Practicing the father-daughter dance with my dad had me melancholy at times. I wanted him to know I wasn't replacing him with George...just committing fully to George as we advance in the next stage of life together. But nobody...NOBODY could take the place of my father.
Jessica and Laura came downstairs and brought some vodka. After a couple of shots, I started to feel more like how I'd expect to feel: happy, excited, sure.
We stopped by Sonic (where George and I met) and loaded up on some delicious fried food.
Then we drove to the hotel. I remember telling Laura from the bathroom as I was shaving my legs, "We need to be leaving here by 2:30!"...followed by a silent pause...and a, "That's not going to happen...It's 2:45!" We left in a rush. Once we arrived at Winfrey Point, Jessica got my hair curled in a snap. My mom and Jen helped me touch up on the stray pieces while I applied my make-up.
I wore my mother's dress. I wore TOMS shoes (for every pair purchased, a pair is given to a child in need) and pearls from my grandparents. My garter was from Jessica. My something blue was a last-minute little tie from my new brother-in-law. I wore my late grandmother's broach on the bouquet.
(No photo...underneath my dress!)
After getting ready, I was relieved to have our "First Look." I felt instantly at ease when I knew George was at the venue, and on time. That sounds funny, but I really knew at that point that nothing else mattered. I would strongly recommend all couples do a first look. It just makes sense. First of all, you get unbelievably touching photos. Secondly, your first moment together on the wedding day is shared only with your photographer...it keeps the moment very raw, very real, and very authentic; this moment was ours entirely. Finally, we were able to see a few of our friends arrive and say hello together. We also got a head start on family photos, instead of doing them all after the ceremony.
After the "First Look," we saw Casey and Cade walking up from the parking lot. This was especially exciting to us, because they were a couple of friends (originally of George's) that traveled great distances and sacrificed a lot to be there for our wedding day. Casey lives in New York, and Cade lives in Philly. Seeing them and other guests following made everything very real. I was so honored to see them down in Texas for our nuptials!
It wasn't long after the First Look that we were ready to start the ceremony. I thought I was going to cry walking down the aisle with Daddy. I love that man more than life itself. But I couldn't! I was too busy soaking up all the faces on either side of the aisle. In hindsight, I barely even remember looking at George at that time (oops, that's probably a 'wrong answer'!). I was just overwhelmed seeing all of our guests! Once we made it to the big tree, I had my mother stand up so both of my parents could take responsibility for shaping me and helping me make it to this point. I kissed them both and took George's hand. The ceremony began.
***About 3 months into our marriage, I realized that my parents each taught me very valuable, and equally important lessons. Because of the relationship I always had with my dad (which was sweet, loving, and calm), I am better able to love George in a peaceful and nurturing manner. Because of the relationship I always had with my mom, I have learned how to love myself. She was always my biggest fan, and encouraged independence (but then again, since she did read "The Strong Willed Child," I know I kinda came out that way, too!). I realized that my marriage wouldn't be possible if it weren't for BOTH roles my parents played. I couldn't love George if I didn't have love for myself, and my mother truly fostered that. From the bottom of my heart, I am thankful for my parents and their unique ways of loving me, preparing me for the next chapter.***
|Exchange of rings.|
|I couldn't stop smiling. The whole night.|
|And after all the words were said, and there was nothing left to be said, we sealed the deal with a kiss.|
|Seeing that ring on his finger never gets old. And I adore this photo. Thanks to Stephanie of Stephanie Rose Photography for being the best photographer EVER.|
I must be honest. I debated for a while if I wanted to share all my vendors publicly. I was so engrossed in the creative process, I felt nervous that if I gave all my secrets away, my wedding could be duplicated. Luckily, that selfish feeling only lasted about 5 minutes. The truth is, no wedding, anywhere, can ever be duplicated. A wedding is the joining of two people, and their spirits come through regardless of vendors or location. And all of my vendors were FABULOUS. Also, being at Winfrey Point, it was a complete DIY wedding. Nothing came with the location, so having a good team was absolutely essential. I was so impressed with everybody that helped make my vision a success, and I want to promote their businesses. If you or anybody you know is planning on getting married, I highly recommend the following people, places, and ideas:
|Lottie Fowler, Wedding Coordinator, and Creative Brains behind "Couture Events by Lottie"|
(She didn't even know I snapped this pic! I'm such a sneaky lil photog. This was at a bridal meeting in her adorable home office. Many of the details in the photos were able to happen as a result of her hard work and creativity!)
