Two years ago today

Two years ago today Mike and I put on fancy clothes and stood up in front of many people that we love and made a whole bunch of very serious promises about, essentially, loving one another. It was a wonderful, glorious, happy-filled, day that still makes me smile when I think of it.

To be honest though, it wasn’t all bubbles and champagne that day. I threw my back out the morning of the wedding, forgot to put together a reception run-sheet for our long-suffering MC’s, Emma and Asha, until four hours before the ceremony, and felt more serious and stressed out than giddy and love-struck right before it was time to walk down the aisle.

But there was advil for the back, and thankfully the lace-up style of my wedding dress acted as a very efficient brace that allowed me to forget the pain and move relatively freely once it was on. One of my bridesmaids came and sat down beside me where I was lying at noon, flat on the floor, waiting for pain killers to kick in, and helped me plan out the reception program. And there, at the end of that walk down the aisle, was Mike.

As the ceremony progressed and we got through all the serious stuff I felt myself start to relax, to inhabit the moment, to float, and from the moment we finished out vows and walked back down the aisle together it was bubbles and champagne. There were smiling people we loved everywhere I looked. The day was a sultry sort of gorgeous. The wine plentiful and cold. The Thai food, amazing. The marquee in the lush garden setting of my parent’s backyard, very Arabian nights. The dance floor under the stars, magical.

I’ve been thinking about that day this morning, and about the promises we made to each other, so I thought that I’d share them here. But first, here’s an excerpt from the book I’m working on at the moment where I write about these vows…

… “We wanted to write our own wedding vows, Mike and I, and we also wanted to be in sync with what we would promise each other on the day. So we each put some thought into the vows separately, and then came together with our drafts to blend them into one unified declaration.

I think my favorite section of our vows is what we settled on for the ring exchange: As I give you this ring, I give you my heart as a sanctuary. I give you myself as a faithful companion to celebrate life with. I give you my promise that as I choose you today, so I will choose you tomorrow. This is our covenant.

To get to these four simple sentences we each had to make a compromise that, initially, felt quite painful.

“We can’t say it that way,” Mike said, when he saw my draft. “The second sentence ends with a preposition.”

“What’s a preposition?” I asked.

He looked at me, suspicious. “You,” he said, “are a novelist. How can you possibly not know what a preposition is?”

“Hey,” I said a trifle sharply. “Six countries. Six schools. English grammar got lost somewhere along the way – possibly while I was busy learning Shona in Zimbabwe.”

“You can’t end a sentence with the word with,” Mike said. “It’s just wrong. Another way to say it would be, ‘I give you myself as a faithful companion with whom to celebrate life.’”

“That sounds lame,” I said, displaying a vocabulary every bit as impressive as my grasp of grammar.

“Well at least it’s correct.”

“But it sounds dumb,” I said. “Clumsy. Formal. It doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of our vows. Who cares if it’s correct if it sounds dumb?”

Mike eventually shifted on that issue, and I shifted on this one: when I first drafted this section I put an extra sentence in there, right before: This is our covenant. That sentence was: You will be home to me.

“I don’t like that,” Mike said, when he saw it. “It doesn’t work. I don’t want it in there.”

Although I was initially disappointed there was something in me that sensed he may just be right, so I took it out without making too much of a fuss. But I’ve thought about that a good deal in the last little while, and I do think he was right, after all. For one thing, that phrase is arguably less a promise than it is a statement, or even a demand.

I hadn’t intended that. I had intended for that sentence to evoke all that is most positive in the ideal of home – comfort, continuity, understanding, haven, refuge, rest, encouragement, wholeness – the sum total of all that is most precious and valuable in life. I had intended it as a promise along the lines of, “I will seek these things in you, for you, and with you.”

The problem here lies in the first part of that promise that I was trying to craft – the idea that it’s possible to find all of that in someone else. It’s too much to expect (or even hope for) from any one person. Even your lover. …”

So here are those vows that we worked on together. Two years down the track I would make them to Mike again today without hesitating.

I, Lisa McKay, choose you, Michael Wolfe, as my life partner, the one I commit to love. I pledge to cherish and honor you regardless of circumstances, in the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future, loving what I do know of you, trusting what I do not yet know.

I promise to grow in mind and spirit with you, and support you in fulfilling your hopes and dreams. I promise to remain with you, whatever afflictions may befall. I commit to sharing with you life’s joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains from this day forward until death do us part.

As I give you this ring, I give you my heart as a sanctuary. I give you myself as a faithful companion to celebrate life with. I give you my promise that as I choose you today, so I will choose you tomorrow. This is our covenant.

