… and then it was over. More than a year of searching, planning, budgeting and finger crossing, reduced to a memory in an instant.
“Everyone tells you it will go by fast,” said Ashley, “but I remember thinking ‘it’s a whole day, how fast could it go?’”
I’m with Ashley and her husband, Luke, on the mezzanine above the lobby. We’re surrounded by art, antique furniture and display cases filled with artifacts. This sitting area is the quickest to access from the lobby –just up the marble staircase- and often the quietest. We tucked ourselves into this enclave to mute the bustle of incoming guests, fast-moving staff, bee lines for the bar and a scampering cluster of bridesmaids.
Exactly one year ago, the gang of girls crossing the lobby in matching dresses would’ve belonged to them.
“It took a whole week to recover from all that work,” Luke said with a laugh. Fortunately, they “convalesced” in Cabo San Lucas.
Ashley and Luke were invited to return to the hotel as winners of the “I Do: Part Deux” Pfister wedding photo contest. They won a weekend stay, services in the WELL spa, flowers, dinner and a photography session. The unexpected bonus was winning the package in time for their anniversary.
Sitting with me, Ashley responds to most of the questions. The couple look at one another often. Checking in. Transmitting messages with their eyes. Comfortable.
“Now that you have a year under your belts,” I asked, “what part of married life has surprised you most?”
They look at each other, smiling and gauging.
“I realize how much I enjoy my personal time,” Ashley braves. “When he’s out, I can veg out, watch what I want.”
Luke chuckles, unfazed by the admission. He said, “I realize that when she wants the dishes washed, she wants them washed now.”
We all laugh.
Luke and Ashley knew each other in high school, but never spoke until years after graduation when they recognized one another at a bar. The romance was intense and fulfilling. Luke said the wedding went just the way he’d grown up seeing them in the movies: surrounded by friends and family; everyone gushing about the beautiful room, the beautiful food, the beautiful dresses; the wedding party all cleaned up and strutting their stuff; showing off the rings; drinking; dancing. I asked Luke if he’d had any requests (or demands) for the day.
“Bow ties,” he said. “That’s all I wanted. Everything else was all about her. ” He’s easy going, leaning back in his chair, unhurried in his responses, generous with his smile. He’s not a big guy, but he looks sturdy and strong. “I think that’s the way it should be. This was her dream.”
I raise an eyebrow toward Ashley. Behind the flush, she’s beaming, not at me but at Luke.
“Every morning when he leaves for work, he kisses me goodbye and tucks me back under the covers,” she said.
“I don’t have to ask for things,” Luke adds. “She makes my lunch, lets me watch my sports shows.”
They make more Couple Eye Talk.
We talk a bit about the planning, the changes, a missing tuxedo shirt, the long greeting line. I realize it’s almost time for their next itinerary treat.
“What’s your favorite moment in that blur of a day,” I asked.
“My dad telling me jokes down the aisle to help me keep it together,” Ashley said.
Luke said, “When the door opened and I saw her in this dress I kept hearing about.”
Ashley looks at him warmly. Luke doesn’t turn, just smiles.
…and then it was over. The calendar date, anyway. Their lifelong celebration, on the other hand. That’s just getting started.