Melody & Eric

Today’s post is about what really matters. And I don’t mean that in a wedding-y way, like, “The vows mattered but the favors didn’t.” I mean that in an absolute way. It’s about love and loss. It’s about being brave enough to find your heart again. It’s about being brave enough to face how scared and sad you actually are… and moving forward anyway. And yes, it’s about what matters at a wedding, too: it’s about grinning, family, and love. Not just the love between two people, but the greater love that holds us up every day.

“I dreamed I ruined your wedding. You weren’t mad, but you were very disappointed. I’ll explain the rest after I get there. It was…complicated. ” This was the call I received from my sister the day before my wedding.

She was right. The dream was quite involved and included things like heavy machinery, an aisle runner fashioned from crushed pretzels, and hiking through the woods during a thunderstorm It made her forgetting to bring my brooch bouquet the next day pale in comparison. But I’ll get to that later.

I never thought I’d get married again. I know lots of people say that, but I meant it. I was married once before. It wasn’t good; I’ll leave it at that. And it lasted way too long, but that’s how long it took for me to realize I didn’t have to remain there…that it was okay to end it. Hey, I’m a Virgo, we over-analyze everything. But even after the bad marriage, I wasn’t totally soured on the idea. Cut to a few years later and I was engaged. This time it was great. We started out as friends, had common interests, and even kept things going during a multi-year long distance stint. Then, just after we got engaged, he up and died on me.

Have you ever seen tapes of those football players hit simultaneously by two people from different directions? The ones who fly up into the air, limbs flailing like a rag doll and you’re left wondering if they’ll ever eat solid foods again? Yeah. Combine that with a sucker punch to the gut and jumping into an icy river naked, and you have a small idea of how it felt.

I crawled into a deep, dark hole. It took therapy, meds, and some very good friends to pull me back out. But even then, I didn’t date. I didn’t even think about dating. I worked. I rode my bike. I continued breathing. I deflected well-meaning friends who tried to set me up with nice guys. I immersed myself in school, work, and schoolwork. And slowly, I began to heal.

And years later, out of the blue, I met Eric. He was the shy friend of a friend who didn’t know anyone at the party except our host. I talked to him and made a point to introduce him to others. We kept gravitating back to each other. At the end of the night, I told him it was great to meet him and he should come around more often.

He showed up the next weekend. And the next. It just evolved from there and all those protective walls I built slowly crumbled away. He eventually proposed, and after he nixed my elopement proposal, we started planning our wedding. I got a dress. I searched for a site we could afford. I found APW. I bought him a ring. And then the past came crashing in on me.

Maybe buying Eric’s ring triggered it, I’m not sure. But suddenly, planning our wedding was hard. I couldn’t do anything without thoughts of my lost fiancé creeping in. I tried to push the feelings away and felt guilty for moving on. Then I tried embracing the feelings and felt guilty for not letting go of the past. I was making myself crazy.

I tried talking to friends, but nobody understood. I even emailed Meg, who assured me I wasn’t crazy and mourning for my past while planning my future was completely logical. Finally, I did what I should’ve done in the first place and talked to Eric about it. I was reminded why I love him so much…he is a wonderful, supportive man and he loves me without question. Turns out, acknowledging the feelings and talking about it with him was exactly what I needed.

So on to our wedding. We forgot things. Lots of things. The little chalkboards we made to label the dessert table? Forgotten. The cool slate pieces to label the cheese? Still MIA. The iPod playlist for the reception we obsessed over? Never played a note of it. The entire kid’s table box that disappeared? Eventually found shoved behind some other boxes under a table. And the bouquet? The bouquet a friend and I spent months collecting brooches for? The one we bled (seriously y’all, that floral wire is brutal) on and nursed sore, sticky fingers over? The brooch bouquet was the biggest, and really the only item that made much of an impact.

Instead of first look photos with my beautiful brooch bouquet, I had photos with the too-pretty-to-throw toss bouquet my sister made the night before. And you know what? The flowers and the photos were beautiful, and there were plenty others of the brooch bouquet, which made it in time for our trip down the aisle. So guess what? It didn’t make that much of an impact after all.

I remember Eric being so eager to say “I do” that he interrupted our officiant. I remember him giving me the wrong hand for his ring, and putting it on anyway. I remember hugs. Lots of them. I remember a dessert table so full of homemade cakes, cookies, and cupcakes people couldn’t decide what to eat first. I remember crying as my daughter toasted our new family. And I remember standing arm in arm with my new husband, surrounded by friends and family; and feeling overwhelmed by their love and support. I remember how quickly it seemed to end.

One second I was kissing my new husband and taking photos, the next we were saying our goodbyes and wishing we’d eaten more shrimp and grits. I remember waking up the next morning in our swanky hotel room with sore cheeks from smiling so much. And even now, it brings a smile to my face every time. I hope I can remember the lessons I learned from our wedding and apply them to our marriage. There will be mistakes, but sometimes they will work out better than the original plan ever could. And those small imperfections just make things more memorable and personal than any version of perfect ever could.

