A Cool Bride

groomsmen
Stephen and his groomsmen giving their “fresh face” look

I want so badly to be a cool bride. The easy-going, laid back, happy bride who goes with the flow. But I am not a cool bride.

We all arrive on Tuesday and the wedding isn’t until Saturday. I have all week to spend time with loved ones and, therefore, tell myself that the day of the wedding won’t feel so big. But it does.

I’m not sure how to describe my state of mind on the day of the wedding. It’s not great. I’m anxious and nervous and tired and restless and a little hungover. Stephen and I are so healthy leading up to the wedding with our diet and low alcohol intake, that this entire week of drinking has taken its toll on me. Even though I’ve gone to bed by 10:30pm every night, I’m still not used to it.

I have to hang out on the second floor of my villa with my bridesmaids and hair stylist all day. I keep looking around the room thinking that they all must be bored. They surely would rather be somewhere else – relaxing by the pool, hanging out with friends. But I don’t have it in me to host or be interesting or strike up conversation.

All I keep thinking is, how come nobody told me I was going to feel like this? But at the same time, I’m struggling to decipher what it is that I’m actually feeling. Am I OK? I am and I’m not. It’s too much waiting and sitting. It would be great to listen to a podcast or something to pass the time, but I don’t have it in me to listen to anything right now. That’s what it is. I feel like I can’t do anything except sit here. I wish I could drink to take away the nerves, but I want to be completely present and (mostly) sober for the ceremony. Stephen and I also have to perform our dance, so I’m nervous for that, too. We’ve been planning this day for so long, and I’ve been thinking about this day for so much of my life, that now that it’s here, it just feels like too much. I’m in disbelief.

Thankfully, Nina takes over as DJ and plays some music. I request Disney for a while, and this makes me feel slightly better. Then Kelly starts dancing as she steams my dress. This will become my favorite moment of the “getting ready” portion of the day. Laughing feels good. It takes the edge off, if only slightly.

Finally, it’s time for First Looks. This is the first time Stephen and I get to see each other (since about 9am this morning when I said, “Bye, love you, see you soon”).  The photographer – Elliott – has me stand outside on the balcony alone, with my back to the door. I try to take in the moment. It’s peaceful. But there’s this overwhelming feeling that it’s my wedding day and oh my God, how crazy is that?!

first looks
First Looks

After what feels like forever, I can hear the door open. Maybe Stephen touches my arm, I’m not sure, but when I turn around, I’m so happy to see him. He looks so handsome and crisp in his black suit. His eyes well up – he’s very emotional – and clearly happy to see me as well. We kiss and laugh and tell each other how amazing the other one looks. Elliott gives us a minute alone and I’m grateful for it. We check in with each other, asking how our days have been going. I get the sense that he’s had a bit of a rough time today, too, but his anxiety already seems to be melting away.

Now it’s time for some family pictures. It’s quick and thankfully not too, too hot up here – especially because we’re not in the sun. I still have trouble smiling so much. Elliott tells me to blow out through my lips every once in a while to relax my mouth.

The bridal party heads outside for some pictures, and here’s where I really start to lose it. I’ve got a bouquet of flowers in my hand, a veil with a train on my head, and of course a long skirt and high heels. Then, we have to walk on the grass, and my heels start sinking into the ground. I’m stepping on my skirt, and I keep forgetting that I’ve got this veil on my head. And I’m sweating. And Stephen wants to know, “What’s wrong?”

Nothing!! Everything!! Ah! Anna Rose finally turns to me and says, “This is the hardest part of the day, babe.” She says it with such wisdom and a sort of promise that I can do this and it will all be over soon, that I take a deep breath, pull my shoulders away from my ears, and try my best to relax. OK. I can do this. We’re taking pictures for Christ’s sake. On my wedding day. How bad can this be?

bridal party
Bridal Party in front of Villa de Zecheo

It’s not bad. And it is fairly quick. We tell Elliott in advance that we want most of our pictures before the ceremony. He suggests that we get some with the bridal party after the ceremony, but we give him a hard, “No.” Our compromise is that the two of us will get a few pictures on the beach, but everyone else is free to enjoy Cocktail Hour.

