It was a day three and a half years in the making. He asked me to marry him in an empty park in Chicago on one of the coldest days of this year, and my “yes” was the simplest and strongest yes I’ve ever said. We worked really hard. We did a lot of things on our own. We didn’t have much money. We considered what we wanted and we considered what others needed. And then on August 1st, we were married. And it was beautiful.
Our wedding day was a dream. Everyone talks about how something always goes wrong on wedding days, and I would stay up at night wondering what it would be while I was in the throes of planning madness. But nothing went wrong on August 1st. Things went wrong on July 30th and things went wrong on July 31st. But on August 1st, our monumental August 1st, the air was blessed. That’s the beauty and the crazy. We planned and planned and planned and then the day was good. Lovely. Calm. No rain, no mistakes, no last minute switches, no half-wanted compromises. Most everyone we love was there, and we were married, we ate pizza, we kissed, we danced. My heart is still full of gratefulness.
This post is to celebrate the blessedness of protection, the grace of having a lovely day when you need a lovely day, and how wonderful it really feels when people come to your party. I’ll show you what I mean with words and pictures, some small moments and stories from this magnificent day. Everyone loves a good wedding. And, I’ll tell you first hand, this wedding was wholly good for me and Isaiah. Something like a glimpse at heaven or Eden. Something absolutely wonderful.
On the days leading up to the wedding, we were surrounded by friends. They did everything they could to help us, arranging flowers, placing chairs, moving heavy rusty firepits, scrubbing various things, and creating our beautiful ribbon backdrop. For months, I had made plans upon plans to figure out how to make everything happen, and all of those carefully laid plans featured me as the fearless captain at the helm of the ship.
In a strange and discouraging turn-of-events, I felt awfully sick for the whole day before the wedding. I was practically doubled over in pain, very woozy and very discouraged with some sort of awful stomach bug. I remember laying in the grass quietly crying next to Isaiah at lunch time because I was just so worried that I would still feel horrible on my wedding day. The day before the wedding had a giant to-do list, and I had been planning to basically work from dawn till dusk, directing all of the different tasks in order to make sure everything happened according to my plans. Despite all of my carefully created plans, I was resigned to a lawn chair in the shade or my bed and there was nothing I could do about it. The beautiful thing is this: everything happened exactly how I wanted to to happen. Everything got done magnificently even though I wasn’t able to micromanage. Isaiah and our friends and family took care of our wedding just as well as I would have if I could have done it all myself. They worked with the same care and attention to detail, with the same artistic eye and logistical thoughtfulness. And everything happened. It was incredible. I have maybe never felt so loved as I felt on the day before my wedding. I sat in my lawnchair, sick as a dog, and watched my dear friends and my sweet soon-to-be husband work and work to create a dream of a wedding.
At the rehearsal, I cried the moment I started walking down the aisle with my sweet Dad. Because all of a sudden it was real. I’d worked for months on what had often felt like a project, but it wasn’t a project at all. It was a wedding, and it was important and special and even holy and I was standing in it. Isaiah was waiting for me in the front, and I was still feeling sick and we were both teary because I know we were both thinking, this is it. This is what we wanted! I loved the rehearsal, the whole of it. I’m a big lover of rehearsals in real life, what with all the theater I have clung to as I’ve grown. In this case, as it has sort of always felt to me, the rehearsal was almost as special as the real thing. It was just us and our closest buds getting ready for a big deal of a thing with a small deal. So simple. So intimate. An almost-ceremony where mistakes can happen. Where the flower girls giggle and don’t throw the petals because they are a little stunned. Where you can steal looks at your bridesmaids and cry a little with them because isn’t it exciting, and where you can look with wide eyes and laugh with your almost-husband about not kissing when you’re not declared husband and wife so instead you almost kiss and it’s fantastic. In theater, we often say “bad dress rehearsal means a good opening night.” But nothing was bad about it except my knotty stomach and how much I wanted to be married. We so wanted to be married. And we were so, so wonderfully close, so close we were standing in the middle of it, together, not yet kissing. Good dress rehearsal. GOOD WEDDING.
The rehearsal dinner flew by for me because I was feeling especially weak and woozy. Isaiah never left my side and I stayed mostly quiet, watching everything happen around me. All of my dearest people were interacting. I watched Isaiah’s aunts talking with my girlfriends, Isaiah’s guy friends talking with my dad, and my childhood best friends laughing with my college best friends. But still, by the end of the dinner I had a clump of worry in the pit of my stomach along with the queasiness that had beset me all day. I felt terrible and even more terrible about the prospect of feeling terrible the next day. I was terribly terribly afraid.
