Where I left off, we had just finished saying “I do,” and it was time for our vows. From the very beginning, Mr. Whale and I both knew that we wanted to write our own vows. For us, it just made sense.
Mr. Whale decided to go first. (And yes, we’re holding our manatee cards. I promise I’ll explain what’s up with them eventually. It would take too long right now…)
We were already very emotional after the beginning of the ceremony, so there was no hope for keeping it together when we got to the vows. From the start, you can see the emotion on our faces.
“Erin, there is a peace in your embrace that I may never fully understand. It feels like home…one of the few places I can truly relax. When I look into your smiling face in those moments, I can’t help but smile too, and I’m instantly having fun, like we’re little kids on a tire swing or jumping on a bed.
Yet, it’s strangely different from the feeling of “home” I associate with the house I grew up in or my hometown. The home within you is more like a finish line. I set out from my hometown to find a life for myself. Afraid and confused, I stumbled through relationships like a fish out of water, but gradually over the last few years, I found myself settling into a place that didn’t feel so awkward. Since then, my fear and confusion have melted away, and I’ve stopped struggling. Like a batter safely crossing the plate, I’ve made it home.
Life will surely bring many more struggles, but fear and confusion and uncertainty are no match for a team that truly belongs together. So share with me your hopes and fears and goals. From this day on, they are mine as well, and so I promise to strive to understand them as my own.
The tissues were out in full force.
I’ve often said that I think of love as an act, not a feeling. To me, love is two people making a map of a new mind from the pieces of each. We’ve had a good start on our map, but there are still so many pieces left inside only one of us. I want finishing that map to be a mutual goal of our life together. Let’s turn all of our pieces into a single whole. I promise not to hide pieces, or force them, or bend them. I promise to try my best to be kind and considerate and supportive, especially during the hardest parts…like those pesky sky pieces that all look the same. And I promise to stay cuddly and affectionate all the while.
Life set me free from my first home, and it was mostly terrifying. It’s with no regrets that I happily set that freedom free and vow to stay safe at home—a home we will build together—with you until the end.
I am in love with you, still and always.”
Just seeing the vows written down makes me tear up again. Thankfully, I’d asked MOH Leah to stash some kleenex in her dress, so she was ready to hand some to both of us.
Before the ceremony, I had been so nervous to say my vows in front of so many people. I am certainly not an emotional person. And I’m very shy with my feelings. But I wanted Matt to know exactly how much he means to me. So I locked eyes with him and never looked at anything else as I said my vows to him.
“Matt, you make me so happy. You are the most loving, generous, and truly caring person I’ve ever met. You are willing to love without expecting anything in return. You are willing to risk the unknown for a chance at something amazing. You are so good at the things that I am not.
In the time we’ve been together, you’ve shown me a love that I didn’t know was possible. You’ve taught me to see the world in a completely different way. You even shown me how to see myself in a new way. With you, I can be myself. You keep my secrets. You listen to my dreams. And you help me overcome my fears.
Because of all these things, I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you.
From now until forever, I promise I will care for you. I will always support you. I will laugh with you. I will be patient with you. I will make lots of silly faces. I will not walk away from an argument. I will continually try to know you better. I will open my whole heart to you and give you all of the love I have to give.
And no matter what happens, I will love you. When you can’t love yourself, I will love you. When we have an argument, I will still love you. Whether we face happiness, disappointment, anger, or just plain bad luck, I will still love you—until the very end.”
We were almost husband and wife at this point, but there was one more extra special part of the ceremony to get to…
*All photos by the supremely awesome Brenda Upton Photography
If you missed any part of this whale of a tale, get caught up here. Previously…