Announcing Mrs. Melissa Stockwell Tolsma; a race (I mean wedding) recap

That's me, that's me!!! I'm officially a Tolsma and officially have a husband. And it couldn't of been better. It truly was, the best night of my life.

Things started to get real a few days before the wedding when family and friends stated to get into town. By Thursday, and the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, the euphoria of what was happening really set in as I looked around on Thursday night to my very best friends and family all together to celebrate us. A feeling I can't even explain.

I said goodnight to Brian on Thursday knowing that the next time I would see him would be at our first look the next day. I went back to the hotel room with a few of my bridesmaids and we stayed up chatting and laughing as they had written some 'words of wisdom' down for me as a soon to be married lady. I know I say it often, but I have some of the very best friends. With me through thick and thin and always there with a hug, a smile, an ear and always up for anything. The older we get, the closer we get and absolutely, friends for life.

Friday morning was an early one as we woke up for a wedding day run around beautiful Lincoln Park and a beautiful morning. My good friend from my ROTC and Army days, Missy, joined in and we ran around singing cadences like we did back in the day. I'm sure anyone we passed thought we were crazy but we were loving it.

A coffee and a shower later and all the bridesmaids and my mom started with hair and makeup in the hotel bridal suite. The stylists and make up artists were fabulous and everyone looked stunning.

I was feeling pretty calm the whole day except for a few moments of stress when we had to decide if the ceremony was inside or outside. We had originally planned an outdoor ceremony (although a beautiful inside venue as well) but chances of rain were not good and the radar was showing a huge green patch coming our way. It was a tough decision when we finally decided inside, becasue I had images of an outdoor ceremony in beautiful, 60 degree, low humidity weather. But alas, that was not meant to be.

The weather held for pictures and I saw Brian for the first time on this bridge with the city in the background. He was standing there and I walked up unable to contain my excitement and my smiles. I tapped him on the shoulder, he turned and it was a moment to forever remember. A few tears, many hugs, many was I lucky enough to marry this handsome man? Dallas looked equally as handsome in his own 3 piece gray suit, I mean seriously people, my heart about stopped when I saw him. He's already breaking the hearts of women around the world with all his cuteness. Many pictures were taken and in a stroke of luck, an ice cream truck came by as we were finishing up and we got to get some pictures with the truck and the ice cream. It was perfect.

We made our way back to the hotel for a few minutes before boarding a trolley to head back over to the ceremony. My dad and I had our own trolley and it was a special moment as we chatted about life and about love and saying everything that should be said before walking down the aisle. My dad has been there with me through it all, always steady like a rock and it was a special moment for the two of us. By this time the rain had started and I felt better about my decision to have things indoors.

The ceremony was perfect. Seeing all my family and friends as I walked down the aisle towards Brian, seeing Dallas ride his way down in a wagon, Jake as the ring bearer, hugging our parents, a great sermon by friend and officiant Gary,
honoring America with the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace and a flag folding ceremony with the help from fellow veterans Dan and Jen, our own personal vows, some thunder from the storm outside, and finally becoming Brian's wife as we were announced for the first time. A ceremony full of laughs and some tears and a love that could be felt from everyone in the room. A permanent smile as it was one of the happiest moments of my life. Marrying my best friend and entering into a family that had welcomed me into theirs from day one. Have I mentioned yet that I'm a lucky girl?

The ceremony turned into a reception and a party that I will never forget. Dancing the night away with my new husband, with family and friends and so much love. Hearing the MSU fight song, our song, Hold On by Wilson Philips and the memorable God Bless the USA, in a tribute to America that was one of my wedding highlights. The Hoffman family even got Brian down on the floor for a Gator dance and initiation into our family.

And because a night of dancing just wasn't enough, 40 of us boarded a trolley from 12-2am to continue the party around Chicago. It's a night you just don't want to end. When we got back to the hotel a little after 2am we went to bed so happy, so exhausted and just so very thankful. Memories made that will last a lifetime.

The next day was spent with family and a tasty brunch and then writing instructions for our moms who were watching the house, the dog and Dallas while we are gone for 11 whole days on our honeymoon.

Then on Monday, we packed up our things, said a tough goodbye to Dallas and Jake and headed off to the airport in our post wedding, newly married bliss.

A honeymoon recap will be for another blog along with a race recap of a race I just did in Yokohama, Japan. Mixing pleasure with a little business as we spend part of our honeymoon with Team USA. It only seems fitting.

So there you go, a newly married Mrs. Melissa Stockwell Tolsma. To answer your question on if I'm changing my name (I get it a lot), I think I eventually will. At least on the personal side. But while I may be a Tolsma now, don't worry dad, I'll always be your little girl.

Coming next is a honeymoon/race recap blog. Until then, love to you all, we're off to Hawaii!


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