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It was still black outside, I’d been lying awake for at least half an hour  staring at the roof waiting for my alarm to go off.

My friend met me in the hallway and we smiled, making our way to the kettle. We got ready, watching the sunrise sipping tea, because my usual coffee would have sent my pulsating heart into overdrive.

The sky was moody with grey’s and red’s with a 40% chance of rain. “So what’s plan B?” my friend said walking up the stairs.

There was no plan B, and I didn’t care.

My husband walked in sprayed with that good cologne, the one that makes you linger for awhile.

And away we went.

The day before we had discussed how we were arriving at this event. I was 98% sure we had discussed arriving after our guests and he was equally sure we hadn’t.

“Babes, is how we arrive really important to you?”

“No”. It wasn’t, I just thought we had discussed it, and you know, picked out a song to walk to, played it about 67 times, cried a few times imagining the moment etc etc.

“Good!” He said, “because it’s really important to me. These are the people that have loved us the most, we should be waiting for them, not them waiting for us”.

His reason was honorable. Sorry Tom Walker, your lyrics were perfect, but my husband’s love and respect for our people had me all heart eyes.

We walked in to the bathroom of the restaurant and my friend helped me slip into my dress, and by ‘slip into’ I mean use a meter of hollywood tape to keep that thing on and not reveal more to our guests than what they came for.

We walked out onto the slightly damp grass with the moody sky in all its glory.

I met him down on the sand and hid my face in his neck, already teary eyed.

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It had been ten years. Ten years of twists and turns, ups and downs, good times and bad. Ten years of “I do”.

A handful of our closest friends gathered. Friends who have been with us from the beginning or have joined us along the way. Friends who have celebrated our wins with us, at times helped us navigate muddy water and grieved with us in our losses. They are our people and they are wonderful.

He was to say his vows first. 24 hours before he was all introverted and sensitive, that way he gets when he’s nervous, fearful that he wouldn’t be eloquent enough or express deeply enough what he felt.

He started with a deep inhale, “Karina Sheree Chicote, you have been the wisest decision I have made in my life…” (hello, middle name!).

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He went on with the sweetest words. That he understood that authenticity and openness were important to me, that he respected my compassionate heart for people (though it seemed to lack when he had the flu…I don’t know what he’s talking about), and adored my love for our friends (even if it meant organising gatherings without running it by him…at which point I thanked our friends for coming to our vow renewal I had organised) (Just kidding, it was his idea, or so he’s trying to claim).

Then it was my turn.

“Lance”…I couldn’t even get through his name without welling up.

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Lance, I understand you’re an extroverted introvert, and that sometimes you genuinely don’t like being around other humans. I promise to give you the space  you need to re-energise.

I respect you, for your never-ceasing commitment to being the best version of yourself.

I adore you, your love for adventure which has found us deep-sea diving off the shores of the Gili Islands or walking the streets of Rome with 10 Euros to our name. I promise to follow you on every adventure (except if it involves an Indonesian stranger ushering us into his car  in the back of a Balinese ally-way. If that situation arises again, you’re on your own, I mean it).

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Of course there was a lot more said in between, which I’ll revere forever.

What meant the most, is he ended his vows with this, “If I don’t know how to do all these things [I’ve promised], I will discover how and make it work”.

Without reading a word of each others vows we both expressed how different we were. I’m an introverted extrovert, he’s an extroverted introvert. He has 365 hobbies, I like people. He’s an untamed creative genius, I still just like people.

We both expressed how much we had learnt about each other, love and respect. How deeply we had felt joy and every bump, as if we were on a long windy road in a car that had lost its suspension.

That we’d spent ten years learning, sometimes (at times often) failing and doing our best to keep saying “I do”.

We committed again that there was no Plan B. Just him and I, ‘discovering how and making it work’.

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Our wedding day was sacred, but this moment felt especially sacred.  These weren’t promises of ‘in sickness and in health, richer or for poorer, for good or for bad’ ideals.

It was a promise knowing what it felt like to get bad health news, knowing too well that feeling of literally 10 Euros to our name, or what it felt like when things just simply felt bad, for seemingly no reason at all, we’d just lost our rhythm.

We felt all of those moments deeply, and we said ‘I still do’. Sacred.

Love is the deepest feeling of them all. To see the worst bits of someone and say I understand you. To see the things someone does in private when no-one is watching and say I respect you. And to share with someone in their greatest successes and say I adore you.

I’ll hold that love sacred forever.

About Karina Chicote

Karina Chicote is a strategic leader for an international child’s rights organisation and writer and presenter on radio for Kin Women. She has a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and has designed and led award-winning programs for Aboriginal children and young people. Karina has worked across the globe on campaigns in London, asylum seeker centres in Papua New Guinea, the UN General Assembly in New York and now leads strategic projects across Western Australia. Karina was a finalist for the WA Youth Work Awards in 2015 and 2016, recognising her leadership and commitment to creating change for the most vulnerable young people in our communities. Above all Karina is a wife to Lance and lover of their Pug Brixton, who amidst the seriousness of changing the world make her laugh, a lot.

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