Our Wedding Story, Pt 2: Wedding Bells, Wildfires, And Weighted BlanketsNov 17, 2020
Continued from Our Wedding Story, Pt. 1.
“Well, I don’t think you could look any prettier than you do right now, Liss!” my dad said with a smile as he saw me for the first time in my wedding dress.
We hugged and then made small talk with the wedding planner as we waited for our turn to walk down the aisle. You know… just a major moment I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Somehow I was talking to the planner about blush-colored flowers and how she once had a bride forgot to put her veil on.
“You seem so calm right now! How are you so calm?” my dad asked me.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m just excited I guess!” Though I wondered if my daily meditation practice had something to do with it.
Admittedly, though, I was impressed with the way my dad and I were holding it together. I felt slightly nervous, for sure. And I understood how big of a deal this moment was. But I didn’t feel much like crying the way I thought I would. I just felt excited to finally see Matt and celebrate with our guests!
The big moment!
Through tinted windows, we watched the wedding party walk up the aisle. Everyone looked amazing and I couldn’t help but think we had the best-looking wedding party I’d ever seen. When I saw Matt walk down, though, the emotions hit me like a wave, and a lump formed in my throat.
“Oh my gosh. There’s Matt! He looks so handsome!” I said. I felt so proud that, within the hour, I would get to call him my husband. I know we are both lucky to have one another, but there are moments when I look at him and just feel so grateful that this successful, handsome guy chose me.
Then, the Spanish guitarist started playing Canon in D. It was our turn to go. ‘Deep breath, Alissa. You’re about to get married!’
With my dad holding my arm, we made our way slowly toward the aisle. Before we approached our guests, I got a chance to scan our decorated venue for the first time. Bold, beautiful flowers were everywhere. It looked elegant, boho, and romantic. It was so beautiful! My vision had completely come to life, and then some. I was overwhelmed with joy.
It felt like the world stopped as everyone turned to look at me. I reminded myself to smile, although my mouth was doing this twitchy thing it does when I’m nervous. I was fully aware that at this moment, I was the main attraction. Gratitude consumed me as I saw people from all different points of my life, looking at me with pure happiness. It was clear they were all here to support us because they love us. That felt really cool.
‘Matt! There he is!’ My heart fluttered as we made eye contact. He was looking at me in exactly the way I thought he would, with so much love and care. I once heard that you can tell when a man loves you by the way they look at you. Matt gets this soft, crinkly-eyed look when he looks at me sometimes, and to me, it says more than words can communicate.
As we reached Matt, any inkling of nerves I’d once felt, melted away. His presence, his smile, his calm, grounded demeanor; it brought me into the present moment in a major way. We are gathered here today for this. This is our moment.
“Who gives this woman to be married to this man?” Our officiant, Larry, asked my dad.
“Her mom and I do,” my dad said. I knew he had to be feeling emotional, but he did an amazing job of staying stoic and calm, though tears at this moment would’ve been totally expected and okay.
I always find it interesting the moments in which we cry, and the ones we don’t. I’m a highly sensitive, emotional person, yet I often can’t cry during big, life moments. I didn’t cry when I got engaged or when I bought my wedding dress like I’d expected to. For me, it often happens later, upon reflection when I’ve had time to process.
The ceremony was everything I could’ve hoped for
Because I really appreciate creating meaning out of moments, our wedding ceremony was highly important to me. I didn’t want it to drag on and on, but I wanted it to be filled with love and ritual and something that made everyone feel something.
I’d worked diligently with our officiant to craft a wedding ceremony that felt like us. The way I’d describe our relationship is sincere, light-hearted, fun, and filled with love. That’s exactly how the ceremony felt. Jokes here and there, meaningful moments, sincerity. It was perfect.
My favorite moment in the ceremony was exchanging the vows we’d written for one another. As a writer myself, I was excited for the opportunity to express my feelings for Matt in this way. I had no idea what Matt’s vows would be like, but he puts care into everything he does, so I knew they’d be great.
They were. Some of my favorite lines from his vows were: “I miss you so much when you’re gone.” and “You have the softest soul of anyone I’ve ever met.” I later heard from my friends that their face masks were wet from all the tears they cried during our ceremony! Mission. Accomplished.
After our vows, I Do’s, and an oak tree ceremony, Larry officially pronounced us husband and wife. I looked at Matt with wide eyes and a smile took over my face. He returned the same, excited look back to me. It happened! We’re married! I’m officially Alissa Boyer.
