In today’s new The Real Marrying Types of Change the Word, Jessica Sodeke shares how she fell in love with her love story and her wedding.
"Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite."
Three years ago I hated that saying and every time I saw it vinyled across an old window or printed on cheap subway art, I rolled my eyes. So why am I writing about a memorable wedding moment? Despite my sour introduction, I'm no divorcee. In fact, my husband and I celebrated another wonderful year of marriage June 12.
I didn't love my love story. I didn't love my wedding. It was small. Six people were present. There was no beautiful white gown. I didn't have a wedding cake or a first dance and there were no toasts to be had. My dad never gave me away. And we celebrated our union over flying shrimp and smoking onions at a teppanyaki grill. It was nothing like the smorgasboard of magazine clippings I had tucked away in an old binder.
It all happened so fast. Girl gets heart broken too many times. Girl vows to never date again. Girl forgets to deactivate her online dating profile and gets a private message from "1012Sam." He's... not her type. Girl initially refuses to date him. Girl caves and meets him for one date. Comfort level is instant. Girl likes boy and the dating never stops.
That was it. And then it got complicated. We had 12 months to make one of the biggest decisions of our lives before his student visa expired and he had to return to his country. I liked the guy. He was patient, trustworthy and treated me better than any man I had ever met in my life. But did I love him? Was this a very convincing scam to get a green card? Was I settling? Was I ready?
So I did what any type-A girl would do and made a list. Pros and cons. I chuckle now and don't know if I advise this as a method for picking a husband, but it calmed my nerves and helped me decide that yes, I was going to marry this man. Hindsight? Best decision I ever made.
I don't have memories of drunken speeches or family drama on my wedding day. No one caught my bouquet and we didn't stumble over ourselves through a first dance. When I said my vows, I recited the words, but I wasn't overwhelmed with emotion. My decision was years ahead of my heart. Now, three years later, after I've had time to know that leap of faith was a good one. I've finally fallen in love.
We spent the eve of our third anniversary bucketing water out from our window well and ringing the water out of towels in the basement of our new home. While I panicked, my husband persevered. He told me to laugh it off and that stressing was bad for my health. After all, the leaking was nothing we couldn’t handle, and that, in fact, it was kind of funny.
“Funny?” I fumed? It was not funny. He was hours late for his sales job and we already had plans to leave for the weekend for a family reunion. And the bills were adding up. Waterproofing estimate. Fans. Waterproof tape. Towels. More towels.
My husband stood in an inch of water, in water soaked boxers and an undershirt, with beads of water dripping down his face and arms, ringing out towel after towel with a smile on his face. I stood there and watched him, the anxiety in my chest slowly subsiding. While I felt defeated and close to tears, he was brave and patient and encouraging. These are the moments that make my heart melt and my love grow.
Now, when I look through pictures of our wedding day, I feel the deep kind of love I yearned for June 12, 2012. The love I hoped would eventually come.
Our wedding day was not without beautiful details. It might not have been the wedding of my dreams but it was a Jessica Hartley event, and that meant it had to be fabulous! Life has a funny way of turning out exactly how it's supposed to and things simply fell into place.
I had the date picked before I even met my husband. June 12, Loving Day, the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down any laws forbidding the union of interracial couples. It was a Tuesday and the already small guest list got even smaller. The biggest blow, my parents wouldn't be attending.
I was so opposed to the idea of a small wedding that I didn't even want a photographer (and I'm a photographer). My friend insisted she would take a few for free. Photographer. Check. At the time, that same friend worked in a beautiful, historic building, which once housed the Nebraska federal courthouse. Venue. Check. My brother-in-law knew a pastor who relocated to Lincoln. After approaching him about marrying us, we found out he served as a missionary in Nigeria - Sam's native country. Officiant. Check. I happened to also have a white lacy dress I wore for my high school graduation. Attire. Check. And I would incorporate peacocks because, at the time, the theme was on trend and it would serve as a nod to my deceased father, who rented a small farmhouse during my childhood where I spent summers collecting peacock feathers
I spent hours handpainting beautiful blue peacocks on my white Payless heels. I scoured craft stores and thrift shops for fabric flowers and antique brooches for my bouquet. Our wedding invitations consisted of a customized, Loving Day design that I ironed on to vintage handkerchiefs as a favor to those who came. A teal and white paisley tie ordered online would go perfectly with the suit jacket Sam borrowed from his brother. I crafted peacock feather boutonnieres for Sam and his brother, who stood in as best man. For my sister/maid of honor, I ordered a vintage folding fan in lieu of a bouquet, created a peacock and teal hair piece and had a friend make a necklace from a peacock brooch.
That morning, I headed to my sisters home where one of my photography clients coiffed my hair into a 1920s style and topped it with a fascinator. We finished up at the makeup counter of Von Maur. With my sisters borrowed pearls around my neck and a peacock brooch from my mother's costume jewelry collection pinned to my sash, I made my way into the courtroom. He'd never seen me done up like a geisha doll and the initial mood was nervous. Anxious. I introduced myself to his uncle and we posed for pictures. There was no big to do, no music to walk into, no candles lit, we simply gathered together and the ceremony began.
I decided to keep it simple because to me, it was just a day to sign the papers. Down the road, when we had all the immigration stuff squared away and money saved, we'd have my "dream wedding". To make the ceremony unique, I insisted we have a Yoruban tasting ceremony, complete with heart shaped dishes from thrift stores displayed on a peacock dish.
It took me about a year of marriage to realize my wedding was perfect. I will forever cherish the pictures my friend demanded I take because they captured so much more than my eyes did that day. My husband is a marvelously patient man. I'm sad I never got to wear a big white gown and I dream of the day when I can stand in front of all my friends and family to declare my deep, true, unrelenting love for my husband. My wedding simply wasn't the time and place. There was a purpose, it was meant to be, but it took a good amount of list making and conversations with friends for me to go through with it. It was fleeting and crazy, I know! It wasn't well thought out. It was careless even.
I haven't fallen in love with his snoring and he never comes back from the store with all the "right" items. But we've accomplished a lot together. We lived apart for five months after we got married and we took the high stress of immigration head-on. As a team. We've vacationed together several times without killing one another, and we just signed a 30-year mortgage on our first home. I’ve finally realized the love I grew up believing in was simply unrealistic and that however our love story goes, it is ours, and it is, finally, my favorite one.
We'll be back with more "The Real Marrying Types of CTW" tomorrow with a new story from Kaley Stewart.
About the Author
My name is Jessica. I'm a full-time journalist/graphic designer with a passion and skill for photography, graphic design, interior design and crafting.
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