Most of us don’t associate words like ‘love’ and ‘romance’ with financial institutions – unless you’re Claire and Matt, who met in 2012 when Claire began working at the bank where Matt was employed. “We sat in close proximity to one another, so I got to see her very regularly,” Matt explains. “I was really taken by how she seemed to have such a big heart, and by how the energy in the room changed for the better when she entered it.” Likewise, Claire quickly took to him, too. “I was fascinated by the way he treated people and how people treated him in return – I still am,” she says.
Photographer: Joanna Toto
Matt: First and foremost, it was to fully enjoy and embrace this part of our journey. I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Claire, and that ultimately our wedding was but a springboard to get to the next phase of our life. And, while not a goal per se but something I was beyond excited for, was seeing Claire walk through the doors at the back of the church and walk down the aisle, to stand side by side in front of our friends and family, and join in marriage. To say she took my breath away would be the most dramatic understatement of all time. I was and to this day am still blown away by not only how amazing she looked, but how lucky I am that she chose to be with me.
Claire: I think this is something we knew from the very start of our budding relationship, but we would win an Olympic gold in Procrastination.
Matt: I think one of the great things I learned, or perhaps knew and was reinforced, was about myself; that I would do anything to make Claire happy, that I cared enough about her and our relationship to share not only when things were good, but when they were not so good with my own personal challenges, and that Claire would hold my heart and soul in her hands and take care of me. And it helped to reaffirm that same feeling that I have for her. We developed a trust for each other to be vulnerable in our relationship, and through all of the trials and tribulations of life during the planning process, my desire to spend my life with Claire only grew stronger.
I saw Matt at the end of that aisle and my eyes didn’t leave him for a second... It was serene. It might have been the most alone with Matt I felt all night.
Through all of the trials and tribulations of life during the planning process, my desire to spend my life with Claire only grew stronger.
Matt: Being a father is amongst the greatest honors I have – I have an 11 year old son from my previous marriage who I adore, and who Claire adores. He also happens to be crazy about Claire. So, I wore cufflinks that day that said “Dad” – perhaps a little corny, but I wanted him to be part of that day beyond being a ring bearer at the wedding and walking my mother-in-law down the aisle.
Claire: Although it is a smaller gesture, we included in our program the people who have passed on that have affected my and Matt’s lives greatly. Matt’s mother passed away from breast cancer in 2012 – about a week before we met for the first time. In lieu of favors, we donated to the American Cancer Society in her honor, as well as my mother, who has twice survived breast cancer.
Claire: Well, the very first one that comes to mind is seeing Matt for the first time walking down the aisle. Knowing how I am, I thought I would be the bride waving and saying hi to all of our guests while clutching my father’s arm and my bouquet, but I saw Matt at the end of that aisle and my eyes didn’t leave him for a second. Truly, with all eyes seemingly on me, it was as if no one else was in that room except for Matt and I. In that moment, there was no music, no cameras flashing – absolutely nothing. It was serene. When I look back on it, it might have been the most alone with Matt I felt all night. It was perfection.
Matt: Wow, so many of them that were so meaningful and significant, so I’ll try to narrow them down to the biggest. First and foremost, it was seeing Claire for the first time when the church doors opened. Again, easily the most blown away I have ever been…ugh, I’m welling up about it that memory now as I type this. The vision of Claire will be forever emblazoned in my mind. I could honestly go on and on about that moment. Also, when I opened Claire’s card before leaving for the church. Simply pulling the card out of the envelope and seeing on the cover “I wish I could have met you sooner so I could love you longer” – a phrase we had shared with each regularly – made me just bawl my eyes out.
I can be a worrier, but I was so happy and carefree. Everything about the day just felt so right.
Matt: Watching my son walk my mother-in-law down the aisle was particularly special to me. He just took to the stage like it was his moment and like he was so proud to be there. He also seemed to be so happy, but was also such a sweet, fun-loving but gentlemanly and almost grown-up presence. He amazed me. That choked me up and made me feel even luckier that I am his father. And, I know this one will seem strange as a meaningful or special moment, but the sky and sunset that evening was as spectacular as I have seen in awhile. I believe that my mother and other loved ones that have passed watch over us in some form or fashion, and it was as if they were saying, “We’re here and so happy for you,” through that sunset.
Claire: My sister was the last to walk out before the doors closed and it was my turn to walk down the aisle, but just before she did I made her turn around and feel my heart – it was beating literally out of my chest! But as cheesy as it sounds, her touch on my heart was just the little bit of comfort I needed before making that trip down the aisle. Holding on to my dad helped too, although I couldn’t look at him because one look at him and I knew I would unravel. I also can’t tell you how many times I looked over at Jack, my stepson, and saw him having the time of his life! He has a an unbelievable spirit.
I just felt so much love and so much happiness – felt it from Claire and felt it from everyone in the room.
Claire: I won’t lie, we got lost in the planning – tablecloths! table sizes! too many guests! RSVPs! flower girls! opinions!– it’s so easy to. But when things got a little out of control, we reminded ourselves why we were doing this in the first place. It’s the one day where everyone can share in your love. Our wonderful wedding planner, Amy, calls weddings “love parties,” and if you think about it, that’s really what they are! Also – communicate! Sounds so simple but this crazy process will make you face some of your biggest tests as a couple. Be clear, hear each other out, and take a break once in awhile. Go for a walk, do date night (where maybe you don’t talk about the wedding) and delegate! Ask for help when you need it – you can’t do every last bit all on your own.
Matt: I would say that the most important thing a couple can do in preparation for their wedding is to remember that a wedding is a day, but a marriage is a lifetime. Embrace the process of getting to know your partner better, listen harder, communicate openly. Go to premarital counseling and talk to others who have gone down the same path you are about to venture along. Live in the moment and soak up every memory along the way. It is the greatest time of your life. Enjoy it fully.