Archive for July, 2010

While everyone got seated, Mike and I stayed inside the house. Through the windows we could see some chaos happening with the chairs – people were scrambling to find more and we weren’t sure why. A couple people came into the house to grab a thing or two, and told us that apparently there weren’t enough, which was frustrating because I counted those damn chairs and set them up perfectly. We didn’t have “sides” for bride and groom, and other than “reserved” seats for parents in the front, we didn’t dictate where people sat. But there were enough chairs! When I looked at pictures later and saw there were empty seats, that confirmed it. And also, I went back and counted them in this photo we took pre-ceremony, so I’m not really sure what was going on.

Can you tell the chair thing really bothered me? It was silly, but standing inside watching it happen, I was like, what the fuck, get it together people!

Anyway, Mike and I were inside waiting to get started. I was really warm in my dress, and even though we had both borrowed handkerchiefs from my two grandpas to dab the sweat, I needed to take a moment to cool down. I stood in front of the fan, then sat on an ottoman and closed my eyes. When I felt relaxed and cool, Mike and I took a minute to appreciate what was happening. We looked out on our family and friends, and at each other, and took it all in.

(Photos by Photography by Arika Reed.)

We both stood at different doors and waited for my sister Emily to give us the cue (a subtle nob). I was a door where nobody could see me except her, and when I opened to door a crack I heard her telling a joke. I guess she was entertaining the crowd while I took my moment to cool. When she saw me waiting, she nodded, and we walked out. We came from different doors and met at the steps of the deck. It was then I noticed the background music we were playing pre-ceremony was still on, and it was definitely NOT playing anything from the playlist Mike had made. I caught my sister Kelli’s eye and she knew I was saying, “What IS that? Turn that shit off!” Thanks Kel! I kept smiling, and Mike took my hand and helped me down the steps, then we separated again. He walked around one side of the chairs and I the other, and we met at the altar.

(Note the HILARIOUS face my little bro is making!)

Emily started by welcoming everyone and saying some sweet words she had written about us as individuals and as a couple. She wouldn’t let us hear or read that part before the ceremony, so it was nice to have a little surprise. Then we had planned this cool thing where Em was going to ask my family and friends to accept Mike, and his to accept me. She asked for “Shannon’s friends and family to please stand” but EVERYONE stood. It was a little confusing for second, but Em rolled with it, made a little joke and pressed on. It meant a lot to hear all of our most important people accept each of us into their folds.

Then Em introduced and explained our Unity Quilt. While she explained the idea behind it, how it was created and how many people contributed, Mike and I showed it off.

She also explained our Love Letter Box, and invited everyone to contribute some advice or well wishes. Then Mike and I exchanged vows and rings. We both said the same thing, words we had written together. I went first. Em asked, “Shannon, do you choose Mike to be your husband, to love, respect and honor him through all life’s changes?” And I took his ring from her and said:

I do. Mike, I choose you to be my husband and my partner, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the man you will become. I promise to be your equal partner, love you without reservation, and comfort you in times of distress. I will encourage you to achieve all of your goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, and always be open and honest with you.

I promise I will always try to give you the best of myself and love you even when you’re not at your own best. Like when the grocery store is out of double chocolate PowerBars and you take it as a conspiracy against you personally. I promise to respect you as a person with your own interests, desires, and needs, and to realize that those are sometimes different, but no less important than my own.I promise to love and cherish you through all of life’s experiences.

I take you to be my husband, knowing in my heart that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner, and one true love. I give this ring as my gift to you. Wear it and think of me and know that I love you.

Then Em asked Mike the same question, and he responded with the same words. Only his example of me not at my own best was “Like when you get upset with me for not finding your phone fast enough in your bottomless purse.”

Don’t worry, we didn’t memorize all that. Em had it written in her book and we read. See?

Em pronounced us husband and wife and invited me to kiss my groom. Then we unveiled this funny plan I have had for a long time. Mike’s tall right? Quite tall. And I’m not. So when we’re both standing and we kiss, even when I’m in heels, he has to hunch over and I get a neck cramp. So to play up our height difference, we planned this:

(Photos by Photography by Arika Reed.)

