Will and Natalie’s Wedding

We have had an exciting week here on the East Coast…and Will and Natalie did get married!! I’ll briefly (ha, ha) tell you about the wedding events, then later I’ll get some more pictures on here.

Our whole crew of nineteen relatives flew into D. C. on the 16th. Fortunately we made our connecting flight after a 30-minute layover in Chicago. After landing, Will was the first of us to get off the plane. I think he ran until he got to the baggage claim to see Natalie. 🙂

On Thursday we had a lovely luncheon at a restaurant in Leesburg. It was fun to see all the Harris family again, and meet Natalie’s twin nieces. Natalie also gave us bridesmaids matching necklaces and earrings (I got to wear dangly earrings for the first time at the wedding!) and white pashmina shawls to go over our dresses.

That evening everyone had dinner together. Our kids’ end of the table spent the meal teaching each other how to make different weird faces and having stare-down contests. Afterwards the ladies held a recipe shower in the hotel for Natalie.

Friday was spent decorating the Old Stone Schoolhouse where Will and Natalie got married. The evening rehearsal went well, and the best part was Will carrying Natalie back down the aisle. 🙂 Then everyone drove to the restaurant where the rehearsal dinner was held. It was a delicious meal, and we had a beautiful time together. Towards the end family members shared stories about Will and Natalie, most of which made everyone cry.

As we sat in the hotel room that night, my cousins putting curlers in my hair, we watched the snowflakes start to fall. By the time we fell asleep around 2:00 in the morning, the ground was covered with a blanket of white. We woke up to approximately eighteen inches of snow.

Now when Virginia gets eighteen inches of snow, it’s a big deal. And when none of the rental cars have four-wheel drive, it’s an even bigger deal. The plan became to have the wedding at the hotel. Fortunately a couple of the Harris guys had four-wheel drive, so the men ventured out to the schoolhouse. After people started decorating a conference room in the hotel, the guys called from the schoolhouse to say they thought people could make the drive there.

Thus began Operation Moving People To Wedding. All cars with four-wheel drive were used, and even some of the vans made the trip. Melissa, Cherry, and I hopped in a car with three people we’d never met before (don’t worry, all of them were Will’s friends!), holding bridesmaids’ bouquets on our laps. The girl I sat next to was a fellow football fan, so as we drove at about 20 miles an hour through nearly blinding snow, she and I sat in the back seat, carrying on a conversation about which teams would make it through the playoffs.

Thankfully everyone made it to the schoolhouse safely. The morning was a blur as everyone got dressed and ready. The ceremony started only an hour late, and the snow added to the beauty of it. Unfortunately not as many people were able to come, but small ceremonies are the best, I think. 🙂 Natalie’s niece Sonora and Ruth Ann were the flower girls. Ruth wasn’t too excited about going down the aisle, but both of the girls made it down. Will hadn’t seen Natalie that whole day, and you should have seen how happy both of them looked as she walked down on her father’s arm.

Now if you were at Gretchen’s wedding, you know how I cried all through it. I had determined not to cry so much at Will’s, and I did succeed—partly. But I couldn’t help crying when the fathers were giving their blessings to Will and Natalie. Five minutes before the wedding Gretchen and I had remembered to wrap tissues around our bouquets (although we didn’t find Kleenexes, so we had to use paper towels!).

As we were singing In Christ Alone a cappella, I almost really started to cry. It sounded so amazingly beautiful. The words held so much meaning, thinking how marriage exemplifies the beautiful love that Christ has for the church. The pastor’s message was great, although I couldn’t pay too much attention to how fitting the words were, or else I would have cried even more. Will and Natalie said their vows distinctly and loud enough for everyone to hear. It was amazing.

And finally there was… The Kiss. Will and Natalie had never before kissed on the lips. And it was the sweetest kiss I have ever seen. After the reception and more pictures, they drove away in Clint’s four-wheel drive.

Later we had a party in the conference room in the hotel, eating leftover food from the wedding and holding babies. With Ruth, Mary Kate, and Natalie’s nieces, there were five little girls under the age of two! We baby-lovers spent all the time we could holding the babies.

Everyone’s flights from D. C. were cancelled on Sunday. At first it looked like the only available flights would be on Christmas Eve, but thankfully it worked out to come back today—from Baltimore! So we spent Monday shopping at the enormous mall in Baltimore. In the afternoon, I went with Uncle Mike and Aunt Terri’s family to tour the town. Unfortunately, Fort McHenry was closed, but the park ranger allowed us to step inside the gate and take pictures of the fort from a distance. The rest of the time our van wandered around Baltimore, going nowhere in particular but seeing everything. Baltimore is a very interesting city…I think the part we drove around is probably similar to the poorer sections of New York. Driving isn’t half as bad in Baltimore as in New York, although people in New England don’t believe in blinkers.

On Tuesday the Brink clan was able to fly home. The rest of us drove to Natalie’s sister Lisa’s house. We had a fun afternoon with them, playing with the babies. Ruth and Sonora are just five months apart, and I think they learned some valuable lessons about sharing. 🙂 Jon and Lisa’s basement had flooded several days before the wedding, so we helped them dry out the things in boxes.

And today we are finally home. After a nineteen hour day, we were ready for bed by 8:00 last night. This morning Mom and Gretchen are doing millions of loads of laundry (well, maybe not millions). It will be nice to have clothes that are baby spit-up free! 🙂 But I’m glad we were able to stay longer, because we made some fun memories together.

It’s still hard to believe that Will and Natalie are married. We are all so, so happy and excited for them! And it’s wonderful to have another sweet sister. I’m so glad God brought she and William together.

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