Friday, March 30, 2012

Ultimate Wedding Week - the Details

We've reached the last day of the "Ultimate Wedding Week" Link-Up series and today's topic is hosted by Amy over at Fresh & Fancy.  While some people find the details the most annoying part of planning anything (i.e. my husband), I actually love them!  It's the little things that are incorporated to highlight your personalities, and I loved coming up with the ideas and seeing them executed.  I guess when a pastor marries an event planner, he's going to care most about the ceremony and she's going to care most about the details.  So you see?  We really are a perfect match!

First up... the dress of course!  This beauty is a Justin Alexander:

I wish I had one where the train was not bustled, but as I mentioned in previous posts, there are no picture of just me in my dress.  Such a shame, but something that will be remedied in the near future!  Any excuse to put it back on is okay by me!

As for the shoes, I think I just found them at DSW.  I knew nobody would really see them, so even though they did not match my dress perfectly, I loved them because they reminded me of something you would wear to play dress-up in as a young girl.  And isn't this day somewhat of a fullfillment of that?  And at $39.99 for something that few people would see, I'd call it a win!

As for jewelry, most of it was borrowed.  I wore my sister's earrings that she wore in her wedding three years before and my best friend lent me her grandmother's ring, which was gorgeous (and my something blue!).  The only other thing I added was a bracelet, which I just bought at a department store.  There was nothing real about it, but I loved (and still wear) it.

Josh was very particular about his ring and definitely wanted something more masculine.  We ended up finding one with crosses engraved somewhere online (I can't remember where) and mine is from Jared's.  Yes, "he went to Jared's!"  Haha.

As for my beautiful bridesmaids, this presented more of a challenge as I knew that one of them would be 8 months pregnant on my wedding day.  Being her first pregnancy, we had no idea what kind of pregnant-lady she would be.  Some carry their babies like tiny basketballs and others get pregnant all over the place unfortunately.  While shopping we laughed a lot because she had to try on everything with the little "pregnant belly" pillow, which always looked ridiculous.  Finding this picture of someone else's wedding really helped:

Isn't Google amazing?  I planned before Pinterest existed, so I just searched "Pregnant Bridesmaid" and found all sorts of pictures!  We actually ended up getting this exact dress by Bill Levkoff and my matron of honor got a slightly different one to make her stand out a bit more.  And the best part?  It's hard to figure out who has the bun in the oven!

Dark brown and cream were not my original colors.  Because our wedding was outdoors in Florida in June, I envisioned something a bit brighter and more summery.  Once I found my dress, however, that all changed.  My dress was champagne and cream in color and the summery colors did not look right with it.  Nor did short dresses as my dress was too elegant in style to look right next to them.  Dark brown alone seemed almost too formal for me and so I finally decided to mix in a secondary color and mix it up a bit.  I could get away with putting my bridesmaids in cream because my dress was darker than that, but complimented it well.  Then of course I realized that black tuxes next to all of this brown and cream might not look the best, which is why we went with the tan suits for them, which I loved.  Plus, they would have been far too hot in black!

With so many neutral colors going on, I really wanted pops of something bright in the flowers.  My bouquet was a ton (literally... that thing must have weighed 20 pounds!) of cream colored roses as to not take away from my dress, and my bridesmaids had lots of magenta and light green in theirs.  Josh and both of our dads had cream roses for their boutonnieres to match my bouquet and the other guys all had some sort of green flower... but I'm not actually sure it was a flower.  I'm actually not sure what it was, but it looked awesome.  I don't know much about flowers, so I told my florist what I wanted and she did an amazing job!  She also brought extra (smaller) roses to pin into our hair if we wanted.  A few of my bridesmaids did and I had three pinned in after I ditched the veil at the reception.  If you're in South Florida and looking for a vendor, I would highly recommend Deerfield Florist.

