Our wedding day was on a warm and delightful afternoon. Jesse and I had just spent my last night of bachelorhood at Tom Ditzler’s house and all three Collins generations: me, my dad, and my son, Jesse had shared a delicious lunch at Famous Dave’s Barbecue. Tom, his wife, Donna, Jesse, my dad, and I all sat around the table in Tom’s kitchen. As we talked on and on, Jesse (my best man) started getting antsy. “It’s 2:40 dad, we’d better start getting ready!”
We left just enough time to hum-and-haw over all we were wearing to the wedding ceremony and snap some pictures. Then, with heart racing and cheeks cracked from smiling, they loaded me up in the car and to Fossil Creek Park we went.
When we arrived at the wedding site there was already quite a gathering. My childhood friends from the hills had no idea what awaited them, for none had ever seen the likes of Carol in their secluded, hermitous lives. Carol is a good friend of Dana’s, and she was instructed to get a picture of me with all my mountain friends. She hollered out, “who are Brian’s friends from the mountains?” Once they had admitted to being my childhood friends, Carol started wrangling them over to me one by one for pictures. One turned tail and ran while the others protested but agreed to having their pictures taken.
Finally, my best man and I took our places down by our officiants, Mark Sloniker and Colleen Crosson. Mark and Colleen are a very loving and musically talented couple that have a universal worship service at their house each Sunday that Dana and I have been attending. They are both good friends we have known for years. Sean Waters, my friend and musical partner for nearly 20 years, was our music coordinator and MC. Jesse I listened to the acoustic love music Sean had cued up and waited for Dana with excitement.
It had been a long time since Dana and I had seen each other, 16 hours or more! The moment she walked down the aisle reminded me of the moment before I proposed to her. Seconds warped into moments as she walked toward me in what seemed like slow motion, and when she finally got to me, we hugged with delight.
While Mark and Colleen spoke and Dana and I stood arm in arm, I felt at peace, calm, and 110% sure that I was on the right path. I had already waited too long to express my vows and was quite ready to put an end to 38 years of long and winding bachelorhood.
Mark and Colleen prepared a beautiful ceremony for us, with blessings, poems, tributes to our families and honor to our lost one, Cross Justice. We had a blending of families ceremony when Jesse and Bree poured different colors of sand into a heart shaped glass. We saw our families unite as the colors merged into one.
Dana’s vows were heartfelt and humorous, and I will admit that I winged mine. Then it was time to say “I do,” which we both said with vigor and no hesitation. Everyone blew bubbles as we sealed it with kisses. Sean cued up Journey to the Center of Your Heart and we bounded out of the ceremony hand in hand. This moment was soon followed by a giant family hug with Jesse and Bree. All we could say was, “we did it!”
Afterwards, we made our way down to the bridge for family pictures. The warm September dusk was perfect for walking and laughing with family members.
On the way to the reception at Ptarmigan Country Club, we called Dana’s Dad and her Aunt Pam. It was then when Aunt Pam finally gave me permission to hold Dana’s hand. One of my favorite moments of the day was when Dana and I walked into Ptarmigan Country Club, as my dear old friend, Sean Waters announced “Mr. and Mrs. Collins!”
At the head table, Dana and I were lavished with happy reception-goers and picture-takers. My sister’s husband brought my twin baby nieces to our table for a little visit, while another old friend gave me a small card that would help me resolve any argument in my marriage. Whenever we have a disagreement, I am to read it aloud to Sweet Dane. It said, “I was wrong, I don’t know how I could have been so wrong, will you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
During cocktail hour and the reception, our friends played music. Michael and Evan kicked off the night with a soothing piano and saxophone duo set. Then came our friend and vocalist for BDC, Rae McAlister, with a set of original music, followed by a cover set with Sean Waters on guitar and vocals, Tom Gray on drums, Bulldog on bass, and Darren Radach on piano.
After the pie-cutting, Tom Ditzler and I got up for a BDC set, followed by a Seers set with Tom Gray on drums. Many musical combinations of our talented guests followed. One of my favorite memories was of the garter and bouquet tosses, won by our friends Amos and Nicole who proceeded to dance together for the rest of the evening.
My sweet Dane and I stayed at our reception until it was thinned out to the max. It was after 11 when we made it back to our own doors. We had guests along for the night, Bree’s friend Madison and Jesse’s friend Conner joined us. The kids were all pumped and far from sleep. They had spent the night having a ball with the photo booth, the games, and the singing & dancing at the reception. They were livin’ as large as we were. That night at home, Dana and I sat together and marveled at all of the wonderful cards and wedding gifts from the loved ones in our lives. We are so blessed. It was truly an immaculate reception and a day never to forget!