Bridal Blogger Stephanie: Our Wedding Day (With Photos!)
You know when you look forward to something so much, for so long that it inevitably doesn’t live up to your lofty expectations? It’s a fear that crept into my mind in the final stretch before July 20th. But I’m supremely happy to say that my wedding —an event I’ve been planning for the last year and a half and dreaming of for the last decade —was more than I could have ever hoped for. And I wish that line didn’t sound so cliché. I wish you could see the all-consuming smile as I write it and the happy tears streaming down my cheeks; when I really take the time to reflect on the day, I become unrelentingly emotional because I loved our wedding day with all my being and want to do it all over again.
I have to admit that before the most perfect, blissful day of my life came a whole lot of tears—and not the happy ones. On the Friday before the wedding, the Four Seasons called to tell me that due to the weather forecast, they would have to move our ceremony inside. Having my ceremony in their outdoor courtyard bordered with fountains and flowers and shaded by gorgeous overhanging trees was pretty much the sole reason I decided on the Four Seasons. I saw a wedding there last summer and found it enchanting. I was instantaneously charmed and fell in love. So when our Four Seasons wedding coordinator, Eric, told me that the place I had been dreaming of—where I had spent the last year envisioning myself walking down the aisle—was no longer a possibility, I was devastated.
Admittedly, I was at first angry—frustrated that the decision had to be made so early. But after realizing how much of our plan we’d have to totally re-work if the weather was indeed bad, I was simply sad. As I talked to Eric on the phone trying to keep my composure as much as humanly possible and not turn into the bride having a breakdown, he told me it was okay to be sad and it was okay to cry—which opened up the floodgates. He ended the call suggesting a massage and a drink.
My sister could not have been more compassionate and understanding. She talked me through it on our traffic-filled, rush-hour drive down to the hotel—pointing out the pros and cons—and helped me feel better. And then what really did it was the massage. Beyond Eric’s recommendation to quell my disappointment about the courtyard, pretty much everyone—especially former bride—had suggested that I get a pre-wedding massage. I wondered if I would be able to sufficiently relax; and again, I am happy to report: yes. I nearly fell asleep and walked out feeling like Jello, happily drifting up to the bridal suite—which my bridesmaids had checked into while I ran down to the spa.
The suite was absolutely magnificent—like nothing I’ve ever seen—and Pat soon arrived, which pretty drastically improved my mood. That night the bridal party and our parents ate in the bar, and it was refreshingly casual, intimate, and fun. Everyone was so visibly in such good spirits. That moment I had been waiting for arrived: the wave of calm washed over me, and I was left with pure bliss.
Before heading to bed, Pat and I went out onto our balcony and talked about how unbelievable it was that our wedding day was only hours away. I saw that there were tears in his eyes, and I was filled with so much love and joy and relief and anticipation—more than anything, I remember intensely feeling; it was overwhelming. We reluctantly said goodnight, and my bridesmaids and me popped on my favorite movie of all time: Father of the Bride!
I awoke the next morning to the sound of my phone erupting in messages from my friends and family. Similar to the morning after I got engaged, I awoke with a huge, irrepressible grin on my face. I sort of skipped out to the living room, where all my bridesmaids were already up and changed, and there was a palpable sense of excitement.
Soon after, hair and makeup arrived. It was time to get started, and man, it was quite a process—a very long one. It was a lot of anxious waiting around, but it was fun to watch the transformations unfold. Around 4:00, my photographer and videographer arrived, which I think made everything all the more real. I was getting married!
I literally couldn’t wait to get into my dress. Finally, the time had come, and I was ecstatic. My mom and my sister helped me into it, surrounded by my bridesmaids, and combined with my hair and makeup, I think my gown was exquisite. I remember thinking to myself: how on earth did I ever doubt it? This is my wedding gown; this is what I was meant to walk down the aisle in—no question about it.
We carefully placed my veil in my hair, and before taking the elevator downstairs, I tried to really take in my bridesmaids. They looked absolutely magnificent—breathtaking in all honesty. The dresses complimented each and every one of them. Their hair and makeup was incredible. My florist, Rhoad’s Garden, did an outrageously phenomenal job on their bouquets and mine. My bridal party was drop dead gorgeous.
They hopped on an elevator, and my dad and I—he, looking incredibly handsome and George Clooney-esque in his tux—hopped on the next one. Our elevator stopped on several floors on the way down, and it was pretty hysterical to see the surprised expressions on everyone’s faces when the doors opened. Once we walked our way to the ballroom, the ceremony was just beginning and Pat was still outside, so we had to tuck behind a wall, which happened to be the entrance to the Fountain restaurant—also very amusing to see the expressions of all the people dining.
I could hear the ceremony music that I had spent so very long toiling over playing faintly through the hallway, but it sounded absolutely magical. And right before we took our place outside the ballroom doors, I heard the excited cries, “The girls are going down the aisle!!” The girls being my flowergirls, aged 2-4, who I was pretty sure weren’t going to be too interested in actually walking down. But they did it! Adorably holding the hands of my sister.
Next up: the moment I had been dreaming about since I was a little girl – walking down the aisle alongside my father in my wedding dress to the man of my dreams. God, I was so happy. And a little nervous. The doors opened; Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Ponta de Areia” was majestically playing: the room was lit with candlelight; and I first remember seeing our family friend Mrs. Flynn beaming proudly. I’m pretty sure I was radiating joy, glowing in elation.
Completely unaware of how the ballroom was going to be transformed to the ceremony, I was surprised to find that we first had to walk to our left before walking down the aisle. I found it really funny that I had told my dad over and over, “Let’s make this walk count. Let’s make it really slow.” And by the time we reached the bottom of the aisle, he made us come to a complete stop because I was practically running. I tried to look into the aisles at the guests I was so thrilled to have there. I remember locking eyes with my tearful coworker Kaitlyn. And then I saw Pat.