A perfectly enchanted evening
As I’d hoped, the reception was just an extension of the love we’d felt during the ceremony. Our families and wedding party delivered the most meaningful, loving speeches. Like I mentioned in part one, words of affirmation are one of my love languages and let me just tell you, my cup was overflowing.
From our sweetheart table, Matt and I looked out at the small crowd of people seated before us and kept exclaiming how happy we were; how perfectly everything had turned out for us. Sitting in our big, peacock chairs, I felt like we were king and queen. On that night, we were.
Everyone tells you that your wedding day flies by. And they’re right, it totally does. When the music lowered and it was time to go home, I felt a slight flash of disappointment that it was over. It’s over?! But, I’d been having so much fun! Then, my exhaustion hit, and I realized that I really couldn’t wait to sleep.
We’d booked a hotel for the night in Laguna Beach. We had a room on the top floor, overlooking the ocean. I was sad to leave our venue, but couldn’t be too sad about where we were going. The entire ride to our hotel, we held hands and reminisced on what an amazing, perfect, and special day it had been. At the end of the day, after all of our planning, we’d reached our final destination. We were married!
And then… the Silverado Fire happened
Apparently, October 26th is a notorious day in Orange County for wildfires. For the past 14 months, Matt has been training to be a reserve firefighter and a while back, he’d mentioned to me that his fire chief told them that, for whatever reason, there was almost always a wildfire on October 26th.
Two days after our wedding, Monday, October 26th, I woke up to a quiet house. ‘Wait, where’s Matt?’ I checked my phone and saw an email about a wildfire that had started just several miles down the road from our house. I realized that’s where Matt was; out fighting that fire. My first instinct wasn’t to feel too worried about him; I figured they’d put the fire out and be home soon.
Then, I got a text from my friend Gina, “Are you guys okay? I see the fire by your guys’ house on the news right now!”
Shit. I turned on the news and see a horrendous shot of the canyon on fire. It says “Silverado Fire” underneath the video. Our home is in Silverado, California. My stomach churns as I think of Matt out there fighting the fire.
My mind is racing now. Do I need to evacuate? What do I do? Thankfully, Matt and I had talked a few weeks prior about an evacuation game plan, so I knew what to do if he was out fighting a fire. I slowly started packing up the items we’d talked about while responding to the growing number of texts I was receiving from worried friends.
Suddenly, lights out. We lost power. When we lose power in the canyon, we lose cell phone service, too. Like, we are literally cut off from… everything. Now I was freaked out. It was 10 a.m., the fire had been going for almost 4 hours, and we had no power. Whether we needed to evacuate or not, I was evacuating myself and the cat.
I gathered our belongings, slipped our cat, Katin, into her carrier, and started the 35-minute drive down to the beach to stay with my parents. What I thought would be just a few hours stay with my parents, turned into a few days stay with them as the fire raged on.
I went from the highest high, to the lowest low
For three days, I spent most of my time laying under a weighted blanket, refreshing my Twitter feed for fire updates and desperately waiting for phone calls from Matt. I’d gone from the most epic high on our wedding day, to the most anxious low as my new husband was out fighting this fire.
Thankfully, by Wednesday, Matt was able to come home after working about 36-hours straight. However, our home was still under mandatory evacuation, even though it was going to be safe from the fires. Because of this, only firefighters were allowed to go back to their homes in this area. In other words, Matt could go home but I was still banned from getting back to our house.
The problem was, we were leaving for our honeymoon in Santa Fe the following morning, yet I couldn’t even get home to pack my bags for the trip! The solution? I enrolled Matt to pack my suitcase for me (scary!). At this point, though, I didn’t care if I had to buy all new clothes in Santa Fe, I just couldn’t wait to get out of here.
So, Matt did his best to pack my suitcase for me. He actually did pretty well! He met me at my parents’ house Thursday morning, and by the grace of God, off we went on our honeymoon! As you can see, it was a miracle that we even got to go at all.
This wild ride of ups and downs, twists and turns, this is our wedding story.
This is the story we’ll tell our children one day. It’s a story of the time we committed ourselves to one another; where we shared joy, love, and tears; and where we got to put our wedding vows to the test before the ink had barely dried.
The entire experience was a swift reminder that what matters most is the health and safety of the ones you love. It reminded me that, you can have the most magical wedding day, but what will stand the test of time is a loving, supportive relationship that makes you feel safe in even the most difficult of times.