The cakes are baked. The pickles are prepped. We’ve got nine cases of wine and 10 cases of beer lining the walls of our bedroom. (We had to store them somewhere, and we figure one room is as good as another, right?) My sister just arrived; my brother David lands tonight; and at least a dozen aunts, uncles, and cousins are already in town. It may still be six days away, but really, our wedding has already begun.

It’s a funny feeling. I hardly know what to say. To tell you the truth, I can’t believe I’m actually old enough to be doing this. How on earth did that happen? I mean, it was only a few days ago, I could swear, that I was fumbling through my first kiss in the foyer of my parents’ house. I can’t possibly be old enough to be someone’s wife, for crying out loud. Sometimes Brandon and I look at each other, shaking our heads, and ask, “Can this really be happening?” Of course it is, and happily so, but it’s a lot to wrap a head around. For me, a wedding means much more than just the starting line for a marriage. It means a lot of hope, and risk, and change, and growth. It means a new family, one that starts from just the two of us. It means walking down the aisle without my father, who has been gone for almost five years now. I never thought I would do it without him.

Lately I’ve been wondering what he would say about all this. He would be beaming, I’m pretty sure. He would have loved to know Brandon. They would have holed up in his office, thick as thieves, listening to Gene Krupa and talking about beer. It’s strange, but sometimes when Brandon laughs, he sounds just like my father. Sometimes I could swear he were still here, sitting right next to me. He would like to know, I think, that my mother gave me his wedding ring, and that we had Brandon’s ring made from it, melted down and remolded. I think he would like that, to be a part of us that way.

There’s an Alice Walker quote that I love, and that we’ve had printed on the back of our wedding program. “I have learned not to worry about love,” it reads, “but to honor its coming with all my heart.” It’s hard not to worry, quite honestly, in our time or anytime, about making this sort of commitment to someone. But I want to honor Brandon. I want to honor the part of me that believes. I want to honor what has come before us. I want to honor us.

I can’t wait to get started.

So away I go, friends, away to get married. I’ll see you in three weeks or so, after our honeymoon. If you should think of us this Sunday, send a little hoot or holler or happy wish our way. We’ll raise a glass to you.