This is it. This afternoon, just after 3pm, you and Ryan are going to stand in front of your family and friends and listen to Rachel say the words that you've been working on for months. You'll clutch Ryan's hand as Tanner sings "A Song for the Asking, " you'll share your vows, and then just like that, "fiance" will dissipate into the air and in its place, "husband" and "wife" will be yours to say, to use, to grow into.
I know you're excited for this day to get going - after months of planning and stressing and considering a multitude of big and small things, you're ready. But take it slow. Pause. Look around. You're going to cry happy tears, and tears from the sheer overwhelm of it all. It's fine. The day goes better than you could have ever imagined - even with the change of plans and rain and rockslide earlier that week. Ryan's vows are going to crumble you, just you wait. You've never heard anything so sincere, or strong, or true.
But there is something even sweeter than the big day and it's waiting for you in the years to come. Let me tell you what's in store for you and your husband after you kiss and dance to Michael Jackson and run off to Big Sur together. Two years from today you will be:
Waiting for Ryan to get home, per usual. Your husband's drive, ambition, and commitment will inspire you in new ways, and also drastically change the routine you've become so accustomed to. When you were engaged, Ryan was working a joyless, ill-fitting job. Over the next years you'll talk with him while cooking together, and over dinner, about how he's switching gears. You'll encourage him when you see he's challenging himself, learn how to help him grapple with uncertainty, and the two of you will celebrate some hard won victories. He'll transform into an even more confident, invigorated, and measured man before your eyes. Even though you had big talks like these throughout your five years of dating, the kitchen conversations take on new weight and new importance in your marriage. It's like everything that was there in your dating relationship is unchanged, yet somehow heavier, sweeter. It's a calming sort of weightiness brought on by permanence, and security, and unbelievably, the deepening of your love. I know on your wedding day you think you love Ryan the most you ever could, but believe me when I tell you that your love today doesn't hold a candle to the love you'll feel two years out.
Continuing to learn who Ryan is. You might be surprised to know that after five years of dating and two years of marriage, you're still learning Ryan. I don't mean that in the sense that you don't know who he is at his core - you still joke about being inside each other's heads and he's still often perplexed by your uncanny ability to percept his inner monologue. He is, of course, still the kindhearted, fun-loving, knowledge-seeking man you fell in love with. But the two of you were so young when you started dating. Just as he's different today from the man you fell in love with at 22, he will continue to change and reveal intricacies throughout these first years of marriage. Some will be challenging for you. You will fight, but always fairly, save for your few devolutions into passive aggressive teenage Harben. (Keep trying to work on that one, mmk?). But with every new insight will come a deeper grounding in your relationship. You'll also realize that amazingly, he's somehow coming to know you on an even more broad and intricate and subtle level as well. You'll feel completely free to be your weirdest self, completely seen when your inclination is to retreat or conceal, and also more at peace with yourself than you ever have before.
Noticing a slight shift in priorities. Turns out that you're not that original, and like many, many who have come before you, after you got married you chopped off your hair and started a blog. The blog is about ethical shopping and buying fewer things of higher quality, which is really just a gussied up way of writing about shopping less, softened through an Instagram filter. You'll start to notice yourself wanting to invest in things that will stand the test of time, rather than whatever is big at the moment. He doesn't know it, but Ryan deserves a lot of credit for initiating this shift. You'll find yourself wanting to create a home that the two of you will love for years to come. And instead of buying whatever pair of shoes from whatever crappy store, you'll save for weekend or week-long trips together. You're playing the long game now, on just about every level. Ryan is too. You'll find new ways to place trust in each other, and take risks together. You'll feel safe adventuring out in new ways with him by your side. But you've always felt that.
Laughing. Laughing all the time. Ryan will come home everyday and clumsily open the door with his bike balanced by one hand, helmet still on his head. He will sing you a greeting as he does this. It will become one of your most favorite parts of the day. You will lay on the couch for hours together. You will discuss Brexit and Ivanka's dad (don't worry about it. Just keep enjoying the Obamas for now). You will start subscribing to the NYT and you will be wowed over and over again by Ryan's insights. You will go for long walks through the city. You'll eat way too many burritos and spend way too much money on Christmas trees at Clancy's, but you'll love how cozy your apartment feels each December and delight in the traditions you're creating as a new little family. The two of you will get serious about exercise and then stop exercising for a few months at a time. Repeatedly. You'll force Ryan to do Whole 30. And he'll do it. You'll ask him to come to every single Everlane event you have, even though you know full well that you'll be "working" and not actually able to talk to him. And he'll show up for that too. Every time. Because just as your love for him has grown and deepened and expanded in ways that you didn't think possible, so has his. You will feel this every day in his support, and in his knowing glances, and in his inexplicable sweetness.
I know that you are thoroughly caught up in the romance of December 6th, 2014. It is an undeniably magical day (and you'll have the pictures to prove it). But know that everything you're feeling right now just gets stronger. Like Steinbeck said in the reading you and Ryan chose for the ceremony, "nothing good gets away."