“With this ring, I thee wed.”
Exactly 27 years have passed since Sean and I said these words to each other, but the memories I have of our wedding day are as vivid as if the event took place yesterday. Not least among these is the orchestra of emotions that played out as the day unfolded…
The excitement of the preparations – hair, makeup and finally putting on my gorgeous wedding gown, in which I felt like a princess.
The nervous anticipation as my father and I were chauffeured to the church (in a Rolls-Royce no less), smiling and waving as other drivers on the route tooted their acknowledgement of the occasion…
The thrill of walking down the aisle on my father’s arm to meet Sean, who stood waiting to receive me…
The joy of the happy celebrations that followed the wedding ceremony and the wonderful honeymoon that came thereafter.
But the memory I love to talk about most is the one that began in the week leading up to our wedding.
It rained. A lot. Incessant, pouring rain that continued unabated day after day. At first, the refreshing relief it provided from the heat was welcoming. But when Friday arrived and the skies still showed no signs of clearing I began to feel just a little apprehensive.
A dear friend of mine (who, sadly, was tragically killed in a car accident eight months later) was also getting married on 1 November. He and his fiance had planned a morning garden wedding. Understandably frantic, she eventually telephoned the weather bureau to enquire whether the rain would clear up by the Saturday.
“Cancel your garden wedding. Move everything indoors,” she was told emphatically. “There is a 100 per cent certainty that it will rain on Saturday.”
It didn’t even feel right to pray about it; because when you live in a country frequently afflicted by drought, rain is considered precious and always to be appreciated.
I went to bed that night intending to sleep late the next morning (as brides are wont to do), but I awoke around four – to the sound of falling rain.
Somehow, I managed to fall asleep again. It was around six when I awoke. Everyone else was still asleep. It was quiet. Very quiet. I got up, opened the bedroom curtains and looked out of the window.
I was greeted by a clear blue sky, without so much as a wisp of a cloud, and a radiantly shining sun. It was as if the air itself was sparkling, it was so bright. There was no sign of rain. My bridesmaid, who by now was also awake, came to stand beside me.
“I can’t believe it,” I whispered. “The sun is shining.”
“It’s beautiful,” she responded. “It won’t rain today.”
And she was right. We enjoyed a perfect, sunny day – pleasantly warm, soothingly tranquil. It was as if the earth had been washed until it gleamed, the colours shimmering in their intensity, the air crisp and clean.
Quietly, I gave thanks to God. To this day, I believe it was His wedding gift to us and, like everything He does, perfect.
The following morning dawned grey, overcast and not a little chilly, the thick, billowy clouds heavy with the promise of more rain.
I could not help but be reminded of the words of the psalmist in Psalms 118:23-24:
This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.