It’s before 7 a.m. I want to sleep, but I’m awake. My body says “hit the snooze button” on its own internal alarm clock, but my mind is ready for the big day.

Last night at the rehearsal, I teased the women of the wedding about their five-hour timeframe for hair and makeup, insinuating that I would get to sleep in on Saturday morning while they were up nice and early, groggy and weary-eyed.

But, alas, I’m awake in bed in the six o’clock hour with nowhere to go and nothing to do but wait. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m up every day for work at this time. Why would my wedding day be any different?

I got out of bed and watched the series finale of Seinfeld on DVD before making my usual morning coffee run. It’s so nice living less than a mile from a cute little downtown area. I envision many Saturday morning strolls with Rachel into town and around our neighborhood. The location of the house was one of its primary attractions to us.

***

I managed to kill a little bit of the excess time this morning, but it isn’t even 9:30 yet — the women aren’t even halfway done with the hair and makeup.

I suppose I could use this time to be productive. Maybe run through our first dance routine one or two more times. Rachel and I gave it one final walkthrough last night before we parted for the evening. Practicing by myself might prove to be a bit difficult. We’ll both admit we’re not the most graceful dancers — between the two of us, we have four left feet.

***

I noticed an influx of questions come pouring in over the last few weeks as the wedding date rapidly approached.

“Are you nervous?”

“Are you excited?”

“Are you getting cold feet?” (followed by a playful laughter)

My answers have remained the same throughout.

“I’m nervous about nothing … except maybe the first dance.”

“I’m as excited — if not more — as I was the day I proposed.”

“And my feet are warmer than they’ll be on the sandy beaches of Antigua come Memorial Day afternoon.”

The truth is, I’ve been ready for this day for quite some time. It’s been a dream of mine for all my life — at least, once I hit puberty and discovered an interest in girls. Back then, I was a shy, bumbling, awkward kid with an intense fear of rejection. These days … well, I can still be bumbling and awkward at times, and the fear of rejection never really goes away, but at least I’m not a shy kid anymore.

I used to wonder why it took me so long to find the woman of my dreams. “Why me, God?” is an all too familiar question from all of us. If it were up to me, I’d have been married with children at 33 years old.

But then I realized that my wishes aren’t always exactly what are best for me. And if they are, my timing isn’t necessarily the right thing for me, either.

Rachel needed to finish grad school and get her feet wet in the working world. I needed to clear up some financial matters and set myself up as the provider I want to be.

After all that, God’s plan and timing worked out much better than my “ideal” plan was.

***

It’s still morning. My coffee is getting cold. The countdown app on my iPhone says there are more than 16,700 seconds — give or take a few — until we say “I do.” Across the room, my tux is hanging neatly within its plastic. I guess I have a little bit of time before I need to shave, shower, and suit up for the big game!

I want to look good for my bride. I know in her eyes I could pull off the style of a Bulls t-shirt and athletic pants like no other, but why don’t we stick with the traditional route? I don’t mind wearing a tux. It’s fun and different, and actually, I find them to be quite comfortable. Really.

I remember picking mine up from the bridal shop yesterday. I wound up driving over 150 miles around the county in a span of seven hours, running last-minute errands for the wedding and the honeymoon. The nice lady at the shop asked me if I had time to try on the tux … as if the answer would be anything but a resounding yes! I know I won the jackpot by landing a girl like Rachel, but I won’t press my luck on the suit fitting properly.

It’s a good thing I did try it on because the pants were too short and the shirt was two sizes too big! I looked liked a puffy-shirted pirate wearing Steve Urkel’s pants. How proud my bride would have been to see me in that. In fact, I think she would have much preferred the Bulls shirt and athletic pants.

After straightening it all out, I left the bridal shop with my tux, but not before the ladies — yes, there were three of them at that point — said one more lasting thing: “Your bride looks so beautiful in her dress; you’re going to cry.”

To which, I replied: “Oh, I expect to.”

Because this much I know to be true: when the music starts playing, as the audience rises to its feet, and when every eye in the building — including mine — is looking at the stunning beauty in white being led down the aisle by her admirable father … that blonde-haired bride will be looking back at me.

***

At some point in my early twenties, inspired by what I had read from others, I decided to create a bucket list — you know, a list of activities, destinations and events that a person wants to do, go and see before he or she dies. Scattered throughout my list are some of the typical things people add to theirs: learn another language, visit a variety of states and countries, learn to play an instrument, etc.

But at the top of that list, firmly entrenched as my top priority, I wrote: “Be a husband.”

Notice the way that’s phrased, though. It’s not just to get married. The wedding is just one day of your life. Being a husband involves so much more. It’s a constant, challenging, ongoing, never-ending task, for which I’ve never been more eager or prepared.

So, to my darling fiancée, and soon-to-be wife (in 14,500 seconds), I say to you this:

I cannot promise you that I will be perfect, as no man or woman is.
I cannot promise you that I will never say or do anything stupid, for moments of stupidity are inevitable.
I cannot promise you that I will have all the answers, because as you already know, I certainly do not.

But what I can promise you is this:

My faith to keep us on the right path, my comfort to soften your fall, my strength to lift you up, my balance to keep you steady, my feet to guide you along, my ears to hear you speak, my eyes to let you know you’re mine, my mouth to speak it true, my heart to beat in sync with yours to share the good and bad, and my love to make you feel like no other has ever felt.

It’s time now to get the tux on and get ready for the best day of our lives. Because, Rach, we are…

“Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married.”