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Inside Look at Kristin Armstrong’s Wedding

Kristin Armstrong finds a second chance at love and reflects on the joy of new beginnings

Kristin Armstrong (photo by Elizabeth Kreutz)
(photo by Elizabeth Kreutz)

On August 19th, I did a brave and beautiful thing. I said yes to love, to commitment, to new beginnings, to second chances, to an expanded family, to an enlarged circle of friends, to new adventures, to facing the future together whatever the second half brings. Getting married for the second time was an entirely different experience. You don’t know what you don’t know, until you know.

The first time being engaged felt like preparing for a wedding. The second time being engaged felt like preparing for a marriage — a collaborative, collective life. The first time I repeated my vows. The second time I authored them. The first time, people were seated in rows of pews, a bride side and a groom side. The second time we were standing in a circle. The first time I imagined one day having children. The second time our grown children wrote toasts that completely undid us, and danced with us until the band went home. The first time a priest I didn’t know presided, the second time it was our beloved friend. The first time my dad walked me down the aisle to give me away. The second time my dad and my son walked me down the aisle to bring me home.

(photo by Elizabeth Kreutz)

I love words, they are my work and my art and my life. I write them and speak them with reverence and delight. Of all the words in my lifetime, my vows were everything to me — my highest assignment. I prayed, I edited, I agonized, I practiced, I sobbed, I wondered if I could speak them aloud without collapsing — that’s how sacred they were/are to me. When I was a young woman, I thought someone else could and should make me happy. As a wiser woman, one of my vows was a promise to take full responsibility for my own happiness, my health, my well-being, and my growth. My vows had nothing to do with what I expected from Mark, and everything to do with what I expected from Kristin.

We originally considered eloping with the kids, keeping it small and simple. It seemed sensible to conserve energy and finances, a mature thing to do at 52. Had we done that, we might have had a bigger bank account, but we would have missed the finest celebration I have ever attended. We marked the crossing over into our part two with an indescribable alchemy of past and present, reverence and play. Our event planner Percy Sales, now our dear friend, understood us implicitly and made our day a dream.

A small group of the finest people on the planet converged in Santa Barbara, California, for a weekend of pure joy. Family and friends came from all over — Wisconsin, Minnesota, Chicago, Denver, Vienna, Barcelona, Cassis. The end of August isn’t the easiest time in the world; people have returned to work and school after summer, and kids are moving back to college. You had to really want to be there — and that energy and depth of meaning were palpable. I had been divorced for twenty years, and sometimes wondered over those years if God forgot about my happily ever after. Mark had been on his journey too. Our roads both had some significant terrain before they converged.

(Illustration by KK Farinola)

The precious people who stood as our witnesses and celebrants knew all of this — there was not a dry eye in our circle. I didn’t carry a bouquet, I made one — by walking around that circle and collecting a white flower from each person. Mark tied them together before we began our ceremony, a symbol of the beauty and importance of our collective. The same people who helped us keep the faith during the wait to find each other were the same people who hit the dance floor before ever sitting down to salad. We danced our asses off, all night long. I wore sparkly tennis shoes and my feet never hurt, because at 52 I can be glamorous and comfortable all at the same time.

Something significant occurred to me. It would not have been sensible to elope, it would have been senseless. Why wait until a funeral to have our favorite people gathered together? I will not miss an opportunity to show up, to speak from the heart, to connect, to express appreciation, to cry, to laugh, to drink champagne, to witness love and to dance as long as I have days to dance.

About Kristin Armstrong

Kristin Armstrong is the author of eight books including: Happily Ever After, Strength for the ClimbWork in Progress:  An Unfinished Woman’s Guide to Grace, Heart of my Heart, Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women RunTies that Bind and YES.  She is a regular columnist for Tribeza magazine and a regular contributor to Living Faith.  Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as USA TodayGlamour, O – The Oprah Magazine, ParentsThe Huffington Post, and the Austin American-Statesman.   Her work has led to appearances on Oprah, The Rachel Ray Show, NPR, Good Morning America and The Today Show.  Kristin went back to school alongside her kids and got a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health and started her own company, Kristin Armstrong Consulting, where she specializes in helping people through life transition zones in career, relationships, parenting, and purpose.  Her happy place is helping people find theirs.

Kristin has three amazing grown children and feathers a never-empty-nest in Austin, Texas and Santa Barbara, California.