Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue Imperfections

Weddings are known for their stress. From planning to execution, they get a pretty bad rap.
Here's the big secret as far as I can tell: SPECIAL AND PERFECT ARE NOT THE SAME THING. If you pursue perfect, you'll lose special along the way, but if you are intentional about making something special, you'll succeed as long as you remember to make even the imperfections and little failures into beautiful memories.

The following post is a more or less chronological account of the little things which made Jon's and my wedding day so imperfectly wonderful

The Dress

Let's just be honest: Wedding Planning is really just Creating a Situation in Which to Wear THE DRESS OF YOUR LIFE.
For me this was The Colbie Gown by BHLDN (Pronounced “Beholden”).


It was nothing like what I thought I wanted in a wedding dress, but then again Jon was nothing like what I thought I wanted in a man. This dress was fun and big and light, simple and comfortable--not to mention easy to step in and out of when I had to use the bathroom--all in all the perfect metaphor for our relationship.
Sort of kidding but not really.

The nice thing about BHLDN is that you don't have to wait six months for your gown to arrive and then Who Knows How Long to get the alterations right. You get it in a week, and, in my case, all I had to do was get the straps shortened.

Mostly, though, I picked this dress because it seemed like just the thing to wear in the woods by a lake and because my friend, Katie Gicker, made me fall so completely in love with BHLDN that I was never going to buy my dress anywhere else. Their Instagram account alone is enough to make a girl swoon.

Something Old

We lost my Grammie Tyson just about a year ago. On the morning of the wedding, when I was sitting in a pile of tulle on a couch, drinking champagne, my aunt Bobbie came in for a visit. She apologized in advance for threatening the integrity of my eye makeup and gave me my grandmother's ring. I can't even put into words how much that meant to me, so I'm not going to try.


Something New 

I have been in love with pearls ever since I discovered as a little girl how they form from an oyster’s pain over the course of years until something beautiful and inwardly luminescent emerges. I saw the Whitley Pearl Drop Earrings on BHLDN's website and was sold on them before I even picked the dress. Someday I hope they will be my daughter’s something borrowed and my granddaughter’s something old.


Quick side-note before I move on: I had my eye on "The Neve Pearl Halo" by BHLDN, but with a price tag of $200, it wasn’t feasible. My beloved friend and bridesmaid, Katie, knew this and surprised me by hand-making a look-alike. The thing that absolutely cracks me up about this is that for days and days after the wedding,  Jon was under the impression that I had worn fairy lights in my hair. Actual fairy lights. He thought that I had figured out some way to hide the battery box inside my updo (shout-out to Elisabeth K. for this hair, by the way). Fairy lights, people. That is how luminescent this freshwater pearl halo is, and it is a gift I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Something Borrowed

“Can’t Help Falling in Love,” rendition by Kina Grannis from the wedding scene in Crazy Rich Asians. This is a movie Jon and I saw in theaters a couple months into our relationship, and that scene made me cry, which is super uncommon for me. I cry at sad parts in movies, but usually not romantic ones. Because this rendition of Elvis's tune was expressly arranged for aisle-walking, it made the whole timing thing super simple.

Something Blue

“You are my something blue,” was something I wanted to be able to say, but while I picked the color and even a dress early on, the dresses that appeared at the wedding were not the dresses originally ordered. I never thought I would be That Bride, but after Kennedy Blue failed to deliver dresses that fit normal human bodies (sorry, not sorry for that review), we sent them all back and went to the mall instead, which was way more fun than ordering online let's just be honest.


Barefoot Sandals

I spent so much time when I was younger running around Camp Living Waters barefoot, that I knew I would deeply regret it if I didn’t get married barefoot. Those of you who know me well are probably rolling your eyes right now in Not Surprise. My slight acquiescence to occasion and propriety was to get myself a pair of barefoot sandals. They were perfect for bumming around in the mud, which I had to do because it had been raining all week.

Speaking of Rain

It rains a lot in Maine, so I made my peace from the very beginning with the concept of rain on my wedding day. I arrived at the camp a couple days prior to the big day, and the weather had been nothing but wet nastiness, so when the morning arrived I was Overjoyed that it was only Slightly Damp with light, scattered showers predicted. The damp put a sheen on everything that made the pictures actual magic. Rachel of Twin Firs Photography did an amazing job working with the scattered showers and managing her intermittent dry weather patches well.

However. While I expected rain, I did not think about the ensuing mud. From the minute I walked out the door in my dress, the morning of the wedding, I had to just lean in to the whole trash-the-dress thing. It would have been way less fun worrying about getting my hem dirty. Besides, Jon helping me past Really wet spots made for some adorable photography.