The ceremony is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. We get married in the front yard under this huge, gorgeous ceiba tree. There is greenery everywhere and pineapples line the aisles. I’m overcome by how beautiful everything is and that it’s my wedding day. It’s hard to process it all. It’s hard to comprehend that it’s actually happening. It’s hard to simply look around and enjoy it.

pineapples
It’s too pretty!!!

After the ceremony, Stephen transitions into a cool groom. So happy to be here and talk to everybody and enjoy and BE PRESENT. Because being present is the real key to being cool.

Not me. Where are Kelly and Nina? Let’s go. To my bedroom! I need your help getting my veil off! Out of my way, people!

So no, still not a cool bride. I rush to get my veil off, and now I need to get Stephen so we can go on the beach, quickly, for pictures. A tray of beef sliders appears and I grab one, desperately, as if I haven’t eaten today. I have. I had a huge Italian hoagie for lunch, but I’m so jittery and I’ve been looking forward to these sliders since we tasted them six months ago, that I scarf it down. (It’s just as delicious as I remember.)

beach relax
Post ceremony pictures on the beach

Something finally shifts when I’m on the beach with Stephen, walking barefoot in the sand, listening to the waves and looking at the sky and the ocean. Elliott is taking pictures of us and I’m not concerned about how I look at all. We did it. We got married! And it was beautiful and perfect and now Stephen’s my husband. I finally feel a safe and cozy kind of happy. Not that frantic anxiousness from before. As we’re walking off the beach, we’re met by our videographer – we only hired him for our wedding dance, but he asks if we’d like to get some shots of us walking on the beach. I smile and without even thinking, tell him No… but thank you so much! …As I continue to walk straight past him. I’m going to Cocktail Hour.

I’d like to say that I am now a cool bride. Alas, I am way too concerned with what time it is – I need to get changed into a different skirt and shoes before everyone sits down for dinner – so how much time do I have?? Does anyone know what time it is? Who has a watch?

I wish that I could stop being such a spaz, but I am on this timeline and I just can’t relax. My friend Abe smiles at me and says, “Is this the best day of your life, or what?”

You’d think I could just say, ‘Yes, of course! Absolutely. I am so happy.’ But I can’t. I’m too high strung. Is everyone having a good time? What time is it?

merry wedding.jpg
A Christmas bar

I look around. This venue is outrageously beautiful. The bar is Christmas-themed and the bartender is even wearing snowman earrings. I am surrounded by 65 people who love me and Stephen and are here just for us. I CANNOT HANDLE THIS.

I realize that relaxing and hanging out is just not going to happen, so I head to my bedroom to change with Stephen, AR, and Natalie. We all hang out in the bedroom together and I feel a little better. It’s easier when there’s less people around.

It’s time for our first dance. I’m so nervous. I can’t believe it’s finally here. The DJ quickly checks with us to see how we’d like to be announced – it’s not Mr. and Mrs. Vafier since I’m keeping my last name (didn’t realize that this would be absolutely assumed by literally everyone), so we tell him Steve and Lindsay will be just fine.

The butterflies and nerves have taken over. Stephen walks me out onto the dance floor and we’re slow dancing to Paper Planes, by Alexander Jean. We’ve practiced this so many times. I’ve imagined the real thing so many times, and now it’s here. So surreal.

As soon as the dance ends and I sit down at Table 1 with Stephen and some of our bridal party, I finally breathe a sigh of relief. A plate of food is brought out for me – so much special treatment as a bride! I eat my food, and drink my wine, and talk with our friends.

I think that I do finally turn into a cool bride. It happens during dinner, after my maid of honor, Kelly, gives her speech. It’s the hands-down best speech I’ve heard in my entire life (but I suppose I’m biased). It’s hysterical and heartfelt and Kelly’s comedic timing makes everyone in the room question why she doesn’t do stand up comedy professionally. I’m crying happy tears as I hug her, and as soon as I sit back down, I am able to let go and have fun.

And I really do. I go on to have the best. night. ever.

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