I knew the time would come when I was going to have to say, “It’s all over,” but I have mixed feelings on whether or not I am actually OK with it.
Sure, I am happy to get my life back. I am happy to have a clear mind and not have to constantly think about whether or not the shade of gray in the bridesmaids’ dresses will clash with the shade of gray in the guys’ suits. I am happy to have married my best friend and begin our new life together. I am happy that we were lucky enough to be able to have the experience of a lifetime. With all that said, I am a little sad that now that everything has come and gone and the day is now just 24 hours worth of memories and photographs.
The day itself was probably one of the hottest days of the year, but at least it wasn’t raining! We started out at the salon bright and early at 9am. We had our bagels, fruit and, of course, our mimosas in our personalized champagne glasses. I felt calm and at ease, ready to get things going. Once my hair was all finished, I was able to sit and relax while the rest of the girls were getting beautified. Once all of the bridesmaids were finished with hair, they stayed to have their makeup applied, and I headed back to the hotel. I was getting my makeup applied by the great Beke Beau, and I didn’t want to be late! Once I was back in my room and the makeup application was in full swing, things definitely started to feel real.
After a super quick decision to have all of the girls get dressed at the hotel, we scrambled around to pack the rest of our personal belongings, my dress, shoes and accessories to jump on the shuttle and head to Radnor Hunt. That short bus ride felt so surreal—it was really happening. Everything I had worked on for the past year and a half was LIVE and all I could do was smile … and try to hold back the happiest tears of my life.
When we all arrived, things were quiet. We had a few minutes to explore on our own before the craziness was to begin. I knew our florist was going to be arriving shortly to drop off our bouquets and the boutonnieres, so I was super anxious for 2pm to roll around. Our photographer, the great Mike Allebach, was also to be arriving at 2 to get started on our pre-ceremony photos. The anticipation was almost too much to keep under control. When I saw our florist Heather come in with the flowers, I can’t even put into words the excitement I had. To say that the flowers were beautiful would be an understatement. They were unbelievable! Exactly what I wanted, each one carefully crafted to absolute perfection. If the bouquets looked that good, I could barely imagine how the centerpieces turned out.
The next few hours were a bit of a blur. Before I knew it, I was in my dress and the guys had arrived. It was time for our “first look.” Once Mike set the scene up for me to walk outside and meet Christian underneath the giant tree, I headed down the staircase and out toward the back of the house, where I could see Christian sitting on the tree swing. Tears. Immediately. It was a good thing the groomsmen were waiting in the room that stood between the backyard and me; they generously gave me their extra hankies. (They also told me that they made the executive decision to have Christian wear a different tie. WHAT? That certainly helped distract me from balling my eyes out.)
The walk out to Christian felt like it took 10 years. It was hot, and although my dress was super light, the inner lining stuck to my legs, making it almost impossible to walk straight. So, I improvised and made it look like I was doing that cat burglar walk up behind Christian. (It seemed like the most appropriate thing to me at the time.) Christian looked amazing. Super handsome and grinning from ear to ear. I will never forget that moment and I can’t wait to see how the pictures turn out. There is not one word that I could use to describe that moment, but I am hoping the feeling translates into the pictures that were taken.
Over the next couple of hours we had our photo session together, pictures with our bridal party, and then pictures with our families. Before I knew it, guests had started to arrive, so it was a quick dart up the stairs to hide and wait for the ceremony to begin. Once we had the signal that we were ready to get started, I headed back downstairs and lined up behind our bridal party, arm and arm with my dad. All I could think was, “Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry, and try not to fall on your face.” Things went well for the most part—I managed not to trip and was able to keep the tears down to a stream or two. A big accomplishment for me!
The ceremony was beautiful! Our Reverend, Reverend Pamela Brehm, did a fantastic job! She brought our carefully crafted ceremony and vows to life, and from what I am told, a horse galloped off in the distance behind us right when she pronounced us husband and wife, almost as if it was on cue. I am not sure if people were crying because of the ambiance or if it was because it was so dang hot, but I am told it was an amazing moment to witness. I hope someone got that on video!
Now, it was time to party! And party we did! When the ceremony was all over and we went back inside to cool off and grab a celebratory drink, I finally got a peak into the reception space. Incredible! I was so nervous about how everything would look when it was all put together, but it was absolutely beautiful. The combination of the two different styles of centerpieces were far too amazing to describe in words (if I do say so myself) and they meshed well with the venue (Cottage Flowers did such a fantastic job!) One of our dearest friends (Tyler Littman, whose company normally does lighting for concerts, television and corporate events) did our lighting for us as a wedding gift and I couldn’t be more grateful. Without that lighting, I really don’t think the room would have looked as good as it did. It highlighted the centerpieces and the room in a way that truly showcased how beautiful everything was. We have the greatest friends!
And I do have to give props to our DJ, Mr. Marc Fisher. He had quite the challenge to keep my little dance machine-self happy and he delivered. We barely gave Marc any requests for music and I am glad we didn’t. Other than our first dance and the mother/father dance songs, our only request was that he not play any Black Eyed Peas. I think that giving the DJ the freedom to match music to the vibe of the crowd is important. If we gave him a huge list of must-plays, I don’t think the evening would have been such a success in the dance department. He studied the crowed and stayed with what was getting (and keeping) people on the dance floor, and it was awesome!
All and all, it was an amazing day. There were a few hiccups involved in the process, but they were minor in the grand scheme of things. Our food was great, the venue and décor were beautiful, and our friends and family had a great time. We made the most of our budget and put our money where it was most important for us and it paid off!
If I had to make just one recommendation based off my experiences, it would be to hire a day-of wedding coordinator if you can afford it. If you can’t afford it, ask a friend (someone other than the bridesmaids) to do it for you. I feel like because I was so emotionally attached to every detail of the wedding, I wasn’t able to take my mind off of things like where they would put all our picture frames and details like that. If you have someone who knows the ins and outs of your plans for that day, someone who can run around and solve an issue of, let’s say, the napkins being the wrong color, you will be much more relaxed and can take time to enjoy every moment of your day.
Which is exactly what you should do.