Wedding Recap: The Ceremony

Though I love dancing and eating wedding cake, my favorite part of any wedding is the ceremony. No contest.

It’s during the ceremony when I feel like I get to experience the love between the couple. Watching the bride and groom as they promise to be together forever warms my heart. If the groom cries, I’m done. I’m crying like a baby until the couple walks back down the aisle, arm in arm.

Well, guess what?

My groom cried. 001_CeremonyAnd so did I.009_CeremonyAnd so did my dad.

But we also laughed. 029_CeremonyOur wedding ceremony was all that I hoped it would be.

As I said before in a previous post, I felt oddly calm as I got ready with my bridesmaids on our wedding day. I wasn’t nervous. I simply felt ready.

I remember piling into the tiny hotel elevator with my six bridesmaids and my dad. I held onto my dad’s arm as my sister held my train. Everyone was chattering with excitement. Everyone except my dad.

He had a calm smile on his face, but tears in his eyes. I squeezed his arm and he looked at me.

"Are you ready?" I asked him. He nodded his head.

We exited the elevator and lined up inside the hotel while Ryan, his groomsmen and our guests waited outside in the tea garden. 075_CeremonyAt promptly 5:30 in the evening, our mothers were seated by Ryan’s best men. 069_Ceremony 072_CeremonyBack in the hotel, I told all of my bridesmaids how beautiful they looked. They had the biggest smiles on their faces. I literally squealed with excitement and anticipation. It felt amazing to be standing arm-in-arm with my father, looking at my best friends as they were about to walk down the aisle before me to Canon in D.

My sister was the last one to walk. She looked at me and my dad and smiled, giving us a tight hug before heading down the aisle. 086_CeremonyThen the music changed. Wagner’s Bridal Chorus.

It was my turn.

I looked at my dad, and squeezed his arm as he led me outside and down the aisle. 005_CeremonyI told him he was doing a good job as we slowly walked down the aisle. I couldn’t stop smiling. 008_CeremonyOnce I locked eyes with Ryan, my eyes began to water. I couldn’t stop looking at him. 003_CeremonyHe had tears in his eyes. I will never forget the way he looked at me that day for as long as I live. He was so strong through the rehearsal that I assumed he would handle the ceremony in the same way. To see him so emotional really moved me.

After hugging and kissing my dad, I faced Ryan and held his hands as our pastor welcomed everyone and blessed our special day. 024_Ceremony023_CeremonyOur pastor did an incredible job. His voice was loud and full of character and joy.

During the beginning of the ceremony, we presented our mothers with roses to symbolize the merging of two families. 040_CeremonyIn addition to the celebration of the love between Julie and Ryan, this wedding is also a celebration of family. It is the blending of two families, separate up to this moment, but united from this day forward. Julie and Ryan wish to honor this blending of the families by presenting a rose to their mothers — to thank their parents for the many selfless sacrifices they have made and for the unconditional love they’ve so freely given to their children. 041_Ceremony It was very important to us to recognize our mothers on our wedding day and we kept the presentation of a rose to each of them during our ceremony a secret. I love the look of surprise and emotion on my mother’s face in the above picture. And you can tell my dad is smiling beside her, which makes the picture all the better.

Following the presentation of a rose to our mothers, our pastor spoke about the three things we love most about each other.

When we first met with our pastor, he asked us to share the three things we loved most about each other with him. We were to write them down and send them to him. We wrote three long sentences each and sent them to Pastor Ryder a couple of months before our wedding. (You may remember when I first read Ryan’s three things back in July. I was so emotional!)

When Pastor Ryder read our three things aloud on the day of our wedding, he made everyone laugh by pointing out that we couldn’t seem to just list the three things we loved most about each other, stating that we "didn’t stop at five, six or even seven things" within our sentences. 028_Ceremony011_CeremonyApparently we are both long winded… as I’m sure you already know if you’re a regular blog reader. 😀

Our pastor kept the ceremony upbeat but still conveyed the emotion and love we felt that day.

I remember feeling so grateful when it was time for the first prayer. Ryan and I looked up at each other as everyone bowed their heads. We wiped our eyes, smiled and mouthed "I love you" before praying with our pastor and guests.

We got teary eyed again as our pastor read a poem we selected aloud and we repeated each line after him.

In your eyes, I have found my home.
In your heart, I have found my love.
In your soul, I have found my mate.
With you, I am whole, full, alive.
You make me laugh. You let me cry.
You are my breath, my every heartbeat.
I am yours.
You are mine.
Of this we are certain.
022_Ceremony Then it was time for our vows and the exchange of rings.032_Ceremony034_CeremonyI remember feeling like my whole body was shaking. I felt so vibrant and alive. I was actually becoming Ryan’s wife!

Before I knew it, our pastor was pronouncing us husband and wife and I was receiving my first kiss as a married woman.047_CeremonyI was so happy.

Arm-in-arm, we headed back down the aisle… officially married!

I love that our photographer captured my first look at my parents before we headed down the aisle. 050_CeremonyWe were all beaming.053_Ceremony055_CeremonyThe above picture captures more emotion in a single image than I could ever hope to in a million words. We were so excited, so in love.

To be continued…

(All photos courtesy of Gina Leigh. Our ceremony was led by Pastor Dean Ryder, whom I recommend whole heartedly to any brides in the St. Pete/ Tampa Bay area.)

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