We had hidden a tree stump behind our altar, and when Em told us to kiss, that was my dad’s cue. He hopped up, grabbed the log and put it in place, then assisted me in stepping up. Just as I had hoped, it got a good laugh from those who weren’t expecting it. And it made for a gorgeous! photo.

(Photo by Photography by Arika Reed.)

At that was it! We smiled for the people…

…and walked down the aisle together. Married!

As soon as we got to the end, people got up and we were surrounded with hugs and kisses and congratulations. Good thing my immediate family knew exactly what to do to set up for the reception. They jumped immediately into action while Mike and I mingled.

And that, my friends, was our wedding. It was beautiful and perfect and fun and a little silly and it was so personalized. We wrote the whole thing and did only the things that meant something to us. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. And I’m really glad we got tons of pictures and a video. Thanks to everyone with a camera!

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I’ve told the story of how I found and purchased my dress already.

And I even mentioned that I was worried I wouldn’t actually fit into it the day of the wedding—I hadn’t tried it on in months, and I didn’t want to bother getting it altered. If I managed to maintain my weight, it would be fine, but I wasn’t sure I did that (as I made zero effort to do so). I figured if it didn’t fit, I’d just improvise and wear a sundress, but of course I was hoping it would.

Fortunately, when I tried it on the Friday before, it zipped up just fine.

So on Saturday I wasn’t worried at all. After hair and makeup were done, I hung out in my pajamas for awhile. I mingled with the guests that had shown up early, and took care of some last minute details. But mostly I just waited and relaxed. At one point I was sitting on the couch in a tank top and capris with immaculate hair and makeup, thinking, “I’m about to get married. Cool.”

My sisters kept telling me I should get in my dress, but I wanted to wait. It was a hot and humid day, and I wanted to be as fresh as possible for the ceremony, so waiting to don a slip and long dress was key. Finally around 3pm, they pulled me into a bedroom to get dressed.

(Yes that’s me in my slip and bra. Hey, Erica posted it on her blog, so I figured I could, too.)

I really could not be more happy with how my dress looked. Everything came together perfectly – the hair, the makeup, the shoes, the dress. I loved it all, which I think is important on your wedding day when, inevitably, you’re the center of attention. You want to feel good. And I did.

My favorite thing about the dress is that it is so very me. Even my grandpa, a man in his 70s whom I’ve never heard comment on anything to do with fashion, said that he loved my dress and thought it fit my personality perfectly. Standard wedding gowns are gorgeous, no doubt, but the strapless-white-poofy thing is just not me. This dress? So me.

And the shoes! Oh the shoes. I thought I’d go with something bright and funky, but when I saw these 1950s boudoir slippers on Etsy, I know they were meant for this dress.

Like I mentioned, Mike’s get-ready routine was much simpler, and he got dressed even before I did. He wore dark brown pants with an orange and white gingham-print shirt. During the ceremony he wore a sand-colored jacket, which he removed for the reception. He also wore sandals. We had decided he’d wear brown Skechers, but on the way to Dad’s Saturday morning, we realized we forgot them. Rather than turn around, we decided his Birkenstock sandals were just fine.

(Ceremony look.)

(Reception look.)

After we were both fully ensembled (word?), we walked around the house and yard greeting guests. We meant for this whole thing to be very casual and comfortable, so I didn’t hide out pre-ceremony. Both Mike and I chatted with people and fielded compliments (people are so sweet when you’re getting married). Once it appeared everyone had arrived, we decided to get started.

And that is where I’ll start my next post about the ceremony itself.

(All photos, except the first one and last two, by Photography by Arika Reed.)

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Shannon and I went to her sister Emily’s wedding this weekend, and we slept in separate beds. And this was a good thing.

We stayed at a Super 8 motel, and ended up with one of those wacky 2-double-bed rooms. Double beds, for those who don’t know, are the stunted little cousin of the queen bed. According to about.com, they are only 15 inches wider than a twin bed, which means that if you’re an adult, and married, you’re sleeping on a bed that provides about as much sleeping space as you had when you were seven.

It may have been previously mentioned, but I’m a very tall man. My feet hang freely off our queen-sized bed. In order to sleep in a hotel double bed without kicking the TV on the opposite wall, I tend to sleep on a diagonal, or in a semi-fetal V. In a double bed that I’m sharing with another person (no matter how much I love her), I have to drape my knees off the side of the bed while my butt juts nearly all the way to the other side. Shannon, bless her heart, loves me for (or in spite of) my freakish length.