When we arrived back at the celery farm (yes, did I mention that the wedding was at Isaiah’s uncle’s celery farm? It was!), we were met by the most perfect sunset I’ve maybe ever encountered. Isaiah and I were both sort of stunned by it, I think, standing gawking at it. Whitney, our photographer and my sweet friend, saw the golden opportunity at hand. She told us to climb up on the tables and stand together against the sorbet of the sky. I stood with Isaiah atop our wedding tables, the ones we had picked out months before, as Whitney took photo after photo, and I felt fine. No, I felt grand! I felt like I was wrapped in the softness of the sky and the softness of him and I wasn’t fearful anymore, I was instead radiant and entirely beautiful. When I look at the photos of us against the sunset, it’s like it isn’t real. It’s too lovely. But it IS us!! We were beautiful there against the sky on the day before our wedding. Beautiful, and, for a soft moment, not at all afraid.
I woke up in the morning on the first day of August feeling AMAZING. I was not sick, I was not sad, I was clean, bright, and SO READY! And thankful. Very thankful. It’s strange almost to say it, but after how badly I had felt the day before, I awoke proclaiming “miracle”! God blesses things like weddings, I think. He certainly blessed my body that day.
The sun was warm, there were no signs of rain on the horizon, my friends were all around me, and Isaiah and I were determined not to lay eyes on each other until I walked to him down the aisle. The energy in the farmhouse was amazing, everyone working hard to prepare. My mother cut watermelon, made salad, and took care of a ton of things I never even got around to thinking about. My dear friend Margaret told everyone what to do when with her clipboard and clear head. My girlfriends arranged flowers and took care of last minute things, and Isaiah and his groomsmen went and played volleyball to release some energy. And I was EXCITED. This picture marks the first moment I stepped out into the world in my wedding dress, seeing the space we had prepared and feeling very entirely ready.
My sister, Jill, was my right-hand girl. I’ve never felt more like she was my sister than I did on my wedding day and the months leading up to it. She did everything I asked her to and more that I didn’t ask but she knew I needed. She created things. She took projects on as her own. She planned a kick-butt bachelorette party that was exactly what I’d always dreamed of (it was inspired by a scene in one of my favorite novels, I Capture the Castle). For the entire planning and execution process of the wedding, she was absolutely indispensable. But, more than all of that, she was my friend. Throughout the planning frenzy of the summer, it felt so good to share the work with her, to bounce my ideas off of her, to ask her opinion, to tell her my vision. We had never had such a tangible thing to work on together before, and I think it ignited us as sisters and maybe even ushered in a new chapter of our relationship. She was always my little little sister, a fixture in my home and life but four years younger and not at all able to join me in the stuff of my life. But now, somehow, we were both adults working on an adult project. Adult sisters. It’s a special thing. Everyone said it would be and I always rolled my eyes. Jill? Really?
Yes. Really really. And on my wedding day I was the most grateful I have ever been to have a sister.
Isaiah loves these men, and I do too. Each one of them has walked with us through almost all of our relationship, and I know that they all are considered by Isaiah as his brothers. They are my brothers too, and have acted as such time and time again. I’ve spent Easters and late nights with many of them, scaling sand dunes, laughing at old times, making good fun of each other, giving advice, telling stories. And for all of my love and memories of these men, Isaiah has scores more. I was thrilled to have them stand with us at our wedding, and they never complained about all the heavy lifting I made them do to prepare. They’re champs, and I love them. This photo feels classic to me. They look strong and on top of the world and fun and dear. They are all of those things.
A handsome husband in a handsome shirt picked out together at Macy’s days before the wedding and a handsome tie he picked himself that is exactly what I was envisioning for him if not better and a handsome boutonniere that I crafted for him on my bedroom floor with my sister beside me. It was wild to see all of my visions of how things would look materialize on the day of the wedding. All of a sudden, there was Isaiah, wearing the things we chose for him to wear, looking like a million bucks, waiting for me at the end of the aisle.
My dress was handmade by my best friend’s mother and my dear friend, Missy, which made it one million times special. I went dress shopping in December with my mom and sister. It was exhilarating and overwhelming and I felt lovely. I picked out a dress that was lovely but left me feeling unsure, and left the bridal shop with a tentative order. Dresses are expensive and our budget was minuscule and I was feeling all torn up about how much to spend and what I really actually wanted and what to do. Then, on an outing with Missy we talked all about my wedding dress woes and she, a wonderful costume designer for theater, offered to make me my dress as a gift.