Since out reception was outdoors, the hotel had cucumber and lemon water for the guests and we put a basket of fans by the entrance:

Thankfully we have a graphic designer in our family.  I have sung my sister's praises many times on this blog, and today she gets even more love.  She is crafty in many ways, but most talented on paper.  Actually, she just started her own crafting blog, so you should check it out here... but I digress.  This lovely talented lady was kind enough to design and print our program.  Weddings are expensive enough as it is, so if you have talented people in your lives, utilize them!  Besides, it adds even more of your own personal touch to the day:

The guest book was at both the wedding and reception site, but unfortunately got overlooked by a lot of people.  We bought an album with photo sleeves and asked our guests to write in the space provided next to the photo sleeves.  We then had a digital camera sitting out for them to take a photo of themselves.  We have some awesome photos of our guests who participated- some are "normal" and some are just plain funny- so the idea in theory was excellent.  If you choose to go this route, however, I would have maybe a younger family member, cousin, etc. man the table for awhile and take the pictures.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I think I hit the rest of the ceremony details in my ceremony post, so I'll move on to the reception.  We ended up having twelve tables (counting ours) and so instead of doing table numbers, we did the months of the year.  On each table was a recap of what happened in our relationship that month.  This worked particularly well for us since we met on July 31st and got married the following June 13th, so we had something happen within every month (just barely).  We listed things such as meeting, getting engaged, running a marathon together, traveling to New York, etc.  It was a fun way to share some more of our story with our guests.  And we, fittingly, sat at the "June" table.

Our delicious cake was a layer of chocolate and a layer of Amaretto vanilla, and it was to die for.  The grooms cake was made by the same crafty sister (seriously... what can't she do?) and was Josh's favorite, red velvet.  I'm guessing the crimson color has something to do with it:

See?  I told you I'm a details person.  I may have gone too into detail giving you the details, so I apologize for getting so lengthy on this!  As for my top 3 pieces of advice to future brides, I'd say:

1 - Figure out what's important to you and budget for those elements.  I wanted a fantastic photographer and videographer, as those were the things that would last forever.  Our videographer is now based in Southern California, so if you're in the area and looking for one, seriously look no further.  I wish I could show our video here... they make a "film" of your day set to music and it's seriously the most beautiful thing.  It's something I will cherish always.

2 - Pass wedding-day tasks off to others.  My sisters and mom were awesome about taking things from me and my friend Julie volunteered to deliver checks to all of the vendors who needed to be paid that day.  I literally worried about NOTHING... and a relaxed and pampered bride is a happy bride!

3 - And most importantly, remember that no matter what goes wrong, even if your wedding is a world-class disaster, at the end of the day you will be married to the person that God picked out for you... and that's really all that matters.  Besides, wedding day disasters probably make for some great stories later!

I'm glad I participated in the link-up party as it's been a nice trip down memory lane, but I have to admit that I'm looking forward to blogging about some other things I've had on the back burner over these past two weeks.  Plus, blogging 5 days a week has been challenging with work, church, and the little ones and I've stayed up much too late writing and scheduling posts.  It was worth it though.  Thanks so much for allowing me to share... I hope you enjoyed the Ultimate Wedding Party as much as I did!

Happy Friday, everyone... have a fantastic weekend!  Check back on Monday for a race recap of the Lexington Half Marathon!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reflections: James chapter 1

Ohhhh, sweet James.  How I do love you.  There was a time in my life when I had read very little of the Bible.  It was not that long ago to be quite honest.  And the Bible was, well, intimidating.  And a bit boring to be frank.  And I'm not a reader.  Yeah, I had a million excuses.  And then one day, I randomly opened to James... and lo and behold, I read the whole chapter in a sitting (yes, it's short) and felt like I got so much out of it!  I've read plenty more of the good book by now, but James is still a favorite.  To me, it's almost like Cliff's notes for the Bible... the mini-version if you will.  There is so much you can draw out of it, so if you're looking for a good place to start or just a chapter to complete, I would highly recommend it.  Don't have a Bible?  That's okay, too... you can always go to my favorite resource online- YouVersion.  What's great about it is that you can set up daily reading plans and read the Bible in all different translations.  If you are not understanding something in the King James Version (which those of us who grew up in church are most familiar with and which I never read anymore... because really, who thus does readeth in that fancy language?) try it in something easier like the New Living Translation (NLT) or New International Version (NIV).  If you still need it broken down farther, you can even check out the Message (MSG) translation, which is written in modern language.  Find one that works for you then head to James and check out what he has to say.  Which brings me back to today's point... James 1 and Brittany's pick for this week's Reflections post.