Shannon and I are perfect for each other in many ways. One of those ways is our sleeping preference. We love to cuddle up in bed and enjoy being together. But that is before we go to sleep. For deep, renewing sleep, we like our space. My belief (hope) is that this tendency, contrary to Hollywood, is actually fairly common in couples. Especially couples that stand the test of time.

With all this in mind, we entered the room at the Super 8 and were not terribly excited about the double beds. I made a little joke about solving the space issue by sleeping in separate beds. Turns out it wasn’t so much of a joke. Between the size of the beds, and the wall-unit air conditioner that made one bed significantly colder than the other, we decided that we should sacrifice our togetherness for comfort.

This is a good thing, because the decision was based on the strength of our relationship. Some nascent relationships might not be able to make that decision. Closeness is represented (again, in Hollywood) physically a lot, especially when it comes to husbands and wives. Our closeness has gone past physical closeness. Even though we were in separate beds, we were closer than ever.

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Getting myself ready for this wedding was so much fun. As I’ve mentioned, my sister Andrea did my hair. She and I set up in the big bathroom – me on a stool, her poised behind me. And Photographer Erica in and on top of the tub getting the perfect shot. While Ann worked on my fro, my mom and sisters were in and out of the bathroom, alternating between helping Dad with the To Do list and gushing over how amazing my hair was turning out.

Have I mentioned that I LOVED my hair? Yes, I think I have. I don’t remember exactly, but I’d guess it took about an hour to get my hair perfect. It was such a peaceful, relaxing time though. I got to be away from the scramble of setting up, and I felt like I was in a little sanctuary. It was just about me for that time. Other than the few times someone popped in to run something by me, I didn’t know what was going on outside the bathroom, nor did I care. Turns out, a bunch of people showed up while I was in there, and I had no idea until I emerged!

In all honesty, the whole day was very chill. I never felt stressed or nervous or overwhelmed. But that time I spent getting myself ready was really nice.

After Andrea finished my hair (gorgeous!), I did my own makeup. I have one way I do my makeup, and I do it that way every single day (except on weekends when I avoid wearing makeup as much as possible). I don’t think others know how to work with my face, so I was totally comfortable doing it myself.

I did it the same way I do on an average day, only slightly amped up. I added a little more shading to my eyelids, a little mascara, some lip stain and Erica insisted on a little color on my cheeks (I don’t normally where blush because my cheeks turn quite rosy all on their own if I’m hot, warm, cold, nervous, sick, happy, etc).

(That photo on the bottom right is one of me looking at my camera. The photo on the screen is me posing burlesque-style in my slip. Sex-ay!)

I thought I looked quite lovely, and I’d like to thank Erica for using her editing magic to make me look nearly flawless. Even before I put on makeup, when I usually look like I could use two-weeks of sleep, she made me look pretty.

I really can’t speak to how or when Mike got ready, but I know his process was much simpler than mine. I’m imagining him slipping into his clothes and checking himself in the mirror 15 minutes before showtime. I know that’s not quite true because he was dressed and ready to go before I even got into my dress.

Speaking of getting into my dress, I’ll save that for next time.

(All photos, except the first, by Photography by Arika Reed.)

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The  morning of our wedding, we woke up knowing we were getting married, but I can’t say it felt much different than any other day. Just a saturday, hanging out with the fam at dad’s, and oh yeah, we’re getting married. We got going around 9, picked up some Starbucks, picked up Erica, the photographer, and headed down to Dad’s.

First, we had to pound some helpful signage into the ground. Didn’t want anyone getting lost! My dad kind of lives in the middle of nowhere.

(I freehanded that sign, thankyouverymuch.)

Mike and Des (stepmom) got started on the food prep while I started in on our To Do list. Slowly others from our family began showing up to help. We set up the buffet (sans hot or cold food just yet), hooked up the ice cream machine, and prepared some final decorations and details.

At about 1:00 I passed the reins to my dad. He was in charge of making sure things got done while I was in “hair and makeup.” Erica has a great photo of Mike and I running a miniature family meeting right before I was swooped away to be made beautiful. I don’t have access to you it yet, but she says we’ll get our disc-o-photos soon. In the meantime, imagine it here.

