My feet pounded hard into the pavement as I turned the corner onto Bull Street. My camera slammed against my hip over and over again as I hurried toward the south, anxious to beat the rain that threatened in the distance. As I approached Madison Square, I was slowed by the gaggle of teal-clad women ahead of me, tiptoeing with trepidation across the street so as to not dirty their shoes or, even more importantly, drop the handfuls of white wedding dress they carried. Coming back to myself, I watched them delicately and carefully carry the bottom of Bride's dress over the bricks as her crinoline crinkled around her with every step. Reaching the square, I crossed to the other side to continue on my way.
That's when I saw him.
There was Groom, standing with his back turned in the middle of the square, looking down squarely at his shoes. He stood perfectly still, hands clasped, his eyes turned down and shoulders locked. Like a soldier at the ready, he waited for her.
All at once, I was overcome with the weight of the moment and I found I couldn't take another step. Suddenly very aware of my frizzy hair and rumpled t-shirt, I scurried to a more conspicuous spot to make sure I didn't inadvertently wind up in someone's living room photo album. I retreated to behind a tree, my destination all but forgotten, and watched.
In mere seconds, I was undone. Under the canopy of the Savannah oaks, the gravity of the moment came barreling into my chest and before I knew it, the tears had started to drop from my cheeks.
Bride, you looked absolutely breathtaking. I could go on and on about that mermaid style dress and how it was perfectly suited for you, how the simple pearls you wore around your neck danced a bit as you took deep breaths. But my dear, it was your eyes that held my attention. Your bridesmaids fluttered about you, arranging your dress, tucking a small lock of hair behind your ear, spreading your veil out perfectly behind you, but you didn't really even notice they were there.
Your eyes never left him.
Groom, you were unmoved. Resolute to fight the temptation to wheel around to lay eyes on her, you stayed. Hands clasped and eyes locked on the ground, you waited as the anticipation filled the space between you. She continued to gaze at you, watching you as your mind swirled with thoughts of her.
Then just like that, you saw me. Groom, you lifted your head and your eyes came away from your shoes and fixed on the woman on the bench with the teal iPhone lifted in your direction. At the very same moment that your eyes met mine, Bride's eyes dropped for an instant to compose herself before taking her first step toward you.
For that split second, it was just you and me.
I wanted to tell you so many things. I wanted to tell you how beautiful she looked, how she smiled at you with such joy, and how I could see how much she loved you even from behind a tree across the square.
But I also wanted to tell you that this moment doesn't last forever. I wanted to tell you about the unmet expectations you are guaranteed to struggle with, the confusion you will experience, the late-night arguments, and the frustration when she just doesn't understand. I wanted you to know about the incredible blessing of children and their uncanny ability to simultaneously strengthen and break you. I wanted to tell you about the shift that happens inside of you when that ring goes on your hand. That suddenly your life is no longer about you, that it must become about her. That gorgeous creature behind you is looking to you to carry her, to cover her, to lead her, to hold her, to protect her.
Her eyes lifted and she took that first slow, purposeful step toward him.
Do you know why I was in Madison Square that day? I was on my way to Forsyth Park to see the fountain and walk the oak-covered path. I wanted to ask a kind stranger to take a photo of my husband and I in front of the fountains, one I could frame and hang on the wall to commemorate our trip to Savannah to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.
But he wasn't there.
I sat in that square alone that afternoon because we had a fight. I wanted to go to Forsyth Park right that very instant because the clouds in the distance were threatening to rain on my parade, so we needed to get a move on. After a three-hour walking tour of the city in the morning and more walking on the agenda for the evening, he was more interested in taking a bit of a rest in between so as not to burn out before dinner. I was unwilling to relinquish my hold on my precious itinerary, so I stormed off in a huff, determined to just go by myself, thankyouverymuch.
I entered Madison Square angry, disappointed, frustrated, and annoyed.
But you, Bride and Groom, helped remind me of what was truly important. God brought me to that exact square, at that exact moment for a very specific reason. He wanted me to see YOU.
He wanted to remind me of the slow, purposeful steps that it takes to sustain a marriage over a lifetime. He wanted to make sure that I remembered that he was the one who joined us together ten years ago and no matter what struggles, betrayals, unmet expectations, and disappointment came our way, he would never leave us or forsake us. He wanted me to remember the way that Evan looked at me on that day, ten years ago, full of the same love and adoration I saw on the faces of Bride and Groom. I realized that I still catch him looking at me that way, even now. He wanted to gently tell me that ten years is only the beginning for us, that he had some fantastic things in store for us and many more memories for us to make, maybe even some to photograph and hang in a frame on the wall.
Bride and Groom, I wish you abundant blessings. I hope your wedding day was everything you dreamed it would be and that the rain that drenched us later as we walked through Bonaventure Cemetery didn't disrupt your celebration too much.
I'm grateful to have been privy to this moment between you even more thankful for the things it gave me to think about as I continued on to Forsyth Park on my own. I took a super-lame fountain selfie and returned to the hotel where Evan and I talked about our disagreement that afternoon and moved past it. We laced up our walking shoes to go grab a coffee down the street and I told him all about the moment I saw you in Madison Square.