Monday, November 2, 2020

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, I zipped my black coat up over my very pregnant belly and drove with Aaron out to The Brim. It was the first time we were letting people in on our story- one that had been going on for nearly two years at that point. We had worked diligently on the back end, preparing a website, an LLC, special use permit and more. And now, finally, it was time to let others in. One year ago today. 

We had used most of our Babymoon to finalize things in preparation for our November 2nd event. We wrote a letter and mailed out invites, and hoped and prayed that the right people would show up. And then we stood in our gravel parking lot and waited. Cars started rolling in. We walked across the dirt ground and shared the back story of The Brim: how we had written a letter to get the land, why we wanted to buy it in the first place, and our hearts for the space. We told them of crazy circumstances that led to us being given more land, and a driveway. The meeting in Austin, the check, and the architect. The fact that we had to do this.

Then we stepped into the ceremony space: no sod there yet, just dirt. Dirt, and a half finished paver aisle walkway. Even if no one else did, we believed brides and grooms would walk down that aisle and say, "I Do". But we truly had no idea what the next year would bring.

We'd bring more people out to hear our story and our hearts for marriage. And little by little, they'd jump in to make it matter too. We'd get supporters who believed in our dream and our mission, who wanted to be a part of helping turn the chapel we talked of into a reality. We'd plant sod and seed and hope and pray for the best. 

We'd bring a baby girl (a beautiful surprise) into this world in January. I'd answer emails about inquiries in the hospital. And the day after we got home, I'd throw on real clothes and makeup and go over to Starbucks to sign a contract. Then the Chiefs would win the Super Bowl. I'd book a few more weddings.

Then a world-wide pandemic would hit. We'd keep working, keep pushing. Buy chairs and a storage unit and try not to lose our minds while staying at home teaching with two kids ages three and under. We'd see a need as COVID rocked the wedding world, and we'd open early. On March 23rd, we would watch from our truck as our first couple said their vows- 10 or fewer total people allowed, on a chilly Monday with half green sod behind them.

And then, we'd continue to make sure people knew about our free ceremony options, and we'd offer them affordable cake and toast and other reception options too. Suddenly, bookings would start flying in. Ten, twenty, thirty. Until we reached thirty-nine. Thirty-nine. 

We'd watch couple after couple commit themselves to one another between the rows of poles that Aaron painted white and put in the ground. We'd rent and then purchase a tent, and a dance floor, and lighting, as suddenly we found longer, bigger receptions happening- still outside and still COVID friendly. We'd see couples who had to plan their weddings two or three times finally feel the joy of being married. We'd tear up time and time again as we watched first dances underneath the soft glow of Edison lights. 

We (mainly me) would stress out over and over again watching the weather and hoping and praying that the wind or the rain or the snow or the temperature would cooperate. And somehow, they always would. We'd get fantastic interns who helped with set up and tear down, and we'd spend week after week watching amazing families and friends fill our space to cheer on the sweetest couples. 

We'd invite people out for Full Fridays, and dance and sing while sharing laughs and drinks and tacos together. We'd tell our story again and again to anyone who would hear it. And we'd leap. 

I'd go on sabbatical after months and months of deliberation, then wonder how I would have ever survived working full time plus working three or more weddings every weekend in the fall. We would get closer and closer to our chapel goal. And then one day, four days ago, we'd drive up the road to Jamesport and sign our contract with the very pen that Aaron loaned so many couples to sign their own marriage licenses. 

One year ago today, we didn't know what we didn't know. It hasn't all been easy and it hasn't all been perfect, but it has certainly all been worth it. Marriage matters. This season, this year has mattered. And we can't wait to see what the next year brings. 




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