Part I: The Church
In small town Texas, the church is the foundation of the community. In the "town" (I use that word loosely) my parents live in there is a Post Office (that closes at lunch so the 1 employee can go home and have lunch with his wife), a Gas Station (/grocery store/beer joint/restaurant), and a Church.
This is the church where my parents were married and where I was baptized and confirmed. I grew up in this church, sitting in the 3rd pew. Although I moved away from home 5 1/2 years ago, I still know everyone in the congregation.
A third of them are family. My great-great grandfather is buried in the cemetery out in the pasture behind the church, my great-aunts and uncles and my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all grace the pews on Sunday mornings. Another third of the congregation might as well be family.
I have always known I wanted to be married in my church. Its simple elegance has always been the backdrop to my fantasies. Although the church has changed since those first daydreams...the picturesque front porch with concrete that showed the wear of generations has been upgraded to include a ramp (neccessary, but still heartbreaking), the deep regal red carpets have been replaced by light blue, and perhaps most sad, the golden stained glass windows that made everything seem to glow have been replaced by cool-toned stained glass images. The church is still gorgeous, but its very different from the church where my parents were wed.
In the small town church, a community showed its respect to the Lord by dressing his house. In my own church, the soaring wooden ceilings & arched stone work reflect the craftsmanship of simple farmers who still pray for rain. Just down the road at the church where my cousin will be wed, the Czechs created one of the gorgeous Painted Churches of Texas, with elaborately painted ceilings and adornments from their Mother Land.
There is a feeling in a small town church I have never gotten in larger sanctuaries. I know that on my wedding day the pastor will give a message meant just for us (he's known me half my life!!) and there is nowhere I would rather speak my vows and promise to spend the rest of my life with CityBoy.