Life is an amazing journey. On April 13, in front of family and friends, I said ‘I do’ to my best friend, Mike Gabriel. After years of searching for “the one,” I found him when I least expected it thanks to a very persistent matchmaker.
I met Mike’s nephew, Brandon Bentley, by chance one Friday afternoon when my neighbor and his aunt, Sandy Gabriel, brought him and his sister, Abby, to visit my new batch of baby chicks. From that day on, the kids and I formed a chicken connection and friendship. Brandon and his sisters, Abby, Jasmine and JayCee, began venturing down to my house on a regular basis and the rest, you could say, is history.
Our first date was set up thanks to Brandon. He called me up to see if I was free on a Saturday night to go out on a date with his uncle chaperoned by none other than himself. I had been set up on dates before but none, obviously, turned out as well as this one did. I guess kids do have a sixth sense about things. My life, thanks to Brandon, will never be the same. I can never thank him enough for the lifetime of happiness that lies ahead for both of us.
I planned our wedding in just three months. At first it seemed like no big deal, but in the end, it became perfectly clear that planning a wedding is a lot of work. Throughout my wedding journey, I had a lot of help from my friend, Elise, and her fiancé, Nick, along with co-worker Kathy Huizenga. Mike’s aunt, Sandy, who also happened to be my friend long before we started dating, did an amazing job. I definitely could not have pulled this off without her.
It is very easy to get swept up in “wedding mode” and lose sight that a wedding is just one day. It is a beautiful and wonderful day with memories that will last a lifetime, but it is one day. Thankfully, I never became one of those brides. At the forefront, we were planning our life together.
Over the last three months, Mike and I learned a lot about ourselves in marriage counseling, which I highly recommend to every couple getting married. Our mentors, Pastor Tom Loyola and his wife, Sue Ann, were invaluable in helping us prepare for a life together with God at the head of our household. Since they have been married for almost 33 years, they answered a lot of our questions and helped prepare us for the days, months and years ahead. Throughout this journey, we made two very good friends in the process.
Mike and I were very blessed to have our closest friends and family members stand up with us on the day of our wedding. My bridesmaids, Niki Lasko and Elise Loyola, and matron of honor, Jennifer Bonkoski, were my harmonizing girl group that Saturday. I am very blessed to have these three women in my life. My niece, Abby Gabriel, was my pretty flower girl and my friend, Jonah Lutz, was the most charming ring bearer I had ever seen. If we are blessed to have a little boy one day, I hope he is just like Jonah.
Mike’s brother Davy was his best man along with our matchmaker Brandon Bentley and Scott Findley as groomsmen. My friends, Alan Rathje and Francie Hill, served as a wonderful host and hostess. One of my favorite people, my great-aunt, Elaine Bicker, was our Scripture reader; she did an amazing job. One of the most memorable parts of the ceremony, for me, came when Gayle Honeywell sang, “This Ring.” Her voice was absolutely beautiful. And the ceremony could not have been complete without our ushers, who happened to be our uncles, Don Schaver and Bernie Gabriel.
I also want to thank my parents, Dennis and Sharon Bicker, for helping me plan an amazing day. And, after 36 years, they finally got to see their only daughter get married.
At the end of the day, after the last guest bid us good luck at the reception, we were married — Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel. We both know that with marriage there will be good days and bad days, but in the end we will be together as husband and wife. As we embark on the next chapter of our lives, I’m glad we will make this journey together.
Angie (Bicker) Gabriel has been employed with the Clinton Herald since 2001. She can be reached at email@example.com.