You had to be there. In these rooms with never ending walls. These rooms inside this house at the end of a gravel road. With the smell of recently cooked breakfast and the sounds of a happy baby. These rooms were the ones that held Nikelle and her family the morning of her wedding day. I had been dyyyying to meet Nikelle. It had been over a year in the making. Email swapping and inspiration sending and the occasional phone call...and the arrival of Nikelle and Gino's wedding invitation in my mailbox a couple months before their wedding. The invitation was complete with a booklet whose first page clarified that "This right here. This is forever." I read and smiled and read more. The booklet took care of all of the wedding day formalities...directions, maps, contact info, and a pancake recipe. This is the pancake recipe that got Gino in the door of Nikelle's apartment in the East Village years ago. His pancake-making became a weekly ritual and so began the journey of Nikelle and Gino. I read the entire booklet cover to cover. Maybe even more than once. Then I saved it so I could make pancakes. Or maybe I saved it because it was proof. Proof of the real thing. Proof that sometimes you stumble into the person you want to spend the rest of your life -- because they make you the best version of you -- over pancakes.
Words from the story of Nikelle and Gino: "Endearingly wacky, comically intimate, and fascinatingly bizarre is what made their relationship less that boring. A notion that they have been reveling in ever since their first pinky swear." And they reveled in it on this day. Their wedding day. And it was definitely less than boring. Surrounded by the most genuine family and friends with an unmistakable air of excitement and celebration at The Magnolia Manor in Warrenton, NC.