"If you'll be my Dixie chicken I'll be your Tennessee lamb. And we can walk together down in Dixieland." Little Feat
It was Memorial Day weekend in May 2008 when we headed to the boathouse in Vancleave to stay and soak up the sun on the river. We'd been dating for 3 years then. It was just me, Coco, and Shadow. It was like any other time we'd headed to the river. Little did I know what he had planned. We'd spent the day on a sandbar and by the time we got back to the boathouse that evening, I was wiped out. So, I hopped in the shower then promptly deposited by behind onto the couch where I fell asleep. I remember Corey waking me up by calling my name. But he wasn't in the living room with me. He was in the back bedroom. "Shea, call Shadow up there. He's got something caught in his fur and I can't get it out.", he said. Bleary eyed, I started calling Shadow to me. If you've ever seen our little guy walk, he moves like a little tank. He's all stout and proud and walks around like he owns whatever land his little paws touch. So, here comes trotting up to me when I see it: the ring. It was on his collar! Of course, I started freaking out and he wouldn't come to me then! Corey comes out of the bedroom smiling ear to ear and laughing. "I can't get him!!", I screamed. He can barely talk for laughing and scoops up Shadow. He then walks over to the couch where I am and deposits Shadow in my lap. "Will you marry us?!", Corey said. I'd always told Corey if he ever asked me to marry him that I wanted Shadow to be involved. He was our family and it was important to me to have him be part of the moment. "Well, DUH!!!", I said and picked Shadow up and squashed him in between us as I gave Corey a hug. It was everything I could have ever asked for. In a word, it was perfect!
We spent the next year planning our big day. We both knew that a traditional church wedding wasn't our thing, but the beach definitely was. So, we made plans to have our wedding in Orange Beach, AL. All we needed was us, the waves, and the sand. We'd been together for 4 years at that point, and our wedding was a celebration of the life and love we'd already built together. I picked out a simple soft white halter dress from David's Bridal and Corey would be in white linen pants and a button up. My bridesmaids wore knee length (hot pink!) dresses (with pockets!!) from J. Crew and the groomsmen wore khakis and white button ups. Surrounded by our family and friends we said our vows underneath blue skies to our Creator above with the waves crashing behind us while the sun set on April 11, 2009. The day before Corey's grandparents anniversary. I'll never forget the way he looked as I walked to him. "Please don't let me fall, Daddy.", I asked Al. "I got you.", he said back as he laid his hand over mine. I knew he meant so much more as he held back the tears. I just looked up at him and grinned as I saw him look forward with his jaw set. Yeah, the big guy's kind of a softie. Corey was beaming. He was all tan and just glowing really. As my dad handed me off to Corey, I looked at my future husband and knew I was home. I don't think we saw anyone or anything else in those moments. Well, that is until Corey put my ring on the right hand as opposed to the left! Yep, he was nervous! We all got a big laugh out of that one and I'm pretty sure there's a photo still floating around out there somewhere to prove it! We'd both done really well up until the very end of the ceremony when the tears were filling both of our eyes. I can remember the preacher saying "You may kiss the bride!", and then all of the world fell away. It was just us in that moment. I don't think I even realized I was walking back down the aisle until I started hearing cheers come from several balconies of the condo we were staying at. Apparently my in laws had told everyone staying at our condo that weekend we were getting married. Yeah, it was pretty stinking amazing!
Corey and I closed out our reception all on our own. I'd told our friends to go ahead and head out without us. That we would catch up. I wanted the very last song of the night to play for just the two of us. Corey held my right hand next to his heart with my head on his chest as we danced to "I Need You" by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. It was magical and so us. I've always needed him. He's always needed me. Being with each other is as natural as breathing. There's trust, respect, joy, love, and a complete need for each other that exists between us. We're the others very best friend. In a way, I've always felt like I was Corey's wife. Even from the very beginning. I knew he was the one for me. And he always will be. :) Sending you big hugs, friends, Shea