I’ve already written about how we met and the way that story unfolded for us. However, I haven’t shared much of the events that have made up this season of engagement so I have decided to tell that chapter of the story today.
Once we got engaged, the eight long months of waiting to be married began. It wasn’t originally our intention to have such a long engagement but, with autumn travels and winter weather and spring events there was no way around it. We would get married in April.
When I first started wedding planning, I knew I wouldn’t allow it to consume me. I was never the kind of girl who had her wedding planned from the time she was six so I was essentially starting from scratch. Especially since the tiniest bits of opinions I did have were all for my dream of having an autumn wedding. Yeah. Not happening.
Thankfully, Austin stuck around for two glorious weeks after he proposed. In that time, we managed to get a lot of the major wedding decisions made even in the midst of beach days, summer concerts, premarital counseling, and horribly sunburned feet. Those were the days we nailed down everything essential such as no suspenders, no glitter, and absolutely no cake.
We did manage to choose our venue (my church) and my dress (from etsy) and our photographers (seriously amazing) and that put my mind at ease because at least I would have a place to get married, something to wear, and photos to commemorate the occasion.
During that time we held hands a lot, ate the cream puffs my neighbors gave us the night he proposed, set up our wedding registry, visited my grandmother, and went to go see John Williams in concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Connor was an awesome chaperone and Austin gave me a collection of glass bottles filled with the most lovely little notes and gifts.
After those two weeks, I saw Austin exactly three times during the eight months we were engaged. It wasn’t ideal.
In the middle of September he sent me flowers for the first time before flying out for a weekend to finish our premarital counseling at my church. We tasted pie that looked amazing but turned out to taste very much – meh.
Next, I flew out to Illinois for a week which turned out to be more challenging than I had expected, but more rewarding than I could have imagined. It was a bug-bitten week in which Austin worked on finishing restoring his 1971 AMC Matador, and we all worked on packing and moving and apartment hunting. There were lovely nights of swing dancing and outings to the movie theatre.
After coming home from that visit, little did I know that it would be five months until I saw Austin again. Those days consisted of trying on wedding dresses and getting The One (not this one, though) and just working hard to get as much wedding-planning accomplished as early as I possibly could. Austin found me a library. I sent him notes and packages while running about attending a biblical counseling conference and traveling to the wedding of my friend (and bridesmaid), Carreen, in northern California. Naomi and I hiked to see the Golden Gate Bridge in the darkness of early morning and it was a thoroughly exciting memory-making experience.
Naomi came to visit me after Carreen’s wedding and we celebrated royally with Hannah and Emily and got gelato on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. (Strawberry and fresh mint gelato – be still my heart.)
In the midst of planning and packing, there were missing tears and weepy phone calls and times I called him feeling like a complete and total emotional wreck. Real fears began to overwhelm me, but he was always so loving and patient with me and those hard days began to be fewer and farther between. I turned 20 and he sent me the most beautiful red roses I had ever seen. I knit him a scarf in anticipation of the Chicago winter. Christmas came and went. It was a beautiful time with my family, but it felt strange to spend that day without him. I sent him a chess set with the stipulation being that he teach me how to play it better. He agreed.
It was a long winter of skype dates, rubber boots, and running to keep me sane. I completed my first 5k race which I set as a before-I-get-married goal. We spent hours talking, had discipleship calls with our mentor couple at my church, and, of course, Netflix dates. Lots of Netflix dates. So many Netflix dates.
Connor and I went to Disneyland with our life-long friends who are practically extended family by this point, Hannah, Emily and Henry. (Hannah and Emily are my maids of honor and Henry is an amazingly awesome person.) The castle was covered up, but we still had a spectacular day where Disneybounded, ate Dole Pineapple Whip all day long (literally all day long), met Thor, confessed our love of Loki, and Connor danced with Donald Duck.
Finally, in February, we were together again. Drew and Naomi traveled out for a week of blissful nothing-ness. We played card games and watched movies and Austin and I let Connor, Drew, and Naomi, have the scanner at Target to add to our registry. From sympathy cards, to hello kitty tricycles, our registry was full of everything we could never need. Austin and I finally were able to have our first just-the-two-of-us honest-to-goodness date.
Then Legoland happened. One incredibly hot day in February, we braved the sun and spent the day meandering through Star Wars Miniland and throwing ice at each other. It was perfect. All too soon, it was over, and I think it was surreal for all of us to realize, as we said goodbye, that the next time we said hello would be for the wedding.
Before the craziness of this Week Before the Wedding started, I made a point to take each of my siblings out on a date. Theresa and I went to the Santa Monica Pier and spent the afternoon going on rides by the beach. Cora went to the American Girl Place for the first time and I shared that part of my childhood with her. (Oh, goodness. Those dolls were my childhood. What can I say? I was a 90s girl.) Connor and I went to see Insurgent and got ice cream after and the date finally arrived for Curtis and I to use our Newsies tickets. Once I found out that it was coming to the Pantages Theatre on tour, I was able to fulfill the promise I had made after I saw it in New York City to take him to see it too one day.
Long distance is hard; I won’t lie. But I also know that it has been the best thing for us and for our relationship and there is a reason God orchestrated it as being part of our story. Ring shopping alone isn’t fun. Neither is arriving at your meeting at your church to hear the wedding coordinator ask, “So, where is the groom?” Still, In less than a week, it will be our wedding day and our engagement will be a thing of a past. Austin will no longer be my fiancé and will become my husband. True, our engagement hasn’t looked like a typical one, but is my hope and prayer that we have used this time to grow closer together as a couple and prepare as much as we can to be married. Things aren’t perfect. They never were and they will never be. I still have hard days where I battle the fears and insecurities I had been dealing with since the very beginning. One thing I know for sure, though, is that the memories we have made over these past eight months -even the challenging ones- will be ones that I will treasure remembering for the rest of my life.