As I explained in An Inspirational Wedding Story Part I, John and I felt a distinct need to enjoy our wedding, regardless of who chose to participate. Something about the well accepted tradition of a bride being miserable on her wedding day, stressing about every single detail and decoration, worrying about everyone but herself simply didn’t sit well with me. Considering paying $1,000 for a dress didn’t either.
John and I love to be outdoors, and the overall societal focus on physical appearance, purchasing overpriced, uncomfortable clothing, and dousing ourselves with weird animal enzymes to pretend to smell differently than we do naturally as humans doesn’t excite us like it can some. I didn’t want to change that aspect of my life to cater to a “traditional wedding,” so I didn’t. Neither did John.
We organized our wedding to maintain that we wouldn’t have to. We warned anybody who was considering attending to not wear heels because we planned to hike. Seriously, why wouldn’t I hike if I could after knowing what it feels like to be physically incapable of standing. I jokingly explained that any woman who felt the need to wear makeup would be “out dressing” the bride, and that if they so chose to do so, that would be completely OK and embraced. I also promoted walking every day to gain confidence about the one mile uphill trek.
A completely comfortable, non competitive, and accepting environment was encouraged.
My brother from another mother and kindred spirit, Kip, came several days in advance to help us with the planning and set up. He brought with him a BEAUTIFUL Bohemian wedding dress that he designed and crafted himself from the Bronx! This is just one of his many many incredibly thoughtful gifts he’s brought to our lives.
The day before the wedding Kip and I stopped by the local thrift shop, WabiSabi, and found the perfect wedding flip-flops for $2. I didn’t buy any extra jewelry, as most of the bracelets on my wrists don’t come off. Adding more seemed…superfluous.
Ultimately, my wedding attire cost $2.
We secured our camping spots for the night before the wedding. Being over 60% “disabled” and service connected, I have an All Access National Parks Pass. Camp sites are half priced for me. That means, our camp sites cost $15 total. $7.50 per spot. Our “bachelor/bachelorette” party consisted of a fantastic evening with old friends by a lazy, winding river surrounded by towering red rocks that raged an orange inferno before dimming into soft rusty-brown against the pastels of a waning day. A hot bowl of gluten-free chilli and cornbread, and a night of relaxing, story telling, star-gazing, watching a beautiful meteor shower, and laughing by a raging camp fire over wine and choice cocktails was on the menu for the evening.
To make the event even more Hurricane-esque. Kip finished the perfectly suited wedding dress in a truly epic manner: by hand while sitting next to the fire in a folding camp chair.
Pulling our loved ones slightly out of their element…without their “devices” to keep them connected to everything BUT the beauty in front of them was the goal, while sharing love on our terms. HOW incredible it was!
My lover and I rose from a peaceful night in nature warm in each other’s arms, without the harassment of harsh sounding alarms, but to the sweet trill of curious birds over the soothing sound of moving water, again reminding us that change is the ONLY constant in life. Our tent was situated in the “honey moon suite,” slightly separated from our guests, and I’m absolutely positive that spending $300 – $500 at a hotel couldn’t have given us a better view and a better feeling about owning our time, owning our lives, and owning our love for ourselves and each other on the morning of our wedding day.
It was as if the soft colors of dawn and the cool breeze ignited my senses and passion for the day. They became a raging inferno! First thing, I ran to each tent, jumping around like a monkey, making monkey calls. I felt like a 7 year-old on Christmas morning!
Oooo ooooo aaaaa aaaa aaaa!!!!
I had made a ton of gluten-free/vegan muffins, and sat by the fire warming them up one at a time for our guests. The mere act of wrapping them in tin foil, setting them in the ash by the fire, and watching the steam rise, was therapy in itself. Seeing our family gobble them down immediately was even better!
We cleaned up breakfast and our camp sites, before completing the necessary shuttles of people and gear to the put in on the river. It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day! 18 of us ended up floating down the Colorado in pure, seize-the-day-and-celebrate-love-sort-of-fashion. We floated, laughed, told stories, marveled at the beauty of Moab, drank wine, and simply shared experiences with our loved ones in nature. For me, it was a breakthrough moment. This was my FIRST time back on the sticks (rowing a boat) since the parasite.
Rowing next to my lover on the Colorado River was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, because it signified sooooooo much recovery that had happened in the last nearly two years. He and I met on the river. He was my river guide instructor in Haines, Alaska in 2010. When I first nearly killed us all early in training, he was the guide that threw me to the ground, grabbed the sticks, and saved us while I “turtled,” arms and legs up in the air, helpless. 😀
By the time we pulled into the take out on the river, we were already five minutes late to our wedding and absolutely not dressed for the occasion. A direct result of our outfitter’s complete disregard for our schedule, this was a test in patience as a bride, not a tragedy. It IS the journey that we need to enjoy much more than the destination, anyway. So, how did I handle this, you ask?
