I’d been dreaming about walking down the aisle to marry James for years — pretty much from the moment I met him. I replayed the vision in my head over and over in the months leading up to the wedding, picturing myself crying a lot of happy tears as our eyes locked for the first time.
Miraculously, we both held it together.
We had to move the ceremony indoors, which made me very nervous because the space was so small. By moving a few tables around and asking a couple of guests to stand, we pulled it off. While it wasn’t what we had planned, many people told us after the ceremony they loved how intimate it made the ceremony feel.
Seeing James’ face at the end of the aisle made my stress about everything going as planned quickly fade away. I couldn’t stop smiling knowing in a matter of minutes we would be married.
We hired a cellist to play during the ceremony and I surprised James by walking down the aisle to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.” Shortly after we started dating, James told me the song reminded him of me. It’s been our song ever since. Although, James said he was so caught up in the moment he wasn’t paying attention to the music.
My sister officiated the ceremony, which I wrote and tweaked up until the week of the wedding. I also asked her to write some of her own words of wisdom to us. What she wrote was beautiful and played off of the theme of riding in tandem, which made our tandem bike backdrop all the more perfect.
About halfway through the ceremony, my sister told us to join hands. We were both on the verge of tears and James kept rubbing my hands the whole time. It made it feel like we were the only ones in the room. I will always remember that moment.
We both wrote our own vows, which we heard for the first time during the ceremony. This was my favorite part. It was so meaningful to be able to make promises about our life together in front of our family and friends. Here’s what I wrote to James:
James, from the moment we met, you just got me.
Fresh off a trip to Nashville, I’d returned to South Bend disappointed I didn’t find the cowboy of my dreams.
One of the first things you did when we met was pull out a picture of yourself dressed in a cowboy hat and a giant belt buckle at the Wyoming rodeo.
It didn’t take me long to figure out you definitely weren’t a cowboy — you were taking their pictures.
But, it didn’t matter. By then, you’d already lassoed my heart.
Life with you since that day has been such an incredible adventure.
Every moment I spend with you is a moment I want to last forever.
You’ve opened my eyes to new experiences and my heart to endless possibilities.
I promise to try my best to do the same for you over the course of the rest of our lives.
I promise to make you laugh loudly and often.
I promise to be your biggest cheerleader — even when you’ve lost faith in yourself.
I promise to always make you a birthday cake.
I promise to be a great listener — to really hear what you’re saying.
I promise to always support you and do what I can to help you achieve your dreams.
I promise to never let you drink bad beer.
I promise to put you and our relationship first.
I promise to do everything in my power to make you ridiculously happy.
I promise to always be your ally.
And, most of all, I promise to be your best friend, your partner in crime and your partner in life.
I look at these promises more as privileges — I get to laugh with you and cry with you, care for you and share with you, build a life with you and live with you forever by my side.
I love you more than I thought possible and I still can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be standing here today, marrying a man better than anyone I ever could have dreamed up.
James’ vows were the perfect balance of funny and sentimental. I’ve printed them off and displayed them in our wedding shadow box so I can read them everyday:
Barbara, you are my best friend, my inspiration, my one true love. I am inspired by your kindness, your love, your beauty inside and out. Your smile can brighten the gloomiest of days. You make me laugh, you make me banana crepes, you make me happy. You stole my heart and I want you to keep it. I love you.
I promise to love you, hold you and honor you.
I promise to grow old with you and never stop growing with you.
I promise to be honest, kind, patient and forgiving.
I promise to love you through sunshine and storms.
I promise to love you forever and always.
After exchanging rings, it was time to seal our marriage with a kiss! The ceremony only lasted about ten minutes, which was the perfect length to me. Standing there in a room surrounded by everyone we love is the happiest I’ve ever been.
My sister pronounced us husband and wife and we walked out on cloud nine, ready to celebrate with a night on the dance floor.