Oh, they say when you marry in June,
You’re a bride all your life.
And the bridegroom who marries in June
Gets a sweetheart for a wife.
Winter weddings can be gay
Like a Christmas holiday.
But the June bride hears the song
Of the spring that lasts all summer long
By the light of the silvery moon
Home you ride, side by side
With the echo of Mendelssohn’s tune
In your hearts as you ride
For they say when you marry in June,
You will always be a bride.
~Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Five years ago today I was standing in a church, facing the man I loved with all my heart, vowing, covenanting to love him, honor him, obey him, and be faithful to him until death. We stood hand in hand on the platform, with so many dear ones watching, knowing this was the start of forever for the two of us.
But this wasn’t exactly how it was planned. Oh no, we weren’t supposed to be in that church at that particular moment. If you had asked us the day before, or even that morning, we’d have told you we’d be joining our lives before God that day in a breathtaking outdoor setting, with a back drop of snow-capped mountains, shining lake waters, surrounded by majestic pine trees. But God, in His wisdom, had other plans.
It started the evening before the wedding, with the rehearsal dinner. Being that my beloved and I are outdoorsy kind of people, his parents had suggested doing a barbecue in their Rocky Mountain backyard, as opposed to dinner at a fancy restaurant. It was just more “us.” The plans were made, the tables, chairs and decorations set. And then… the clouds rolled in. With thunder. And lightning. And rain. And hail. Our family and wedding party rushed for cover into the house… and began to talk about what we’d do the next day for our 1:45 pm wedding. Surely, we told ourselves, surely, after all this planning, the rain would hold off. It just had to be clear. Surely.
Yet, the next afternoon, forty-five minutes after the wedding had been scheduled to start at the lake, our guests filed into the church auditorium from where they’d all been squeezed in the foyer to keep out of the hail. The storm, which had returned with even greater fury than the night before, had driven us from the lakeside just minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin. While guests caravaned the short drive from one place to the other, my sweet bridesmaids and everyone else who was close enough to help–all in full wedding attire!–pulled out vacuums, transferred the decorations as they arrived in cars from the lake, and did everything they could to calm my rather shaken nerves.
My beloved called my cell phone many times in the course of the location switch, making sure I was alright. “Just remember,” John told me, over and over. “Today is STILL our wedding day. You are my bride no matter what. By the end of today, we’ll still be husband and wife.”
Five years later, I sit here, several states away from that wedding site, smiling to myself over the way the day turned out. We didn’t have the outdoor wedding I’d spent so many months planning, but we did get married. We didn’t get to take the wedding pictures near the Colorado lakes and streams and mountains that the “photographer papers” we wrote out said we would, but we do have pictures radiating our love and joy that day. Fancy dresses may have been a bit wrinkled and tux coats set aside until the last minute, but we were shown by every single person around us that day just how much we were loved and how blessed we were to have such dear ones in our lives.
If there was one life lesson that has seemed to characterize our marriage these five years, it’s the fact that “nothing is certain except change itself.” Things seem to change in drastic ways around here, sometimes faster than our minds can even process. And yet, through every change, we come to the end of each day still as bride and bridegroom. At five years, a milestone when many couples are evaluating their relationship and whether it’s worth staying together, we can say without hesitancy that the many changes and curve balls our first five years have brought have only served to cement us even closer, stronger, and with more reliance on the God who joined us. The people who surrounded us that very first day remind us by their example and with their current presence in our lives of the covenant we made, the support we have through every step, and have shown us that true Christlike love gives, serves… and is flexible.
Things don’t always happen exactly as we planned them. Dinner doesn’t always turn out, husbands come home late or change schedules, jobs are lost and gained, moves can happen at a moment’s notice, babies don’t arrive when we expect, family troubles can threaten marriage bonds, children don’t always behave the way we want when we want, illnesses take our health, and a thousand other changes can send stormy weather in the direction of a husband and wife. But that’s okay. At the end of it all–and perhaps because of it all–we still look into each others’ eyes and see sparkles. We can still kiss under the stars and be amazed that we have each other. We can laugh until our sides ache, sleep snuggled close every night (and go to bed at the same time!), and play footsies under a dinner table surrounded by our little ones. My husband still wraps his arms around my waist and buries his head in my hair while I make dinner, steals kisses whenever he walks by, and catches my eye from across a crowded room for a look that only I can catch. I think the fact that he makes me a cup of coffee every morning, selecting the cups I like best (like my “Marine Wife and Proud of It!” mug!), blending the cream and sugar perfectly, and bringing it upstairs to wake me with a kiss–just as he did every morning of our honeymoon–qualifies us as the perpetual honeymooners we are.
When we stood in that church on June 26, 2004, we didn’t know what was ahead for us. We couldn’t hope to foresee the particular challenges we’d face or what our life together would look like, any more than we can see what the years ahead will be. But we did know one thing–we would be facing all of it as best friends and with the Jesus who brought us together. And if this first day was any indication, we’d be learning to be flexible!
These foundational, strengthening truths we’ve been learning every one of the 1,826 days we’ve been man and wife are the ones we trust our Lord will be continuing to refine and perfect through the decades ahead of us. After all, He got started on the very first day in June.