Much of mine and Steve’s courtship has had a musical soundtrack. We went to a Suzanne Vega concert on our second date and heard John Gorka play not long after that. We’ve held hands at indie house concerts, kicked up our heels to 80s-cover bands, slow-danced in the woods to Norah Jones on an iPod, and slogged through mud to sway under the stars at FloydFest.
Music matters. One night a few months ago, we started talking about wedding tunes. Sitting side by side at my dinner table with laptop and iPad, we each took turns calling up songs we loved on YouTube, exploring possibilities for our playlist, ceremony music, and the first-dance song.
My first nomination was “Amazed” by Lonestar. I’m not a fan of country music, but I clearly remember when I first heard the song, on an early morning when I was in grad school in Ohio. Lying in bed listening to the radio alarm I’d tuned to a top-forty/pop station, I absorbed the lyrics: “I’ve never been this close to anyone or anything…I wanna spent the whole night in your eyes…Every little thing that you do, baby, I’m amazed by you.” In that moment, I thought, I’d like to dance to that song at my wedding. I’d like to feel that way about someone, have someone feel that way about me.
Strangely, on mine and Steve’s second date, as we said goodnight in the parking lot, he looked at me with those intense blue eyes and said, “You amaze me.” I don’t know what look passed over my face—I must have looked spooked, because he stepped back and started reassuring me that he was just so thrilled at how much we had in common. I was spooked: had I actually met someone who genuinely was amazed by me, whom I could be amazed by in return? It was big stuff for a few weeks in.
I still love the song, but it’s a bit twangy for us, so—maybe.
Steve played The Eurythmics’ “When Tomorrow Comes.” I’d never gotten into Annie Lennox for some reason, but as I listened to the lyrics, I understood why Steve loved the song: “And you know I’m going to be the one who’ll be there when you need someone to depend upon…I wanna be with you when tomorrow comes.” It celebrated commitment, being there through the tough times. It was up-tempo, though, and even with lessons, I wasn’t sure we could be coordinated enough to want everyone watching us dance to it. As if he’d read my mind, Steve said, “I know it wouldn’t work for a first dance, too fast. I always loved the song, but couldn’t find anyone for so long I felt that way about.”
My heart beat a little faster, and the song went on the playlist.
I shared my second nomination, John Denver’s “Annie’s Song.” I’ve long thought it one of the most romantic songs I’ve ever heard. “You fill up my senses….” I’d forgotten that the first line referenced a forest. Then rain, mountains, the ocean—all places we’d been together and shared and loved (FloydFest mud included). We both sat perfectly still for a long moment at the end.
“I’d forgotten how beautiful the lyrics were,” Steve said. Another yes.
Steve searched for Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.” I’d loved the entire Innocent Man album (and yes, I had it on vinyl) when it first came out. “That’s another one that’s probably too fast for a first dance song,” he said, “But I love the lyrics.” Our love has felt like the “greatest miracle of all,” so: yes.
Then we started thinking about ceremony music. I’d read somewhere about a bride walking in to an instrumental version of Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly,” which sounded like a cool idea. I loved the guitar on that song, and we thought it might be something a friend of ours could strum for us. The first version we listened to sounded like an over-processed karaoke score. It took a few tries to find a guy playing a live cover instrumental on a guitar. It sounded nice, but looked complicated.
“There’s always ‘Here Comes the Bride,'” I said, glancing at Steve, who wore the same “ick” expression I suspected was on my face. On the same page there.
“Or there’s Pachelbel’s Canon,” I said. “I kind of always thought I might like to walk in to that.”
We called up a version titled “the ultimate best version” of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” I don’t know who decided that particular version was the best, but it was stunning. Steve started air-conducting along with the music, which I’d never seen him do. Then he began naming instruments as each joined in. I hadn’t known he had classical music knowledge. Turns out he’d played the violin and guitar during his school days.
When the music reached the first dramatic crescendo, we looked at each other with the same thought and said simultaneously, “That’s when the bride should enter!”
We listened through to the end, trying to figure out if the piece was too long to use all of it for entering. We played it again. At each shift in the music, we identified who would “go” at that moment: “First bridesmaid…second…maid-of-honor…ring bearer…bride!”
I felt myself getting choked up, but I tried to ignore the emotion rising in my chest at the picture in my head. I attempted talking myself past it. “Then, you’d have the parents getting a kiss, sitting down, maybe lighting a candle or something…”
Suddenly, Steve sat back in his chair, let out a big breath, and swiped at his eyes.
I started to laugh and cry at the same time. “I’m glad I’m not the only one!” I brushed my own tears away. “This is why we have to do this now.”
“That’s what I’m going to do then if you walk in like that,” he said, taking another swipe and glancing at me sheepishly. I leaned in to share a tender kiss.
What a lucky, lucky woman I am.
And—maybe we should consider trading that pretty pocket square for a couple of extra-large hankies.
Marriage equality–now that’s music to my ears!
Thrilled by the Supreme Court’s decision today:
Photos by Noah Magnifico, Wedding Photographer