With a close friendship of about 7 years, Marilyn and I occasionally have coffee together, go out to eat, go to prayer meetings or chat at Summit where she works. In those times when we pray or chat, she always talks about her husband – the one she hasn’t met yet but prays to meet throughout every single day these past 30 years. I stood by her, believed with her, encouraged her and comforted her as day after day, year after year went by with no sign of him yet. YET.
One day, Marilyn was invited to go on a Royal Caribbean cruise, “harmony of the seas”. There was a conference on the cruise of about 150 people. She prepared for this cruise with picking out pretty clothing and inviting me over to help. “What if I meet my husband there, Hannah?” she said with an English accent, being from South Africa. I hoped with her in that moment and was excited to hear all about her trip for when she returned.
While attending this conference and sitting in the large room, Marilyn decided it was not for her… so she stood up. There he was across the room. Don, from a completely different world (Michigan, to be exact), stood up at the very same moment and for the very same reason. They walked through the doors to leave and each noticed the other with instant attraction. Marilyn shrugged her hands as if to say, “Well that conference was strange,” and Don invited her for coffee and then later that night was assigned to sit at Marilyn’s table which she was very pleased about, as was he. They were inseparable the rest of the cruise trip.
Don had visited Marilyn in San Antonio, excited to see her in her element here. They continued to fall in love more and more every day with texts and phone calls and now a physical appearance. Don decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life with this woman. As a respectable man, he felt it important to ask for Marilyn’s hand by her son, James. Airplane tickets were purchased and they flew off into the sky for the long but exciting trip to South Africa. I was so happy to hear Marilyn say, “James and Don got on so well!” After privately speaking to and getting his blessing from James, Don met Marilyn at the dinner table. They were all sitting down together when the table got suddenly very noisy with everyone getting out their phones/cameras, but all Marilyn heard was Don’s chair scooting back as he knelt down on one knee and proposed. “YES!” I’m pretty sure all of Heaven rejoiced that day, knowing the 30 years Marilyn had waited for this moment in good faith that God would provide.
After much preparation, excitement and prayer, the wedding day was finally here. It’s today. I got the text from Marilyn while Mallory DeMers of YelloNest Photography and I were preparing the lighting and capturing the beautiful venue: “I’m 10 minutes away.” I relayed the message to Don who responded with, “So I should probably hang out here and wait for her, right?” In the words of Marilyn, I wanted to say, “Naughty-Naughty!” Of course we both knew he had to hide so his first look was as his bride-to-be walked down the aisle. Joyce is the event manager at Summit and she was amazing! She showed Don and Dave (Don’s son), to the groom’s room while Mallory and I welcomed Marilyn.
As she entered the bridal room, it hit me: She’s getting married today!!! Yes, today! There was an overflow of joy in her eyes, and she looked gorgeous! Her hair and makeup was done and she was ready to get that dress on! We were able to sneak some pictures of her perfume, wedding gown, ring, bouquet and shoes!!! All the details were beautiful.
Before we knew it, the ceremony began. Looking around at the congregation, I saw familiar faces of Marilyn’s friends spread throughout. Many friends were teary-eyed, some were beaming almost as brightly as Marilyn, and others were whispering their excitement about the moments to come. This was a moment they’d all been waiting for. And then reality hit. Marilyn, arm-in-arm with her son, James, started down that long-awaited ailse. Some of the congregation peeked at Don as his eyes welled with tears and lips curled into a smile, filled with love. Other friends and family watched Marilyn as she lit that white path even brighter with her joy and love. She was literally walking in the path she had prayed for all these long years. Walking toward the love of her life.
James gave Marilyn away with a kiss and a gentle hand to guide her forward as if to say, “I’m with you, Mum, and supporting you.” Before we knew it, they were listening to Pastor Rick speak of love and commitment. Rings were exchanged and vows were made. I especially loved hearing Don repeat his vows because there were meaningful moments where he paused as to not continue through tears and a cracked voice. The vows meant something to Don and that commitment was revealed through emotion and confidence. He meant every word.
When Rick told Don to kiss his bride, “WOO!”’s and whistles and hollers were made from everywhere in that room, and smiles appears on both their faces as they held that kiss. When it was finished, they looked in each other’s eyes, both elated to have made it official!! Turning to face the witnesses, a powerful moment happened. Marilyn looked out into the congregation and was brimming with excitement, all the while you see numerous people praising God for this miraculous day – Stacey, in particular, had both hands raised to God in PRAISE and THANKS! It made me tear up to witness such a moment as this.
Next up was Pompeii Italian grill for food, fellowship, dancing, toasts cake and newly-wed photos! Everyone was laughing, talking, listening and enjoying their time. Glasses were clinked in hopes for a kiss, Marilyn’s ring was admired and gazed upon, and toward the end, the happy couple gave a speech. What on? FAITH. DEDICATION. PERSISTENCE. GOD’s PROMISES. Marilyn seemed to look each one of us in the eyes as if she was speaking directly to each individual in a private conversation as she spoke and preached and encouraged. Her powerful message left everyone listening in perfect silence – all we could hear was her voice, carried by anointing and Godly purpose. She was leaving a testimony with us because she knows what power that holds. Truly a gift for all of us there to walk away with.
Marilyn and Don, I want to personally thank you for bringing me in on this amazing, special day! Wow. I thoroughly enjoyed capturing these special moments, and I am a blessed individual that I get to know you both. Enjoy these images, Friends!