Being so close to Ken for four years, I asked a friend of mine if he really thought anything would change after getting married. I mean I already thought of Ken as family.
"If you take your vows seriously," my friend said. "Everything will change."
Looking back, Ken and I both agree that after that little, wonky courthouse wedding, nothing about our relationship was ever the same. Ken tried to put words to it once. He said "before we got married it was you and me against the world. Once we were married, it was 'us' and the world doesn't matter." There was even a palpable change to the way he held my hand.
After the courthouse wedding, we got back to the Biltmore and ran into friends and family in the lobby. I remember people talking, but neither one of us could listen. Just a lot of stolen kisses on cheeks and little whispered affirmations. Among all the million little moments we had, it's funny that I'll never forget that one single moment the Biltmore hallway as the start of us as one unit.
But the festivities must continue! Ken was going off to spend time with his fellas and just enjoy the day. Whisky was probably going to be involved. And I was going off with Cheryl Peevyhouse (a.k.a. Parker Peevyhouse) to storm the grounds of Biltmore. I wouldn't see Ken until the rehearsal, and saying goodbye to my legal husband that day was pretty freaking hard!
But luckily Cheryl was on hand to keep me distracted! This powerhouse of authoring and I have been friends since undergrad. We've spent our college days floating in swimming pools, debating Harry Potter plots, writing stories, and basically just really believing in each other. Her (frankly surprising) nursing skills are the reason I could stay in school even when I got super sick. And coolest of cools, she dedicated her first book to me. What?? By some miracle, I get to see her a few times a year, even though she lives in Northern California.
I'm wicked lucky to have friends that will sit down with me in the middle of the nation's fanciest house just to geek out and sneak pictures of rare Fairy Books. Coolest of cools, it just so happened the Biltmore had a Wedding Dresses in Film display going on, so we saw the actual costumes from Out of Africa and Pride and Prejudice.
Then we were on to the rehearsal, wherein I fought with my other bestie about how fast to walk down the very, very long grassy knoll. The song Ken and I chose for the wedding march was "There's No Place Like Home" from Lost. It's the theme that plays whenever any of the characters finally find and realize their "soul mates." The song has this really pretty crescendo. My bestie thought we should walk super freaking slow, but I was damn sure that we wouldn't get to the "aisle" in time. (And also I was already feeling a little weird that people would be looking at me walking. Kind of a strange tradition if you ask me.) It's funny how we stress over those little details, but in the end, the day of the wedding, you know none of that matters at all. Like at all. But we practiced that walk ad nauseam anyway!
All of that debating and rolling down grassy knolls left us pretty famished, so we headed down the path to the rehearsal dinner.
So, every time we go up to the Biltmore, our first stop is always at Cedric's Pub for refreshments. Our moments there mark a transition from being in beast / work mode to being fully in vacation mode. I loved being able to share that pub with the wedding party for the rehearsal dinner. Pretty soon, even without booze, the events of that day, and the events of the next couple of weeks had me ugly crying as I handed out the little trinkets we got the wedding party. I still feel pretty lame about that. As more friends started arriving from out of town, they met us for a few quick hellos at Cedric's.
Nothing made me happier than seeing friends like Cathy and Mike Elcik seeming to truly enjoy their time there. Our friends and family have supported us so much over the years, that if we were dragging them out of town for a lame wedding, we at least wanted to give them a place where they could create their own memories.
I think Ken walked me back to the Inn, but I'm not 100% sure. This is the one night where there were so many people and new experiences, I don't remember every detail of the night.
But I remember the affection. I remember all the smiles. So many smiles. I remember my niece saying she felt like a real princess. And I remember the love.
If all of that makes me ugly cry from time to time, I suppose it's worth it.
Next up... Biltmore, Part II. Spoiler alert: we get hitched! (Again)