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I came very close to not living to see my wedding. That sounds dramatic, but it's true, and I'd like to take a moment to share my story and remind all of you excited, stressed-out brides-to-be exactly what is important about this crazy time in your life.

One night in early December, I was driving through rural Virginia on my way to visit my parents when I hit a deer that was standing on the interstate. I lost control of the car, slid across the road, flipped and then rolled several times before the car came to a stop resting on its wheels, or what was left of them, facing perpendicular to the interstate in a ditch.

It was the first time in my 23 years I have had an experience that I did not expect to live through.

I don’t know why or how, but at the end of that tumble I was able to walk away from the car with some seatbelt abrasions, a swollen lip and various bruises. The car, on the other hand, was missing most of its front end and had a shattered windshield, barely operable front doors, crunched back end… you get the picture. I never saw what the deer looked like, but I imagine it fared about the same as the car.

As I spun, only able to see the air bag that had deployed in my face, thousands of thoughts flew through my head. The thought that crystallized in the forefront of my mind was the realization that after spending nine months frantically trying to plan my perfect wedding, stressing over the most useless details, one twist of fate almost prevented me from being there to actually experience my wedding day.

There's nothing like a near-death experience to make you realize how twisted your priorities are. What good does it do to spend hours agonizing over the kind of ribbon I tie around my centerpiece arrangements if I don’t live to see the wedding day? What good are any of the wedding planning moments if in the end I don't get to spend the rest of my life with the man I love?

We’ve heard all the clichés in the world about counting our blessings and not taking anything for granted, especially our time on this planet. In fact just a couple days after the wreck I spent two hours watching an incredibly cheesy Spy Kids movie dedicated to the importance of spending time with our loved ones. I had zero desire to watch the movie, but what would I have accomplished by denying my little sister the opportunity to share a simple experience like watching a movie together? I spent some time with my sister and my parents, and got a few silly laughs in the process.

When the car’s rolling came to a stop and I realized no sharp pains had pierced my body and I wasn’t rising above the earth on a shining white cloud, all I could process was how amazing it felt to be alive. There are plenty of things from that Saturday night that won’t remain with me forever—the bruises, the fear of driving at night, the intense hatred of deer. But I hope that I am smart enough to hold on to the lesson that life is too precious to waste it. Crying over ceremony programs or panicking over piano notes definitely count as a waste. I am thoroughly blessed, and I’d like to spend every moment remembering that important fact.

We are getting married because we found the one person in this world that makes everything better, who makes us laugh, makes us smile and makes us feel like nothing in the world could ever hurt us. Stop your wedding planning, and take a moment to stare into the eyes of your fiancé. Remember what you love about him (or her), and remember how incredibly lucky you are that you get to spend the rest of your life with that person. Don't waste a moment of it, and don't lose sight of why you're planning this wedding.

This crappy cell phone photo actually hides most of the damage, but you get the idea




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