22 responses to “Two years ago today

  1. LOVED looking at your pictures again 🙂

    Well, it is 18 years since we made our vows so I’m a bit rusty on them but we wrote some of our own too. I think it might be good to go and reflect on them again.

    Gorgeous words, Lis, grammatically correct or not!


    • Yay for photos and vows. Did you guys have a wedding video? We watched ours again last night and even two years down the track were reflecting on how much more quickly wedding videos “date” than photos do. If you have one do you still like looking at your wedding video or does it make you cringe a little?

  2. happy anniversary!! and for your gloating pleasure, mike is wrong. i may have learned english from too many sources, too, but hey, i’m an editor now. you *used* to not be allowed to end a sentence w/ a preposition. that is very good and old school of him to remember this from the dark ages of our childhood. that rule is now generally defunct, and should always be bent when it would simply sound dumb to *not* end with a preposition. (old school grammar roolz 0, intuitive english +10.) glad you won that battle, because it all turned out absolutely lovely. yay! truly, thank you so much for sharing this.

    • YAY! Um, not that I would ever gloat. No indeed :). I’m seriously glad to know this for my own writing sake though because I’m all about intuitive English (and for misusing the word was when I should have said were, apparently). Thanks.

  3. love the photos… thanks for sharing. hope you both celebrated in style

    • We tried. The restaurant was… well… high on ambiance but unfortunately rather low of really good food. Ah well, there are lots of other good options around here. We’ll just dedicate the next really nice meal we have to our anniversary.

  4. Wow — What beautiful photos! Your flowers are awesome. And I love the story about the preposition 🙂 Congrats on two years!

    • Thanks Alexis. I was pretty clear on what I wanted for flowers. I just think Gerber daisies are so vivid and cheerful and alive and passionate. Tulips would have been my other choice but not exactly as available in Australia in the middle of summer and much more frail anyway. Hope you’re doing well juggling job and final edits and the like. Very excited to hear that you’re so close to the pitching stage. Pulling for you!

  5. It has been said, but it bears repeating… Gorgeous pictures. Happy anniversary, you guys. I’m glad you have an awesome record of that beautiful day. And Thai food!? Best wedding food ever!

    • Thanks. The food was so great. Seriously, I know I might be biased, but I think it’s the best thai catering at a wedding I’ve ever had! The company bought out all these trucks and stoves etc and made a lot of it on site. Yay for Mum for finding them. Gosh… I’m really hungry right now just thinking about it.

  6. Beautiful photos, Lisa. Wonderful vows! Have a fabulous anniversary. Peter and I wrote our own vows too. I had mine done weeks before the wedding and read them to him. Then I waitied, and waited for him to read me his. He is known for his tardiness so I had to wait until my wedding day. He had written the vows on a scrap piece of paper as he was driving to the church. But when I heard them for the first time, the fingers of his words interlocked with mine. They were so powerful I had tears in my eyes. I still have both our vows and we look back on them, now 20 years later, and are delighted that we have kept the promises.

  7. Ah shucks! Couldn’t have happened to two nicer people. Happy Anniversary!

  8. Both words and pictures are beautiful, Lisa — almost makes me feel I was there (except for the incongruous piles of snow outside). If you missed prepositions, maybe you missed one of my favorite comments on the rule about preposition placement (attributed to Churchill, but likely earlier), “that is a rule up with which I shall not put.” For further moral support in breaking grammatical “rules,” here’s a fun list:

    • Thanks for that, though Mike would say I don’t need much moral support to break grammatical rules :). Hope you’re going well, I hear South Bend’s been getting record snow. Stay warm!

  9. It’s taken me a couple of days to really read this post because I’ve been a little jealous. I’m sorry about that, and I’m working on it.

    Your pictures are beautiful. The post is beautiful. Someday I hope to be lucky enough to find the right one for me, and if it happens I hope you won’t mind if the starting point for my vows begins with the graceful beauty of the promises you and your husband made to each other two years ago. May the two of you always come home to each other.

    • Hi Re (I can’t figure out how to make wordpress do that little accent-y thing). Thank you for your comment, way to be brave in honesty. And we’d be beyond honored if you kept our vows as the starting point for those you hope to make some day!

      • Thanks! (And for the accent over the e, type option e, then e again. My option key also says ‘alt’ on it. My sister, a graphic designer, taught me how to do it. I would never have figured it out on my own!)

  10. Beautiful words, beautiful pictures/location, beautiful couple.

    I hope I’m just as lucky one day to find that man I’d make no hesitation with 2 years after the vow. I love your story and I can’t wait to read the book. Signed copy for me, please?

    How’s Laos treating you today?

  11. You’re wedding looks so beautiful :), I love marquees for the reception.

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