Four years ago this July, one of my best friends convinced me to go to the bar with him on a Wednesday night.
Back then, I was the newspaper’s sports editor, and Wednesday was one of my days off. I remember it had been a particularly draining day after 18 holes of golf and a long workout. I didn’t really feel like going out as that summer had been busy and, at times, exhausting. So I was looking forward to a night of relaxation alone in my apartment, watching some TV, sipping on a beer or two and enjoying some alone time.
But my friend made a pretty solid case and no one else either could or wanted to go out with him, so I tagged along for what was expectedly a pretty slow night on the town.
I can’t imagine my life today had I not gone out that night. That was when I met a beautiful girl with red hair and big blue-green eyes named Sarah.
Yesterday, I married her.
Our story is one we’ll have fun telling our kids and grandkids. Sarah and I dated for a short time after meeting. Unfortunately, she had just graduated from Dickinson State and was committed to moving to Canada with her sister and niece, so our relationship ended shortly after it began. We’d later tell each other we both knew it should never have ended like that.
Around Christmas 2011, she came back into my life with a text message. We’d eventually talk on the phone and Skype, and she soon told me that she planned to move back to the U.S. By January 2013, after a whirlwind courtship and six months after she had moved back to Dickinson, we were engaged.
Now, I’d love to tell you that the lead-up to the wedding was perfect and elegantly staged, and that everyone was easy to work with. But why would I lie? Planning a wedding is a pain. If you’ve ever gone through it yourself or with your kids, you already know that. But all that work is worth it.
For us, one of the biggest hurdles was the uncertainty of the wedding party.
Earlier this spring, Sarah’s bridesmaid and lifelong best friend was involved in an accident. She was lucky to escape with only injuries, cuts and bruises.
My new sister-in-law and Sarah’s maid of honor, who is also in the Air Force and is training to join the Defense Attaché Office of the U.S. Embassy, was granted just enough leave to make it to the rehearsal and wedding. She flew in on Friday and left early this morning.
One of my ushers, a good friend from high school, is an Air Force pilot and was told less than a month before the wedding that he was being deployed to Afghanistan on June 2. His tux had already been ordered and he was on the wedding program.
He’ll be getting a care package with a large batch of pictures from last night soon, since one of the other ushers quietly organized a way to include him through the use of a life-size cutout that people posed with for pictures.
Sarah and I took much of the week off from work after deciding that we needed the time to not only prepare for the big day, but also to have enough time to relax and stay free from stress. The latter never really happened. We spent much of our time cleaning house and shoring up the details.
But we got through it, made it to the altar and — just as everyone kept telling us — everything came together just as perfect as we hoped it would. Today, I woke up married to the girl I have loved since the first day I saw her.
That alone made this crazy, and often stressful, first step in our journey worth it. And I can’t wait to see what comes next.