Monday, October 13, 2014

Two Years Together

Happy Anniversary to the best husband a woman could ever ask for!
Thank you for always helping me be my best self. 
You mean everything to me. I don't know what I'd do without
your crinkled-eyed smile and forehead kisses.
Here's to many more years together!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Our Wedding, Part 6

Saying Goodbye

Our "farewell song" can be found here.

The final image I have of our wedding day: the stone steps of the Community House, fanning upward and outward, with every step packed with our family members and closest friends. The stone arches framed the scene as if in anticipation of the postcard quality it would someday hold in my memory.  Sitting in the black festooned carriage, I blinked and thought "This is the last time I'll see many of them, for a long time." The tinkling of miniature bells washed over us, quiet and subdued so as not to scare the carriage horse. Their metallic sound lent a surreal quality to the whole scene: a magical overlay that crinkled and effervesced at the edges. Like some video-editing tool, it felt like the whole scene would blur and sparkle away, a transition to the next special moment.

So my parting advice for enjoying your wedding to the fullest: hold on to every second of it, enjoy every second of it, smile for every second of it. Don't let any little technical details or party-hosting issues steal the magic, because all that matters is the man in the carriage beside you and all those sweet people waving goodbye on the steps. It's a huge, beautiful day that passes before you know it.

It would be unrealistic to say that every second leading up to and leading away from the wedding was perfect. There were plenty of blunders and last-minute "oh dear goodness" moments preceding the day, but the day itself--at least to my knowledge--was exactly the wedding I had always wanted. This is not to say that no disasters occurred--oh no. The cake nearly caved in, the groom's shirt was about four sizes too large (rendering him a swash-buckling pirate without his vest and coat), a groomsman was given toddler sized shoes, one of my poor bridesmaids had to go to her grandmother's funeral the day before, and we almost forgot the fireplace decorations. But all these issues were corrected: how? Because of the amazing people who pulled this whole mammoth event together. Our parents, our friends, our families--people came out of the woodwork to help, support, and get us hitched. Without their support and love, the day would not have been what it was. Because of those people, when I remember our Big Day, I remember an overwhelming sense of happiness, fun, and love.

It's pretty amazing, isn't it, to think of all the people who love you? Who stand by your side, exuding love, kindness, and support, freely, just so two young people have the perfect "send-off." What better beginning could you hope for? Needless to say, we've been riding high on that love for two years now--and I have a feeling that it will continue for many years to come.

This is the final installment in a six-part series sharing details
of our wedding day. For the previous entries, follow this link. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Our Wedding Part 5

The Reception:

Our wedding reception was one which shall live in infamy. 

The evening began with the usual: cake, champagne, dancing, sweet heartfelt toss. But then came the garter toss. 

We decided to attempt a Pinterest find: place the garter on a football. Sounds cute and simple right? I thought my sports-fanatic fiancee would love the idea. Well, he loved it all right. And so did all his cousins. A little too much! Mark chucked that football, and next thing I knew a gaggle of fifteen young men began leaping and grasping, practically knocking each other over in the attempt to win it. (Let's just say, the ladies were much more graceful when it came to the garter toss.) But did the garter toss end here? Oh no. The man who did grab the football proceeded to rip across the field with his cousins and friends hot on his heels. And so ensued a garter wrestling match, played by grown men in tuxedos and suits, I might add. Meanwhile, the bride had to hold her groom by his coat tails to keep him from chasing after his cousins!

To this day, it's not the cake, the pies, or the toasts that people remember about my reception: but that infamous garter toss. Who doesn't love having a memorable wedding? 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Our Wedding Part 4

Part 4, The Ceremony: 

For the most part, our ceremony was pretty simple and straightforward. I remember thinking "Is this really happening right now? Is this really the ceremony? Right now?" 

We followed the basic order of things: blessing of marriage, a word of welcome, prayer, a reading, the exchange of vows, and so forth. Yet, we did deviate from the norm in a few ways. 

A unique quality about our wedding: we didn't have a brides' side and a groom's side. Although Mark and I never knew each other growing up, our families were interconnected without our even knowing. My mother and father's best friends were cousins in Mark's family. So, as a little girl, I was best friends with two of Mark's cousins. This interconnection was wonderful; it seemed to underscore everything right about this union. But when it came to seat planning... I found myself juggling names--"Do they sit on Mark's side or my side? Technically, she is Mark's cousin, but she's been my mom's friend for years...?" A dilemma.

