First of all, I feel terrible for leaving you all hanging for so long! I feel like it’s been weeks since I sat down and wrote about my day. So in honor of such a pause in this CeliaBee story, I’ll make today’s a little more special and a little more personal. Today I watched one of my greatest role models and sweetest friends (even though we’re cousins) walk down the aisle to a man she’s known since she was small. I got to watch two incredible people who learned how to walk together, walk down the aisle toward each other. Wanna know the best part? I got to be a part of the entire day. Even now, as I am editing pictures and reliving each moment, I can’t help but smile and laugh as I try to figure out a way to condense things down and turn a full day of events into a summary that doesn’t overwhelm you. Here’s my best attempt.
I decided a long time ago I wanted to be like Abi. Growing up, she was pretty much my indicator of my next hobbies. Abi learned how to play the piano, I asked my mom to start teaching me. Abi learned how to play the guitar, I signed up for lessons the next week. Abi was on a swim team, I joined the team as soon as I was old enough. The pattern continued. Even though most of those things occurred when I was young and easily influenced, it is still true today. I was reminded yesterday of how much I still want to be like her. She is now 20, a few years older than the young teenager I followed around, and yet, she is still true to herself. She married a man who loves her so much, someone who is not only an incredible musician, but also a gifted and driven leader, a man she’s known all her life. She’s become the best version of herself and I feel so lucky to get a front-row seat to see where she and her new husband go on their greatest adventure. And yet, through everything, she’s never lost herself. I guess that’s the real reason I still follow her around– she inspires me to be me.
The day started off pretty early (not that early for those of you who like getting up in the mornings, but early for me). I knew I wouldn’t get many free moments to put myself together for this wedding, so I just got ready for the whole day from the very beginning. I was put in charge of being the photographer of everything leading up to the ceremony, which proved to be quite a task for a slightly inexperienced photojournalist such as myself. But between you and me, it was the greatest role I could’ve asked for. I got to be a part of everything without having to say a toast or wear a coordinated dress. It was pretty great. I got to put the finishing touches on her eyeshadow and mascara, I got to see her dress zipped, her something borrowed tucked into her dress, and her nervous habits kick in as the clock kept ticking.
Finally, after all the hairspray fumes had disappeared and the nail polish was dry, the photos were taken and Abi had been hidden from Luke, the ceremony we’d all been waiting for began. For the first time all day, I stood still and soaked in the moment. I got to watch my uncle attempt to keep it together. I got to watch Luke’s face grow into a grin that I thought may fall of his face. I got to watch as all nervousness and jitters dissolved. I got to watch everything fall into place.
Sitting at the back, crouched to get the best camera angle, I was left in awe as I took in the view of the everything, something only I got to see. Watching these two sweethearts and all their loved ones sit among the birds and the cliffs and the trees created a scene I couldn’t even describe to you if I had a dictionary or an old British poet to help me. It was as if God set up his lawn chair in the back and watched the show; watched as His creation filled the roles He’d always intended. Whether you believe it or not, it was real and it was nearly tangible.
The rest of the night continued with kids jumping in the river, digging holes in the sand, and finding lost treasures buried along the bank. In fact, a few of the boys found some old tires in the river. You would’ve thought it was their greatest life achievement. It was fun to watch them revel in their discovery of something so nasty and dry-rotted.
After the cake remnants had been taken care of by the men and the sparklers had sent those crazy kids onto their honeymoon, it was time to go home. Needless to say, by the end of all of this, I was a hot mess, and not the kind that actually looks acceptable, but the kind that seriously needs to be quarantined. My hair was filled with flower petals and I was finding sand all in my sandals. My dress had some stains from the dirt that had been flying between kids down by the river and also some stains from the tears I kept telling people I didn’t have. My makeup had melted off my face and all I could do was pray the wedding pictures didn’t reflect my exhaustion. I looked like I’d been through a war and I’m pretty sure everybody knew it. But ya know what? It was worth it all.
Yesterday reminded me of a few things. 1) Don’t sweat the small things, especially stray hairs and flower girls. It’ll all work out. 2) No matter how hard you try to keep them out, little boys will always get in the river, regardless of that crisp white shirt they’re wearing. And 3) Wildflowers are the best kind of flower.