Photos by:  Twin Hearts Photography in Georgia; Dress: Azalea Bridal and Formal; Catering: Southern Hospitality Catering; Venue: Lawrenceville Female Seminary in Georgia

Featured Sponsored Content

  • Jane

    Great writing, thanks for sharing! I’m sorry for your loss, ack, I can’t imagine.

    I don’t usually like beards but oh my gosh is your husband handsome! He looks like I imagine Vronsky from Anna Karenina to look like, real dashing.

    • Noemi

      Vronsky is the perfect comparison– I see just what you mean. I am so happy for their shared happiness and their trials overcome!

    • Melodious

      Isn’t he, though! Unfortunately, the insufferable Georgia heat made the beard disappear for now. Cooler temps and the return of the beard are highly anticipated.

  • Shannon

    This was such a beautiful entry. I’m used to tearing up when I read the morning wedding grad post, but this one caught me entirely by surprise at lunch.

    Good for you, Melody, for working so hard on being happy again (and again). I struggle with a boyfriend who up and died on me too, and the engagement and wedding planning have run the gamut from elation to crushing anxiety that the whole process is bound to repeat itself again soon. It’s a hard thing and I think talking about it is the only good advice out there.

    Thank you for writing something so honest and so intimate.

    • Melodious

      Shannon, I wish you luck and I look forward to reading your graduate post and hearing the ways you dealt with planning and the wedding itself. I kept pondering ways to incorporate his memory into the day, but then I realized I didn’t have to do anything overt.

      But most importantly, I realized that some small part of my heart will always belong to him, even if I choose to give it to another. And that’s ok.

      • Shannon

        So true. I think just knowing I’ll think of him that day at some point is probably enough for right now.

        I think today’s call-to-writing-arms may have been exactly the incitement I needed to write a post!

  • Amanda

    Our box full of stuff for the kids´ table that was meant to be set up (crayons, coloring books, play-doh, bubbles…. ) though it made it to the reception site, was never set up. Don´t know why, cause hubby went to our venue before the ceremony to give the last instructions and make sure everything went smoothly. However, a few months after the wedding a colleague from work was collecting all kinds of school material and toys to bring for a cinema project for children in the Amazons, and we were happy to give him all of it. So much better. And the kids at our wedding had lots of fun, or so it seemed to me.
    Congratulations to you both, and all the best wishes on your life together.

  • First, congratulations to you and your husband! I wish you many years of happiness together!

    Second, you are a fantastic writer! Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. It is a great reminder about what really does matter. I think it takes quite a while for most of us to learn the hard lesson of “perspective.” It seems that you definitely have.*

  • Thank you Melody for writing so beautifully and honestly, this is a wonderful piece. So important to highlight what matters, what’s important, in the midst of so much else. And, on a totally superficial note, your wedding (and you both) looks absolutely gorgeous and these photos are amazing!

  • The fact that you look so happy and relaxed in your photos says as much as the beautiful words in your post. Funny how the past creeps us on you when you least expect it, leaves you agonising and they quietly vanishes without you noticing it went. Congratulations and wishing you very many years of happiness. x

  • Melody, you’re brave and awesome. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  • “Mourning for my past while planning my future was completely logical” – YES.

    This reminds me of one of my favorite poems, “To Love Is Not to Possess:”

    Love only endures when it moves like waves,
    Receding and returning gently or passionately,
    Or moving lovingly like the tide
    In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
    Because finally, despite a child’s scars
    Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
    They are openly free to be
    Who they really are–and always secretly were,
    In the very core of their being
    Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

    I think perhaps one of the most beautiful things about marriage is the incredible leap of faith it takes to match the pain of our pasts with the hope we have for our futures together.

    • Maddie–THANK YOU for this. It speaks to my soul and I’m plucking it for part of my ceremony. You made my day! xo

    • Stephasaurus

      Also plucking it to possibly use in my ceremony as well. :)

      • Aw, yay! We used it for ours too. It’s really one of the most beautiful poems on love I’ve ever read. And so practical!

    • ka

      The poem is beautiful, but this I LOVE:
      “I think perhaps one of the most beautiful things about marriage is the incredible leap of faith it takes to match the pain of our pasts with the hope we have for our futures together.”

  • I am always delighted to see people happy again after so much adversity. It reminds me of the great capacity of the human spirit. I hope you much happiness and good health.

  • This is so beautiful. Your cake is amazing, the bouquet is exquisite (I had one very similar, so I got excited!), and your smiles are uplifting.

    I had a hard time stomaching wedding #2, and that was without loss in between. It takes a strong woman to love and lose many times over.

    And your daughter toasting the new family? Brought me to tears.

  • I think my jaw was hanging open for most of this post.

    For some reason, hearing those little parts of your wedding that your loved remembering, even after going through so much, really put my mind at ease (3 months to go for me as of tomorrow, eep!). That kind of perspective is so, so valuable.

