Memory is a funny thing.
Last April 26th, our wedding day, I couldn't imagine remembering less than every single detail of the day. It was so vivid, so intense, that I thought every little bit would be ingrained forever. But even now, just a year later, I'm surprised by what remains.
I remember trying to take a nap with B before our rehearsal, because we knew the next couple of days would be crazy and sleep would be hard to come by - but neither of us slept.
I remember going to the Growler Station and having a beer together, on the house, before the rehearsal, a quiet moment just for us, and for Well's Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale (hey - don't knock it 'til you've tried it).
I remember being at our rehearsal dinner, anxious, scared for my brother who had food poisoning, and sad that my parents were missing it. I remember the relief when, during the first few moments of the slide show Mom came up behind me and gave me a huge hug, because they'd made it.
I remember everyone being so impressed that Mom and I not only stayed out at City Tavern with everyone until about 1 a.m., but that they kept buying us drinks and we kept drinking them. I remember my new "baby" cousin, who had just turned 21, insisting on buying me a shot.
I especially remember not going to sleep like a good girl on the night before my wedding, but instead staying up in the giant king bed at the Westin Poinsett and just talking to my mom for several hours. I also remember her insisting on taking a selfie to commemorate my last night as Emily Kathryn Payne.
I remember sitting in the room at the Westin Poinsett watching everyone else get their hair and makeup done, while I was last. I remember everyone had gone out to lunch, but my mom had dropped off a Pita Pit sandwich for me, and on my wedding day, I ate lunch alone, my hair all done, my bare feet propped up on a nearby chair (don't worry - I needed those quiet moments).
I remember being driven to the church by my father-in-law to be, who gave me a hug and told me he loved me before he sent me off to have my first look with his son.
I remember how blue the sky was and how green the trees, as I walked to meet B in front of the church. I remember him crying when he saw me, and how I felt like I should cry, but I couldn't because I was so unbelievably happy.
I remember the crazy old bats at the church "babysitting" the bridesmaids, photobombing all our shots, not allowing us to be announced as Mr. and Mrs. Brian Stevenson for fear of clapping, and generally making us feel unwelcome (of course, now it's just hilarious, but at the time - seriously?).
I remember that after B and I walked back down the aisle, one old bat sent us out the front doors of the church, but no one else came out that way. I remember being honked at by passing drivers on Church Street as we soaked in our first few minutes alone as husband and wife.
I remember waiting in Joel's Java, having our own "cocktail hour" before the reception, how good those caprese bites tasted, and how I kept stealing sips of B's beer because I was afraid to have a beverage of my own on an empty stomach.
I remember our first dance - unpracticed, unplanned, and SO awkward, but somehow the pictures wound up looking amazing.
I remember the reception being a blur of greeting and hanging out with all those we loved, of dancing, of color and lights and music.
I remember Amy and David taking us up to the top of the Westin Poinsett for pictures, and how good it felt up on top of the hotel with the breeze, and how lovely to get away for just a few moments.
I don't actually remember this moment, but since Amy and David memorialized it forever, I feel I need to share it. I do, however, remember how much I love champagne:
I remember our Daddy-Daughter dance to "House at Pooh Corner," by Kenny Loggins, one of our many favorite songs.
I remember my mom and dad celebrating their 34th anniversary on that day, and dancing to Alan Jackson's "Remember When." I also remember that I now cannot listen to that song without crying. Every damn time.
I remember my wine and champagne glasses kept disappearing, even when I put people in charge of holding on to them for me.
I remember our last dance to Don Henley's "Taking You Home," and how we did a little better with that one. Practice makes perfect.
I remember the sadness climbing into the horse-drawn carriage that our amazing wedding day was over, but the incredible relief at a few quiet minutes alone with my best friend.
But mostly I remember this: When we were standing on the front steps of Christ Church after our wedding, after the old bat had ushered us out, I remember telling B I loved him. I also told him I couldn't wait for a lifetime of adventures with him. I had no idea that this was in store.
If you had told me then that we'd be spending our anniversary in Bordeaux, instead of Savannah, Ga., as we'd initially planned, I'd have said, "Yeah, whatever." Then again, if you had told me that in less than a year we'd be living in France, I'd have thought you were seriously a few French fries short of a Happy Meal.
But here's the thing: it doesn't matter whether we live in South Carolina, or France, or Outer Mongolia. Brian John, I love you. Anywhere I am with you is where I want to be. Every day I'm grateful to be your wife and thankful for the many adventures we've had this year, both large and small. I'm always in awe of your sunny disposition, your silliness, your patience, your sense of direction and your ability to fix everything. You make me a better, happier, stronger, more caring person, and I can only hope I do the same for you. Year one is in the books, and I can't wait to see what year two has in store. Je t'aime, mon amour.