Finding forever in a song

I had the good fortune to spend the past weekend in Lincoln, Neb. for a friend’s wedding. When not playing the role of dutiful bridesmaid, I was able to get some last minute wedding plans secured with my fiance, Shawn.

Bright and early Friday morning we sampled wedding cake. The chocolate — I was sure I’d be getting the chocolate — was disappointing and tasted a bit like moist cardboard. The pink champagne flavor induced tooth aches. But the almond flavor was just right.

Flowers have been finalized. Sunflowers, orange solidago, red hypernicum berries and chrysanthemum will provide the splashes of color at our otherwise black-and-white affair.

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Got the marriage license. Alarm bells didn’t start ringing on the state of Nebraska computer alerting everyone in the building that my fiance and I are cousins — we’re not, but after hearing a horror story to that effect, I admit I was just a teensy bit worried.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the weekend (other than the beautiful wedding Shawn and I attended) lasted just a few minutes in the santuary of the church where we will be married.

Shawn and I walked into St. Paul United Methodist Church in downtown Lincoln and it felt like coming home. It’s a grand old church with beautiful, two-story stained glass windows. It’s the church we attended while living in Lincoln.

The wooden pews sat silently empty, uniformly facing the altar, as if in eternal, crouched worship. The sunlight streamed through the windows to illuminate the sanctuary with gentle light. We spoke quietly, our voices ringing off the stone walls.

We met with John, the man who plays organ at St. Paul. He treated us to a short concert to prepare the music for our wedding. I’d never seen an organ played so close before and I was transfixed.

John’s fingers nimbly leapt from keyboard to keyboard to keyboard. He pulled on knobs and pushed buttons to alter the sound, I think. His feet moved in a neat, practiced jig on the pedals that control the deep-voiced pipes. The former silence was broken by the surge of sound. It swirled about the pews and rose to the ceiling.

Then John played “Claire de Lune” by Claude Debussy on the piano, the song to which the bridal party and yours truly will promenade down the aisle. Many people recognize it as the song that plays while the fountains dance in “Ocean’s Eleven.”

As John played, I let my eyes wander about the church, filled with a moment’s fantasy. I watched the bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle. Then I watched myself walk with my father down the aisle.

My ears filled with song. My heart swelled with this glimpse into forever.


Here comes the stress

Editor’s note: I plan to include the column that runs each week in the newspaper I edit. It’s a little insight for readers on my job.

After attending not one but two weddings in Nebraska this past weekend, I think the whole getting-married-in less-than-three-months thing has finally dawned on me. This is the reason for wedding receptions: to unload the stress, which builds and builds over months whether it’s necessary or not, of planning a wedding.

As I sat in St. Teresa’s Catholic Church ogling at the unfamiliar altars and candles prior to friend Kristin promenading beautifully down the aisle, I realized that very soon I’ll be enjoying a similar walk down an aisle while everyone near and dear and about-to-be relatives looks on.

I sure hope I don’t trip. Or pass out. I’ve been to two weddings this year now where the grooms looked about ready to drop to the ground.

There’s just so many things we brides convince ourselves can and will go wrong. The dress won’t be perfect. The cake won’t be perfect. We’ll have bits of asparagus between our teeth in all the photos. We’ll look fat. The bridesmaids will suddenly morph into whiny banshees. The groomsmen will get sloppy drunk and ruin the evening. In short, even the most mild-mannered woman (this is not me) becomes a snarling control freak during wedding planning.

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