Joseph and I were preparing for an outdoor wedding. The Hanwells had been planting beautiful things in their yard and making everything lovely and perfect for us and I couldn't believe how incredible it was looking.
We would be getting married under the tree that Joseph and I had sat under on my Mexico blanket to work out our pasts.
One thing we didn't plan for was rain. We had no backup plan for rain whatsoever. Mom immediately set about figuring out pricing for tent rentals so that people would have somewhere to huddle in case of a downpour. Joseph made it his mission to check on the weather online every chance he got.
5 days to go. I wanted my bridesmaids to have dresses that they would like and wear again, so I had given them a deep earthy burgundy/purple and told them to find a dress they liked in any color that remotely resembled that swatch.
This request turned out to be more stressful to fulfill than I anticipated, so I amended that request to include white cottony dresses that I could dye for them.
3 or 4 of my bridesmaids went the white cottony dress route and sent them to me in the mail. They came just in time. Kentucky came over to help me dye them, and it was an adventure in and of itself. Mom chuckled at how different each one turned out. One was bright neon purple and one was eggplant and marbled. Yet another had polyester stitching that didn't take the dye at all and left a bright white pattern all over the dress.
I personally loved how they all turned out. I only hoped my bridesmaids would, too.
4 more days. Joseph pulled me aside and noted that he felt like we hadn't seen each other all semester. He felt disconnected from me and didn't want to feel that way when he said his vows. We blew everything off and went to the park to lay in the sun by the river we were baptized in and just be still for hours and hours. It was exactly what we needed.
3 days left. Mom, Joseph and I were at Men's Warehouse trying to find something appropriate for Joseph to get married in when Star called to tell us that her car broke down. She would have to wait until the day of our wedding to come over because her husband couldn't get off work to come with her until then. He was going to be our sound guy and call some contra-ish dances for us at the reception, so his truck would be full of instruments and electronic type things.
I had to have my best friend. I told her we would come to Chattanooga and get her. Joseph purchased the first combination of clothing that somewhat fit him and we dashed out the door.
We got to Chattanooga in the wee hours of the morning. Star put Adelaide in her car seat in the back with my mom and we turned right back around to go back to Cullowhee.
Adelaide woke up and sleepily asked Mom in her raspy just-awoke voice, "Did you see the fish?". Star was in stitches. This was the first time she had heard her little one's just-awoke voice. It was the first time Adelaide had ever spoken in such a half-asleep state.
2 days more. My childhood friend Deja arrived, and so did Josephs old buddies (James, Starbuck, and Jett) from back in high school. We all went to the double waterfall (where I had admitted my more-than-friends feelings for Joseph) together as the beginning of bachelor/bachelorette celebrations. The plan was we would all go there and play for a while, and then the guys and girls would split up and Joe would hang out with his buddies at the house, and the girls and I would hang out at the hotel we were staying in.
When we got to the waterfall, the guys climbed up to the top, and Star, Deja and I stayed below to chat and wallow in the sunshine.
Deja went over to a pool at the bottom of the waterfall and stretched out a leg to put a toe in. One false move, and she slipped and tumbled in. She came back up treading water and swearing. That water was cold!
Star and I felt a little guilty for laughing at her, so we decided to suck it up and jump in too.
As the sun began it's journey down and the three of us were drying out on the rocks, Joseph and the guys trotted over and flopped down. Joe pulled from his pocket a sparkly little rock with mica on it and handed it to me, noting that he found it lovely.
I thanked him, grinning, and validated that I, too, thought it was a thing of beauty.
We packed up and started to head home. James helped us swipe a little mountain laurel on the way back because flowers for a wedding are expensive and it was just so pretty.
In the evening, I was reunited with Dayanara, my dear friend who worked at a summer camp with me, and all of us girls went to Walmart to pick up Grey.
Grey's phone wasn't working, and we weren't exactly sure where she was. It didn't take us long to find her, though. She was outside on a bench with an oldish lady who had evidently had way, way too much to drink. Grey was listening carefully and patiently to this lady's stories. She hugged her goodbye tenderly and did her best to make sure she had someplace to go for the night before we left her.
Back at the hotel, after we did a yarning with shiny white wedding yarn, we sat around outside just relaxing and enjoying each other's company.
Dad arrived with my brother and his girlfriend, Charlie.
Everyone went to bed tuckered out. The only one who was fighting sleep was Weezle.
"I can't sleep! I have a cough drop in my mouth!"
"So spit it out!" Charlie grumbled.
"I don't want to! It's at the good part!"
"So chew it up!"
"Well then sit there quietly and suck on it 'til it's gone!"
"So boring! I don't wanna!"
"Fine! Put it in your butt crack and save it for later!"
That shut him up. Everyone wished each other sweet dreams and fell right asleep.