The Littles

Our Flower Girl and Ring-Bearer (one from each side of the family) were stupid adorable, and we don't regret for one minute picking them. Each, in their own perfect way, brought a beautiful imperfection to the ceremony.


I made the mistake of not having Stella practice with petals during rehearsal. She flawlessly mimed creating a petal-fairy-princess road in rehearsal, but during the ceremony, she got so caught up in carefully creating the most magical petal-fairy-princess road anyone has ever seen (or ever will see) that she only made it a quarter of the way down the aisle before my musical cue arrived, and I had to just go. Luckily, even though my magical petal-fairy-princess road didn't lead me all the way to Jon, there were fairy lights and floating candles that helped me find my way.

Reggie, our little ring-bearer ended up being just a little too young to walk down the aisle by himself. The result was some of the most adorable father-son photos I've ever seen.

That one-finger hand-hold tho.
In addition, we got great shots of Jon using a dandelion to coax a small child to come join our stolen family, so there's that. 
The Nap

Between the ceremony and the reception, Jon and I were so exhausted that we just climbed into my bed in the bridal cabin and took a nap. Now that's what I call a marriage bed....I can’t remember if the photographer or the maid of honor woke us up, but yeah.

The Birdseed Toss 

This is just another sterling example of how sometimes Pinterest will let you down.
I decided not to use confetti or rice because Environment or sparklers because time-of-day. Having consulted Pinterest, the maid of honor, and the Googles, I decided on birdseed, which looked amazing here:


But not so much here:


Birdseed is dusty. It's heavy. It gets everywhere. It was not good. But...it actually was. I had to spit it out of my mouth as Jon and I ran off but, it paved the way for my favorite memory of the entire wedding:

The Lake Jump

Jon and I arrived back at our respective cabins hot and bothered and covered in birdseed. We had a quick conversation that went something like this:

JON: I have birdseed in PLACES.
ABBY: Yeah me too.
JON: I'm also really hot. Wanna jump in the lake?
JON: Wait...should we have sex first?
ABBY: *considers*
ABBY: uh
ABBY: Well we both have birdseed in PLACES. I imagine that would be Not Fun.
JON: Right, let's jump in the lake.

JON and ABBY: *Jump in a Lake Instead of Having Sex*

We had a moment at the dock where Jon discovered to his Astonishment and Wonder just how many bobby pins can fit into a woman’s hair. And thus began our journey as Man and Wife.


Tune in next time for a possibly, probably, mostly PG-rated Honeymoon Post that does not include any more lakes. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Wedding Planning in Retrospect

I intended to write a blog post on wedding planning WHILE I was wedding planning, but I was too busy wedding planning, so I didn’t. Now that I think of it, though, having the benefit of hindsight is probably better anyway. Here we go!


For a variety of reasons, both emotional and logistical, Jon and I decided to have our wedding at the beautiful lakeside Camp Living Waters in Weston, Maine right on the Canadian border. This choice was the first that we made, and it drove every subsequent decision from date to dress. 


Getting permission to use the camp was a huge blessing. Living Waters is not a wedding venue, it’s a Christian summer camp that had a massive impact on my childhood and on my faith. I volunteered there from my thirteenth summer to my nineteenth. I took Jon there for a weekend around this time last year when he road-tripped to Maine with me to meet my parents. It was there that he first let me know he was hoping to marry me.


Because of the camp’s busy summer schedule, the only date available to us was June 29th, which presented the first pleasant shock of the wedding planning journey. I would be getting married within one week of Elisabeth Wilk (now Kamakawiwoole), my dear friend and maid of honor. I remember the night when we realized it:

We were snacking and catching up at some dark PM hour outside Chik-fil-A in Purcellville. She had a brand-new sparkling ring on her hand, and I was holding my breath waiting to hear what her wedding date was, praying we weren’t about to have a Bride Wars situation on our hands. When she said July 6th, I sighed with relief, had a minor heart attack as I realized it was the Weekend After Mine and Travel and All the Things, but we didn’t graduate from Patrick freakin’ Henry only to be afraid of back to back weddings, so we took a pair of deep breaths and dove into planning together. Also watching Bride Wars--because duh.


A massive challenge faced each of us: She would have to be in Maine the week before her wedding in order to be in mine, and I would have to figure out a honeymoon that would allow me to be back to Virginia in time for hers (more on that in an upcoming post). On top of that, I couldn’t be in Maine until the week before the big day. Yikes. It took all of five minutes of Googling Weston, Maine florists to realize exactly how difficult planning a destination wedding can be. Elisabeth and I bounced every single roadblock, success, brilliant idea, and Etsy find off each other in the next six months, and as a result, planning this wedding was possibly the single most fun thing I’ve ever done. 


