Today we are welcoming Ashlei back with part two of her love story. She shares how God brought her back to Himself and also to the man of her dreams. Read part one of her story and today she shares part two. You can read all the other young wives stories in our Share Your Story: Young Wives series.
Our friendship grew deeper and deeper by the minute. He encouraged me in the Lord and offered a crying shoulder when things got tough; he became my best friend. One evening we were driving back from a “fun day” – as we called it because it was not a date – when the topic of life dreams and goals came up. As he began to express what he believed the Lord wanted him to do with his life I gazed in wonder as I saw our lives coming together, forming one.
That night God completely removed the wool from my eyes, so to speak, and I looked at him for the first time the way the Lord had planned out; he was the man I was going to marry. We agreed to take one week apart from each other, with no communication between us, to devote ourselves fully to prayer. We met again on December 30th, 2010 and the smiles on our faces said it all, we believed the lord had said yes, He was moving us forward into a personal relationship. About one month after that day he took me down by the water in C.D.A., got down on two knees, and asked me to start a courtship with him. I said yes.
Eleven months flew by and I found myself all dolled up for a dinner date at Ivano’s Ristorante. That evening was exactly one year since we came together again after “the week”, and to my surprise, we were about to take the next step. The Lord blessed me with obliviousness and to my amazement the love of my life knelt on one knee with a diamond ring and said, “I love you for you, not for what you have done or what you will become. I love you for you; I will give you the love that you never knew. Ashlei (middle and last name), will you marry me?” I scarcely was able to utter, “YES”, before he picked me up and spun me around, just as he had done one year prior.
My next surprise came about as I looked around the room and with great joy discovered a photographer who had captured the entire proposal. After snatching a few more photos we returned to our seats where we were greeted with sparkling cider from a smiling waitress. As we lost ourselves in love, a sweet old couple walked passed us, both with knowing looks on their faces, and gave us thumbs up. What a blessed encouragement to an already magical night.
Well, I got the ring, now it was time to stop day dreaming and get to work. $5,000, countless arrangement and eight months later the big day was here. Oh, what an exciting day! At 7:00AM my maid-of-honor picked my sister, the flower girl, and I up and we headed to the beauty salon. I don’t think I’ve ever been as unglued as I was that day, but at the same time I remembered Who was holding me together. For what seemed like hours I sat there, all eyes on me, as the hair dresser arranged my beauty up-do. I couldn’t think but I couldn’t not think; should I smile, cry, laugh, fret?
I am truly grateful for my best friend and maid-of-honor who held my hand that day and reminded me of the excitement that laid ahead; by the end of the day I would be married to the love of my life; a true, God-honoring covenant marriage. When we arrived at the ceremony location we were greeted by my grandma who, with tear filled eyes, enveloped me in a tender embrace. I was quickly whisked away into the bridal suite where I was assisted into my wedding dress.
Meanwhile, with butterflies in his stomach, my handsome soon-to-be husband was busy getting prepared with his best man. It was quite the tricky situation trying to arrange for him to avoid seeing me before the wedding (it had to be a surprise!), but God worked it all out and soon he was waiting for me at the alter where we would exchange our vows. With every last bobby pin in place and a fresh coat of lipstick applied it was time for me to make my way to my “hiding tent”. “It’s August 7th,” I stuttered, “I’m getting married today!”
2:00PM arrived and the wedding coordinator made her way to my tent. “It’s time,” she announced. I never will forget the emotion I felt when I heard those words, and so, with two handsome men in suits at my side I took the first steps out into the crisp yet pleasantly warm autumn breeze. Each guest quietly turned as I awaited my next cue, when all of a sudden, there it was, that familiar song I had grown to love so much began to play. Tears brimming, my adoring groom lifted his eyes to meet mine; pure love was flowing as I made my way down the aisle towards my future. Hand in hand and heart by heart we stood with our pastor, family and friends, exchanging the vows of our covenant marriage before God.
“I, David (middle and last name)… I, Ashlei (middle and last name), in faith, honesty and love … I do … I do.” At last, those sweet words our hearts had longed to hear for nearly two years came sweeping over us like a magnificent waterfall, pure and refreshing in all it’s splendor: “I now pronounce you man and wife … Mr. and Mrs. David Cherry!” We did it! Excitement soared as we ran back down the aisle, our guests cheering and smiles on everyone’s faces.
We were kept in reality by the majestic horse awaiting our get-away, and once the tune was set I was helped me onto my noble steed. Tears and smiles radiated as we floated away from the ceremony, my husband leading me, just as he would for the rest of our lives.