I flew into Houston an entire week before Abbie's wedding. As the plane lifted above the misty clouds covering Atlanta, my view heading west was of the sunset, and you know how I love to photograph the world from up high! It gets me every time. It's always one of the highlights of flying for me...seeing God's beauty at 30,000 feet. As the crew readied to make our final descent into Houston, I had never been on a plane so quiet...even the children were silent. Looking back on that moment, maybe it was slightly prophetic -- a sign that this week was gonna be one filled with busy times but quiet moments and peaceful hearts.
We dove right into the pre-wedding week with a host of things to do and a list of chores to check off as long as my arm. But in actuality, we probably got started checking things off that list around Tuesday. The first few days Abbie had to finish up some work, teach a class, tie up some loose ends, and take a little time with her mama to lunch and dream about the big day. Every time I go to Houston I visit a new restaurant (this time was no exception), but I also re-visited a place I haven't been in about 25 years, La Madeleine. It was delish! We have them in Atlanta and I will be going again soon! But I know you don't wanna hear about my eating experiences this time, so I'll get on with it! However...BB's Cafe did the catering for the wedding, and it was some of the most delicious wedding food I've ever had. Pecan encrusted chicken, jambalaya, cilantro rice, and more -- food fit for a king and honoring Chap's creole history. And last but certainly not least, Shipley's Donuts for dessert -- on a five-tiered stand, no less!
Donut Cake, anyone? Yes, please!
I don't care how much you plan or how meticulous you are about every little detail, the last few days before a wedding are hectic and crazy and more than a tad bit stressful! Abbie and Chap knew early on the aesthetic they were looking for and so all I had to do pretty much was take the vision they had, the items purchased for creating that vision, and make sure it all came together. Easy enough, right, no pressure!!! As the mother of the bride, I felt that it was my duty to make sure it was everything they pictured and I felt responsible. But Abbie had asked a precious friend to coordinate and, let me tell you, she was the glue that held that day together (I love you, Brooke!). But it all came together in one minimalist "greenery/white candles/and touches-of-gold" aesthetic that had truly a WOW factor. It was stunning! Which reinforced in me that less is almost always more. The only flowers to be seen were in the bride's bouquet and the attendants' tiny nosegays, but it was a breathtaking scene when people began to arrive and the room was aglow. The ceremony and reception took place at the Houston Event Venue, which is an old steel warehouse where a lot of the steel that went into the skyscrapers in Houston had been stored in the past. It was rustic, it was historic, it was elegant...a juxtaposition of the old and the new and all the things they love!
Having been involved in multiple weddings of family and friends' children and also having photographed quite a few, I know only too well that things can go wrong...usually it's something minor and many times it's one of the memories that can still bring a smile to your face when you reflect upon that day years down the road. The rental company who was bringing the tables, chairs and tableware showed up an hour and a half late, which sent the set-up crew into panic mode but somehow the very capable team of friends helping out made it happen in record time...one mishap that wasn't very pleasant at the time, but reminded everyone of what can be done when folks pull together! My very capable son-in-law shared in the officiating and served communion to Abbie and Chap, and then they served communion to their parents which, in and of itself, is something we're not likely to forget in the distant future. But there's one thing about that part of the ceremony we will always likely chuckle about. When Adam was ready to administer the elements, there was a lovely loaf of bread in the dish, but no wine in the cup. Handling it like a champ, he quietly asked the couple if we were just gonna pretend there was wine and, receiving a negative to that, handed the cup to Pastor Rudy who gallantly scampered to the back and returned with wine for communion. One of my favorite parts of the ceremony! We all have visions and the expectation of that vision being manifested to perfection and, even though there are usually uh-oh's, the things that go right far outweigh the things that go wrong. No matter what mishaps seem to sometimes work their way into weddings, the couple always ends up married and luckily life goes on, hopefully to a fantastic honeymoon where they can rest from all the craziness!
I am a very blessed woman to have added to my family a man such as Joel Chap Edmonson. He is compassionate, wise beyond his years, responsible, loves my girl beyond measure, and a million other qualities there's not enough space to list. I know down the road I will grow to love him even more than I do now, and I wish my baby daughter and him many years of love, growth, and laughter. I am so incredibly fortunate to have two sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law that most women can only hope for. They are a beautiful addition to our family and I am so beyond grateful for these "children" God has given me.
To Abbie and Chap, may God bless you abundantly in the years to come, and may all your dreams come true.
I love you both!
"Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning.