Before I get into what this chapter really said to me, I think it's important to tell you (in case you did not know already) that James was Jesus' brother.  Well, half brother I guess since Joseph is the father of James and God is the father of Jesus, but Mary is the mother of them both.  I grew up without really thinking about Jesus having siblings, but I now feel it's one of the most important facts about the man.  Why, you ask?  Well, because sometimes our siblings can be our biggest doubters.  Seriously, if I told my sisters that I was the immaculate child of God and the savior of the world, don't you think that they would have me committed?  And until after Jesus' resurrection, James basically had that opinion, too.  He was not convinced until after the resurrection, and for him to admit that he saw it with his own eyes and became a believer, I think that says a lot.  I think in the long run, he is one of Jesus' biggest advocates, which is why I think the relationship between the two is important.

But anyway... back to the book of James.  James wastes no time and immediately jumps in with:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,t whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Say what?  Consider it joy when we face trials?  When our faith is tested?  That's just crazy!  Nobody wants to face opposition in this life, but nobody can escape it.  This is particularly true when we step out on a limb and take a "leap of faith" if you will.  Did people think that Josh and I were crazy when we moved from the sunny shores of Fort Lauderdale to middle-of-nowhere, Illinois - population 6000?  I'm sure they did!  And a few let us know it.  And then again, we saw some concern and opposition (in fact a few people outright gave us strong opposition) when we announced that we were leaving Small Town, IL to start a church from scratch in Lexington.  We hit some brick walls along the way, and this verse became so very important to me.  Over time, I learned that opposition is okay, and I do find a little bit of joy when I run into it.  In fact, at certain times it reminds me that I'm doing something right.  A lot of folks don't believe in spiritual warfare- that there's a real devil who really wants to tempt us and mess up God's plans, but I've seen too many "coincidences" to know that it in fact is a real thing.  The devil will do anything to get in the way, so when I am trying to accomplish something  for the growth of God's kingdom and I face opposition, I try not to get frustrated and instead see it as a joyful reminder that I'm pissing off the devil, to put it bluntly.  Now that brings great joy!  It's important to note, however, that sometimes we do face opposition because we are doing things outside of God's will.  A friend's concern for a friendship or relationship that you have or guilt and/or shame for decisions you are making in your daily decisions could simply be actual red flags to tell you that it's time to re-evaluate things.  Guild, shame, anger, etc... those are not feelings from God, so if they accompany whatever you have going on, chances are you are not acting within His will.  And speaking of temptation, our friend James hits on this, too, reminding us that it's not something that comes from God either.  Everything "good and perfect" comes from above, and temptation does not fall within those t boundaries.  If you are considering doing something that doesn't feel quite right, chances are you're being tempted in some way or another.  I once heard someone describe it as something you would want to hide from your grandmother, because it would give that dear, sweet woman a heart attack if she found out about it.  Yes, that's temptation, so steer clear.

Finally, James hits us with a zinger (see, I told you there was a lot in this short book... and this is only one chapter!).  

