For a couple of weeks now, my mother has sent me a daily text messages, counting down the days until Cole and I say “I do”.
Just sixteen days until Cole and I stand in front of our family and friends and commit our lives in marriage under the gaze of the mountains and the lap of waves on Lake McDonald.
Where did my year long engagement go? How is that I’m 2.5 weeks away from being Cole’s wife? How is that on Saturday September 8th, Cole will be my husband?
It’s true. It’s almost here. Our wedding day.
Coming off the heels of Festival Amadeus (7 nights of classical music awesomeness) and my first residency at the Rainier Writing Workshop for my MFA, I can’t believe the day is coming so quickly. My, what a journey it’s been since Cole asked me to marry him in Glacier’s high country last fall. As you might expected, it’s been a trail worn in both the planning and organizing of the wedding and also the year spent as an engaged couple. As my friend Gigi said this past winter, “You only have this one year, this one special time right before you’re married.” I feel confident in how our relationship has grown over the year, but, honestly, I’m beginning to get slightly flustered about the actual wedding ceremony and it’s myriad of details — which by comparison to many weddings, are few, but I still have to plan, schedule, order, coordinate, etc.
Our idea of the ceremony has shifted and evolved over time. The location and venue has changed a bit, but we knew that it would take place in our cathedral, Glacier National Park. Our first idea, while our bodies were still thawing from the snowstorm at Hole in the Hall last September, we thought the ceremony should take place on a mountaintop. We’d get married on Oberlin, an easy peak off of Logan Pass. Ahem…it might not be the most challenging of mountains to climb but not all of our guests are willing to make the ascension. We then switched gears, looking at a trail map, thinking that the mile long hike to Rocky Point would be a better option. We even strolled to Rocky Point last fall. We visualized where we’d stand to say our vows. We’d bring camp chairs for guests to sit in. We’d wear hiking boots, of course! Reality check: a mile is still a haul for a our guests, including grandparents, and the spot isn’t private. It’s a pretty popular trail too. This winter we finally settled on a location that not only accommodates all of our guests, those able to climb mountains and those not, a venue that celebrates and honors what Cole and I bring to our relationship. Mountains and water. Our wedding will be aboard the DeSmet, the historic boat on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. I come from the water, the Great Lakes, and Cole’s heart lies, from an early age and still going strong at 29, in the high peaks.
We’ve juggled through wedding venues, made the difficult decision to have a very small wedding (33 guests! That means open bar!), selected wedding invitations, and co-wrote our ceremony, we’ve also examined our life together and hoped for our future.
There were several times throughout this past year when Cole had to remind me that our marriage was not just one day. The wedding, while very important and fun, should not be my sole focus. Perhaps give the next ten, twenty years a thought. While I prided myself on not going full-blown-nutso-crazy with wedding plans, I did start to find myself swimming in details, some grand and some small and silly. It’s been my goal since Cole slipped the Yogo sapphire ring on my finger to be an uncomplicated and sensible bride. I do drama, quite well, in fact. I think it’d be best to leave that side of me back on shore.
With the countdown approaching, I’m not only creating spreadsheets for wedding details like who is staying where and who needs a ride to/from the airport, but also typing papers for my MFA program and churning out creative work. Was I the genius who planned all of this: wedding and MFA program all within a month of each other? Never mind my job at the symphony — we’re only prepping to launch the 30th anniversary season in October. Oh, and Cole’s opening a craft brewery in Kalispell.
For those of you who know me, this isn’t a surprise. Just as much as I love long underwear (I’m secretly hoping the weather will be cool so I’ll have to buy a new white Patagonia down jacket and white long underwear — just in case! It is an outdoor wedding in Montana.) I love doing everything all at once. Who doesn’t want to begin grad school, co-write their wedding ceremony, train for telemark racing, help their husband to-be with brewery plans, work 40 hours a week, and go to book club, hike trails and drink beer? I guess I don’t know any other way. The best thing about this? Cole knows this about me. And he loves me for it (although maybe not all the time…).
So, if I can’t find a hairdresser for the big day or my plans to stamp cloth bags as favors for our guests (sorry Doherty-Schneider guests, your favor is a free map to Glacier National Park , hoarded from the Apgar Visitor’s Center. But don’t forget, open bar!) won’t materialize, as my kind and loving Cole has reminded me, it isn’t the wedding that matters but the marriage.
And that’s a plan I’ll certainly stick to.
16 more days…