If I could pick and choose the moments to stretch out, minutes I could turn into hours, it would absolutely be the beginning of things. Just the beginning, not even the dead-center moment of whatever it was you were excited about, in the beginning, just the beginning. That sweet, sweet second where the thing you have been looking forward to for so long meets the start of it actually happening. Vacations. Cake. Sex. Love. Careers. All of it... the beginning is the absolute best part.
Not to say the rest of it isn't good. In fact, the rest of it can be downright wonderful. But it's a grounded, rumbly, deep kind of happiness that you have to sit very still to feel. Its depth is what makes it so profound, but also harder to notice. But in the beginning, it's sharp and arced and it pushes through everything else and it's not just noticeable, it's painfully obvious. Maybe I'm just into theatrics and cheap thrills. Or maybe I just like the exquisite feeling of knowing the best is yet to come. I can't think of anything more delicious then realizing that in the midst of incredible happiness, something even better is about to happen.
In March, The 'Co website got a long overdue makeover. In my haste to get on with things already, I obliterated our previous website before I had the thought to pull our blog posts from them. Basically, five years worth of witty commentary from yours truly has now gone to cyber heaven, or wherever blog posts go to die. Thankfully, some of my more involved posts I had the good sense to write on my desktop before publishing, and with the help of a few interweb hacks, I was able to recuperate some other posts as well. But still, over 90% of our posts are nevermore.
That was three months ago, and I've found lots of projects to work on other than actually getting our posts up again. Finally, I decided that rather drag the past into the present with me by trying to regurgitate it all with more interweb hacks and voodoo magic, I would just start over with a clean slate. Sure, some of the saved posts will be coming along with me, but not without an overhaul with a heavily lashed critical eye.
And because this is a new beginning, and a post about new beginnings, it deserves something more to hit you right in the feels. And boy, get ready to feel all the feels.
Some of you know about our sweet hair and makeup artist, Melissa F. More than two years ago, she experienced any happily married woman's worst nightmare. As weird as this is going to sound, if anyone was an example of How To Widow, it was Melissa. She did the work, and yes, it's a lot of work to recover from a tragedy of that magnitude. She read and she prayed and she chanted. She saw healers and Jesus and lit candles and joined groups. She danced and she cried and blew off anything that didn't serve her healing. And then, one Tuesday..." her heart started to beat again."
Now listen up, because this is important: here at the offices of The 'Co, we see all the artist's schedules. This is how we know when they are available and when they aren't. So, when her boyfriend at the time was planning to propose, he emailed me and asked if she was booked on the date he had in mind. Then shit got real-real. The ring was gorgeous. He's such a great guy. She is so in love with him. I could barely look at Melissa for the two months in between the time I knew he was going to propose and the time he actually did, I was so, so excited and happy for her! I literally could not even stand it!
After some scheming and heart pounding and squealing and basically just being a girl about the whole thing, we got to work. Israel, the soon to be fiancé, wanted to pop the question out at the gorgeous Lake Las Vegas. Not wanting to exclude his or Melissa's family, but still wanting to keep the proposal intimate, we came up with a plan that worked beautifully. The proposal would just be the two of them, followed by his and her family joining them at the proposal site, champagne toast, family and engagement photos, an intimate dinner for the ten of them, and then another surprise- a pop-up engagement party with all the friends and family! And, since his family was flying in from the East Coast and her family was driving up from SoCal, it was efficient too... in the space of four hours, Melissa was proposed to, had engagement photos, and had an engagement party. When I'm not feeling all misty-eyed about the thing, I can't help but marvel at the efficiency of it all.
To really get in the mood for the story of how he asked, kindly locate the song "Kissing You" from Romeo & Juliet, and have it playing in the background before reading on... I'll wait...
With the help of Ashley over at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas, we chose their stunning old-world chapel for the proposal site. We also fed Melissa a story about how the venue was doing a demo reel showcasing the property, and that they wanted to have their professional wedding partners come in and speak on their respective parts of the wedding business. This way, we had an excuse to make sure she wore a dress and did her hair and makeup lavishly for the cameras. Brilliant, right?
Tucked into the candle-lit chapel was Israel, standing up at the altar, and the superb Norina Kaye, camera at the ready to capture all that was about to happen. I waited at the chapel doors while Ashley walked Melissa to the "interview site", and while she fiddled with the "lock" on the door I pressed play (and prayed my phone reached the bluetooth speaker in the chapel) and suddenly the song swelled out and filled the space right as we opened the big, wooden arch doors.
For as long as I live and breathe, I will never forget that moment. Her head turned slowly to me and she blinked once. She didn't budge. I'm not even sure she drew a breath. For what seemed like ages, Melissa just stood very, very still, and stared at me. She was suddenly facing a wedding chapel, an aisle lined with candles, a romantic serenade filling the space, and at the top of the altar with his back to the door, Israel. I gave her the awkward, neck gesture that people use when they want to say "well, go on then" but without actually having to say it. Twice. And then she stepped forward, and we closed the doors behind her.
And if I could have stretched this moment out for them, this dreamy beginning, made it just a little longer, the sweetest part of the whole thing, I would have done it in a heartbeat.
Norina Kaye for a) being as lovely as you are gorgeous b) driving halfway to the ocean to get this unbelievable moment caught on camera and c) being such a photo-taking-ninja-bad ass. But, most importantly, thank you for being a friend. Norina Kaye Photography
Ashley Arnal... for keeping your cool when I was a frantic, sweaty, mess. For your beautiful chapel and generosity. For being an involved, behind the scenes stud. We literally could not have pulled this off without you. Hilton Lake Las Vegas Weddings
Brittney Belanger... for the sweet and stunning cake that made the pop-up engagement party feel so official. Mad Batter Cafe
Daileny S... for being a great co-conspirator, a cooler-downer when I was getting all weird and anxious, and the best teammate a girl could ask for.
Courtney Everard... for telling me it was going to be beautiful when I was second guessing myself and worried that I'd find a way to screw it all up. And for the timeline template.
Israel... for Operation #wifemelissaup. For letting me be the hyper, bossy, clip-board carrying, over-zealous planning, checklist making, quasi nut job that I know I can be. In all truth, you letting me part of this incredible moment was such a gift, I won't ever be able to thank you enough.
and to Melissa... who showed us all that love is for real, Jesus knows what's up, and mountains can be moved. I love you.