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

I will be the first to admit that I spent most of my teenage years and twenties doing the opposite of this.  I knew (well... sort of) what the Bible said about right and wrong, Christian values, and how we should be living this life we've been giving, but I chose a different path.  I could put on a very good front, was at church on many Sundays, joined a young adults' Bible study, and even though I was "getting fed" and learning more about being a follower of Jesus, my actions when nobody was looking were not at all reflecting these beliefs.  I was truly lost, and I think I knew it deep down but did not know  how to change.  Being lost was "fun" at the time, but now I look back and I'm not even sure who that girl was.  I love the part about looking in a mirror... that was me.  I knew what I wanted to look like deep down, but could not dig myself out of the patterns of sin and temptation.  My relationship with Christ was not real, but merely on the surface, and until I truly surrendered my life to Him, my face was one that I did not recognize.  I'm sure you've heard (and may have actually used the phrase "I lost myself," well, I think this is what it refers to.  We "lose ourselves" in certain circumstances because we lose our focus on what's important.  Instead of trying to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God everyday, we throw all of our energy in living in a way that is pleasing to others- whomever we want to impress at that time.  And before we know it, we've forgotten who we are... we don't recognize that face in the mirror.  I thank my husband for challenging me everyday to live a life that is pleasing to God.  At first I did it to please Josh, and now it truly is to make God smile.  Because when God smiles on us, there is no greater feeling in the world.... you should try it sometime.

So I'll leave you with this... wake up each morning and allow your first thought to be, "God loves me."  Sounds simple, right?  But seriously, do it.  Remember each and every morning that no matter how much you've screwed up in the past, where you've been, or who you used to be, God loves you deeply.  He made you in His image, and despite any insecurities you have, You are the most beautiful creature to Him.  And with that in mind, try to use those thoughts to guide your day, working toward pleasing Him as you go about your business.  You don't have to go preach a sermon on a street corner, but just love on people and go out of your way to show some kindness, building others up... even that is enough.

Thank you for letting me share and for allowing Brittany and I to reflect with you weekly.  As always, you can read her post here and if you've written your own you can link it below.  If you don't have a blog or don't want to share on your blog, please leave one of us a comment... the whole point of this is to share our perspectives and apply the things we're learning to our everyday lives.  It can be uncomfortable at first, but I can assure you that it sure feels good to the soul.  And everyone could use a little bit of that!  So link up below and then jump to the bottom for next week's topic.  I can't wait to hear about how James has shaken up your week!

Ok, so for next week I had considered continuing with James since he's such a rock star.  But then throughout the week a single word kept coming to me: FEARLESS.  So this week we're going to meditate on the verse that Josh and I focused on throughout our church planting process, which can be found in Joshua 1:9 which reads:

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

Also, take a look at Psalm 27 this week... it's all about God being with us in whatever we do, too.  As we grow up, get married, have kids, go to our 9 to 5 jobs, and just go through the motions, we lose some of the adventure that once filled our younger days.  Growing up should not mean growing into something boring.  I know that God loves adventure.  I know that God wants to challenge us.  So this week, think about these verses and ask God to show you what He is calling you do, even if it's scary.  In what areas do you need to be "bold and courageous"?  Then be FEARLESS and share it with us!  Whether it's admitting that you want to lose 20 pounds, start your own business, write a book, have a baby, or even start a ministry... share it with us!  Putting it out there and applying the above verses to your life will make it real, and will hold you accountable.  I can't wait to hear what He's saying to you!  Thanks again for reading... have a lovely week and know that you are loved.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ultimate Wedding Week: The Reception

It's day 5 of the Ultimate Wedding Week series and today is all about the reception!  What better way to celebrate a great union than a fabulous party, right?  We were fortunate enough to have our wedding and reception at the same location (which I would highly recommend) so our guests headed over to the cocktail hour while the bridal party finished up the photos.  The only downside of this was that I do not have any pictures of the cocktail hour... oh well.  But when we finished our photos, we had drinks and hors d'ouevres waiting for us in a separate room so we could snack for a minute (as well as freshen up) before making our grand entrance:

I can't remember what music we walked in to, but I did love how all of the groomsmen sported their aviators, which were part of the grooms' gifts.

Next up?  The first dance and father-daughter dance.  The first picture of Josh and me might be my favorite from the whole day.  We danced to "Everything" by Michael Buble and my dad and I danced to "You Make Lovin' Fun" by Fleetwood Mac, which was "our song" when I was little.  I called it the "Miracle Song."  I picked upbeat songs for both so that I wouldn't spend the whole time crying... and it worked!

