One woman's journey from Miss to Mrs

By Erin McSwain-Davis

Editor’s note: Erin and Cooper Davis attended the University of West Georgia, where they met and fell in love. They became engaged early last year and we asked Erin to keep a diary of how her wedding evolved from month to month, and to share those excited days of planning with our readers. This is a diary of one couple’s wedding, but we think it could be the story of any couple, whether they married years ago, or if they marry years from now.

January 8, 2017 - Engagement

So, it happened, and I am now one of those girls whose Facebook status reads: “newly engaged.” The love of my life, Cooper Davis, proposed to me at one of my favorite spots on campus.

We met in school in 2013. Neither of us were from Carrollton, so we had that in common -  yet we seemed connected in other ways I cannot describe. He would walk with me after class; he said he wanted to make sure I got to my dorm safely, but I think he just wanted to talk to me and get to know me a little better.

When that semester ended, and the holidays arrived, I missed our conversations and knew I wanted to see him again. When classes resumed, he asked me out to dinner and our relationship bloomed. I was going to graduate in December 2016; he was a year and half away from graduation. During my last semester, we would often meet in the garden next to Melson Hall before my classes.

I then entered the “real world,” but early in January, he asked me to rejoin him on campus for a walk. We were walking towards psychology building and he was leading me towards the garden. I had a feeling that he might propose, but when he got down on one knee, I found I wasn’t prepared at all.

Of course, I said yes, because for three years we had been able to learn everything about each other. We both share the same fear of separation. Because of that, we don’t fight like other couples. We don’t slam doors or call each other names; if one of us irritates the other, we talk it out. We compromise.

When I finally looked down at the ring he had given me, I was shocked to see his great-grandmother’s engagement ring. When we had talked before about possibly getting married, I had told him a ring didn’t matter – I don’t like flashy rings, and I didn’t want him to spend too much. But when I saw this diamond, I knew he was asking me to join his family.

January 18, 2017 -

Planning the wedding

Planning the wedding was a nightmare.

It’s not that anything went wrong, but I found the planning process will give you a headache. I believe that it is not just the bride’s day; it’s also the groom’s day. Because two people get married, I believe they both should work together to plan what they want. It’s also a good way for a couple to see each other at their highest stress levels. But Cooper was still in school, so he couldn’t be as involved as I might have wanted.

I must thank my best friend, Jessica Nauris, for telling me about the venue: Glendalough Manor. I have always wanted an outdoor wedding surrounded by trees and flowers. My mother, Alice McSwain, and I set a date to drive down to Glendalough in Peachtree City to check out the dates they had available.

The night before, I apparently pulled a muscle in my jaw. This was caused by stress, even though the planning process had not even really begun at that point. Nevertheless, we were able to book the venue for October 7 at noon, as well as pick a photographer, florist, band and the wedding cake.

May 5, 2017 - The dress

Finding the dress was a little difficult. Because I wanted to get married in the cool weather of fall, I wanted long lace sleeves. I was also thinking of a theme wedding: The Roaring Twenties. My favorite book is “The Great Gatsby,” so a giant princess-style dress was out.

I had thought about wearing my mother’s wedding dress to save money and time, but, sadly, this was not an option. That dress had been made by her mother, my nana, and together they had sewn on the beading and jewels. But the dress had been in a dry cleaner’s when the store caught fire. My nana heard about the fire and ran to the store to dig through a mound of dresses to find it; when she did, it was covered in soot and had a giant fireman boot print on the skirt.

My mother and I went to David’s Bridal in Atlanta, and found a three-quarter length lace dress with a tulle skirt. It was beautiful, but didn’t have long sleeves. My mother saved the day by stepping in to say we could turn the dress into what I wanted. After all, the gown was only $5,000 which – in the wedding world – is a steal.

My mother can craft and fix just about anything. When she said she was up for the challenge of fixing my dress, I had no doubt in my mind she could do it. We used my mother’s wedding dress as a model of how we could sew beads into the David’s Bridal dress, and as a result my dress was everything I could have hoped for – and more.

Sept. 23, 2017 - New traditions

So, I have found my dress but there is still so much to do. During this whole planning process I have noticed just how much things have changed since my parents were married in 1989. Some of those old traditions need to get with the times.

For example, the registry. My mother kept asking me if I had picked out fine china, but I see no need for dinnerware that would only be used during the holidays.

And that old superstition of the groom not seeing the bride in her dress before the wedding ceremony. Because I have a slight background in photography, I know how difficult it can be to cram photos in a small amount of time. I had asked the photographer if we could have photos taken before the wedding, so I could capture the moment where Cooper saw me for the first time. I received some silent feedback when I told a few people - but hey, it’s our day.

My bachelorette party also seemed non-traditional, at least compared to other brides in my age group. Most girls plan trips with long nights of partying – but I wanted something “lazy”. Don’t get me wrong; I love to go out and party with my friends, but when it comes to my wedding, I want a party that is relaxing. For my bachelorette party, my bridesmaids and I ordered a pizza and went to a sip-and-paint, an event where you drink wine as you paint in a class. It was just enough fun, and it calmed my nerves.

Sept. 30, 2017 - Waiting

Now it is only one week until the big day and everything is set into place. So, I must play the waiting game. I have chosen the venue, found my dress, found the photographer, booked a band, selected a cake and picked out the perfect flowers for the big day.

I did not really feel excited before, but now that the wedding is so close, I can’t wait to marry my best friend. Family members from out of town are flying in, and my parents came up with the best idea: to have them stay at a hotel near the venue until the wedding. This is a great idea, because there is no need to worry if someone is late to the wedding. The hotel is only nine minutes away from the venue.

October 7, 2016 - The big day

It’s the wedding day, and I woke up at 7 a.m. to prepare myself. My mother fixed my hair up into a low bun and my youngest sister Anna applied my makeup.

I was so caught up in being ready in time to leave for the venue that I did not even look outside. My dad popped his head into the door of my hotel room and whispered to my mom “it’s raining outside”. This did not faze me, though. I had spent so much time planning, there would be no surprise if something, somewhere, had gone wrong. But I think my dad exaggerated; when we ran to the car for the drive to the venue, there was barely a mist.

**

When I arrived at the venue – well, that’s when I went into a dream state. Time was going by so fast but also so slow. They say something goes horribly wrong the day of a wedding, but if something did go wrong today, I did not notice. Because I was too excited about marrying Cooper.

It does not matter if you want a big wedding or small. It does not matter what your dress looks like, or if it rains on your day. What matters is this: if you don’t care about what goes wrong on your big day, then it’s a good sign that you are marrying your partner for the right reasons.

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