We are two months into marriage, which seems both like a blink of an eye and forever.
I wanted to write a reflection of lessons learned and funny moments from each precious month within our first year, but in typical fashion, the first month completely escaped me. Before I even begin to write about marriage, let me take a moment catch you up on becoming the Ledbetters!
This summer came to a peak in the hazy southern August, and our friends and families drove from across to country to gather in Columbia, TN. The feeling of the wedding week was steady joy and anticipation for both Caleb and me. Our story is not one of long years of dating or painfully drawn-out planning for engagement, but we were so entirely ready by that day in August. As a lifelong planner, there’s something funny that happens after you’ve chosen your forever partner—it doesn’t seem to matter anymore how you’ll pay for car insurance, or if college will be weird to be “the married couple.” It just matters that you can get the chance to figure it out together. With our wedding moving closer, I started having trouble getting my mind to think of anything else but marriage, which is so entirely not what I expected from my cynical self. Instead of levelheaded bridesmaid logistics and day by day outfit plans, my mind became a mush resembling confetti, cake, and polka-dot ribbons. It would wake me up at at 3am giddily rambling, “I get to keep him forever, and we can gather everyone we love together to watch us make promises to each other?! AND EAT CAKE?! SO COOL!”
Thankfully, the weekend we planned and had waited for with such anticipation was finally was upon us.
Thursday August 4, 2016.
With help from literally anyone who could come, we pulled together the Zion gym to transform into a wonderland of teapots, flowers, books, lights, and charm. I truly couldn’t believe how perfect it was. Having both of our families in one room in sweet Columbia to work together for our wedding felt like the most wonderful dream I have ever had. Columbia is Caleb’s home town, and Zion is the location of his school growing up. It is small, Christian, and can absolutely charm your socks off. Columbia is the home of a lifetime of memories for him, and is a bright spot of safety and love in my mind. We could not have picked a more meaningful or lovely location.
Living so far away from Kansas City, I don’t get to see many of my closest friends very often. Four of these lovely people traveled halfway across America just to see us get married. Anyone that knows me knows that I like to go to bed early, and had planned to do just that after a day of decorating. But with Caleb off to his surprise bachelor party, some serious FOMO kicked in. The KC girls (and guy!) decided that this would not do, and my wonderful (and very tired) Dad was kind enough to drive me to their Air BnB in Franklin for an impromptu, BEST EVER bachelorette party. Those four are such bright, lovely humans. We chatted late into the night, played games, and laughed more than I have laughed in a long time. PJs and people I have known for 5-10 years made that night more special than anything I could have ever dreamed up on my own. It was a night filled with love and joy. Loving and getting loved on by people you treasure? If that’s not the perfect example of what a wedding weekend should consist of, I don’t know what is.
Friday August 5, 2016.
Friday was the last day of being a Broome! How crazy. We all met at Zion, and felt the bizarre experience of having friends from all states and places in our lives be in one room at the same time.Each bridesmaid and groomsmen was there because we love them, of course. In honesty, to leave it there is selling them sort. They were there because they have left such a mark on us that we wanted them to witness and hold us to the promises we would make on Saturday. These people have provided years of support, love, laughter, adventure, and wisdom. I still can’t find a way express how deeply I love each of these ladies, and how touched I was to have them all at my side.
After the rehearsal we got to do my favorite thing—eat! We had our rehearsal dinner at Puckett’s in Columbia. My dad and made what I thought was a casual deal with me to split his grits and my Piggy Mac, but he ended up mandating it after my food was better and he ate half of my meal. This was much to Caleb’s disappointment, as he had hoped to steal some of mine also. The Ledbetters and my parents both surprised us with stories from childhood and by sharing the most tender (and sometimes embarrassing) of memories. My parents brought my favorite blanket that I had carried with me on frequent road trips to Scotland as a child. I couldn’t help but tear up as my dad explained that he wanted me to have it for this new adventure ahead of us. Mr.Ledbetter closed us out in prayer, as our parents placed their hands on us and prayed for our future as we would become one the next day. I am rarely as aware of the overwhelming fullness of God’s grace and love in a room as I was it was in that moment.
