Though we both felt we would eventually get married when we were dating, my then-boyfriend Eric and I were taking our time getting to know each other before making such a commitment. But then we both received orders from the Army that would put an ocean between us (his orders were for Germany and mine were for Texas).
Eric got on the phone to our career manager to ask if anything at all could be done. I’ll never forget the moment when my then-boyfriend put down his cell phone after the conversation was over, looked into my eyes, and said to me, “Basically, the Army is giving us an ultimatum—Get married in two weeks or go to different locations for the next three years.”
Even though there wasn’t even an engagement ring—the stark reality was that a long-term geographic separation would require us to make a decision, one way or the other. And so, our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends rallied around us to pull off an incredibly beautiful, totally wonderful wedding—and with only a few weeks to prepare!
The invitations went out quickly. Eric is originally from Minnesota and I’m from South Carolina, but we decided to get married in Alabama since we were both stationed there at the time. January wasn’t one of the prettiest months to get married in the southern state, but we booked a small, historic hotel/restaurant where we had gone on a few dates.
Fifty family members and friends gathered around us—some came all the way from Minnesota, while others came from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
I know many girls dream about their wedding years in advance, but I had never given it much thought at all. There’s only a few essentials one needs anyway, right? A location, a preacher, a bride, a groom, and maybe a cake for the guests. Well, we already had the first four, minus the cake. We didn’t think we needed anything else.
But our families decided we needed a bit more for our special day. It was impressive to watch everyone so dear to us come together to make our day memorable and perfect.
I was prepared to marry without flowers and have a potluck reception, but our families wouldn’t have it! But our parents pitched in helping with the expense of flowers, catering, and rental of the venue.
I remember walking down the aisle and noticing all the added decorations, arbor, flowers, lights and added touches that seemed to just seemed to “appear.” Our mothers and aunts had worked hard to produce a magazine-worthy ceremony in only a few hours.
All the little details of a quintessential southern wedding were there, and before the speeches, the dancing, and the cake-cutting were over, we knew we were loved by some remarkable people. It meant a great deal to know that those closest to us would be there to celebrate our commitment to one another.
Some people spend months and even years preparing for that perfect wedding, but thanks to the love and friendship of our family and friends, we can look back with such fondness knowing we wouldn’t change a thing.