When Chris & I got married, we didn’t have a lot of money. Not much has changed! Anyway, we decided not to take a week off and fly somewhere (I was in school and he was the only one working). So we decided to pack as much extravagance as we could into two days away after our wedding. We spent two different nights in two different hotels in two different cities. I was in shock; he was content.
We took no pictures. I don’t know why; we just never pulled our camera out. I took a few pictures on a cell phone that has since been replaced by an iPhone. They are most likely lost forever. So instead of being discouraged, I’m heading in the opposite direction from a Wordless Wednesday post; I’m writing down everything I remember about our two-day honeymoon, and I’ll sprinkle a few stock landmark photographs I find online.
We got married at our church, Warehouse242, which is close to downtown Charlotte. Surrounded by friends and family (literally – we got married in the round), we exchanged vows that we’d written and kept secret from each other. I presented Christopher with an extra wedding band, one that signified my commitment to Lucas & Avery. My brother played a song he wrote for us. Our fun & laid-back reception took place at an old bistro in uptown Charlotte. There were candles, wildflowers, brick walls, wood floors, leather club chairs – it was glorious.
Thanks to a hookup, we got a sweet deal on a night at the Westin, one of the nicest hotels in the area. Funny story: the guy who gave us the discount happened to be a fashion designer, a guy I hired to do all of the dresses for the bridal party, mine included. A few weeks before the big day, he took off to God-knows-where, disconnected his phone and took off with everything. We had to scramble to find new dresses.
Anyway, we enjoyed a beautiful night in room 2210, which is now our new home’s street address number – how ironic?! We checked in at the front desk, and the lady smiled and congratulated us. I paid for the room in cash and waited with our suitcase while Chris parked the car. It cost $20 to park in the hotel’s garage. I remember willing myself not to care about the money.
I can’t remember if Chris carried me into the room. I usually have such a sharp memory. Our room overlooked the street with a skyline view of Panthers Stadium. I thought it fitting, with Chris’ passion for Carolina football. I remember standing by the window while Chris went to the bathroom. I stared at my silhouette amongst all of the city lights. We were on one of the top floors. The cars looked like ants. I felt so pretty, wearing my veil and dress. But I felt so numb. The “big day” was coming to an end. I looked out and wondered if anyone driving by knew that I had just gotten married and was going to bed with my new husband, twenty-two floors above them.
In my wedding dress and a rare moment of vulnerability, I took Chris’ shoes and socks off and rubbed his feet. I tried to tell him all that he meant to me without letting my voice shake too much. I saved some of the soap and lotion. It smelled like white tea and ginger and aloe. I still have some left.
We slept in a king-sized bed and ordered breakfast in bed the next morning. It was expensive, so we only got one order and shared it. Chris let me eat most of it. I think we tried to read the newspaper. I put on a pair of jeans and Vans slip-ons for our trip to Asheville, feeling so under-dressed. I saved the parking ticket, but I’m not sure where it is now. Hopefully, I’ll find it in our box of wedding mementos. We went by my parents’ house to get a few things for that night. My dad made a joke about me not making eye contact, and then he called me a hussy (lovingly, of course). They hugged us and we were off. For some reason, I was embarrassed and just wanted to be alone with Chris.
We checked into the Grove Park Inn a few hours later. It’s a world-famous resort in Asheville, NC. Once again, I felt out-of-place. Chris stayed close by as we checked in. There were some issues with our reservations and how we’d pre-paid. I remember being worried that something was wrong. I’d let Chris take over this part and didn’t know the details.
Once we got it all squared away, we made our way to our room. Henry Kissinger’s name was on the wooden door. Apparently, he’d stayed there several times. I just called to find out the number – room 460. We spent that evening in the Spa. We got a couples’ massage. My therapist’s name was Matthew, and Chris had an older European lady named Jacinthe. I remember being nervous that Chris wouldn’t like that I had a male therapist. He said he’d requested it, because he thought I’d enjoy the comfort of a man’s hands.
We dunked in cold pools as deep as the ocean, lined with rocks. We floated in warm pools that changed colors and played music underwater. There was a women’s side, a man’s side, and then a community area. We sipped on cucumber-infused water and wore fancy bathrobes. I almost cried when someone addressed me as “Mrs. Kincaid.” I was still numb.
We dined at the hotel’s Sunset Terrace that evening, thanks to a wedding gift from a sweet friend. We ate crabcakes, duck (I think), and steak. There were fancy potatoes and fancy salads. Our table was by a window that overlooked one of the heated outdoor pools that played music underwater.
The next morning, we ordered another single breakfast in bed. I think we took a bath in the old ceramic tub. The ceilings were slanted, as we were on the top floor of the Main Inn. We checked out of the hotel and headed into downtown Asheville to walk around and eat lunch before heading back to Charlotte. Chris bought a black-and-gray scarf from a hippie boutique on the Battery, a cobblestone road blocked off to cars. I think we may have gone to that red double-decker bus that’s now a coffeeshop.
We went to Tupelo Honey for lunch. Although I’d been there before, something didn’t feel right about it that time. Nothing on the menu looked appealing, either. Chris left a few bucks on the table to cover our sweet teas, and we walked next door to Mayfel’s. Apparently, that was God-ordained, because we are obsessed with it now. Chris had the meatloaf and went to heaven. I enjoyed shrimp and grits. And then we headed home.
One of our first nights back, I crawled into bed and burst into tears. I had no idea why, but that was a dark season for me. I was so happy to finally be married and getting started on life with my husband, but a part of me was mourning the loss of the old me – Rachael Brown, daughter and sister and housemate and a whole bunch of other things I’d left to be “become one” with someone.
Chris held me for a few minutes that night, and then he jumped up. I heard him rummaging around in the suitcase we’d yet to unpack. He crawled back into bed and began reading aloud to me – his vows, from our wedding. He whispered and cried into my hair, and I fell in love all over again. I was home.