Alright. The time has come. I now have wedding photos in my possession (hoorah!), I've had time to reflect, and I've enjoyed 2 full months of married life! So how did it all go down?
The months leading up to the wedding were such an interesting time of life. It felt similar to my last semester of college - leaving something beautiful for something [hopefully] greater. There was my bachelorette party in Vegas (yup, that happened), my bridal shower in PA, a little bridal shower brunch in Boston, another bachelorette night of fun with my roommates, random nights of happy hour or taking advantage of time with friends before transitioning into marriage. It was a joyous time.
I took off work the entire week before the wedding, and the first big event was a family weekend in Hilton Head, SC. We've been going to Hilton Head for 20 years or so, and my parents bough a house there several years ago. It's a beautiful place and we love it. It was the first time my entire immediate family (plus my older brother's new wife) had been there together in YEARS. So it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy some quality time together like we used to. That meant of course the beach, ultra-competitive miniature golf, Giuseppe's pizza, nighttime scene-it, and some more beach. A lovely time was had by all! As excited as my parents are for grandkids with three of us married now, I think they've been trying to soak up as much time with us as possible before that happens.
I flew back directly to PA Monday night, and the next morning things kicked off with my hair trial appointment (a super awkward time - I'm just no good in those situations). Then it was right to the Philly airport to pickup three of my bridesmaids - Sarah (Boston, MA), Elise (Detroit, MI), and Ashlie (Grand Forks, ND)! It meant so much that my friends would come a few days early to just be with me before the big day. Meanwhile, Kevin had arrived Tuesday morning, but went to the hotel with 2 of the 4 priests con-celebrating our wedding (all the way from Duluth, MN; all of them were seminarians with Kevin in college). They came over for dinner that evening to enjoy some fine delicacy (aka CHICK-FIL-A). I had only met these men once at a Duluth ordination right after Kevin and I had gotten engaged - so it was so beautiful to have them now in my home!
Wednesday morning, bright and early, I picked up another bridesmaid, Emily (Tempe, AZ), and a groomsmen from the airport. The ladies and I spent the morning at Pat's Colonial Kitchen (my favorite breakfast place in Newtown), and they generously wandered in the rain as I gave them a tour of the land (of course I showed them the Newtown Theatre - oldest running theatre in America)! When we all left BU, we had high hopes of staying friends for life, but with everyone spreading out all over the country, we thought our best bet for all being together again would be a 5 year reunion. As God would let it happen, 4/5 of us have gotten together over 7-8 times (with 4 of those times being ALL of us) in 3 years! Such a gift.
Tuesday and Wednesday were such odd days. They were truly beautiful, but it was odd in the sense that I didn't feel like this big, heavy thing was approaching. It was just as if my best friends came to visit my hometown, and I was their happy little tour guide! Wednesday evening, Kevin's family arrived from Duluth and came over for dinner - his brother, mom, and uncle. It was so wonderful to have our families meet for the first time in a relaxed environment.
Thursday is when things got REAL. Real in the sense that everyone else started arriving, we were dropping things off where they needed to go, checking people into the hotel, getting ready for the rehearsal...a whirlwind. But it was all SO GOOD. It was so surreal that it was happening, but it brought so much joy. The rehearsal went smoothly (except for that beginning part where the church was locked...), and being up on that alter was a crazy feeling. Immediately after the rehearsal, we went down into the lower church for our holy hour. Best.Idea.Ever. All four priests were available for confession, which many people took advantage of. And just being in front of the blessed sacrament the night before our wedding with all these people we loved from all parts of the world...there are no words.
After adoration, we went up to the main church for Mass (it was Ascension Thursday), and once again...I'm speechless for the love I experienced. The Minnesotan priests [unexpectedly] concelebrated, and the Monsignor at my parish welcomed Kevin and I in front of everyone, thanking us for our witness. It was a heavenly joy. I'm really big on heaven. Like, I'm super excited for it and think about it often. And there's many moments in life where I'm just like, "yup - this is a taste of what's to come." It tends to be in community for me - all of us together experiencing great joy, with the focus being on our Lord. Love it!
Following mass was our open rehearsal dinner at my house. Kevin and I wanted this to be an open event, since so many people had traveled so far to be with us. So everyone came over, Father Drew blessed the bar, and the festivities began. What a night to remember. My friends have always meant the world to me, and to physically have them in my home, the place where I grew up, I just cannot fully communicate the beauty. Everyone had a blast (I mean, it was a Krouchick party, so people expected nothing less from Bob & Helene - my parents). My siblings each gave a toast, one including a hilarious slideshow. And the floor was opened up to anyone who wanted to say a few words. People were funny, touching, loving, emotional, everything and more. It was such a gift to Kevin and me. We gave our thanks as best we could, and everyone continued the fun.
At the end of the evening, Kevin and I stole a moment upstairs just to be present in the fruits. Both of us just felt so loved, so grateful, so humbled, and so ready for what was to come. Neither of us could have imagined a better entrance into our wedding day. The Holy Spirit was truly present. From what I've heard, the days surrounding your wedding can sometimes seem like a blur looking back, or even while in the midst of it. I have to say, I felt completely present able to enjoy it. Such a grace. Even looking back, it's so fresh in my mind. I'm give thanks to God for allowing me to live fully in those moments. And it only got better the next day...!