1 day away. The rest of the bridesmaids and groomsmen came on over. It was priceless to all be together.
There was a very sweet and giving lady who worked in the flower department at Lowes, who had offered to let me come pick flowers from her personal garden for my wedding.
We tried to take her up on her offer, but after a half an hour's drive in the direction of Franklin, we failed catastrophically at finding her house. In the end, we gave up.
It just so happened, though, that the wildflowers on the side of the road were exactly my wedding colors. Star and I pulled over and piled a bunch of them into boxes, ducking whenever we heard a car coming, lest it be a cop and we find ourselves in trouble.
We still didn't know if it was going to rain or not the next day. The forecast was iffy. We were a little nervous, but at this point, we mostly just wanted to get married.
The guys took the chairs we had rented and went to line them up in the Hanwell's backyard so we could have the rehearsal. When they were done, it looked great... except that they forgot to include an aisle.
Genevieve and Star stared at it in silence for a moment before Star finally said, "Um... where is she going to walk?"
Genevieve, relieved someone else had noticed it too, set about helping Star sort this issue out.
They sent the guys to go put up some this-is-how-you-get-there signs.
My dad almost didn't show up for the rehearsal. I think he knew that he would be so emotional and he didn't want to face it. When he finally came, he was fine all through the actual practicing, but later got all choked up randomly while telling one of my uncles a story about our dogs.
Jim was officiating for us, so he taped his lines into his Bible so that it would look like he had them all memorized. I spent the make believe ceremony trying not to giggle.
Star teared up when we said our pretend "I do"s and hid behind her white paper parasol. I had given all the bridesmaids white paper parasols.
When the rehearsal was over, we mulled around a bit.
Dayanara had brought with her the hat that we told secrets under at camp. It was our secret-tellin' hat. I was happy to see it again.
There was time for some hugs and some pictures,
before we pranced on down to the picnic area on campus to partake in stuffed shells, garlic bread, salad, and sweet tea that Joseph's mom was so gracious to provide us with.
When the day was through, Star made me promise to go to bed before midnight.
"It's the night before your wedding!", she reminded me, "You will need all the sleep you can get!"
I did go to bed, dutifully, around 11:00pm. I lay there, staring at the ceiling, wide awake. Until 3am.
Suddenly Weezle came in and said, "Sarah, you have to get up!"
"What?! No I don't! I have to go to sleep! I'm getting married tomorrow!"
"No, you have to get up. Charlie and I want to go to Walmart and get something gross to eat. You do want to come with us, don't you?"
"But I promised Star..." I stopped. He was making that face at me. The liddle brudder face. The face that he had used since he was a child to get away with murder. "...Oh fine! Wait, I've got to put on some shoes."
I scanned the room for an instant and realized that I had no idea where my shoes were, and it wasn't likely I would ever find them amid the jumble of wedding madness I was surrounded by. I decided to go without my shoes.
Weezle and I are tall kids. I am 5' 9" and he's definitely over 6 feet. Charlie, on the other hand is 4' 8".
When we all trooped through the sliding doors at Walmart, and I attempted to tell Charlie under my breath to walk to the left of me so the "greeter" (aka, the guard) wouldn't notice my shoeless feet, my words had too far down to travel in order to get there on time. Or I was simply too much bigger than she to be hidden at all by walking on her other side. Either way, when I looked up, I saw that the greeter was staring straight at my feet with crazy eyes.
He began to take a step towards me, and without giving it a second thought all three of us bolted. The greeter took chase. We spent the next 12 minutes or so zipping around the store trying to lose him. Finally, Weezle peeled off to the right and was gone for a bit before jogging back to tell us, "I had him tailing me until I got to the toy section, but I lost him somewhere back there around art supplies."
He slowed to a cantor, "Come on you guys, let's go to the food department."
Weezle and Charlie chose some kind of sherbet... cups. They did look pretty gross.
When we were in the checkout line, I peeked over at the greeter's post and accidentally made eye contact with him. He shot me some daggers.
I looked at the clerk and said, "I'm getting married tomorrow. I'm getting married tomorrow, and that greeter is going to kill me!"
The clerk glanced over at the greeter and then looked at me, yawned, and said, "Huh. That's too bad. $3.17 please."
That was it. The other doors were closed because it was so late. There was no way of avoiding him. I took a deep breath and marched towards my fate.
We tried to give him as wide a berth as we possibly could, but he dashed in front of us.
"Next time you come here," he bellowed, "you'd better bring a pair of shoes!"
We ducked around him and ran for the car.
Once we were safely in the car with the windows rolled up and thoroughly out of earshot, Weezle shook his fist and shouted, "Next time you come here, you'd better bring a better FACE!"
When we got back to the hotel around 4:30am, I face-planted into bed and fell asleep almost immediately.
And that is how I spent the last unmarried night of my life.