Tune into my next post all about the fun of getting beautiful for your wedding day!

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The other day someone said to me that they picked out their particular wedding dress because they wanted to look beautiful—breathtaking even—for their soon-to-be-husband on their wedding day. That was the key: be stunning for the man you’re marrying. I get that, but it surprised me to realize that such an idea never really crossed my mind when I planned my wedding-day look. Oops.

I wanted a dress and a look that made me feel good, and that expressed my style and my personality. Minimizing cost was another goal, of course. Obviously I wanted to be beautiful. Who wants to look homely on their wedding day? But looking beautiful for Mike was not the goal. I know he thinks I’m beautiful, and so I suppose I knew he’d think I was beautiful that day, too, and that’s a good feeling.

But I didn’t buy a dress that I thought would drop his jaw. I didn’t hide from him so his first glimpse of me at the ceremony would be stunning. “I want to blow his mind. I want to be beautiful for him” never occurred to me. I don’t feel guilty about that, but I wonder if I should.

Should I?

Did you want to “be beautiful for him”? Did that cross your mind?

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Time Flies

On Saturday, we will have been married for 1 month. Weird.

Shannon and I didn’t have what many people might consider the typical relationship progression. We lived together before we were married and we’ve known each other less than 2 years (not very long compared to some couples). With that knowledge, I often assumed that not much would change after we were married. We would refer to each other as “husband,” and “wife,” instead of “fiance,” but that is about it.

I was right and, at the same time, more wrong that I could have ever thought.

We still live together, we still handle bills much in the same way, we still talk on Shannon’s drive home from work, and we still love eachother. But now we’re married!

Some of the differences are subtle. Instead of reading facebook updates about marriage anniversaries and thinking “we’ll get married someday!” I read those updates and think “We’ll be married for 2 years someday.” I feel the ring on my finger and sometimes it hits me that it’s a wedding ring. There are lots of little legal qualifications that we now satisfy as a legally married couple.

But more striking are the few big changes. We are related by marriage. That means that I have new sisters and brothers! I had a niece born yesterday! I have grandparents again! I realize I’m using a lot of exclamation points! This is a big deal though. My family has grown amazingly. I can tell people about my wife when I talk to them. I can talk about “my sister-in-law,” instead of “my fiance’s sister,” or “Shannon’s sister.”

And these changes, only a wink of the eye old in the grand scheme of things, will soon be old and insignificant (or seem so). I just wanted to take a minute to acknowledge them.

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Missing guests

We invited the Obamas to our wedding. Sadly they couldn’t make it. Must have been doing important President and First Lady stuff. I don’t know. But they did send a lovely card.

Unfortunately there was no check attached. Damn.

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Our photos are done! Erica (Photography by Arika Reed), posted a great blog post full of photos a few days ago. Then soon after she got them all up on her online viewing gallery. If you want to check them out, and I hope you do, let me know and I’ll get you the password.

I love love love them all. This was Erica’s first wedding, and she totally nailed it. It was a great deal for all of us – she got to practice wedding photography in a “safe” situation (we’ve been friends for 17 years, if my math is right, and she’s known my family just as long), and we got a great deal on spectacular wedding photos.

Thank you Rico! It was so much fun to have you there. Thanks for working your ass off to make us some spectacular pictures!

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One of my favorite things we did at our reception was the Photo Booth (aka the guest book). We set up my camera in front of a log pile with some props, and people had a blast. My sisters were superstars and made sure every single guest took a turn, so we’ve got photos of every one in attendance.

(Above photos by Photography by Arika Reed. Erica, let me know if I’m not allowed to use these this way.)

We got some really fun pictures, too. Give people a few props and it’s a party!



Even my grandparents got in on the fun!

The kids took more than anyone.

Mike and I also took a turn.

One of the first things we did on our honeymoon was flip through all these photos. I love how they all turned out. In all, we got 68 Photo Booth photos (not bad for a guest list of 60)! Eventually we’ll match them up with the messages people wrote on the back of the photo paper, print them, and put them in an album.

Thank you Emily and Andrea for making sure this idea came to fruition! And thanks to everyone who took part.

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