So like I said in part 1, two years after our Las Vegas wedding, Wolfy and I renewed our vows in a church wedding. I'm Catholic, so it took almost a year for Wolfy and I to finish classes so we could finally start making plans. We went to couples retreats, marriage prep conferences, financial classes, and Catholic Sacrament classes. It was a lot but we were lucky to have a wonderful priest in Father Wallace, our local parish pastor. We just happened to live in military housing right next to this church that Fr. Wallace was pastor. ("Things happen for a reason") Fr. Wallace knew how to explain and teach things to my husband in a way I never could. After classes with Fr. Wallace Wolfy told me he had a whole new understanding and respect for Catholic traditions and why we do things that seemed foreign to him, who grew up attending Samoan Congregational Church. But no matter what Wolfy learned, the one thing about the Catholic mass he loved most was the ONLY one hour mass. LOL
So we finally met with Fr. Wallace to finally try to find a date for our ceremony and plan out the mass. While we were talking about our families I mentioned that my Mom and Dad were in a Catholic Samoan choir that mostly consisted of my family. A big smile came over Fr. Wallace's face and he asked, "Do you think they would come out here to sing?" I was kind of shocked he asked. I never even thought of it because at the time Wolfy and I lived almost two hours away from my parents. But I went home and called my Mom and she said she would make it happen. I was ecstatic! Basically half my family would be coming already because they were all in the choir. Yay! We talked about having our vows renewed during a normal Sunday mass. Fr. Wallace found an open Sunday and it just so happen that the Gospel reading for that Sunday was John 2: 1-11, The Wedding at Cana (Where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water to wine). It was the perfect reading for such an event. So the whole church would be showing up for a normal Sunday mass, except to find out that they were going to witness a young couple's vows being renewed in the Catholic faith. My mother knows a lot about Catholic liturgy in the English and the Samoan mass so Fr. Wallace also allowed us to add Samoan customs to the mass.
I don't know if it is because of my horrible memory or because my Mom took care of so much, but I don't really remember having to plan much. I made heaps of phone calls to my Mom but I don't really remember stressing out over food, housing, clothes, or the service. But I'm pretty sure it was my Mom. She didn't want me stressing because I just found out I was pregnant with our first baby. Which is the reason I opted out of another wedding dress for our second ceremony. I wasn't about to pay for a fancy wedding gown just to have my little 5 month belly not fit in it. So I chose some nice fabric my sister had just acquired from her mother in laws trip to Samoa and told my Mom to make me a nice and simple mumu'u and Wolfy a matching shirt. Simple simple was my motto after all the trouble with the Las Vegas wedding.
The day was Sunday January 14, 2001. It was the total opposite of our Las Vegas wedding as far as my stress level. My family had already arrived in from out of town and they were all in their rooms. Nobody got kicked out. Everyone drove so no bags were lost. I was pregnant so I had no trouble sleeping. I even woke up early got dressed and Wolfy and I were early to the church. Right at that moment I had a sense of peace and I just knew that everything was going to be okay.
We were early so we greeted family as they arrived and headed upstairs to the choir loft. My parents, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and even my nieces and nephews were there. However, Wolfy's family only included his parents his brother and his sister. All of his family attended our Las Vegas wedding so Wolfy didn't feel like inviting them all again. It was especially emotional for Wolfy to have his Dad there. Just four months before his Dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was going through chemo treatments. He had already lost his hair and was losing weight, but he was always smiles. Wolfy's Mom questioned why we needed to have another wedding, but Wolfy's Dad was a pastor's son, so he understood. Although Wolfy and I appreciated everything they did for our first wedding, my Father in Law still understood that because of the way I was raised in the church, that it was just something that I really wanted to do.
Fr. Wallace arrived and was ready to start mass with his entrance procession, which was going to be including us. Even though the majority of my family was there, it was nerve racking walking into a church full of strangers. As we walked down the aisle people looked over but didn't really seem to care. They probably thought we were going to be doing the readings for the mass. Until Fr. Wallace announced the reason for the two extra people up front with him. I wanted to look behind and see people's reactions but my Mom was out front moving us along the mass.
