Carolina Bride

The final countdown

I don't know when or how it happened, but somewhere between the showers and parties and long weekend days planning, the details of this wedding have come together.

The last response cards are rolling in. My parents are tallying final numbers and mailing final checks to our florist, cake baker, ceremony musicians and the others. Our programs are proofed and printed, and wedding favors are on the way. We're collecting bottles of water and snacks and maps of Charlotte for our out-of-town guests. And in maybe the most joyous step, we all breathed a sigh of relief when our jeweler called to say the wedding bands were in, and my engagement ring was back after its month-long California getaway (refurbished and perfectly matched to a delicate, sparkly wedding ring).

I've said it before, but I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. Reese proposed almost exactly a year ago, and at the time, a year felt like forever. Before we knew it, though, it was Christmas. Then my birthday, and then his. Winter melted away, and spring burned into summer. It seems unreal that all of our fumbling attempts have produced what will be - what already is - an actual wedding.

I've been reflecting on all this a lot lately, probably because weddings make me sentimental, and my own wedding makes me particularly sentimental. I've realized I'm not sure I'm the bride I thought I would be - I'm a little more laid-back (my parents might not agree with this observation, but I think it's accurate), a little less concerned with the details, and I'm looking forward to life after the wedding much more than I imagined. I've also realized things have come full circle in this year of engagement. As we prepare for the big day, we're revisiting the very first vendors we met all those months ago. I've rediscovered my dress, as I mentioned in my previous blog post. And I've realized again, sliding on my engagement ring after four weeks of missing it and a year to the day after I did so for the first time, not only how pretty it is, but also how wonderful if feels to be engaged - to show the world we're getting married.

That's felt more real than ever recently. The first time it all hit me was a few weeks ago on my bachelorette weekend, a whirlwind couple of days in sunny Charleston, where I spent hours laying on the beach, gossiping in the living room of a grand old Broad Street home and dancing out on the town with some of my very best friends in the world. That Saturday night, as we crowded around a bathroom mirror, getting ready for one of our last nights together before the wedding, my maid of honor flipped the iPod to "The Final Countdown." And when I returned that Sunday, exhausted but thankful for the friendships of such a great group, I could think of nothing but that final countdown - the fact that there was just a month to go.

Then, this past weekend, we spent Friday and Saturday celebrating the marriage of our dear friends (and my longtime roommate, who was stunning and glowing and happy and all the things a bride should be). The next morning, I woke up early, despite a late night before, too excited to fall back to sleep. My friend was married and off on her honeymoon – and I was three weeks away from my own. Let the final countdown begin.