The tears were streaming down his face. And it seems like such a strange thing to say—but it made me so extraordinarily happy. I remember my videographers had asked me what were the absolute essential moments to capture, and I said I need to see Pat’s reaction as I walk down the aisle – hoping there would be something, but never imagining the kind of raw emotion I saw as I made my way to him, and I was so unbelievably moved I was the reason for it.
I remember the first thing he said to me was, “That’s the best wedding dress I’ve ever seen.” Our ceremony began with an introduction from our officiant, my best friend Emily’s father, who watched Pat and I grow up. Then two readings, a response, and the lighting of the unity candle. I decided to put a twist on the ritual by including our grandparents as well. And before the lighting began, our officiant read an excerpt Pat and I had written about our families uniting that day, with a bit of history on the heritage of each. During the lighting, Pat’s three cousins sang how “Great Thou Art” acapella, and it was simply outstanding. I purposely didn’t include it on the program to have it as a surprise.
Then came another hugely significant moment: our vows. I was astonished that I was able to largely get through mine without breaking down—well, that is until I got to talking about how I can’t wait to see the father he becomes. I was really proud of what I was able to write in the end, and so thrilled to share it with him. He was overcome with emotion listening to my vows, and I’m told that so were our guests. His vows were stunning. In the end, he talked of how I evolved from his crush in the 7th grade, to his girlfriend, to his fiancé, and now, he was looking at his wife.
We exchanged rings, were pronounced husband and wife, shared the most meaningful, precious kiss of our lives, and than walked down the aisle. I had been so worried about the ceremony not being outside, yet it was beyond romantic, so intimate. It was everything I dreamed of.
We were quickly ushered into a room to spend just a minute to ourselves and stuff our faces with some hors d’oeuvres before heading out for pictures. Fortunately, the weather held up perfectly, so we were able to take them outside—first in the courtyard, and then Pat and I made our way to the Swann Fountain. When we returned to cocktail hour, I was whisked away to get my dress bustled and my hair put up in more dance-conducive do.
Right before guests entered the ballroom, my wedding planners snuck us in for a sneak peak. It literally took my breath away. It was sensational—the lighting, the flowers, the draping, the water walls, the table cloths, the square tables, the orchids in the napkins, the cake, the candles. All of the time, the planning, and the stress had been worth it.
We then took our place outside the ballroom in preparation for intros with the bridal party. I’m told each member of my bridal party did a pretty fantastic job pulling off some on-the-fly choreography to their song as they entered. I look forward to the videos. Then, “Crazy In Love” started blaring. “Introducing, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Cunnane!” We danced our way onto the floor and then the lights dimmed. Our Love Story began playing.
It was a video we had worked on with our videographers, CinemaCake. It was essentially the story of us, with a trip back to the grade school where we met. Not only cannot I not wait to someday share this with our kids and be able to watch it for the rest of our lives, but my hope was that it would be a way for our guests to get to know a little bit more about the couple they were celebrating. At the end of the video, I talked about how unbelievably lucky we are that a “Sure” outside the Ancillae library more than a decade ago to the question “Will you be my girlfriend?” led us to this day—and that it’s quite magical. The video ended, the lights came on, and our song “This Magic Moment” started playing. And we pulled off our choreographed dance without a hitch! Pat gave a little first pump at the end, so thrilled he nailed it. He had been incredibly anxious about it.
Our ridiculously awesome band, the LA Starz, next called everyone onto the dance floor for “At Last” and then started a full-on jam session, kicking it off with “Blurred Lines.” They sat us down for our first course, while each of our parents gave spectacular toasts. And then it was time for the parent dances. After Pat and his mom’s “In My Life,” my dad and I made our way to the floor. Unfortunately, the band’s version of “My Girl” was a tad different than ours, so we weren’t able to do the Temptations dance move we had meticulously worked on, but we improvised and I don’t think missed a beat. And as planned, after the first chorus, the record-scratching sound ushered in my father-in-law’s signature summersault, and we broke into “Let’s Groove” and got everyone on the dance floor.
Lots and lots more dancing—the floor was completely and utterly packed—until the main course and speeches from the best men and maid of honor. Pat’s brothers, co-best men, had finished their speech the night before … literally. So I was feeling a pretty nervous for them as they got up to the microphone, but they were out of this world. They were like a comedy duo, landing absolutely hysterical joke after joke about Pat. Not a single one missed, and I was incredibly touched by what they had to say about me—it was certainly nothing I had ever heard before. I hugged them so tightly after they finished, and they said they loved me. I just floated across the floor in happiness. And then my sister brought down the house. I knew she would be phenomenal. She’s an exceptional public speaker and extremely eloquent. But the speech was beautifully structured and the perfect mix of funny and serious. Both of the speeches were fantastic.
And then it was more dancing, more of what I love. There was a Motown set; there was some Michael Jackson, some Katy Perry. The band was as awesome as I knew they would be, and our guests were absolutely crazy about them. When the last song played, I was so sad it was coming to an end—but then it was on to the after party next door! More than two hours of dancing to my playlist I was quite proud of. I went with purely fun: Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” Young MC’s “Bust a Move,” Christina Aguilera’s “Come on Over,” the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe,” Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” It was the most fun I’ve possibly ever had. And my favorite part was the final song of the night: Bruno Mars’ “I Think I Wanna Marry You.” I remember Pat spinning me and me wrapping my arms around him saying, “I did it. I married you,” and feeling like the luckiest girl in the world.
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