This part of our ceremony was the Ifoga. My Mom was signaling for Wolfy and I to step to the center of the church in front of the altar to kneel down. My Mom and Aunt then covered us with a fine mat. In the programs my Mom made for the mass it explained the ritual so that the congregation wouldn't be confused as to what was going on. She described it as "...a Fine Mat, a symbol of humility and shame, and at the same token, asking for forgiveness and reconciliation from God. (The two covered represent all of us)." I'd like to say that as we were covered I was emotional and deep in thought. But I was pregnant, and it was hot under the mat so no deep emotional thoughts that I can remember. However, it was weird, when Fr. Wallace removed the fine mat, I REALLY did feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Not just the weight of the fine mat, but the weight of my guilt. And I felt my eyes welt up with tears. When we sat back in our seats, I grabbed Wolfy's hand and just smiled. I couldn't help but be happy at that moment.
After the readings from the Bible, Fr. Wallace spoke of how perfect it was that the Gospel of the day should be about a Wedding and we were there to renew our vows in the faith. That the Sacrament of Marriage was so celebrated that in John 2: 1-11, at the Wedding in Cana, Jesus at the request of his Mother, performed his first miracle. That will always be my favorite Bible story.
It was then time to bless our wedding rings and recite our vows. This was the least favorite part for Wolfy and I. Yes it's the most important part of the ceremony, but we aren't people who like attention, and all eyes and ears were on us. Thank God neither of us fumbled any words. But I think Fr. Wallace thought we were trying to whisper our vows because he held the microphone closer and closer as we said the vows. Afterwards, everyone clapped and that was that. The Sacrament of Marriage complete.
The mass went on as normally done, with some other Samoan customs added to the liturgy. At the presentation of the gifts, the choir switched gears, and sang a Samoan song. My cousin, dressed as a taupou, lead the procession in dance followed with the gifts of the bread, wine, and flower leis. I could just feel the excitement from the congregation as they were witnessing a Samoan siva for the first time ever. And in church, during mass no less. I couldn't help but notice a little smile on Fr. Wallace's face as stood a little taller after receiving his lei.
When it was time for Communion, I was finding myself getting emotional again. It would be my first time receiving Communion again after probably a year. It actually should have been two years, but I was misled by another priest at a different church. You see, I went to confession after Wolfy and I were married, knowing that I wasn't married in a Catholic ceremony and asked if I could still take Communion. I don't know if the priest could hear me clearly because he was really old, but he told me I could continue receiving Communion. One Sunday, not long after our first wedding, we visited my parents. We were all in church and when it came time for Communion, I lined up as usual. But my Mom stood up from the choir, walked over to me and pulled me out of the line. That had to have been one of THE MOST embarrassing times in my life. I looked at her confused and she told me I shouldn't be taking Communion. I was genuinely confused, but she let me take Communion anyway. But I couldn't help it, I was still just totally humiliated in my mind, and of course my mother made me cry. Anyway, back to our second wedding day. I was finally able to receive Communion, and just like the removing of the fine mat, I literally felt different after receiving Communion again. I can only explain it as just finally being true to myself. It was the way I was raised and falling in love, and getting married somewhere else couldn't change the fact that my faith is what put my soul at ease. And when I was finally true to my faith, I was extremely happy.
Mass finally ended and we walked up the aisle with Fr. Wallace. A church full of strangers, and every single aisle we walked by were full of smiling faces, and congratulations. How could I be any happier at that moment? I tell you how...food! LOL I didn't realize that my family had been setting up a buffet line outside of the church for everyone to share in the festivities. As soon as I walked out of the church I could smell Mom's sapasui, and I was immediately starving. (Did I mention I was pregnant lol) As people were coming out they stopped to congratulate us, and just couldn't stop going on about the choir and Samoan parts of the mass. I grew up singing in a choir, so I guess I don't appreciate it as much as the people who don't get to have mass with a full choir every Sunday. I do have to admit that with the acoustics in the church they sounded beautiful. Wolfy's Dad described it as sounding like a choir of Angels.
So we ate, took pictures, cut cake, took more pictures and ate some more. But afterwards when the men were all full and heading back to their t.v.'s to watch Sunday Football, I just couldn't stop thinking how the day could not have been more perfect. It was just a simple little day, but oh so perfect.
At the beginning of this long post I used my irritation with Wolfy as an excuse for my lack of inspiration to finish part 2. But it was actually my hubby who pushed me to finish what I started. Even after 13 years he still inspires me. I'm constantly giving him a hard time because I'm always tired and busy, but when I really need him he always takes care of me. It hasn't been easy, and sometimes still isn't, but knowing that I have him as my partner in life makes me look forward to the next 13 years. Here's to hoping I'm able to share those wonderful years with you all too!