Holy Moly the moment is finally here! It’s time to marry my high school sweetheart, my favorite person in the whole world and technically, my husband for the second time! DJ and I chose to elope on our original wedding date on June 13th, 2020 when COVID-19 forced us to postpone our wedding to September 18th, 2020. Several told us that would “ruin the moment” or “you’re already married, so why are you even doing this” or my personal favorite, “you’ve already had your wedding.” Actually Karen, no we hadn’t. To us, a wedding is where you promise before God and your friends and family that you are committing your life to one another until death. It’s the day you wear your wedding dress and have a big, fun reception after. You have first dances, cake cutting, and toasts that make the day ever so special. We didn’t have any of that in June. We had 25 of our closest family members, a white dress off of Lulu’s and a bouquet. That was not our wedding.
Which meant, that THIS moment right before I walked down the aisle to my favorite person, was even MORE special because this WAS our wedding, and it was FINALLY happening! As I stood with my dad waiting to be cued to walk down the aisle, several emotions filled me but the primary one was grace. I was so full of gratitude for the weather, the guests that came to celebrate us, our friends and family that gave so much to bring our day to life, the team of vendors that worked tirelessly to make it happen and for my husband, who loves me unconditionally and even though our wedding day was less important to him (as many grooms feel), he made it his priority to make sure our wedding day was everything I wanted. I was overcome with grace so much so that I couldn’t even articulate what I was feeling, but it’s a feeling I’ll never forget.
I watched each of my bridesmaids walk down the aisle before me, followed by the flower girls and ring bearer, and then it was my turn! As the music changed to “Two Becoming One” by Jonathon and Emily Martin, my daddy and I started walking down the aisle. If you have ever been to Summerfield Farms, you know that the Little Tree is in the middle of a huge field. Which means that the “aisle,” is actually really long. We had DJ turn around until I got to the end of the chairs where the aisle actually starts, and when Kevin, our officiant, told him to turn around, he instantly started crying. It was the perfect reaction that every bride dreams of. Tears filled my own eyes as I watched my new husband cry over the sight of his bride. I locked eyes with him and nothing else mattered.
Funny story, I actually had told our officiant that I didn’t want my dad to actually “give me away.” I didn’t want those words to be spoken on my wedding day because I didn’t view it as that at all. I wasn’t being “given away.” If anything, Daddy was just gaining a son, not losing anything, and just because I’m married now, doesn’t mean I am any less his daughter. Anyways, the point here is I don’t like that part of ceremonies, and I had asked for that to not happen at mine. My dad, on the other hand, really wanted to have this happen (why, I have no idea!), so he orchestrated the whole thing and lo and behold, the officiant let my dad have his little moment haha! It was fine really, just awkward for me. I say that to let all of you brides know, sometimes it’s worth just giving in if it’s not something you feel super strongly about. If you do feel really strongly about it though, don’t give in. This is your day, so make sure you love it.
My favorite part of our ceremony is a tie between our handwritten vows to each other and our braiding ceremony. We chose to write our own vows because there is something so special and so pure about choosing the words you want to promise to your spouse, and if you’re anything like me, you love reading other’s vows and just love love. So, to keep you from wondering, here are the vows we said to each other:
I am so blessed to be standing up here with you. You are my best friend. You are my favorite person and make me the man I want to be. You always see the good in every situation and have a smile that lights up every room you enter. Thank you for being my greatest inspiration, my biggest cheerleader, and my teammate for life. You will never understand how badly I needed you, but God did which is why he gave me you. Looking back, I never imagined that life could be this good. I didn’t think that a strong, confident, beautiful woman like you would love and support me the way you do. But, now I know that between me, you, and God, nothing is impossible. I am so proud of all of our accomplishments thus far and beyond excited for our limitless future together. You are the most persistent, intelligent, and positive person that I know. You love Jesus with all your heart. You make life fun and exciting and bring me out of my comfort zone. Because of you, I always want to do better and be better in all aspects of life. Thank you for choosing me.
I promise to treasure you for the rest of my life. I promise to love you faithfully, always put Christ first and to lead our family with grace. I promise to take care of you through the good times and bad. I promise to always kiss you goodnight and good morning. I promise to never stop dating you, to embarrass you in public and make you laugh daily. I promise to support you in your dreams, encourage you to create even bigger ones and remind you of your successes when you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished enough. I promise to raise a family with you as your equal and your partner.
I promise to love you like Jesus does – unconditionally and never-ending. I am honored and thankful that you have chosen me for your husband. I believe in you. In the person you will grow to be and the couple we will be together. With my whole heart, I take you as my wife. I love you.
You make me a better person. You are my biggest supporter and my greatest friend. You love me unconditionally and without waver. Through you I see my future both now and forever. I’ve loved you since I was 14, and I’ve never looked back. You have always been there for me through every laugh, cry and everything in between with a kind smile and a warm hug. I have always dreamt of my husband as someone who is good and strong, someone who would love and protect me. You are that man for me. Over 6 years ago when you finally asked me to be your girlfriend, I felt peace and true joy just by being with you. It was as if God had told me that I found the one. You are everything that I am not and for that I am thankful. You help me keep my heart with God and keep me grounded. You are the most hardworking, honest, and selfless person that I know. I am eternally grateful to our savior for creating you for me. You are my perfect match, my best friend, and my soulmate.
I promise to always try to be worthy of your love. I promise to always be honest with you. I promise to be forgiving, patient, and to cherish you for all the days of my life. I promise to hold your hand and be proud that you are my husband. I promise to love you always especially when you are unlovable, pray for you daily, and trust in the Lord’s plan for us. I promise to build a life with you, dream with you, and to help you be your best self. I promise to challenge you, encourage you, and inspire you. I promise to never let you fall asleep angry or upset. And most of all, I promise to love you like Jesus does – unconditionally and never-ending. I am honored and thankful that you have chosen me for your wife.
I believe in you. In the person you will grow to be and the couple we will be together. With my whole heart, I take you as my husband. I love you.
My second favorite moment of our ceremony was our braiding ceremony! This is an alternative to a unity candle, and it makes for great home decor! Basically, each strand represents the bride, the groom and God, and you braid them together to signify that you are joining your lives with Him and that your relationship is eternally weaved with Christ at the center. “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:12
After we said our vows, braided our lives with God and exchanged rings, it was time for the big moment! Our officiant said “you may kiss your bride!” and then we were pronounced as “Mr. & Mrs. DJ Painter” as we made our way back down the aisle as newlyweds. Our friends and family stood and cheered as we danced our way down the aisle, and we received lots of hugs and well wishes as our guests made their way to the reception. The bridal party and family members stayed behind to take photos with us before it was time to head off to the reception! That’s when the real party started! Get ready!
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