“Trust me, I know what I’m doing… or at least, Felix does.” — Harry Potter after drinking Felix Felicis
Mercury went into retrograde just before our wedding. Maybe it had nothing to do with the planets, but in the days leading up to the wedding, things were going off the rails: First my mom’s flight was canceled thanks to winter storms. She managed to get an earlier flight, but then Julia, one of my bridesmaids, couldn’t. Meanwhile I still hadn’t heard from another member of my wedding party as to whether he had booked a flight AT ALL. Getting to Austin ourselves that Thursday afternoon helped ease some of my anxiety—we were there, and either everyone else was going to be there or they weren’t—but with the travel plans of half my bridal party still unconfirmed, and none of our other friends or family members in town yet, things just hadn’t quite clicked yet. I knew we were going to end up married… but I had kind of thought that this close to the wedding, I’d have a sense of how it was actually going to look? Planning from afar, and the fact that all our friends and family would be traveling in for the wedding, always made it little hard to really envision, and by Thursday I had started to feel like it was all just a Pinterest fantasy, and that we were never going to cross over into reality.
Friday morning we awoke to some good news: Julia and her husband were able to get on a flight out of DC and were en route. But my bridesman still wasn’t giving me straight answers on whether or not he’d be there. Of course, it was pretty clear that he wasn’t going to be (typically, flights don’t get cheaper the closer you get to take-off), but I needed him to just say it. Even though the day was going swell and the weather was amazing (plus I was feeling pretty fancy from my makeup trial run first thing that morning), I was still checking my phone obsessively for updates. Too many things were still unconfirmed, leaving me feeling… off.
By Friday afternoon, we had checked several important errands off our day-before-the-wedding to-do list in Austin, but traffic had put us twenty minutes behind schedule for the evening’s events. We were starving and we were the bride and groom, so we said “fuck it” and decided to drive through Arby’s on our way back to Georgetown.
I’m pretty sure that some generous Arby’s employee snuck a little Felix Felicis into our Diet Dr. Peppers. Because from that point on, we were the luckiest people in the world. A few minutes after we left the drive-thru, I finally got confirmation that my bridesman wouldn’t be coming. Well okay then. Now I had my answers. Now I could get on with it.
Wedding magic, wedding zen, whatever you call it… that’s when it hit me, and when the two years of planning finally became real. When we got back to the bed and breakfast, all my friends were there, and it was like they’d always been there. Eric and I changed our clothes and made it to the courthouse just in time for the rehearsal (which went well despite my concerns). It was such a lovely evening; the weather was amazing, the bed and breakfast was charming, and the food was delicious. All our people were there! And it was Valentine’s Day!
My wedding day started at 4:45 AM and the entire time it was sparkles and rainbows and unicorns and best friends and Disney princess hair and just… magic.
People often describe their weddings as surreal, but in the moment, things didn’t feel particularly surreal. I felt very… grounded. Like, Here I am taking photos with my friends. Here’s my family and here’s Eric. These things all felt very normal and I could process them. But the external things—the crisp air, the perfect morning sunshine, the charming bed and breakfast, the Georgetown square which feels like something out of a movie—made it feel like there was magic in the air.
While Eric and I were surrounded by family during our rehearsal dinner and wedding day, when I think of our wedding, the word friendship comes to mind first. As I listened to my friends—none of whom are close friends with each other—chat with each other like they’d known each other for years, I was so happy. As I listened to them all talk with my mom and grandma as we got ready, with Eric at the rehearsal and the reception, and then later that evening when a bunch of us stayed together at a rented historic house in Austin, I realized just how long my friends had been in my life. Long enough to know me but also know my family, and now to know Eric. Not all my good friends could be there, and I only had four family members there for me that day, but my friends who were there? They really showed up. Their happiness, good cheer, and genuine support for both Eric and me was one of the most special things about the day.
I wish I could say I didn’t want the day to end, but toward the end of the reception, I did want it to end because my feet really hurt. Eric and I were both losing steam, and on some level, I could feel the magic starting to slip away. It had been a long day; it was only 2 PM but we had been eating and drinking and crying and chatting and smiling and dancing and loving each other and everyone and everything for hours. We were so tired. And so we left the reception wanting to leave it, which I think is a good thing.
The day after our wedding couldn’t have been more different from our wedding day. Where Saturday was crisp and cold and bright, Sunday was dark, hot, and humid. There was no clearer sign that the spell had been broken, that the Felix Felicis had worn off, that the wedding was over. And I just felt so sad.
The thing about Harry Potter’s Felix Felicis is that it is extremely rare—it has to brew for six months—and difficult to make. You have to use it on something you really need to go your way, that day when you want to experience what they describe as “a sensation of infinite opportunity.” In the days immediately after my wedding, I wanted more Felix Felicis so badly because I wanted that feeling again. I never bought into the idea that my wedding was my ONE SPECIAL DAY, so I was pretty surprised when it turned out that my wedding was the most special day. And then I was sort of sad and terrified because… that was it. I’d cashed in my Felix Felicis and I wouldn’t ever have any more.
While my post-wedding blues wore off after about a week, it was only a few days ago when I realized that I didn’t need another sip. Most days, I do feel like the luckiest person in the world. While the stars may not ever align for me like they did on my wedding day, I know they’ll get close. Because not only did I come away from my wedding legally bonded to Eric, I also felt truly transformed by the way my friends and family were there for us that day, by what Eric and I said and did that day, and by the way our people bore witness to that. And I still feel transformed by it. So of course there will be another day like that. I don’t know when it will be, but I know it will be when I need it. And in the meantime, the sensation of infinite opportunity remains.
STAY TUNED LATER TODAY FOR Rachel & Eric’S Wordless Wedding, Where we Finally, finally see how 2013 writing intern Rachel’s Wedding turned out.