We’ve all heard the expression, “Always the bridesmaid never the bride.” For me, it was more like, “Always the reception emcee, never the groom.” Well, that all changed recently, and I got to live out the best day of my life with the love of my life. It was wonderful.
I have some advice for anyone attempting to have an outdoor wedding in Florida: put on the invitations “Guests are encouraged to bring an umbrella.” I wish we’d have thought of that because planning an outdoor wedding in Florida is a lot like lighting up a flare and waving it at the T-Rex from Jurassic Park—you pretty much just take your chances and run with it.
Brittany picked out a beautiful location in our hometown, Ocala, at a country club with a massive tree at the front entrance. She had her heart set on having it outside, but as always, the Florida forecast was full of chances of scattered thunderstorms. We were hoping God liked us enough to give us perfectly cool, dry weather.
As I nervously walked out to the ceremony with Robert, our ceremony officiate, it was unbelievably perfect outside. Gorgeously overcast with a cool breeze. I thought, “Wow, God. This is perfect. You do all things well. Selah.”
Our families and the bridal party came down the aisle. Then, Brittany blew everyone away as the stunning bride. Everything was wonderful.
Soon, I felt a drop on my forehead and thought, “Am I really sweating this bad?” Then, I felt another. And another. Brittany felt them, too. It was coming for us. I tried to have one of those “Babe Ruth callin’ his home run” moments and told Brittany, “It’ll hold off. It won’t come down.”
Well, it turns out I didn’t tithe enough last year or whatever and God let Florida be Florida. Like the slow clinks of a rollercoaster taking you to the top, the rain started to fall. Brittany got nervous. I know because I could feel her hands tightening on mine. We were not, in fact, saying sweet words of love to each other at this point. We were saying, “What should we do? Should we just yell out, ‘I do!’ and run inside with everyone?” I really can’t wait to get the wedding video because I missed a lot of what Robert was saying at this moment.
Brittany’s aunt and uncle were administering communion and Brittany asked if we should call it quits as the rain was picking up, and they said, “No, this is fine. Let’s keep going. Everything is ok.” I’m glad they said that.
I couldn’t tell how much the rain was coming down because we were under the tree, but I knew it was picking up. Then, I looked out into the crowd and noticed that the rain was actually full on coming down. Like when I used to shoot the water hose up into the air onto myself in the summer because we didn’t have a pool.
I felt bad, but only for a split second. As I looked at all of my family and friends that were gathered there, I noticed that no one was panicking. They all were sitting, smiling and not moving. I have people in my life that love Brittany and I so much that they had made up their minds that they were going to be there for us—even through the rain. I still can’t get over that.
Brittany gave me a nod, and with a smile I yelled out, “Everyone, just come up here!” And like that, everyone gathered around us under the tree, huddling together, sharing umbrellas and even kindly making sure Brittany and I had one above us. When the time came for me to kiss my bride, I was surrounded by shouts and cheers in a surround-sound volume we never would have been able to hear if everyone hadn’t had to come up under the tree. It was perfect.
I had been praying for the rain to hold off, but as I saw so many people I loved surrounding me, I was grateful for the rain. I would never change a thing about that day.
No one wants rain on their wedding day. No one wants all the different types of rain that can fall so frequently in our lives. But it tends to rain, whether we think we are prepared or not.
My wedding day taught me something about the rain, though. A sudden downpour of rain can bring on an outpouring of love. Someone can tell you they love you, but until they’ve stood with you through the storm, you may never know the full strength and reach of that love. It’s funny how what you’d never want to happen becomes what makes you feel more loved than you ever could have.
I don’t know if God brings the rain on us or not, but I do know that he lets it fall down. And I don’t think every situation will give you the choice to be thankful for the rain like I was, because sometimes it rains really hard. I know it’s not a popular message in the world today, but I believe there is something sacred in weakness. Vulnerability and the need for help are not pathetic plagues on our lives; they are open invitations for love.
God says that his love is made perfect in weakness. And I believe rain is a peculiar gift that allows our love for each other to reach its full potential.
As I said, I’d never pray for rain on your wedding day, but if it comes, you might just get some truly wonderful memories out of it.