Lauren & Kamel

A week before the wedding I thought I had it all figured out. If I had to do it over again I was confident with what I would ditch and what I would keep. I told my mom that a wedding was not worth it. It wasn’t. If I had to do it over again I would have had an ultra small wedding (parents, 3 best friends, ta-da), a dinner at a great restaurant and a honeymoon. Bam. No fancy dress, no hullabaloo.

What I thought the week before the wedding was: how silly of me to believe I would regret not having aspects of the wedding I had imagined growing up—nothing happened the way I thought it would during engagement, and busting my butt for the reception and the favors and the details had not ended up making me feel awesome. The week before the wedding it made me feel like I just wanted it to be over. I didn’t feel at all the way I thought I would about the things I thought I would.

And then, the morning of the wedding I woke with a surge of adrenaline that never ever went away. The girls and I went to Starbucks for breakfast and tea, then to our hair/makeup appointment at a salon. In the rain. Where the person with the key never showed up. The owner had to race over, forty minutes after our appointments were supposed to start. We rolled with it. Everything about a wedding has to do with rolling with it. This part of the day was where I felt the most calm. I was with my best friends, goofing off in a salon downtown in matching hoodies and pajamas. It was, oddly, the most normal thing I did.

By the time the wedding rolled around I was overwhelmed with the immensity of it. I couldn’t breathe well sitting down so I leaned against the back of chairs like a plank. My anxiety was through the roof. When I was waiting to walk down the aisle with my dad, just us two behind a door while the rest of the wedding party filed in, he choked out, “I really love you,” and we both cried. I told him he couldn’t talk to me anymore, he couldn’t say another word because we were going to be a mess otherwise. He said ok. We held on to each other and I gripped kleenex.

Walking down the aisle I only remember two things: knowing my dad had a hold of me, that there was no way I was going to stumble or mess up because he was there, and locking eyes on Kamel (who was beaming like a shooting star) at the other end of the church. I saw no one else. He waved at me, I waved back.

When my dad had dropped me off at the front and Kamel and I had taken our spots, off to one side of the altar, facing the guests, the Deacon said his opening remarks and I knew I was going to pass out if I kept standing. I knew it. I looked to the front row where my parents and best friends were sitting and they all knew it too. They mouthed to me to breathe, to yawn, that it would be ok, that I could sit if I needed to. They used subtle hand gestures and I started to see black spots. I tried to make it through the welcome, but 3/4 of the way through I sat. Kamel sat too. I told him, “I don’t think I can do this.”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew it wasn’t the best thing to say at your wedding to your minutes-to-be-husband, and without any other explanation Kamel completely understood what I meant. It wasn’t that I couldn’t marry him, it was that I wasn’t going to be able to get through the bigness of it all, standing up in front of everyone I knew, in a tight and heavy dress, having the most emotionally intense moment of my life without hitting the ground. He gripped my hand and said, “Yes you can. I’ve got you.”

We did the rest of the wedding sitting down (which isn’t pictured because there are so very many other good ones!), the Deacon was amazing and rolled with it, and I didn’t care what people thought or if it was weird. And afterwards, everyone told me they thought that was just how it was done.

For the first hour of the reception I felt like the world was on fast forward and I wasn’t. I cried through my dad’s toast. I cried through Kamel’s dad’s toast. I laughed and felt warm and fuzzy during the girls’ toast. The food came too quickly and I couldn’t eat. I gulped a few mouthfuls of wine and tried to slow down, but I didn’t have time to finish any of it.

We went from table to table and greeted everyone, and everyone was so happy, and I was so happy. I was the best version of myself I have ever been on my wedding day, the best host, the most gracious guest of honor, all of it. I watched words coming out of my mouth during conversations with people I didn’t really know and thought, “Wow, good job Lauren… way to rock that.” It was like an out of body experience.

We danced like idiots, there was a conga line, we took photos, we kissed in public, there was so much well wishing I felt undeserving. It was the most emotionally exhausting experience of my entire life. By the end of the evening I was raw, all of my insides were showing, I had shed an exterior and grown a fresh, vulnerable, shiny new one.

The day after the wedding we raced to the airport at 9:30 in the morning and I realized: there is no “what would I do if I did it again,” because it doesn’t exist. What had just happened—the crazy, the touching, the frustrating, the wonderful—was my wedding. That was it. It happened, and it was ours. It happened around me and to me, and I am so grateful for the journey.

Coming out the other side I see that it could have never happened any other way. I am a better person because of my wedding. Because it was hard, and touching, and thoughtful, because it brought to light some negative things about people, but also the really fabulous things about people. And ultimately it marked the beginning of my new family, and that will always be worth it.


The Info— Photography: Lauren Carroll (Wedding and Other Stuff) with Joann Arruda / Necklace: Virigina Geiger / Earrings: Little White Chapel (via APW) / Yellow Bracelet: Women For Women by Kate Spade (Mine came from Africa) / Hair&Makeup: Swink Style Bar / Boutonnieres: Olas Dream World / Bridesmaid Hair Accessories: Sweet Grass Mill / Bridal Hair Flowers: Percy Handmade

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