There are certain phrases that people use both casually and often when talking about romantic love, one of those being that two people are “meant to be” together. I often wonder if people assume I subscribe to some of these classically held beliefs about love and relationships based solely on my profession – if because my specific work is in love and marriage, I naturally must believe in soul mates and “meant-to-be”ness. And while I don’t often speak it aloud, the truth is that I don’t believe everyone who claims they have “found their soul mate” has actually done so, and I don’t always believe that all couples who claim to be meant to be are actually so – I think sometimes love and relationships can have a lot more to do with timing, and mutual interests, and respect and admiration and learning and growing together, and a shared understanding of the way two people view the world and their place within it, and a lot less to do with finding the one and only mate for one’s soul. And I think that’s beautiful in it’s own right, too.
I say all of this because I want it to be clear that as much as I observe and encounter love, I don’t often see couples and internally classify them as “soul mates” – but when it comes to Lesley and Reece, I am pretty sure I do.
Lesley and Reece first met when they were in high school – Lesley’s family moved to Geneva during the time, so the two knew of each other but didn’t become close then. They both ended up going to college at Illinois State University, but their paths didn’t cross on campus until their junior year. After seeing each other for the first time in years, the two started to become friends. One night later that year, Lesley went to a local bar after a bad date, and Reece happened to be there that evening; and the rest, as they say, is history. Lesley and Reece’s wedding vows echoed one another as they each described how the choices they made throughout all those years prior had a way of leading them to one another; Reece described how he truly felt that all his life, he was being led to her – and after seeing the look in each of their eyes, and watching the way they come to life when in the presence of each other, and hearing how they make each other even better in the toasts by their friends – I completely believe him.
As the two of them entered their wedding reception and greeted their family and friends, Reece shared how reflecting on their lives leading up to this day caused him to think about how finite this whole life thing truly is. He spoke off the cuff as he described the fact that we tend to always look forward toward our future happiness, rather than appreciating where we are at in the moment:
“You know, we think, ‘I’ll be happy when I get a girlfriend, when I get that job, when I get married, when I have children..’ — instead of embracing our current happiness.”
He then referenced this incredible day they were in the midst of – this day when he married the woman his life had led him to, the fact that their loved ones came out to help celebrate it, and how fortunate they both felt for this very moment. There was an energy and sincerity in his voice that I can only describe as that of a person who means it, and I watched as he and Lesley exchanged looks, and as she nodded her head, and as she grinned at the man in front of her, it felt so clear that she meant it just as much.
“We will never again have all of these people we love most in the world all in one room. So tonight, we are celebrating that.”
Sometimes people ask me what some of the best things I’ve seen at weddings are. And I promise you, they’re typically not extravagant or thoroughly planned or things found on Pinterest – often it’s simply people who make each other better sharing knowing looks, being fully present for the incredible thing it is to love and be loved.