There are so many common and good emotions at a wedding. Excitement, pride, nervousness and anticipation are saturated in a wedding day. But after hundreds of weddings I have rarely been moved by the deep sense of gratitude like was so evident between Andrew and Liz. The type of gratitude that could be mistaken as joy, love and attraction. Gratitude that bubbled over in every glance and interaction between them. Andrew was so happy that his friends and family were there and thanked me about 50 times for photographing his wedding, but if we were all asked I think we would all agree that he would have married Liz on a marooned island, far from the rest of the world. We were all just lucky to be there. To see this between them made us all grateful.
We spent our weekend in the foothills of the Adirondack where Andrew grew up. A place where 20 degrees is warm and beards are just a part of the face. Where the iPhone hasn't been yet. Out of 6 GPS navigation tries, my phone took me to exactly 6 random fields. The funny thing was that a few of those random fields were beautiful. So I'm going to call it providence.
I didn't mention that Liz is my first cousin. But it's time now. In the morning Liz and I shared some laughs and came close to tears talking about our love for our Grandpa Harland and our wonderful, wonderful Grandmother Jane. Our Grandmother is working on her memoirs and Liz has been helping to gather them. We lost Grandpa a few years ago but he left us his beautiful wife and over 60 years of dedicated marriage to her for us to look to. Grandma gave Liz a poem our Grandfather wrote for Janet Kester years ago.
Grandma added a note:
"Liz, This is a copy of the toast to Janet Kester that Harland made at the wedding reception. Now he is saying it to you on your wedding day. Love always, Grandma Jane"
"Love, be true to her, Life to be dear to her, Health, stay close to her, Joy, draw near to her, Fortune, find what you can do. Search your treasure, house through and through. Follow her footsteps the wide world over. And keep her husband always her lover."
Her dress was beautiful, her smiles and laughs were constant and the anticipation was thick in the air.
It was great to hear different perspectives of the same story separately. While we were waiting for Liz to arrive(a common thing in this family) Andrew was telling me about how he loves this park. He and his brother Tony walked me around and showed me some beautiful places that I may have missed otherwise. As Andrew waited in the Birch Forest and Liz approached, she with deep reflection in her voice told me:
"I can't believe this moment is here. We always walk here when we are back in town and now I am walking to him, in this dress, today. I just can't believe it."
As the doors opened and Liz came down the aisle with her dad, Andrew played an emotional melody on his guitar. I think he may have got lost in her had he not has his instrument to pull one percent of his attention. Liz had a smile that you could see from the other side of the church and friends and family were dabbing their eyes. We all knew that this moment was a big deal.
The ceremony was lovely and the importance of their commitment tempered the excitement a little. The minister spoke of how God in His goodness chose to bring these two together. Though they came from very different places, their lives not only intersected but fused. Today they became one.
It seems silly to try to sum something up that is by design just beginning. But it was a wonderful story of a family growing. Connecting with those we haven't seen in years and bonding to those we didn't know a week ago. But all centered on celebrating the love of these two. And a commitment to help them with whatever they need to have a happy and healthy marriage. I'll see you all soon.