Yes, my dad can break it down.  He is probably the best dancer in our family and we all love taking a spin on the floor with him.  Good times.

After that we all sat down and ate dinner.  For those of you who have been told that the bride and groom never get to eat at their own wedding, I have news for you... it's your day, so enjoy it!  You bought dinner for 120 (or however many) of your closest friends, so I think that entitles you to a bite to eat, too.  Our event manager hooked us up and made sure that we had our own server, which was fantastic.  She waited on only us, played a bit of interference while we grabbed a bite, and even found some more pigs-in-a-blanket in the kitchen since Josh missed them during cocktail hour.  Yes, my husband is classy like that.  He was also the only one who got "hot bacon dressing" on his salad.  We opted to have both beef and chicken on every plate so that we would not have to track who ordered what, and the food was incredible.  I don't have a picture of the plate, but we also had purple potatoes, which I did not know existed until our tasting.  I'm not a big potato fan, but made an exception since they were special.  After dinner we had a series of toasts from Josh's best man Merritt, my matron of honor (and sister) Angie, Josh's dad, and my dad.  We laughed more than we cried, but my dad definitely had me tearing up at one point.

And then... well... things got a little crazy.  You see, I was "that bride" that forced my bridal party to learn a choreographed routine.  Yep... it was a medley of all different songs to kick off the party.  We all walked out there as if we were going to do a slow dance and then the music changed and we were off to the races.  The funniest part, however, is that I totally blanked on everything, so the video footage is quite embarrassing!  We ended with a conga line, picking up people as we went along to get them out on the dance floor whether they liked it or not:

Somewhere in the midst of it all, we did find some time to mingle with our guests and take some great photos.  Our photographer did an amazing job of following us around and making sure he got pictures of everyone!  His picture of us, my sisters, and their husbands is still my favorite picture of all six of us that we've ever taken.

And of course there was cake!  We agreed ahead of time to be kind to one another when feeding the cake, and surprisingly we both stuck to it!  As a funny side note (and a recommendation) we opted to not freeze our cake top.  The hotel was kind enough to box it up for us, which is what we wanted, and the two of us took it with us to our room.  Late night dessert?  Yes, please!  

And last but not least, we did the traditional garter and bouquet toss.  My nephew, Kevin, caught the garter, so needless to say, we did not do anything embarrassing to the couple that ended up with those items.  I always feel so bad for those people when they have to dance or take a picture!

The evening ended much too quickly and we made our rounds to say goodnight to everyone and thank them for being there.  We stayed the first night in a suite at the hotel, so thankfully we only had a short walk and then a golf cart was waiting to whisk us away.

I really would not change much at all about our reception... it was so much fun?  But if I did have any advice for future brides it would be to make sure the room is dark and cool for dancing.  We had to ask to have the air turned up and the lights turned down to get that floor hopping!  Also, be aware of where your DJ will set up the speakers.  We had our parents and grandparents at what we thought would be the best table (location-wise) and they were blasted out with loud music all night.  Whoops!  Of course they didn't mind, but they probably couldn't hear the next day either.  Lastly, don't be afraid of "group dances" such as the Cuban Shuffle, Cha Cha slide, etc.  I had originally requested that our DJ not play any of them since they can be kind of cheesy.  Someone eventually requested one and it slipped through the cracks.  Then, miraculously, everyone was out on the floor.  Who knew?  Oh, and make sure that "Rocky Top" is on your must-play list, too.  Okay, so maybe that's not for everyone, but fun alma mater songs and stuff like that is great to incorporate.  

What a great night... stay tuned for Friday when I will highlight the details of the day- everything from flowers, to the dress, to the programs, etc.  And make sure you link up you wedding post today with Natasha over at Hello! Happiness.  That impressive gal still managed to do this after having a baby girl on St. Patty's Day!

And finally, don't forget about our weekly "Reflections" link up tomorrow. Brittany picked the topic and it's James chapter 1.  Can't wait to read your thoughts!