Journal entry: January 1, 1999 (age 29) – The Wedding That Almost Wasn’t
I always wanted a big wedding. The ceremony and reception didn’t need to be anything fancy, but I wanted to invite everyone in my large, extended family (plus my even larger circle of friends). But when I proposed to Amanda last summer, I was faced with the realization that her family is much, much smaller. Her mom is her only living, blood relative. So we couldn’t have a wedding with 200 Mollens on one side of the church, and her mom on the other.
I’m exaggerating here. Amanda’s mom has remarried into a big, wonderful, welcoming family, and Amanda has plenty of friends. But the fact remains – a big wedding would still have been lopsided. With this in mind, we decided on a small ceremony just for immediate family. (That’s still a lot of Mollens, but I digress.)
Then, three weeks before the wedding, both of my parents went into the hospital. My mom was having major GI trouble, and my dad was so worried about her that he began having angina (which, for a triple-bypass survivor, was no trivial matter). They live in Binghamton, but Amanda, her parents, and I live in Northern Virginia, and now we were faced with the prospect of neither of my parents being able to attend our wedding.
Showing remarkable grace, Amanda and her parents agreed to move the entire event to Binghamton. With just a few weeks to plan the wedding and reception from scratch, the earlier decision to go small now seemed divinely inspired. My older brother, “Best Man Dan,” and his wife, Mary Jean, did a terrific job making most of the arrangements.
That brings us to today. My parents were both in attendance, with Mom having been given the doctor’s okay to leave the house just yesterday. I stood in the small chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Binghamton – the same church where I had received my First Communion, First Reconciliation, and Holy Confirmation. Now, on the first Holy Day of the year, it was time to make it a sacramental four-pack. As I waited for Amanda to enter the chapel and walk down the aisle, an old friend with a guitar began singing Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.”
Minutes passed. No Amanda. I glanced nervously at Dan, who was standing next to me. He helpfully whispered that perhaps Amanda had “made a run for it.” More minutes passed. Still, no Amanda. The singer was now vamping – adding a guitar solo and making up new verses. (“Don’t change the color of your socks, Mm-hmm.”) Until now, Amanda’s teenaged step-brother, Louis Sigalas, had performed his wedding videography duties with impressive restraint. But with unexpected downtime to fill, he turned the camera around to point it at his own face and offer this romantic, wedding-day ode to his favorite pro football team: “Eagles Rule!”
Just as I began to wonder if my worries about who would attend my wedding had been tragically misplaced, Amanda appeared. She walked toward me, looking radiant in her mother’s wedding dress. I took a deep breath and whispered, “Thank you, Lord.”