Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

What I Learned Planning Four Weddings in Seven Months

Emily Freeman and Family

If you had told me when my children were small that they would all pick the same year to get married, I would have told you that you were crazy.

Even if you had told me the year before that four of the five of them would find their soul mates at the same time and start planning back-to-back weddings, I still would have questioned your sanity.

Now, several months beyond our four weddings in just seven months, I will tell you this: when it comes to true love, I believe in magic, and miracles, and yes . . . marriages.

As hard as it is to believe, it really is true—we had four weddings in seven months last year.

People ask me all the time, How did you do it?! Simple: The main floor of our home turned into Wedding Central for the better part of a year. Each corner was decorated according to the wedding that was stationed there. People walked in the front door at their own risk . . . and straight into the land of Pinterest. We painted white banner letters and hung them from silk ribbon with navy tassels. We glued pearls onto apothecary jars and filled them with peonies. We spent Saturdays at antique stores buying up lace doilies and old-fashioned crocheted handkerchiefs. We gathered pallets, cut wooden logs into centerpieces, and covered the floors and tables with engagement photos, bridal photos, and first-look photos.

The upstairs room on the left became the brides’ room. Only girls were allowed entrance. It is where we hung the gowns. One with sparkled pearl sequins from scalloped neck to the floor. Another made completely from lace, with a pair of coral shoes barely peeking from under the hem. The third, a classic vintage design with white satin and English tulle stripes and a white, four-inch-wide sash around the waist. The last was sewn from beautiful white lace with huge taffeta roses making up the skirt. Oh, the gowns, each almost as elegant as the bride who chose it.

Through it all we dreamed, and we talked, and we discovered what it means to give your heart completely to the one you have chosen to spend forever with. Here are some of my favorite tidbits from the conversations you would have joined If you had been there with us, crafting at the black farm table in the kitchen:

• Be committed to your marriage. Don’t just make a place for it within your heart, but let it become the whole of your heart. From this moment through forever, let your first thought be we instead of me.

• Let home be the connection of your two hearts, the place where your love is felt and expressed, and where your combined wisdom is shared. Never let it become four walls and a roof. Let your home be a feeling instead of a physical address. Then, instead of people coming to visit your house, they will come to visit your hearts.

• For the bride, try to remember how carefully you prepare yourself for your wedding day . . . the time you spend on your hair, on choosing your gown, on the added touches of jewelry and the perfect shoes. Do that often. It will make your husband feel honored to be in your presence.

• For the groom, try to remember the moment when you express how beautiful she is on your wedding day. Don’t ever stop expressing that, especially during the eighth month of pregnancy, or the morning after she rocked the toddler with a fever all through the dark hours of the night, or the moment she finished the car wash fund-raiser for your fourteen-year-old. It will help her realize that you know her greatest beauty comes from her heart.

• Be the kind of couple that recognizes a need and fills it. Head up the welcome party. Be the last to leave after the moving van pulls out. Let people know your phone rings the same at 4:00 in the morning as it does at 4:00 in the afternoon, and be willing to be called upon in times of great need. Be there for people.

• When you disagree—and you will disagree—fight to gain more understanding rather than to prove who is right.

• Keep your most private spaces private. Don’t share your intimacy. Don’t share your spouse’s weaknesses. Don’t allow anything to become more important than your loyalty.

• Remember how you dreamed of getting married? You texted about it late at night, and talked about it on long car rides, and imagined how your future would be. It filled up the conversation of your engagement. Decide now to always have a dream. Let it fill up the conversation of your life. Have something you are both working toward together, passionate about, and looking forward to. A good dream will give your marriage life.

• When something doesn’t go the way your heart thought it should, assume the best. Ask for the explanation, seek the greater understanding, and be quick to accept an apology. If you have wronged the other, be genuine in your desire to make it right.

• Be willing to spend the late-night hours watching over the one who is sick until it becomes second nature for you to know when to talk gently, what might provide comfort, and how to soothe them to sleep.

• Include the Lord in everything you do. Your decisions. Your conversations. Your aches. Your celebrations. As long as He is with you, you will experience His blessings.

• Lean into each other. Find life balance in a shared place. Let each burden be shouldered together, the pressures be sustained between you, and the joys be multiplied through your connection. You will discover that the greatest strength comes from the yoke.

• Always remember this: after the cake has been cut, and the last dance is over, and you walk out under the cascade of flower petals and sparkling fireworks, that moment of celebration won’t be the end of a beautiful reception, it will signal the beginning of a wonderful life.

Embrace it.

Yes, we really did have four weddings in seven months. It was a year of planning, and celebrating, and welcoming in, but most of all it was a year of discovering what it means to fall deeply in love. It’s been twenty-six years since Greg and I were married, and those conversations around the black farm table in the kitchen were a good reminder that love, true love, requires care and intention and celebrations along the way.

Flower petals and fireworks weren’t created just for wedding receptions.

Let them fill your wonderful life.


FamilyEmily Freeman