One chapter of the story God's been writing ends today, and a new one begins. Or rather...it's probably a better metaphor to say a new book is beginning as they join their lives together!
Early this morning I watched as Laurie had her hair and make-up done, and then slipped into her wedding dress to transform into the most radiant bride!
In that photo she had just watched Daniel walk across the gardens to the spot where he would soon meet her for the first look. That's why she is glowing!
Brenda, Laurie's mom, carried her train to keep it from getting wet in today's stormy weather. But truly, absolutely nothing can dampen the joy of this day!
After pictures, Dave met with them for a few moments of prayer...captured by several people!
|Not able to be in more than one place at once today, I'm so thankful for a few friends who captured some of the pictures that I'll include in this post!|
Amy and I were just about to walk outside to take our places for the wedding when someone grabbed our arm and said, "Come in here!" How glad I am that we didn't miss this!
Just minutes before the ceremony was to begin, a group of women who have all played different, yet significant parts in Laurie's life, gathered around her for one last moment of prayer over her, led out by her mom, and Daniel's mom.
This may have been my favorite picture of the day! While you see the hands of seven ladies, there are many more who are standing behind, also joining in prayer for our precious friend and her soon to be groom. I can say, there was hardly a dry eye after that.
Amy and I then scurried out into the inclement weather to take our places.
Up until I arrived to sit down at the piano, I thought I was going to be viewing the wedding from far away, tucked under a tent so that the equipment wouldn't get wet. But at the last moment, Dave and Josh figured out a way to move Amy and I up so that we could be right there, albeit behind the veil, to watch and be part of the wedding.
I literally choked up when I saw our position, and was so grateful that I had someone grab a quick picture to remember the Lord's kindness, even to us, in letting us be close to Laurie on her wedding day!
As the wedding party came in, with all eyes on Laurie, I stuck my hand through the veil to get just one clear picture of this sacred moment.
From then on, my view from behind looked like this...a view I was SO thankful for!
I asked my sister-in-law, Kristi, to "be my eyes" from out in the audience so all of the photos of the wedding are from her. And I'm SO thankful to have them!
Laurie continued to be the most radiant bride as she walked down the aisle after her bridesmaids and groomsmen. On the arm of her dad, and followed by her nieces, with sprinkles of rain showering blessings over her day, she went to meet her groom.
And soak in the exquisite beauty of God's redemptive story in their lives that led them to this moment!
As they stood facing the crowd, Dave spoke to them for their wedding message, sharing from Song of Songs chapter 8.
He talked about who they are, and their love for each other.
But then made a turn, saying, "Love has brought you together. But actually, I don’t think that your love has brought you together. Today is an outcome of God’s love. God’s love for each of you, God’s love in spite of you."
And then he talked about how God's love has been relentless, durable and precious, and how those are the same challenges that he wanted to give to them as they enter into marriage.
Their wedding ceremony continued on with rich symbolism and personal touches as they read their own vows to each other.
When it came to Laurie's turn, she presented Daniel with the purity ring she's worn since she was 16, and with a "Faith" book she made that documented all of God's promises to her during the five and a half years of waiting for Daniel.
As their parents came forward to pray over them, Amy sang a song I'd not known until Laurie asked us to do it for her wedding. Called "Extravagant" by Bethel Music, it perfectly sums up theirs and God's love story.
"It's extravagant, and it doesn't make sense; we'll never comprehend, the way He loves us..."
After Daniel, Laurie and all those in attendance finished communion, Amy led in the song "10,000 Reasons" where we blessed the Lord with our hearts and souls for His magnificence on display today.
As a final act of joining their lives together, they followed the Jewish tradition of each breaking a separate glass (which were handblown separately in the colors of the South African and American flag), and then putting the pieces together which will be taken back to the glass blower who will make it into a vase that will be in their home in South Africa!
And then, they were pronounced husband and wife, kissing and making their way down the aisle to the joyful applause of the audience, and through the throwing of petals from wildflowers showered over them!
|Since no one was looking at me, I got to put my hand through the veil again and get one last photo from up front!|
After releasing their guests to join them for a High Tea (a South African tradition), they came into the tent and I got one quick, blurry, photo with Mrs. Laurie Nell before going on to serve tea to the guests!
It was a beautiful outdoor reception, despite the rain and wind. If you've ever wondered if it's possible to have a lovely wedding and reception outdoors in less than desirable circumstances, I can tell you with absolute certainty...IT IS! If the bride and groom are happy, everyone else can be happy!
Look at those joyful faces as they head out in a shower of bubbles!
It's a tradition here, for the bride and groom to take a drive to her hometown of Auburn and drive around the city square, with cars following, honking and cheering from the windows! So they headed off to do just that!
A dinner reception was to follow, but it was fun to wave them off into their first drive together as husband and wife, praying for God's richest blessings over them as they leave as Mr and Mrs Daniel Nell!
What an incredibly meaningful and God honoring day it was, celebrating their marriage and God's faithfulness to them.
We all love you Daniel and Laurie, and will continue to pray for God's hand of blessing over you as you join your lives together for his honor, glory and good purposes!!!