For Julia and Tanner

July 19, 2011

About a month ago, one of my dear friends from back home in Oregon, Julia, got hitched to her college sweetheart, Tanner. The girls and I have seen this coming for years, and excitedly accepted our “bids” as bridesmaids last January. The wedding happened. It was beautiful, incredibly organized, and had every sort of tiny disaster we expect weddings to have.

I don’t remember when exactly over the course of the weekend, but Julia put in a formal request for me to write her something… “ON THE BLOG!” Julia has been an avid reader of my blog for as long as I remember, and is one of the only people I know who mentions that she misses me writing on the blog… it’s nice to know someone is listening, and Julia has ALWAYS been there. I have always admired (AND ENVIED) her confidence, incredible intellect, and fun-loving, comforting personality. Julia can go from mothering suppor to personal warrior in 30 seconds flat – incredibly loyal and protective of the people she loves…

As I got to know Tanner over the weekend, (after 5 years of hearing how awesome he was from EVERYONE) I found the qualities I love so much about Julia to be traits reflected in him: an insanely loyal friend to his brotherhood of football team groomsmen and high school besties. A fun loving personality that has no reservations about jumping on a dance floor. A competitive streak that won’t back down from an impossible dream or a silly challenge.

Within minutes of seeing them together for the first time, there was no doubt in my mind that they are a beautiful match.

The funniest part about this, is that on the flight home from the wedding (about 2 hours) I spent the entire time writing about how I felt about their relationship and the wedding. Writing about love, about faith… about why I sobbed through the entire ceremony like a big baby (so did the other bridesmaids, bitches!)… what it broke down to was commitment. This is a huge thing, something I take seriously, and something I know Julia and Tanner take very seriously.

There was a part of the ceremony where the minister (it was a minister right?) asked everyone to commit to being part of a convenant protecting their marriage. At first, I didn’t get it. I was just thrilled to finally get into the ceremony and wear the dress I had tailored about 900 times.

Then Bev, Julia’s mother and champion wedding planner, explained what exactly this meant. We were committing to protecting their union… if they fight, we support them. We support their marriage. We do what we can within our means to support something that is important to them. I laughed and thought “Oh yeah, Julia is gonna call me when she and Tanner get in a huge fight so I can support their marriage…”

By the time the ceremony rolled around, I had stewed myself in to a bit of lonely psycho-single girl mental behaviors (I was doing a good job ignoring it by grinning ear to ear – ugh just wait for the pictures – and constantly bursting into happy tears.) But when we were asked for our support, we all confirmed (70 or so voices in unison), and it occurred to me that I DO understand how much Tanner means to Julia, and at the drop of the hat, if anything went wrong, I would do everything within my power to support her through it, even at 3000 miles away… I might not be the first call, but if I was, I would be ready.

The weekend is now fading from our short term memories – little insides jokes about reimagined verticality and pockets full of sunshine will be memorialized in facebook albums and speckling of post-wedding emails. The thing that sticks with me most was the energy. Like most important moments in my life, I remember more how the environment made me feel, moreso than if it actually rained or how great the dinner was (IT WAS, for the record.) I remember everyone being happy and how great that made me feel. I remember Julia’s smile – effortless and perfect (Julia really has always had this perfect, pearly-white, grin.) I remember the feeling I got when they arrived for the barbecue the day after the wedding… they felt like such… adults. I might not be able to tell you what color the groomsmen’s ties were. I might not be able to tell you EXACTLY what type of cake there was (there was an almond and raspberry one, a peanut butter mocha thing? and a vegan chocolate cake. I DEFINITELY REMEMBERED NOW.) But my GOD, I don’t think I will ever be able to measure the warmth of that beautiful Chicago day… not in the sunshine or because I sweat through my dress on the dance floor, but the kindness of strangers, the closeness of family, and the overall love that seemed to flood the space.

As I am young, and will probably attend weddings for years to come, I can’t help but point out that “you never forget your first.” Even if this wasn’t my first wedding (it was), I think I am still riding high off that weekend… a break from my sad New York City single-life and a window into happiness and love. A window into something I might have been losing faith in prior to that weekend.

Congratulations Julia and Tanner. I am happier for you than any blog post could ever translate into words and await the day when I am called upon to support you in your marriage, whether it’s answering my phone at exactly the right time or sending homemade baby blankets down the road… all my love and support to you and your future together.

For Julia Park and Tanner Highlen, married on June 25th, 2011, in Chicago, Illinois.