|Rita Miller Dorris, of Rent My Dust, for vintage rentals. I am absolutely in love with this woman. Kindest soul I've ever met! Oh, and guess what dress she wore when she got married? The one I wore. No big deal.|
|Stephanie Rose Photography for Engagements...A close friend and unbelievable artist.|
|and Stephanie Rose Photography, of course, for the wedding! I look through these photos all the time, and cannot make a stronger recommendation for a photographer!|
|My bouquet. Oh my goodness, gracious. These flowers, yall. Only Raquel could pull this off. Thanks to RLove! I strongly recommend my personal friend for flowers. I was so pleased.|
|Mason jars with wildflowers lined the aisle. Perfection.|
|We had both our ceremony doors and photo wall rented from Sassafrass and Flair. I loved the personal touch, but I think I would be an easier contact to work with. If you want a photo wall or ceremony doors, ask me! I'm making some with the help of my new husband. We are going to make the doors on a base so they can be used indoors OR outdoors (Sassafrass is limited to outdoor only as they are stakes...and had there been inclement weather, we'd have lost money). We also will be easier to get a hold of. E-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|The Dress. My mother's. One of my favorite details in the wedding.|
|I told my sister and best friend, Jen, to wear whatever they wanted. Hair, shoes, make up, dress, didn't matter to me, as long as we kept in a neutral palette. If you trust the people closest to you to make their own decisions, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Same goes for vendors. Share your creative ideas... CONVEY your vision to your team. But realize they are all creative people, too, and if you limit them, you tie their hands. Laura and Jen decided to wear the same dress on their own. It was from Anthropologie. And I absolutely LOVED them both in it! They both loved it too, and I'm sure (or I should say, I HOPE) will wear it again.|
|Uh oh. Brides beware. Once on this site, you might go nuts. But absolutely PERFECT for your bridal shower dress or dress rehearsal attire. Or both. Hehe. BHLDN is the step-up from Anthro, and exclusively bridal.|
|Legacy Cakes for the cake and dessert table. We had cake, pies, brownies, cupcakes, and cake pops. I'm not a big cake person, so having a range of treats was important to me. The traditional side of me wanted to cut cake, though, so, being a Gemini, I had to have both personalities appeased!|
|Cake: Legacy Cakes.|
Cake Topper: Etsy. Custom Cake Topper, including one green eye and one blue eye for my groom.
|I used Gift Registry 360 for our registry, and am so happy I didn't go traditional on this one! Gift Registry 360 allows you to add items anytime, anywhere. There is an app (of course) for the iPhone, and you also have it on your computer. You can add any item, from any website or store. This includes local artists. Since Anthropologie still doesn't offer registries (get with the program, Anthro!), I was able to get my dream kitchen with this site. I also added throws from individual artists, and random gadgets I saw on Pinterest. GREAT registry. I STRONGLY recommend!|
|Bowtie Vintage Classics provided our sweet getaway car, Dolly. This was a fun ride!|
|All of my gifts were purchased from Etsy. I got hankies for both my parents and both George's parents. I know they will cherish these.|
Bride/Groom and other custom hangers for the people closest to me. These made great gifts because they can use them over and over, and it has to do with THEM, not ME. My friends loved their hangers! Made by an artist on Etsy.
|We each wrote letters to eachother and put a bottle of wine in this box. When we have an argument one day (hopefully never, but let's be honest!) when we question our marriage, we will go to this box and remind ourselves of this time in our lives now. This box was made by an artist on Etsy.|
|Another random! GET YOURSELF A BRIDE STARBUCKS CUP, LADIES. It's a once in a lifetime (hopefully) opportunity, and a great photo-op. Hehe.|
Well, this was fun. I certainly enjoyed reliving the best day of my life. If you have any specific questions (I know a LOT of my friends are engaged!!!!), feel free to e-mail me and ask!
My best advice would be:
- Call him fiance as long as you can. Typically 'boyfriend' and 'husband' titles last longer than the 'fiance' title.
- Don't sweat the small stuff. The guest list is important and was our biggest argument. That's to be expected. For God's sake, don't sweat the make up or hair on your bridal party. Nobody is going to focus on anybody but you and your groom.
- GET A WEDDING PLANNER. Lottie would be my recommendation. You don't want to be stressed every day leading up to the wedding, nor do you want to stress the day of. I must say, the DAY OF our wedding, I was more calm than ever. I wasn't stressed at all. It felt right, and I knew my coordinator had it under control. THAT FEELING IS PRICELESS.
- Remember to prepare for your marriage, not just the wedding. We went to several counseling sessions and took a premarital course. If you want the name of my counselor, feel free to e-mail me. He works from home, and I STRONGLY recommend him, but won't put his phone number online! I knew I wanted to prepare for our union the day I got engaged. No regrets. Worth every penny. Iron out potential problems AHEAD OF TIME.
- Don't assume you have to change your last name. If you want to, by all means, do it. We are living in 2012. Women can make choices. IF you choose his last name, more power to you, and I think that's romantic and great. TRULY. I've considered being Mrs. Tinker many times. But don't ASSUME it has to be done without looking into it, because it doesn't. I have no regrets keeping my last name. When we have kids, this might change, but for now, I'm a very happy Ms. Van Meter. Which reminds me...nowhere in our wedding did we have "Mrs." printed or read aloud. Nowhere did we limit marriage to a union between 'man and woman,' either. Make your wedding your own. If you support gay marriage, don't make your wedding contradict your beliefs. If you support women's rights, keep your name. If these issues pale in comparison to the giddiness of your big day, have a ball with it and don't look back. I'm just giving my opinion, and what worked for me.
- Get an address book and put all addresses in there from the get go. You'll be writing hundreds of thank you notes, and looking up addresses stifles motivation. Also, when you write your thank you notes, really focus on the person you are writing to and the role they have played; make it a practice of gratitude. I was flattered when my mom received compliments from her friends about my thank you notes. I am not that skilled in writing, but I am grateful, and I wanted to convey my gratitude to each person. Don't take anybody for granted, and make it count. Cranking out a thank you note just to 'check it off your list' defeats the purpose. In a day of texts, Facebook, and blogging, handwritten notes are one of our last ties to the 'good ol days,' and I believe they should be written with care.
A Very Happy Newlywed
PS: I love you, Papa G.