My sweet father crafted the solution. He built a chalkboard sign and, in his perfect doctor's penmanship, wrote the phrase "We are two families becoming one, so choose a seat not a side." To reinforce that our wedding didn't have sides, we had the parents sit together on the front left-hand row while the grandparents sat together on the front right-hand row. 

I wish I could say I remember every word in my vows. But I don't. What I do remember, distinctly and clearly, was an overwhelming happiness. My cheeks ached and trembled from smiling. I kept laughing--which I was afraid would  make me seem flippant and goofy. If you could have peeked into my mind, you would have seen a whirligig of thoughts, something along the lines of "I can't believe this is happening! Yay yay yay I'm so excited! Oh, Wow. This is happening. I need to be serious. Abi, be serious. Okay, serious face. Yay Mark is so handsome! Oh, now I'm smiling again. Oh my gosh, pay attention, you're going to miss your cue to talk. Oh, we're already to the singing part!" 

Yes. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a glimpse into a bride's brain. You're welcome. 

Needless to say, I couldn't maintain my enthusiasm for very long, because, as you will see in the last photo, I did a flower-bouquet fist pump. Note Mark's grin and overall expression of "yep, there she goes!" 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our Wedding Part 3

Before the Ceremony:

One of the best decisions I have ever made, to date, was to have our wedding photos taken before the ceremony. Now, I know that tradition holds that the groom shouldn't see the bride before the ceremony, but pooh on that! Frankly, laying eyes on that handsome man and spending time with our family and friends was well worth breaking tradition. We knew we had a plane to catch after the reception, an necessity which was already cutting into the time we would get to spend with friends and family after we said " I do." I also knew that Mark would hate having to stand around taking photos when everyone else was laughing and talking at our own reception.

So, let's be honest: there are no vengeful tradition-gods casting their might and ire down upon wedding-tradition breakers. No. If your love is real and blessed by God, changing it up a little isn't going to seal your doom. Your vows are stronger than that and, if not, well...Moving on.

Those secret silent moments--seeing Mark before the wedding--completely calmed my nerves. I knew he was there. I knew we were ready for this step. I knew our friends and family blessed this step. And I got to hold his hand up until the last moments before the ceremony started. What better way to walk into one of the biggest moments of your life, than with the person you're to whom you're committing your body and heart right by your side?

To this day, laughing, dancing, praying, planning, and swapping family stories in the basement of the Community Center remains one of my favorite wedding and life memories. We were in this sheltered room with only the people closest to us. Surrounded by their jittery laughs, teary eyes, smiles, and hugs was just the boost of confidence two young people needed to commit their lives together, forever.

So in short, if you can and want to take your photographs before the ceremony, do so! It is so worth it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Our Wedding Part 2

Part Two, The Venue:

One of my favorite aspects of our wedding was the venue. The tiny town of Cornelia, Georgia--my stomping grounds--houses this rare gem: the Cornelia Community Center. Its rather un-exciting name belies its architectural beauty. While the name conjures images of a plan-brick, blue-carpeted, drop-ceiling place, the actuality is much different. And much better. Trust me.

Built by the W.P.A. during the  Great Depression, the Cornelia Community House is all windows, wood, and stone. The interior boasts vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, hardwood floors, and massive stone fireplaces. A moss-covered fountain cascades in the front lawn, and the basement has the vibe of a cool wine cellar. In short, it's a perfect place to host an event. It provides the look of a high-dollar Atlanta wedding for a fraction of the price.

However, using the Community House as our wedding venue nearly slipped my mind. This, despite growing up in Cornelia and driving by the center and its surround park every day of my life. I knew I wanted a rustic look for our wedding, but wasn't sure if I wanted to commit to an outdoor barn wedding. Then, one day, it hit me. Duh! The Community Center! My parents, two bridesmaids, and I went to scout out the spot, and we all instantly fell in love with it. As a history minor, I loved the building's story and the  warm woodsy-musk that filled the inside. Knowing my husband-to-be was an avid outdoors-man and climber, I figured he too would love the place. I was right!

Since our wedding, the venue exploded in popularity and gained bookings for almost every weekend of the year. (Seriously, it's beautiful... just Google it.) This just goes to show that you don't always have to break the bank or head for the stylish cities to find a beautiful nook. Even small towns can boast big style. Personally, I wouldn't trade my wedding venue for any other spot in the world. The day was beautiful, magical, and perfect--and this grand old building did much to help create that atmosphere.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Our Wedding, Part 1

As our two-year anniversary draws near, I thought I might take this week and share some favorite photos from our beautiful day.

