Following suit with the "Wedding Wednesday" theme, today kicks off a series of wedding-related posts that will be featured occasionally on (you guessed it!) Wednesdays. After going to a lovely bridal shower this weekend of a longtime family friend, I was inspired to finally share my bridal shower pictures—only 10 months later!
The shower this weekend, filled with most of the same smiles as my own, reminded me of the gift that these family friends are to me. As the bride-to-be summed up so beautifully this weekend, "One of the best gifts my parents have given me is the gift of their friends, whose children have become my best friends." Not only have their children become my best friends and confidants, but my parents’ friends themselves have been a gift as role models, mentors, and now friends to me. My sweet shower was hosted by three of my mom's closest friends of nearly twenty years, and one of their daughters, who happens to be one of my nearest and dearest friends (and the genius behind Anchor Events & Design). Considering their part in helping to care for me as a child, exemplifying strong Catholic marriages, and showing me how to do the often thankless and unglamorous job of being a mother with such love and grace, it was only fitting that the shower was hosted and attended by many of these women and their daughters.
My mom and her friends have taught me how to gracefully be a mother, wife, working woman, volunteer, and Catholic. While many of them are “homemakers” or “stay at home moms,” these spectacular women are nothing close to “real housewives.” As mothers whose children attended the same Catholic grade school (St. Franny!), who founded a bi-weekly rosary group that has included women in the area and prayed for their intentions for 10-plus years, who dedicate a work week’s time to countless Catholic charities and pro-life organizations, and who do their best to raise their children with strong Catholic values and faith, we prefer to refer to these holy women as the “Church Ladies.” While they seem to “do it all” they also do not perpetuate the ever-elusive idea of “having it all” that we women tend to chase in circles. They are strong, confident, smart women who are humbly yet unapologetically proud mothers and wives (many of which have had successful careers). In a world in which women may feel that they are not enough if they are not working outside the home—not contributing financially, not being the “independent woman” that often we are encouraged to be—they are each the true definition of a “girl boss.” These wonderful women see the joy and importance of raising their children and realize the core that the family unit is to society. In a world in which the family seems ever more undervalued, these women help maintain Pope John Paul II’s belief that “as the family goes, so goes the nation and the whole world in which we live.” As I pursue graduate study with hope of someday being a marriage and family therapist, I also realize the power of being a wife, mother, and woman of faith, thanks to the Church Ladies. Their daughters are now young women with their own businesses, pursuing graduate degrees in medicine and health care, working in finance, banking, and digital marketing, successful college and high school students, and fellow kick-butt collegiate athletes. It is clear that the Church Ladies, through their example of hard work and faith, have encouraged their daughters to achieve just as much as men do, yet we, as their daughters, also know we can be proud wives and mothers, like our own moms.
My bridal shower was a ray of sunshine and happiness on a day otherwise fittingly filled with May showers. The gracious hosts blew away any expectations I had for the event, which was done up to the nines. Guests were introduced to the theme when they received their invitations, square cards from Minted with a delicate orange tree atop a pastel background. The envelopes were addressed beautifully above shades of orange hand-painted by one of the hostesses, Erin Brede of AED.
At the shower, guests were greeted by a delicious display of soufflés, fruit, salads, mini desserts, and personalized sugar cookies by none other than Ann Arbor’s Emily Pierce. The orange patterned tablecloths made for a perfect background.
All the furniture had been moved out of the living and dining room (what an effort!) and was replaced by round tables, sporting mason jars filled with bright napkins and silverware at each place setting. For the centerpiece, they had spray-painted mason jars orange and filled them with yellow and orange tulips.
My favorite detail, however, were the “place cards,” a clementine with the guest’s name held in place at the top by a green push pin — so clever and cute!
To my delight, the hostesses had printed and framed several pictures of my then-fiancé, Anthony, and me and placed them around the house as decor. (We now have these frames hanging in our bedroom!) Knowing that bikes were a part of our wedding theme, they also hung paper bike streamers from Paper Source on the fireplace.
At the front of the room, next to the chair where I later opened gifts, was a fake orange tree that one of the hostesses had apparently hauled up from a HomeGoods in Ohio—what dedication!
If that all wasn’t enough of a labor of love already, the hostesses divided and conquered, each making a dozen or so loaves of my mom’s famous pumpkin bread! They wrapped each so beautifully in cellophane, tied with an orange polka-dot ribbon, and hand-stamped an orange tandem bike to each label. (I later incorporated this bike stamp into our wedding reception decor. More on that later.)
The decor wasn’t the last of the details and dramatic flare. In the living room I found our own personal pianist (who just so happen’s to be Grace’s teenage piano teacher) all dressed up and playing live music. Just as we sat down for brunch, one of the Church Ladies, “Lady Di,” appeared in a robe with curlers in her hair, as the pianist changed his tune to match hers, right on cue. Leave it to Lady Di to be the entertainment for the day, she performed a full song and dance (who knew she had such pipes?), complete with props, putting on makeup, and finally landing a big smooch on a fake Anthony.
The final surprises of the day certainly proved to save the best for last. As I finished opening gifts, everything became quiet, and suddenly, my handsome, smiling groom walked around the corner with a blue tandem bike, sporting a basket chock-full of picnic-in-the-park goodies! Anthony lived in Chicago, whereas the shower was in our shared home town of Ann Arbor, MI, and I had no idea he had sneakily driven into town the night before. It was such a sweet and thoughtful surprise, organized and executed by the lovely hostesses.
With Anthony and me both there, my sisters—my maids of honor—announced there was one last gift. They had us close our eyes, while they carried in the gift. We opened our eyes to find a two by three foot banner with letters and pictures hand-cut out of fabric and sewn onto the cloth. It read, “Just get me to the church on time…” with a groom running toward a little white church—identical to the church we were to be married in.
My parents had a very similar banner hanging from my grandparents’ house on the day of their wedding, and I had been determined to find it and re-use it. Despite combing through the attic at Christmas and asking my aunts and uncles about it, it was nowhere to be found. Knowing this dilemma, sisters arranged to have one of my best friends since grade school (another Church Lady’s daughter), who also happens to be an extremely talented and multifaceted graduate of University of Michigan’s Art School, craft a replica of the original banner. All they had to show her was a small picture of the banner from my parents' wedding album, yet the two banners could not have been more similar (aside from the respective churches). I was thrilled to use the meaningful banner not only at my wedding, but someday at all my siblings’ weddings. Maybe, just maybe, we will even keep track of it so our own children can use it someday…
Thank you to all the lovely women who contributed to the joy that was my bridal shower! As you can see, I loved every aspect of it, and so appreciate all of your efforts.