    Wishing you both more joy and peace than you could ever know what to do with. :) Thank you for this.

  • You look lovely and so happy. I’m thrilled for you both!

  • Melody–you are the embodiment of Brave.

  • Kat

    this is absolutely, without a doubt, the most perfect Wedding Graduates post.

  • Thanks Melody for sharing. Your husband just looks so nice. A solid, nice guy face. I can’t get over it.

    I’m very touched by your personal fortitude. I can imagine that personal strength will go a long way in helping you build a solid foundation for your marriage.


  • Sara

    Thank you. I’ve been reading APW for a month or two now but never truly felt the need to comment. I haven’t lost a boyfriend or fiance but recently lost my best friend and one of our groomsmen in Iraq and carrying on with wedding planning has felt “off”. This post reminds me that it’s ok to be sad, but it’s also okay to keep moving forward. And that in the end, love wins out and all will be ok. Thanks.

    • Melodious

      Sara, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I had years to work thru my pain, and still had difficulties, so I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you with things still so fresh. Moving forward is important, but make sure you take the time to truly grieve and acknowledge your feelings. There is no timeline for grief.

  • ka

    I’m a total closeted sap, so it doesn’t take much for me to discreetly mist up at Wedding Grads, but this one didn’t make me cry. Instead, it filled me with so much hope and peace that I may actually be floating off my chair. Love, and us human beings, are resilient motherf*ckers. And you, Melody, may be one of the most resilient of all. Lady, you can triumph over anything, and don’t you forget it. Congratulations! And thank you for this, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

    • Yes. We are so motherf*cking resilient. And I think love is our reward and our therapy. It has been for me, for sure.

    • Melodious

      I love reading your response, KA! And Maddie’s, too. I break into a big, shit-eating grin every time.

      All the responses have been incredible. I wish I could respond to every one. I continue to be amazed at the support of the APW community. Y’all are seriously awesome.

  • Melody, you have been through so much; I’m overwhelmed by your bravery. Thank you for sharing a little of your experiences here. Best wishes to you and Eric!

  • carrie

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful piece. Just amazing. And congratulations!

  • Suzanna

    There is so much to love and appreciate here that others have already commented on so thoughtfully.

    So can I just say: GREEN CAKE!!!! omg, GREEN CAKE!! I love. I want.

    • Melodious

      Suzanna, it’s a key lime pie cake. It was my second favorite flavor…but my most favorite color. And it was delicious!

      • Bill

        Make that Key Lime Cake. I’m happy to share it with anyone who wants it! It’s every bit as delicious as it looks!

        • Melodious

          Billiam, you know I love you! Ladies, Bill is the one who helped me make nearly everything for the wedding. And he also made my coin pearl bracelets! I could never have done it without him but we continue to disagree about the name of the cake.

        • Edelweiss

          I would LOVE the recipe! katrina (dot) allen at gmail and Bill (and Melody) you did a great job – everything looked beautiful!

  • wasabi

    We forgot our chalkboards too! Or did we? I sure as hell didn’t notice. And yet they seemed SO integral when I was slaving over that inspiration board…

    Fantastic writing, and your story warms my heart and builds me up!

    • Melodious

      Wasabi, I sure didn’t notice. But after several people asked what the cake flavors were, I figured it out. But everything was delicious, so I don’t think they could have gone wrong, no matter their choice.

  • Lovely wedding. Congrats Melody and Eric!

  • Moz

    Melody, I wish you and Eric a lifetime of happiness.

  • Megan

    You are a fiercely brave woman and a stellar writer. I literally shouted aloud (Are you f*cking kidding me?!?) when I read the bit about losing your fiancé. I was already sniffly and slow tearing about the end of your first marriage, but now losing him after being so brave to step out into vulnerability again? I was rooting for your happiness from the first sentence. You deserve it through and through.

  • Samantha Yanes

    Ahhh…brought me to tears girl… Haven’t seen you in a while but we had long talks about things and you are so open and honest. I love that about you. I am so glad to see you happy!! You most definately deserve it. :)

  • Jamaica Rose

    “I even emailed Meg, who assured me I wasn’t crazy and mourning for my past while planning my future was completely logical”

    This makes absolute sense. Congratulations on your wedding, on going through this, and so much happiness to you both.

  • Mar

    Melody, my heart did a little flip-flop when I read your post; I’ve been working on my own post on the same subject. I lost my best friend and love to cancer. The plan was to be together as soon as he recovered. After his death, I was crushed and weighted with heavier emotions than I ever thought possible. Two years later I met my now husband, and the happiness and joy of planning our future only stood to magnify the guilt and loss I felt, until I finally allowed myself to actually process all those conflicting feelings. I was then able to fully enjoy the wedding planning process, and move into a much better emotional state. Like you, I feel so lucky to have found a man who supports and understands what I went through.

    Anyway, I guess this was a ramble to say thank you. Hearing a similar story makes the entire emotional experience more valid.