Yeah, everything is beautiful."
**Postscript: For all the precious family and friends who flew to Houston, helped with anything and everything they could, and to one special lady who worked like a dog (you know who you are), a million thank-you's for helping to make this day magical.
It is the wee hours of the morning and, despite the long treacherously-tiring previous two days, I am awake and my mind is swirling with all I have to do and the excitement that awaits me over the next couple of weeks. We're making good progress with the renovation and that certainly makes me happy, but the excitement comes from the event shortly to come and that's the wedding festivities of my youngest child.
This post is a tribute to her.
Thirty years ago, we had just moved to a brand-new house. It was by no means my dream house because I don't know when or if I'll ever get that and, right at this moment, I don't even know what my dream house would be. But it was brand-spanking new...no one had ever lived there and we were gonna make it our own. This house was built by a good friend of ours who was also a master mason, and this little home had a huge masonry fireplace which was one of its best features. It had cute wallpaper in the kitchen, butcher block countertops (faux, but still...), and a bedroom for each of our kiddos, two at the time. It had un-walked-upon carpet and fresh new paint which, for some reason that perplexed me, made me feel sick to my stomach. Little did I know I was pregnant with my third baby, a girl. That summer I spent the days lying on the sofa while my other two children ran around the house attempting to entertain themselves. It was an unusually hot summer and, even though the smell of fresh paint made me nauseous, the heat outside my door made me just as nauseous. The summer of '86 was brutal and, needless to say, it was a very long summer. I just lay on the sofa, looking at unpacked boxes that were calling my name from every corner, feeling torn between having so much to do and no energy with which to do it. I was pretty miserable to say the least.
But, as we all know, great hardship many times comes with great reward. And, boy, was that ever true in this case. Abbie was born near Valentine's Day and I have always thought of her as my little heart child. It was a fitting time for her to be born. Being a child of the seventies, I called her my love child because I had no idea when she was conceived or that I was even pregnant until that relentless wave of nausea pushed me down on that sofa for a good six weeks. She also has always been a "loving" child, kind to others with a heart of compassion. I remember we hardly ever had to discipline her because all it took to correct her was a stern look and she cried. She was a good baby, a sweet child, and an uneventful teenager for the most part. And if you are or ever have been the mother of teenagers, you know this is a good thing! To this very day, Abbie is tenderhearted, cares passionately for the downtrodden, and couldn't hurt a soul if she tried. She has only ever fought with her sister which is completely normal and, even though they are 800 miles apart, today they are the best of friends. She's argued with me a couple of times over the years, but it was mostly because of her passions and convictions. Abbie has never given her mama an ounce of trouble...well, maybe an ounce but that is all! We too, are very close. In fact, she and her sister and I are thick as thieves. Sometimes we get into a "texting conversation," the three of us, and my phone blows up with all the pinging. It drives the hubs a little nutty.
Now she is getting married and her sis will stand by her side as her matron of honor (which also makes me cry). She is my final child to marry and, for some reason, this makes her mama even more emotional! It is the end of an era. She has taken her time to find the one who is right and, for that, I am so thankful. Unlike her father and me, who married after four months of laying eyes on each other (THAT I wouldn't advise!), she has dated Joel for three years and quite a few other fellows before that who broke her tender heart. Joel is quiet, very thoughtful, and never speaks unless he's carefully selected his words, and I would do well to allow him to teach me how to do that! He is so smart and extremely devoted. He treats Abbie with respect and dignity and has been one of the best things that has ever happened to her. He treats her like the princess she is.
Very soon I will be boarding a plane to take me the two hours west where Abbie has made her home with the man she loves. Over the remainder of the week the rest of my family will trickle in from various places in the states, where we will all gather to celebrate the "giving away" of our baby girl. Yeah, I know she is no longer a baby, but never tell me that because when I look at the beautiful, strong, determined, focused woman she has become, I still see the little doe-eyed baby girl handed to me so many years ago. And, even though her daddy will actually give her away, we really all will because in my mind, she belongs to all of us. But now she will have a husband who really has already become her no. 1, and rightly so. We have all fallen to the background as he has risen to truly be the king of her heart.
So bring on the craziness. Bring on all the feels. Bring on every emotion that marrying off your youngest conjures up -- I am ready for you! But more than that, I am willing. It is time. We all give you away to the man who has, is, and will always be your everything.
Mrs. Joel Edmonson-to-be, mama's comin.' Houston or bust!
"Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind."
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
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