Saturday August 6, 2016.
Finally. It was here! I woke up in the hotel room my parents and I had slept in with sheer excitement and disbelief that the day had finally come. Mama and I shared a breakfast together and I returned to the room to do my hair and makeup for the day. Drew Holcomb and Atta Boy calmed my excited energy. It was a relaxed morning and so full of love and anticipation.
Before the ceremony, Caleb’s mother (the best mother in law ever) thew us all a brunch at their home. It gave us a chance to say hello to everyone and prevent any hangryness for our 4:00 wedding.
The girls and I got ready in a small house near the church. In a whirlwind, it was already time to see Caleb. We elected to see each other before the ceremony to keep that special moment private, and for the purpose of taking photos before the wedding. He cried. I cried. Everything felt real, and with each look at Caleb a new wave of joy hit me.
We took photos. There are a million. I have only included the best one of the bridesmaids, because I feel it really captures our serious nature.
3:00. Chatting and checking the clock every few seconds.
4:00. Finally. We can be wed!
Mr. Ledbetter and my dad led us to the front of the church right as a glorious thunderstorm rolled into Columbia. Time goes into warp speed. The doors open and the bridesmaids line up. My dad takes a selfie of us. I try to focus but can’t help but be utterly overwhelmed by God’s grace in showing me my own story of love and redemption. Finally, only my dad and I stand outside the doors. “Dawn” drifts from inside the church as thunder claps and the rain seems to wash away everything that is not that very moment in time.
The doors open, and I’m flooded with emotion. I glance around and see almost all of the friends and family that have shown me love throughout my life. It’s a moment enough to knock the wind out of you, having all those faces smiling at us. The best part, undoubtably, was seeing Caleb. Nothing was better than knowing in less than 10 minutes, we would be man and wife. There is no word in the English language complex or deep enough to express the steady warmth in my soul at that moment.
I’m glad I read what our pastor would say beforehand, because I don’t remember a thing he said up until our vows. With all those eyes on us, the only thing I could see was Caleb’s face.
I didn’t cry during the ceremony. Thunder punctuated our vows, and the ceremony was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined it in my wildest dreams. After we exited the church, with one look we both completely broke down. “We did it” were the first words out of my mouth. Despite everything around us, despite age, despite the fact that we might have never found each other… we did it. We decided to promise ourselves to each other for life. And we actually did it! It is a misconception that sadness is the most overwhelming emotion. I learned that day that the most overwhelming feeling of them all is joy.
The reception was the most surprising part of our wedding. We expected it to be exhausting for two introverts, but it was so lovely and enjoyable! The best tip I can give to any engaged couple would be to make sure you make rounds to each of the tables as soon as you enter the reception. It allowed us to eat our food in peace and talk to each person individually. We felt in the moment and so filled with joy!
Our favorite parts were speeches by our good friends Abby and Evan. We elected to only do two speeches, and we asked the two people words would mean the most coming from. Abby spoke of food, Star Wars, and Jesus in what has to be the best wedding speech of all time. Evan told of Caleb’s character and their growth growing up together. Those two made the reception personal, honest, and intimate. I’m so glad they could support us through beautiful words.
Before I knew it, it was time to go! Everyone lined up and waved “YAY!” flags my sweet Mama had painstaking made by hand months before. An ocean of turquoise, red, and smiles cheered us out as we ran down the steps.
Caleb has asked me previously if there was anything I had dreamed for in a wedding when I was younger. Without hesitating, I told him “A vintage getaway car. Preferably a red one.”
We ran out that day surrounded by love and laughter to his old Toyota Corolla. My inner little girl laughed with joy as I realized I got everything I really wanted, and he was holding my hand.