This time two years ago, I was experiencing daily butterflies and grinning entirely too much. I knew that on the upcoming Saturday, I was going to marry the sweetest, smartest, strongest man I had ever met. As surreal as that week was, this week--knowing that I've spent nearly 2 years with this amazing person--is almost just as surreal! It's hard to believe that so many days, hours, and moments have flown by. Especially when I can still close my eyes and remember every second and every detail of that beautiful day.

Our Wedding, Part One: The Little Details: 

Wedding planning is truly a behemoth task. Even if you plan to host a small event, there is a lot to think about. The gown, the cake, the flowers, the suits...the venue, the photographer, the music...the food, the drinks, the programs...So many big-ticket items and so many little details. Leading up to the event, I had a tight rein on every detail of the day. From the flowers used in my bouquet to the tiny glass bottles decorating our tables to the boy's boutonnieres to the font on the programs. I wanted all details to complement each other and produce a larger effect: a romantic, rustic theme.

But you know what? When the day finally arrived, I somehow forgot every detail. The only thing that mattered was the man at the end of the aisle. Every little aspect that I had sweated over--the font on my programs, the painstakingly blotted puffpaint on the pumpkins, the dahlias on the cake--melted away, eclipsed by the unfailingly-calm side-grin of my soon-to-be-husband.

 So even though it has been said a million times, it bears repeating: don't sweat the small stuff. Because you're not marrying those place-holders or party-favors or one-season-only blooms or those to-die-for table cloths. You're marrying your husband, your partner for life, the best person you know in the world. Don't let anything --even that wonderful, beautiful, memorable big party--diminish that amazing gift.

All photos are copyrighted to Bianca Hubble of Axsys Design, our wedding photographer. These photos and all other photos (taken by her) that will be shared in this series are either photos already shared on this blog with her permission or photos whose digital rights I have purchased.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Weekend Agenda

Despite the weather-man's alerts, when a chilly-edged wind began to blow today, I found myself shivering and wishing for my boots and scarves. And, with this thought, was born my weekend agenda.

  • closet makeover. Its time to pack the sheer summer dresses and to unfold the chunky-knit sweaters. Recently and most likely on Pinterest, I read a hilarious quote: "Thank goodness that its finally fall, and I can forget about my bikini body and start working on my chunky sweater body." Truer words were never spoken. 
  • the Farmers Market Festival. Bring on the pumpkins, hayrides, and cider, city of mine! This girl is ready--do your pumpkin-spiced worst! Trust me, I can handle it.
  • baking. I don't know about you, but fall weather puts me in a baking mood. I'm thinking pumpkin bread or monkey bread. What say you?
  • yarn shopping. Time to stock up on some colorful yarns to make a baby blanket for a good friend. I have my eye on this pattern. The key phrase in this pattern's description is "super easy." 
  • a mug of coffee, a good book, and some kick-my-feet-up time. And this, my friends, is my personal favorite part of an autumn Saturday. I love setting aside about thirty minutes in teh morning to just sit, enjoy my coffee, and snuggle on the couch. Usually, Solo slinks out of his puppy-bed to come join me. Nothing is better than his warm, solid weight on my feet and a story in my hands. 
What's on your weekend agenda? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello Fall

Back in May, when that horrible thing the weather men dubbed a "polar vortex" finally released its grip on Maryland and my half-frozen limbs began to thaw, I vowed that I would not...would not...would not complain this summer when the mercury crept above 90. While there were one or two times I had to bite my cheek to keep from whining, I kept my word.

But now-- now it's October. In my opinion, October is the best month out of the twelve. The time when the breeze picks up, the sky turns sapphire blue, and the leaves start flinging their colors all over the sidewalks. Stepping outside and inhaling that crisp, spicy scent of autumn warms my heart more than any sweater or steamy mug of cider. There's not one thing about October that compels me to complain.

For me, fall means crimson, gold, and burnt sienna. It means crunchy leaves and crackling campfires. It means pumpkins and squash and gourds and honeycrisp, It means snuggling in blankets and snuggling in hugs. It means scarves and boots and finally a use for all my knitting. Most importantly, fall means that the holidays are just around the corner: which translates to days filled with family, food, and more smiles and laughs than one person can hold.

Now that I've "waxed eloquent" about it all, what's your favorite thing about this autumn season?
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