I have never shared our wedding on With A Little Grace before. Yes, I've referred to it, written wedding planning tips, discussed lessons I've learned from marriage, and—of course—by now you all know about my holy husband, Anthony. But I've never shared details from our wedding day. Although I'm always happy to gush about our most joyful day ever, I try to avoid using WALG simply as a diary of my life (you can follow me on Instagram for that). It hasn't felt appropriate to discuss my wedding because, until now, most of my readers are already married (shout out to my mom and all her friends, the church ladies!) or were not engaged. But now, many of my readers and peers are engaged and preparing for their big day—and more importantly, for a lifetime of marriage. It feels more relevant now to share about our big day in hopes that both the fun (albeit unnecessary) details and the focus on preparing for a sacramental marriage might help, in some small way, you or someone you love in planning and preparing for the big day and the rest of your life. So, in honor of our second anniversary today, I hope you enjoy the first installment of the story, our wedding morning.
Anthony and I were married on July 3, 2015 in Harbor Springs, Michigan. As we fell in love and got engaged in this quaint little Americana town, it was only fitting that we had our wedding there, too. (Although, since I was a young girl, I wanted to get married in the beautiful, iconic white church that is the pinnacle of town.) Harbor Springs stole my heart before Anthony did, while vacationing there in the summer and winter growing up. Harbor Springs, located in northern Michigan ("up north") near the top of the lower peninsula, is more than our special spot; it is truly our favorite place in the world—"God's country."
On the morning of our wedding, I woke up squeezed between my three sistersin the same bed. We sleep like that when we're together sometimes, especially on holidays or special occasions. So there was no way we weren't sleeping together the night before my wedding. I woke up before my alarm with so much excitement, joy, and peace. I couldn't believe the day we had planned for, prayed for, and prepared for was finally here! My dad peeped into our room and morning whispered, "Someone's getting married today!" which stirred my sisters.
When we had all showered and my three cousins (my bridesmaids in addition to my sisters) arrived, I gifted my bridesmaids, my mom, and our flower girl, my sweet little sister Grace, with monogrammed, oversized, button-down shirts and coordinating Southern Tide boxers to wear. We had our hair and makeup done by La Dolce Vita, who did a great job because they made me look like me. I didn't want my hair to be in a über-fancy design that didn't reflect how I usually wore it or have my makeup overly done. A friend told me after the wedding, "You just looked...like you," which was the best compliment she could have given me, because that is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to look back at our photos and think, that is what I actually looked like at that time.
We had such a joyful morning getting ready while eating Johan's donuts and a whole lot of dancing—including my dad and brothers! My sisters Molly and Tess curated an incredible Spotify playlist as a surprise for me, filled with love songs from our favorite movies (Return to Me, My Best Friend's Wedding, My Girl, About Time...), oldies, and boy bands (hellooo Backstreet Boys *cue all bridesmaids breaking out in "As Long as You Love Me"*). We recently listened on repeat to this famous playlist at my cousin's bachelorette weekend two years later—it's that good. For any bridesmaids looking for an extremely thoughtful yet free way to surprise a bride, I highly recommend creating a playlist of her favorite love songs as well as any that might have special meaning or history—or simply that can guarantee all present breaking out in song.
As we were finishing up getting ready and eating lunch, I wrote a letter to Anthony (who was getting ready a few blocks away) that would be delivered with his gift. He actually knew what he was getting; we had gone shopping for fragrances together to give each other perfume/cologne (fittingly, Love Story by Chloé and Homme by Dior, respectively). We really wanted our wedding gifts to each other to be meaningful, and as memory is closely tied to smell, we each wanted to have a scent that was tied to our special day to help cement our memories. (We actually wore our scents throughout our honeymoon and now wear them sometimes on dates or special occasions to bring back a cascade of joyful memories!)
When Anthony's letter and gift to me arrived, one of my best friends and our incredible videographer/graphic designer/personal artist, Caili Dalian of Dilly Dalian, had each of us read the letter we received on camera. These letters that we wrote to each other on the morning of our wedding are gifts I will always cherish (I am a words of affirmation person, after all). They encapsulated how we were feeling in that unique moment in time, and are the only communication we had with each other before the wedding. On that note, I highly recommend getting off social media and your phone on the big day, and giving your phone to a bridesmaid for any last minute details that need to be hammered out via text (thanks, Sweet Caroline!). Going phone-free wasn't necessarily something I planned, it was just something that happened because I was not interested in what was going on in the outside world when I had my wedding happening right here! If there is ever a time to be present and unplug, it's on your wedding day. #NoRagrets on that one!
About two hours before the ceremony, we headed upstairs where my mom, sisters, and cousins helped me into my wedding dress and put on my veil. We wanted to have enough time to take bridal portraits and photos with the bridesmaids. Getting dressed was such a giddy and special time during the day. We had many laughs as we... ahem... adjusted... things (shout out to you, Addie, for going above the call of duty as a bridesmaid!) to seven-year-old Grace's amusement. It was so special just having my mom and best friends—my sisters and three cousins—there, as well all seemed to wonder Is this actually happening? Am I getting married?!
Once ready, it was time for my first look with my dad—what I later found out was one of my cousins' favorite parts of the entire day (My bridesmaid + cousin Haley also captured the moment front and center). I hadn't necessarily planned to do a father/daughter first look, but I strongly recommend you do. It was the only moment throughout the day that I truly cried—and so did he, my mom, and the bridesmaids (I think even our photographer, Cory Weber, teared up!). It's hard to describe that moment in words, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
After the father first look and bridal portraits, we headed outside to take bridesmaid photos. Right before the photos, I gifted my parents with three mini plaques made of Michigan wood. One had a bike (our wedding theme and a icon of Harbor Springs), one the Michigan mitten with a heart on Harbor Springs, and the third with my dad's famous line: "Be the Best Version of Yourself." It was a simple gift, but one with so much meaning, and they sit on my parent's bookshelf today.
As Anthony and I didn't want to see each other before the wedding, we would have to take bridal party and couple photos between the ceremony and reception, during the guests' cocktail hour. To cut down the time spent taking photos later (and not to make us too late to our own reception) we each took photos before the ceremony with our respective bridal party.
While Cory had been taking photos of the bride and bridesmaids, his assistant photographer, Alex, walked a few blocks to where Anthony and the groomsmen were getting ready. Anthony gifted each guy with a white button-down that had his initials on the sleeve, as well as a coral seersucker bowtie, and blue seersucker suspenders. Anthony and the groomsmen—my brothers and his friends—took "shots" of Gu (the nasty stuff they eat for energy on their 300-mile bike ride) while Anthony's family and our ring bearer, my brother Charlie, got ready with them.
Finally, when all the bridal party photos were taken, Anthony was brought over for our "no-look first look." As I mentioned, we were intent on not seeing each other before the wedding, but we thought it would be fun to be able to hold each other's hand and pray before we actually saw each other. I walked out on my parents' side of the deck and Anthony on our neighbor's—which are only separated by a wooden wall. We reach around the front of the wall and held hands, as our photographers took photos from below. The moment was both peaceful yet exciting; it was so calming to hold Anthony's hand and hear his voice, yet it made us both feel how real this all was. We just kept squeezing each other's hand, smiling, laughing, and saying "I love you!" after praying together. If you are looking for a way to take photos together or simply pray together before your wedding but want your first look to be down the aisle, you can hold hands on opposite sides of a wall, an open door, or around the corner from each other.
After our no-look first look, it was time for the ceremony! (Coming soon to WALG...)