Like any rational bride on her wedding day not in her dress five minutes after she’s supposed to be there, that meant there was just a bit more fun to be had before driving to the trail head to let our guests know that we’d be coming soon, and to have a cocktail while patiently waiting. Upon taking out, I IMMEDIATELY began a mud fight with our close friend, amazing supporter, and efficient for our ceremony, Knikki Cinocco, who made her journey all the way from Alaska. After sufficiently muddy-ing her face, and she mine, John and I high-tailed to the trail head, covered in mud and wearing river gear to announce that we’d be slightly delayed.
Our guests who hadn’t gone boating with us were absolutely beautiful at accepting our style of celebration! Some went to the bar and actually had a cocktail, others sat in the shade and enjoyed the day.
Starting a bit later in the day allowed us to climb the hill during a slightly cooler hour than we had planned, and that worked out well for some of our family members who hadn’t quite done the preparation we’d recommended.
It was a tough climb for me, honestly. I nearly fell three times, and stumbled an ungodly amount of times. It was crazily defeating and uplifting all in the same breath. A hike to my wedding site after boating, rigging, and camping, all after learning the mechanics of walking, foot placement, function, and balance for a second time. My equilibrium wasn’t being the kindest to me either.
John was busy taking care of his mother, who was in even worse shape than I, coming from the city at sea level and a sedentary desk job. She was really worried about her fast heart rate during the walk, so John staid dutifully and lovingly arm in arm with her.
Those moments were some of the strongest I’ve felt since the recovery began. I realized the absolute, mind numbing pain I was experiencing, and the somber fact that I was walking uphill on uneven ground that I would have easily trotted up in years past was very apparent. I recognized my current wobbly footing, the ginger muscle extensions, yet continued on, with barely a whimper.
There were a few…even several pathetic mewls, but in my opinion, they were pretty quiet.
When it was all said and done, Knikki, who’d had to go shower after I’d covered her in so much mud, caught up with me and took my arm in the same fashion John held his mother’s. She assisted me in the last bit of my climb, protecting me from the sharp edges of rocks that threatened to trip my unbalanced self. Her bright energy and laughter fed my soul for the last few hundred feet up exactly when I needed it.
Friends and family always have the best timing.
So we walked, arm in arm, our faces glowing with love for the day, for life, for the fact that both of us had begun our relationships with our “Johns” within a week of one another, and had talked about them together profusely while easily hiking up much larger rocks.
I was simply aglow with love and light. I felt as if my heart could burst from within and provide happiness and hope for all the lost souls searching for love.
It was THAT kind of day!
As John and I neared the clearing, we waited side by side while the last of the guests made the last few feet of “trek.” Then we had the opportunity to walk together, arm in arm, to meet our family. The feeling in my soul was so incredibly light and my love poured brightly from every inch of my being. We walked towards the family that waited for us, not stuffily in rows of folding chairs or on benches in a church shifting in discomfort from their attire, worrying about their makeup that might run in the heat, but standing in a circle, smiling casually and comfortably. Just as we wanted.
The ceremony was lighthearted, upbeat, and completely inclusive. Knikki did a wonderful job at making everyone comfortable and encouraging sharing. Each guest had been given a package of flower seeds, on which they were to write a blessing for us. Those who felt motivated to share did so, one by one, from where they stood in the circle. We were moved by the kind words of support, understanding, inspiration, love, and gratitude from the beautiful souls in our world over and over again in a ceremony that moved me to loving tears a number of times.
The emotion of the ceremony finally ran over when John made me promise, “No, more slugs, OK!?” at the end of his vow. I broke into laughter beyond my control, as our friends and family pointed and lost their composure in fits of chuckles.
I absolute love that man!
It was off to our reception…
It was absolutely the most fantastic wedding I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending; we heard from most, that it was the most fun, the most loving, and absolutely the most accepting celebration of love all around.It was an inspiring wedding, simply for the fact that we broke the mold. We proved to our guests that they could do it, too, and they did. We all did.
Love is to be celebrated, unabashedly, completely, and openly. It cannot be owned, caged, controlled, or made to match a societal demand.
I declared my wedding day would be the happiest day of my life thus far, no matter who attended.
It was, and I’ll never ever forget that day, the ceremony, the people, and simple excitement for life and love celebrated on October 4th, 2014.
Stay tuned for more. 😀
Remember, tomorrow’s not guaranteed, so why work so hard to be just like everyone else?