BARBARA — DAY 4: Goin’ to the Chapel

mandi-wedding-inviteIt’s a Saturday in 2014. So that means I must be going to a wedding. We’re invited to six (at this point) weddings this year!

Today is the first — the wedding of my good friend Mandi. BONUS — It’s been a dreadful, cold, and snowy winter in the Northeast, and Mandi is getting married in FLORIDA! Let’s get this party started.

I’ve known Mandi for almost 13 years. We met after college when we were both part of a young adult volunteer/service-learning program.

(Quick aside — If you are a junior or senior in college and don’t know what you want to do after graduation, look into some type of full-time volunteer program. Check out JVC and the Catholic Volunteer Network for ideas. Here’s a link to the program I was a part of. You won’t regret it.)

Mandi is from Alabama and served in Salt Lake City at a food pantry and advocacy organization. I’m from Pennsylvania and served at a nonprofit child care/community center in Jackson, Mississippi. We met at volunteer training in Atlanta, became friends there, and kept in touch from our different assignments. Mandi had insights into living in the South that a Yankee like me appreciated.

Post-volunteering, Mandi moved to Boston for grad school and then to D.C. I moved to New York City. Closer than our Utah-Mississippi assignments, we would visit back and forth.

Mandi and I have counseled one another through years of dating and boyfriends. Oh, the horror (!) — sometimes. Mandi shared in the joy of my wedding. I actually borrowed a locket from her that I wore at my wedding in 2012. It held a small photo of my dad who passed away 10 years ago. Mandi is borrowing the headband I wore at my wedding.

Weddings are a beautiful celebration of love, growing a circle of love even wider than the couple themselves — stretching out to everyone involved. I’m thankful to have Mandi as a friend, her husband Chris as a new friend, and for the opportunity to celebrate their love and the beginning of their new journey together as husband and wife.