"Don't you dare kiss me."
I was standing in the foyer of the church with my hand tucked in the crook of my dad's arm before he walked me down the aisle, and this is what he said.
At the rehearsal, we had practiced me giving my dad a kiss and a hug before he handed me off to Nate at our wedding ceremony. Now, my dad was telling me not to kiss him, because he didn't think he would hold the tears in.
"Can I at least hug you?" I said, laughing slightly. I thought he was cute.
"You can hug me later," he said.
Then the song inside the sanctuary switched to a piano version of "Better Together," by Jack Johnson.
Two of our ushers and good friends opened the glass doors, and I walked inside as the people stood in their rows.
I looked at Nate at the end of the aisle, a moment I have dreamed about for a long time. He was perfectly handsome, standing tall at the end of the aisle in his black tux with white shirt, tie and vest. A smile graced his face, but he looked a little tense. he told me later he got nervous just before the ceremony started, realizing how big a moment this was.
I looked at the people smiling and taking pictures as I walked to meet my prince charming. At the end of the aisle, my dad and I stopped, still arm in arm. The music faded away, and the pastor asked "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?"
"Her mother and I," my dad said.
He didn't really even look at me but gave Nate a hug and handed me over to him.
Nate took my hand, but as we approached the stairs up to the stage, I had to take it back to hold up my dress. It wasn't quite smooth, because we hadn't practiced with a long dress that I was trying to not trip over in my turquoise lace shoes.
At the top, I grabbed Nate's hand again, and the ceremony started.
It was kind of a whirl. The pastor speaking. The scripture readers - my best friends from college - reading a verse and my eyes starting to tear as my friend Emily made eye contact with me while she read. Nate and I turning toward each other and exchanging vows, then rings.
I don't think most people knew what happened when we exchanged rings. Nate got mine on easily. However, he has knuckles that are larger than the bottom of his fingers. His ring fit his finger but was quite tight to get on over his knuckle. I put it on halfway but stopped.
"Nope, that's as far as it's going."
Nate then stuck his hand in his pocket to keep the ring from slipping off, but it wasn't what he was supposed to do.
"Hold her hand man," the pastor told him.
"I don't want to lose the ring," Nate said quietly, pulling his hand out of his pocket with his ring finger crooked. I grabbed his hand and held the ring on until the musicians made their way on stage. As we walked to the back to light the unity candle, Nate shimmied the ring the rest of the way on.
We picked up the turquoise candles that had been lit before the ceremony by our mothers, and then we walked back to center stage and joined hands as our parents made their way up to us.
An intimate moment ensued as our parents, all still together, circled us and prayed for us. Nate lowered his head to rest on mine, which was very sweet. However, my feet weren't in a good position and the extra bit of weight was throwing me off balance. I slid my feet into a new position trying to concentrate on what our parents were saying and "I Can't Wait" being sung in the background.
I had kept myself from crying throughout the ceremony. However, when Nate and I faced each other and the pastor pronounced us man and wife, I stared into his eyes.
The blue-green eyes that stared back at me were ones that I have looked at for more than eight years. They're ones that I will look into for the rest of my life, Lord willing. They are beautiful eyes, full of love and full of strength and full of courage. They are the eyes of the man that I can't help but love.
As the pastor pronounced us husband and wife, the tears slowly filled my eyes. I tried to smile but could feel my face tighten as the tears came. I was just oh so happy.
Then our pastor said, "You may kiss your bride."
Nate gave me a huge kiss as people in the audience hooped and hollered and cheered and applauded.
Then the new Mr. and Mrs. walked down the aisle together, the first of many steps we will make arm in arm.