February 29, 2008.
I had been back working at South Central Planning and Development for just at one month. I was back to doing traffic counting but was learning about some of the other programs and getting a little more of a diverse workload than I had when I left 3 years earlier. For instance, on this very day, a Friday, I had a deadline to finish up a grant application I was working on by about 12pm and send it in.
There was only problem. Today was my wedding day.
“It’s not really a problem,” I had told Lance that morning. “I have plenty of time to finish it up this morning and get to the church in time. I just have to make a couple phone calls, put in the rest of the information, and submit it. I should be done well before lunch.”
“Josh!” he shouted at me. “It is your wedding day!”
“It’s fine! I promise!”
Lance had spent the night at my house the night before. He came down from Lafayette the night before for the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. He was, along with Chris Buckel and Ryan Hutchinson, one of my groomsmen. It was his job to make sure I got to the church on time. And apparently I wasn’t making it easy for him.
I was out of the office by 11:30 and met up with Lance and Chris shortly thereafter. They were taking me out for my last lunch as a single guy. The “last meal” so to speak. I could have my pick of any place in the tri-parish area. So, of course, I picked the best place and best dish I knew of. The overstuffed shrimp poboy at Blake’s Deli.
The last two months had been a whirlwind. Molly and I were engaged on December 25, 2007. That day we starting discussing dates. When we realized that 2008 was a leap year, we couldn’t resist. I believe my mom’s face went translucent when we told my parents that we had a whole two months to pull off a wedding.
It was short, yes, but neither one of us wanted a long engagement. Perhaps two months really was a bit ridiculous, and perhaps leap year is a horrible reason to pick a wedding date, but in our minds there was no real reason to wait any longer. While still young, I was old enough to see several friends get married, and long engagements seemed to just lead to expensive and complicated weddings. Now, on its face, there really isn’t anything wrong with that. But we both genuinely wanted something simple.
Pastor Rose allowed us the use of First Assembly and the fellowship hall free of charge. We just had to agree to either make arrangements to have the church cleaned, or pay a cleaning fee (we opted for the fee). My old Chi Alpha Pastor, Joshua Higgins, would be performing the ceremony and conducing our marriage counseling. My Aunt Cindy took care of the catering. My mom took over decorating the fellowship hall for the reception. Molly’s parents gave us a weekend at a bed and breakfast in New Orleans for the Honeymoon. And lots of other people thanklessly did lots of other things – but I can’t possibly remember them all.
I don’t really remember what happened after lunch, but somehow – by 7pm – I was dressed in a tux and was hiding out off stage at the church. It was me and Higgins. From our vantage point we could see through the church baptistery into the sanctuary that somehow had 400 plus people in it. Every chair was full – standing room only.
Higgins was attempting to give me some pre-wedding advice: “Don’t lock your knees. Remember to breath. Take deep breaths and try to enjoy this day. And … wait? Did you hire a videographer?”
“Um, I don’t think so.”
“Did you know there is an Asian gentlemen setting up a video camera in the isle?”
“Um, I don’t know anything about that?”
“Well, it’s happening!”
I took a glance through the window and saw my friend Shinichiro setting up his camera. Shin was one of the international students I met during my grad school year at Nicholls. He was one of the many college students we had invited. In addition to open invitations to everyone at Thibodaux First Assembly, we also gave open invitations to the UL Chi Alpha group, the Nicholls Chi Alpha group. And, well, I sort of gave an open invitation to all of the international students at Nicholls to come and experience a traditional American wedding.
Shin and many others took us up on the offer. And Shin decided to do one better. He filmed the entire wedding and the reception for his film class! As a gift, he gave us a DVD of the ceremony and his interview with several of the guests at the reception!
Within a few minutes, the music began. Josh and I walked out, and my parents and grandparents, and Molly’s parents and grandmother, were ushered to their seats. Shortly after that, Ryan escorted my sister Carrie, followed by Lance and Molly’s sister Sally, and then Chris and Molly’s sister Kelly. At some point Sally played the piano and Carrie sang a song.
Then everything went silent. Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” began playing. The sanctuary doors opened and Molly, as beautiful as I had ever seen her, was standing there with her father.
Shortly thereafter, we said our “I do’s” and took a few pictures. After that we ate a few chicken wings, had a few meatballs and some cake, had a couple dances, etc., etc.
Author’s note: I know the above post ends very suddenly. I’ve done so purposely. Despite the fact that I’ve been working on this series for several weeks now, I still haven’t come up with a satisfactory, cathartic ending. I suppose that’s because the story didn’t end here 13 years ago. The next 13 years were filled with more laughs and exciting moments, many challenges, and lots and lots and lots of dirty diapers. While this particular series is complete, the journey continues. I suppose, therefore, that I cannot stop this chapter with “The End” – but will perhaps just leave it with…
(And yes, for those of you keeping score at home – I did get married before my cousin Jess. Mission accomplished.)