Some days are simply golden. Not just for the light, or the dreamy weather, or the turning of the cottonwood trees. Some days are framed with so much joy they feel like a treasure. A wondrous, golden gift.
This was one of those joy-drenched days.
Meet the new Mr. & Mrs. Greene. Rachel is my baby sister. She turns thirty next week (ten years between us), and funny enough, in Mormondom (at least here in Salt Lake), drifting unmarried into your late twenties can feel lonely, hard, and out of place.
Rachel brought her share of boys home for family dinners. They were nice and pleasant to talk to. But it wasn't until Eric came for dinner that we noticed a genuine spark about her. And him. It was obvious he loved her. And that's what we were waiting for. For someone to truly love Rachel. For her beauty, goodness, opinions, and brains.
And... when Eric met me at the kitchen sink to dry dishes, after helping my five kiddos load their plates, I knew he was a keeper.
The night of Rachel and Eric's wedding dinner, we five siblings sat with our spouses at one big, round table. I looked at every face, took in the laughter, the comfort. And all at once, a handful of memories kindled inside me - of how we used to be. Few people on earth know me better than these five. It was the happiest feeling being with them that night.
The next morning we gathered at the Salt Lake Temple for Rachel and Eric's sealing. Members of the LDS church who want to be married in temples do so because of the nature of the marriage. It is not just for this life. It is for this life and beyond. Marriages performed in holy temples are sealed with a sealing power that binds them to each other through death and into the afterlife. This kind of marriage is for time and all eternity.
Sealings also include children that will be born to those parents (or adopted), binding the whole family unit together forever.
This means we don't take marriage lightly. It is the most important decision we make in this life. We believe the impact to be eternal. This decision brings us great comfort, especially through death. And in the end, it is the thing that brings us the most joy.
Three of my mom's sisters.
Twenty years ago, the First Presidency of the LDS church issued a proclamation on the family. A statement that explains why we believe family, marriage, and children to be so important. As Doug and I have navigated some of the challenges in raising children and preserving a good marriage, we have come to really value these words:
"The family is ordained of God. Marriage between a man and woman is essential to God's plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities."
So the beginning of a new family, based on these principles, is for us, great cause to celebrate.
(You can read the whole proclamation here).
Ah, these two. Rachel and my Mom. They've had lots of years together, lots of conversations in the kitchen, lots of tears, and lots of laughs.
This photo probably sums up their feelings best. Wahoo!
Rachel with my Dad.
Eric. Ever the Ute fan.
The reception that night was at my parents' home. All of us wanted to have a backyard reception like this, but Rachel was the only one to pull it off.
She did all the planning, organizing, and brain-storming. Her ability to create large-scale beauty like this, and not get stressed about it, amazes me.
Ali tagged along as we took photos of the set-up.
Doug helped the boys with their belts and bow ties.
The girls were happy in their matching chiffon dresses.
Everyone but Spencer smiled for pictures.
Sisters and Bridesmaids.
The Keddington clan.
And my favorite little spot. Two white couches and wooden table tucked beneath the peach tree.
Sami holding cousin Hana.
They have given us so much. Man. How will it feel when that last child gets married?
Eliza under the apple tree.
Finally. A half-smile from Spencer.
He makes my heart flutter.
My sister Becca.
And this favorite moment. Spencer mirroring my Dad in a fast-paced progression of silly faces. They were squarely matched.
The Groom's cake. A fun idea I'd never seen before. Rachel's surprise for Eric.
The wedding cake.
My brother Dave and his daughter Maya.
The brothers shuttled all the guests up and down the hill in golf carts. Which worked quite well until someone told me my girls were jumping onto the back of the moving carts to catch a ride. Ahem. So glad we didn't end up with road rash and someone getting run over!
Eric's beautiful Mom, and his niece.
We were even more sure about Eric once we met his wonderful family.
My Mother's garden. Pumpkins ripening on the vine.
The happy couple. I love this photo. For the tree with the lights in it. A neglected plate of food behind them, and Rachel's shoes kicked off.
Rachel greeting two family favorites, Jer and Cristie.
This chef, flipping crepes, never missed a catch. At least while I was watching. I had a go at crepe-flipping a few weeks ago. And... it's obvious I need more practice.
More of my Mom's family. I love these people. Wish we saw them much more often.
Sarah and her darling sidekick Hana.
The eating of the groom's cake. Spence and Gordy hovered around this table for quite a while until given the "go" sign.
Some of Eric's family, gathering round the fire as the sun went down.
The girls. Zig-zagging through the lights.
And carrying presents.
After lots of dancing, food, and seeing old friends, we lit sparklers and made a tunnel for the bride and groom.
And off they went. To pull saran wrap and oreos off their car!
I enjoyed this gorgeous bouquet of orchids and roses for another week.
Looking through these photos today, I can't help but think about the joint-life they started and the reasons we still revere marriage, encourage it, and work every day at strengthening our own.
Here's one more line from the Family Proclamation. It is about each of us. Our potential. And our worth.
— male and female — are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny."
It is good to step back and see each other as God sees us. As his own. As his most important work. With divinity already placed in our souls. Marriage requires divine eyes. Eyes that see the best in each other.
Congrats Rachel and Eric. You have a wonderful synergy about you. Golden days, like this, are worth waiting for.