Jon and I decided early on that we valued having cash for our new life together over having an expensive event. We settled on a budget of 5K, which was HARD, but we stuck to it. Mostly. For those of you who don’t know, the average wedding in the United States today costs 30K, and any company that works the wedding machine knows that, and naturally wants to convince you to have an above-average wedding. Not to mention guest expectations. Not to mention MY expectations. I wanted a beautiful wedding. Yeeeiikes. (That’s a mixture of Yeet and Yikes, if anyone was wondering).

How did we do it?

Well, I'll tell you.

First of all, we picked a wedding venue that, not being a wedding venue, was free-adjacent rather than a couple thousand dollars to book and only a bit extra work. The lakeside vibe and natural beauty of the place gave me the freedom to lean into the florals and pay very little more for additional decor. 


Speaking of florals, we saved tons of money and had more fun by opting to buy loose and DIY the arrangements. This was one of the most difficult parts of the process, but not in the way you might think. I LOVE arranging flowers--from bouquets to boutineers--so that was no issue, but the distance between me and Amanda at Chadwick Florist, Houlton, was tough. Pinterest saved the day, though, so even though I wasn’t able to see what my flowers would look like until the day before the ceremony, they turned out amazing. I went for red daisies, yellow roses, baby’s breath, and seeded eucalyptus. The lovely sisters, Bethany and Katie Gicker, bridesmaids extraordinaire, took point on the decor.



They are legit super heroes.


Jon and I decided that the one thing on which we were willing to spend a bit of cash was photography, because that’s all you get to keep forever besides the wedding bands and the promises. We settled on NOVA’s Rachel Yearick for her romantic style and calming manner. We wanted our wedding photos to have some continuity of style with our beautiful engagement gallery, and Rachel at Twin First Photography delivered once again. We could not be more happy with our preserved moments! I adore Rachel as a friend, but she is out of this world as a photographer. She worked with a weekend of scattered showers with an ease, grace, creativity, and attentiveness that just blew me away. At one point she found herself some twine and a ladder and hung my dress up in the woods! Dang.


Speaking of people who blew me away, we also imported our caterer, a recent culinary school graduate just breaking into the catering world. And I mean just. Ours was Olivia Wilk’s first wedding, and from our Sam’s Club shopping trip (CALM DOWN...There Is No Costco In Maine) to her beautiful rolls, salads, and chicken pot pies--Olivia was amazing. She was a joy to work with, and she makes great food. She enjoyed the willing helping hands of two of my new sisters: Leanna and Katie, and they looked adorable with flour all over them, rolling out pie crust. 



Man, this post is getting long. Why did I think I should shove six months of wedding planning into 1,000 words? Almost Done, I Promise.

Shout out to Kelsey Wolfley, an Etsy Designer who makes beautifully simple invitation files perfect for taking to the printer. 


Shout out to Mr. Edling at PHC for printing and cutting the invitations for all of $6.

Shout out to my mom who took on a sewing project to save us $$$ on table runners, to Bethany Gicker for picking out the fabric, to Hobby Lobby for putting said fabric on sale at just the right moment, and to Etsy for these gorgeous, engraved cake servers.


Shout out to Kennebec Chocolates in Maine for being exponentially cheaper than any NOVA bakery ever, to Jennifer Dumond for baking this dark chocolate gem before taking her kids to the beach, and to Etsy again for this personalized cake topper that somehow looks Exactly like Jon and I.


Shout out to old cars for teaching me the value of mixtape CDs--my choice in wedding favors and my other favorite DIY project of the wedding.

Shout out to my sister for putting on a blue wig and pretending to be an expensive foreign DJ. I don’t know about anyone else, but thought it was hilarious, and I’m thankful to have such a weird, quirky sibling.

On the DJ note, I bought a quality speaker on the recommendation of a musician friend, sprung for Spotify Premium for the first and last two months of my life, and borrowed a microphone and cables from said friend. It turned out great. And by great I mean, mediocre at best, which is all one can reasonably expect of the enigmatic DJ WizzĂ©. 

And Last But Not Least: Shout out to my best friend for marrying me. 


Isn't he a cutie? (**Cough** I mean a manly, manly dreamboat?). And. With. That. I will leave you.

Next time on my blog: the dress, the old the new the borrowed and the Blue, as well as Highlights and Mishaps from our Wedding Day! Let me know if you’re planning a wedding and need some help and/or would like the contact info/links to any of the vendors I’ve mentioned above. More Soon!