Where do we begin? There are many things we could tell you about Aly & Richie’s wedding at The Old School in Nashville.
We could tell you about the joy-filled, giddy smiles these two couldn’t help but share every time they were with one another. We could tell you about the proud look on Richie’s face when he saw Aly walking down the aisle (cue tears). We could tell you about the warmth and kindness that emanated from every guest and family member in attendance. But the story that really feels appropriate to tell here is the story of how these two came to be…
Richie wrote the story of how they met and I’m not sure any words we could add about would be more powerful than his. So, here it is:
“I am marrying my dream girl. Quite literally. It’s tough to say what love at first sight actually feels like at the first sighting, but in retrospect, that is exactly what it was. Aly and I met on April 26, 2017 at a friend’s cookout in Nashville. She had just moved home from Oregon. I’d never seen her or heard of her before although we are now sure that we crossed paths in the past because we had been in so many of the same places at the same time. God’s timing is king!
She was wearing faded jeans, a white t-shirt, and a wide brimmed hat straight off the head of Indiana Jones and I will always remember with precision the gut sinking, drooly, “I must have her” feeling. I looked like a confused deer and thought I might black out for a second. I’m pretty sure the only thing I could manage to say was, “hi” when she walked past me in the backyard and then later I asked her where she was from. She gave one word answers and seemed totally uninterested in me! I mean TOTALLY uninterested. I say “seemed” because in an unprecedented rush of blind self-confidence I thought, “surely she’ll go on a date with me”. I learned later she had vowed to be single for the next 3 (totally arbitrary number) years and that might as well have been forever as far as I was concerned!
I left that cookout and that night called my Mom, my sister, and my Meemaw and told them I had just met THE PRETTIEST GIRL ON THIS PLANET, that I knew nothing about her, but thought that she should date me and that they needed to be praying that God would bring us together again soon. My family has always prayed for this. He didn’t for a month despite my best efforts to get in her way. I said yes to everything! Any party, cookout, grand opening, concert, park, marathon spectating, restaurant, and sporting event that I could possibly imagine her being at…I went to everything. Nothing. Nada. Vanished. Ghost. Please note that at this point I have no tangible evidence of any kind that should’ve led me to this type of behavior (some may call it stalking, I call it curiosity) and Aly has admitted that she did not even think about me once. Not. Once. All the while I’m praying about it, telling God that I don’t know why I can’t stop thinking about her and that I need Him to put her in front of me again. I mean praying without stopping.
Finally, late May rolls around and I cancel all my plans to go to the Full Moon Picking Party, thinking she may be there. I’m hawking the crowd, looking at everybody that walks in hoping she shows up. A few hours go by and I give up and go to leave and who is walking in?!?! Aly Holland! With a group of guys. This annoys me. I stay at the party longer and have a short conversation with her but literally every guy there is trying to talk to her and they won’t leave her alone so I’m standing around trying to be a “presence”. She’s getting ready to leave and goes to the restroom and is finally alone so I “think”, “Perfect! She’s alone, in the dark, waiting to use a PORTA POTTY! Now is a great time for a stranger to approach her and ask for her phone number!” I do and I think I scared her. We talk for a minute and she gives me her number but says she can only be friends, which apparently I took to mean we can be best friends. She was kindly telling me no and probably only gave me her number because she was cornered. Buuuuuut…she did give me her number and I used it. A few times. She said “no” again. A few times. Turned down coffee, lunch, and free Jason Isbell tickets. Clearly, I was needing very little to feel encouraged. I do believe it was supernatural. That God had placed on my heart to pursue Aly and I couldn’t let it go.
Two weeks later I was meeting a friend downtown to watch the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup. I was walking in a crowd of 60,000 people with my head down, praying that God would either put Aly directly in front of me or else allow me to forget about her. I was standing at 2nd and Broadway and said “amen”, looked up to cross the street, and she was literally standing right in front of me. I’ve always been a person that prays, but that experience has convinced me beyond all doubt that God knows our prayers before we pray them, hears our prayers when we pray them, and answers our prayers as He sees fit in His own good timing. Aly and I talked for 3 hours straight in a place called Crazy Town. In that 3 hours she checked everything off my list. Things that I had taken off my list. Things I didn’t know should be on my list. Things I wanted on my list but didn’t think existed in women anymore. It was sort of The Grand Inquisition on my part. We talked about our faith, our families, books we loved, social structures. Everything. I knew I was mesmerized all that time for a reason. What I felt the first time I met Aly may or may not have been love at first sight but I know I fell in love with her during that hockey game. At a place called Crazy Town. Ridiculous!
Maybe I’ll someday write the full account of this story, sparing no details, including our first date dinner with Aly’s parents, but y’all probably have enough for now. We cannot wait to celebrate God’s faithfulness and our marriage with all of you!”
Here’s the story of the day Richie married his dream girl.