Well, of course! Right? That’s likely your first thought upon reading my first statement. But think about this one: Meghan Markle became royalty this week. The whole world (OK… close to the whole world) got up before the sun to watch history as it happened. The center of what everyone was buzzing about was not the magnitude of the union, yet, what most everyone buzzes about in every wedding: what the bride will look like. Will her dress be flowy? Form-fitting? Ballgown puffy? And her hair? Up? Down? Veil or no veil? OK, what about jewelry? Flowers? I think she should wear XYZ…
Ring a bell now? Luke and I got up to watch excitedly. Afterwards, throughout the day, I saw and heard noise of people poking at how she looked. At first, I was FLOORED. I saw countless side by sides of she and Kate Middleton on her Big Day, gossip sites and peers probing, “Who was more beautiful???”….Huh? What? How can you compare? They’re both, in their own ways, their own version of what they dreamed up.
Meghan was a vision. And the way the two of them looked at each other…the significance of every detail throughout their day…absolutely remarkable. But the more I turned it over in my head, I recalled that I, too, was guilty. She has such stunning, flowing locks. I pictured her hair to be down, and her dress a tad more form-fitting. But. Who. The. Heck. Am. I???
I have witnessed every single bride I have known pick herself apart about one thing or the other about the way she looked on her Best Day. And every time I witnessed it, it puzzled me. Until it was my turn.
I’m not too big on makeup. Or big, giant, fabulously perfected hair. When I planned what my dearest ladies would look like, I am pretty sure the words I used to fill them in were something along the lines of natural-beachy-mermaid-Costa Rican-jungle-messes. Yep. Something like that. Costa Rica & the sea are near and dear to Luke and me, and we wanted everything about our Big Day to have meaning. I wanted my girls to look anything but cookie cutter. They are all so beautifully different in their own ways, so why put them in a uniform stuffy look on a day that I want everyone to feel free and beautifully 100% themselves, messy and all. As per usual, the Bride’s makeup and hair was scheduled to be done last. As the hours passed and I watched my women do their makeup, primp their messy curls and sing along to the Moana soundtrack, I tensed more and more by the second. My Bridal Bliss was fading quickly because of the biggest joy-swiper of all: comparison. I got wrapped up in thoughts of Instagram posts of me next to them-the Bride fading into the background standing next to women as radiant as mine. And this feeling continued. Silently, I fought my own mind and talked myself into focusing on the reality: marrying my Luke.
Pre-ceremony bridal party photos were snapped, gifts to my mama were exchanged, happy tears were shed, all while my mind nagged and nagged at me.
Luke and I agreed we were not to see each other before the ceremony. But we did want a moment together beforehand to pray and just breathe together. I tucked myself behind a door while the videographer filmed, and our photographer, Ashlee, ran outside to grab Luke to position him just-so on the opposite side of the door so neither of us would get a peek. As Ashlee brought him into the room, I heard him say to her “Alrighty! She’s in here, right?!” I looked at our videographer and lost it. Tears streamed like our dear Costa Rican waterfalls. Hearing his voice ceased the war in my head instantly. After sharing some tears together and squeezing sweaty excited hands, our dearest friends and mentors, Paul & Dana, came in to pray over us. We were separated again one more time before the walk down the aisle. 30 minutes to go.
I wasn’t what I expected. My muscle tone hasn’t yet bounced back from the surgery. I still have limited mobility and more pain than I care to admit. My skin wasn’t as tan as I had hoped. I forgot to whiten my teeth. I was not what little Kelsey dreamed up. But after that moment, I knew: I wasn’t at all what I pictured, but I was everything I was meant to be. I was Luke’s Bride. And that title kicked everything else down.
The feeling of peace didn’t fade from there. It just heightened. More and more. As my mom was preparing to walk me down the aisle, she looked at our Wedding Planner and said, “Ya know, normally she is a complete spaz. I’ve never seen her like this. Serious zen mode. You OK, Lou?” I laughed and told her, “I’m more than OK. I am so, SO grateful. I am so, SO ready.” A couple moments later, as we walked down the aisle, Mama tugged on my arm and told me I was running. But how could I walk? How could I do anything but speed walk? I was Luke’s Bride. Walking to him. Not at all what I pictured-maybe not at all what everyone else pictured, either-yet everything I was meant to be. Everything I dreamed. And so, so much more. Thank you Jesus.
A couple weeks into married life, our photographer sent us this photo. I would love to tell you I adored it instantly. But no. I sent it to my best friend and was talked out of a meltdown. (Sidenote: NOTHING to do with the talent of our photographer! She is an absolute wizard and we adore her and her work…always! This is an internal battle completely separate from her work.♥️) I picked apart how I looked. But she brought me back to the moment it was taken: 8 minutes before I walked down the aisle. Post squeezing his hand and being thrown into the magnitude of the day. And now, I see this photo for everything it is: a little girl dressed as the woman God made her to be, moments from walking to the man and the life God chose her to walk into. No longer did my lipstick tint, teeth, nor the look of lingering chronic sickness exist.
To all my past, present and future brides, I wish I could tell you this won’t happen to you. But goodness, if we are in the company of Her Royal Highness, we are in pretty darn good company, don’t ya think? 😉 Don’t wear your hair up because everyone tells you to. Don’t run to a tanning bed because your grandma tells you you need more color to match your fiance (yes…this really happened). Don’t whiten your teeth because society says so. You show up to that day exactly how you want to. Despite everyone else showing up how they want to. Let them put on their desired makeup. Let them create their own vision. But do not let everyone else’s vision of you crowd out your vision of you. Let yourself fall freely into your day-into your newly appointed and oh-so cherished title-your fiance’s bride. And when you do, all the stuff that will attempt to keep you up at night won’t matter. All that will matter is the overflowing peace and joy pouring out of every part of your being. And when people tell you you are the most beautiful bride in the world, believe them. Because you are. Because it is your turn. Because you are you. And because you are exactly where you should be, showing up exactly how you should look, exactly as imperfectly perfect as your 5 year old self could never, ever, dream up. Here comes the bride. Here goes you.
Dress: Chic Nostalgia Bridal
This is so true!! I don’t know yet what I will look like on my wedding day, but I need to reread these words the night before. I thought picking a dress would be the best part of wedding planning, and it is so stressful! OMG! And everyone literally asks me about it on a weekly basis. What does it matter what my dress looks like, I’m going to look beautiful no matter what.
Kelsey! You were the most beautiful Bride. When we left your wedding. I couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful and how magical your wedding was. Not knowing anything about you and Luke. I left knowing everything and more. The warmth, love, joy, and nerves from that day were all moments I will cherish forever! Thank you for having us witness and photograph all those amazing moments. Kelly did an amazing job editing the photos. We are so blessed to have been able to help throughout the whole process. You are beautiful!
Thank you for beingg you