was no one else around at the moment. The beauty of the day seemed to have been made just for her. Because I was responsible for making sure the ceremony proceeded as planned, I had to swallow my emotions and forge ahead so that we were all able to complete the task at hand. Deep inside, I could not have been happier or more proud of this young lady; with every word I asked them to repeat, I had to hold back tears of joy and admiration.
Second, as I left the venue, walked toward my car, and begin the journey home, I remember listening to the sounds of the continuing celebration and prayed that my niece and her husband would have many such days of joy. I thought about all of the people who had joined them to share the joy of the day and knew that she was now surrounded by so much love that if I were never again able to see her, I knew she would be well-cared for. Being single and having no children, you tend to have thoughts like that - that people you care about will be OK once you are gone.
I know she will be...