It’s an amazing gift to be able to create something exactly to your specifications for a day so important. I’d researched and researched and I had ideas on ideas, many of which sort of conflicted and had gotten kind of convoluted or impossible. Open back! French lace! No lace! Straps! Cap sleeves! A train! No train! A-line skirt! Sheer fabric! Flowers, flowers, flowers! Must look good in a barn! It is hard to plan a wedding in this age of pinterest because EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL (except for the things things that are absolutely awful, but we just ignore those). It was too much input. Too many options. Too many crazy expensive fantastic dress makers in the world, and I felt swamped. Missy and I waded through it together. She took my crazy pile of ideas and non-negotiables and made this dress. This beauty of a dress. It was perfect, a beautiful conglomeration of the things I had wanted and had been unable to streamline. And even more perfect because it was made by a person who loves me. The most special things about my wedding were the things that were made with love. Things I didn’t deserve. Things that I will never stop being grateful for.
My favorite little shop in Pittsburgh, my home town, is called Roxanne’s Dried Flowers. It’s on the main drag in the Strip District, and it is full of absolutely beautiful things. Tiny succulents, paper garlands, mini-terrariums, potted houseplants, floral perfumes, and scores of dried flowers. It’s heaven. I visited the shop over spring break, only a few weeks after our engagement, and all of a sudden I knew that I wanted to use dried flowers for our wedding bouquets. BEST DECISION EVER for so many reasons. Believe it or not, dried flowers are very reasonably priced, and they last forever. I could make all of my bouquets and boutonnieres myself, which was something I felt passionate about, and ahead of time, another thing I felt VERY passionate about. The last thing I wanted was to be stressed about getting fresh flower bouquets just right on the day before my wedding.
So, Isaiah and I went together to Roxanne’s during a week he was visiting in the summer and had an all out shopping spree. It was a dream come true, grabbing bouquet after bouquet and taking them home with us. Then, after he left to go back to Chicago, I set out one morning to put it all together. Once I unpacked all of the flowers for the huge job of assembling bouquets and boutonnieres , I realized that arranging dried flowers is a messy job, and the messy job was all over my bedroom floor. There was no turning back. I had to do it. All in one day. I was armed only with Netflix (How I Met Your Mother basically sponsored our wedding), Cream Soda (my biggest soda vice), and floral tape. And I did it. It only took nine hours. With all the things that I did myself for the wedding (which was a lot of things), I think the flowers are the thing that I am proudest of. I did it. Myself. And now, my gorgeous bouquet from my wedding is still intact and vibrant and in a vase on my shelf, and every time I look at it I remember both getting married to my dearest friend and sitting alone on my bedroom floor with an aching back creating something beautiful for a day that was long-awaited and still just a dream.
THESE ARE MY WOMEN. Do you see them? They are FABULOUS. Lisa, Annie, Ruby, Avery, Laurel, Ivy, and Jill. Old sisters and new ones, college gal pals and roommates. The best people I know. These girls are all beautiful and amazing and strong and vibrant. They’ve drunk cup after cup of coffee with me, they’ve listened to my long moments of verbal processing, they’ve spooned with me, they’ve laughed with me and at me, they’ve eaten lots of unhealthy things with me, they’ve driven around our various towns with me, they’ve loved me in crazy ways. And I love them too. These are my girls, and they were essential. They lifted heavy things, they created beautiful things, they brought me soup to eat, they told me I looked beautiful, they were there to hold me up. Bridesmaids literally rock. Have as many of them as you can. And keep them forever.
This is Annie with flowers in her hair. It was another one of my favorite things about the wedding, seeing my extra dried flowers all pinned up in the hair of my favorite women. Little things make weddings special.
I didn’t know it would all look this good. It happened slowly, a lot of different elements brought together, things carefully collected and very much hoped for. The long search for the perfect farmhouse tables to rent. The straight old tree trunk in the barn that Mr. Bornman was saving for a sailboat mast someday. The globe lights purchased on amazon. The bunting I spent hours in my bedroom sewing together. The stars strung by my mother. The tent poles from reformation-era meeting tents that just so happened to be stored in Isaiah’s uncle’s barn. The dirty old bottles carried in backpacks by me and Isaiah and Caleb from a junk heap along a hike in Lancaster. The flowers that a fabulous man whose name I can’t remember helped me choose and order to arrange myself at wholesale prices. And suddenly it was all there, set up, put together by loved ones, and it was better than I even thought it would be. Gorgeous. Exactly what we’d wanted. Dreamy, and ready for the best party ever.
Here’s two out of three flower girls. These two practiced for weeks, I’m told, donning their white dresses and marching around the house. One time, in a living room in Indiana with Aunt Sarah, their mother, she told us that these two sweet girls would be the first to never know us apart. In all of their memory, Isaiah and I have only been together.
We were married under a brilliant sun by Isaiah’s father. Our ceremony was slightly unconventional and very personal. It was completely fantastic and surreal to be getting married, to be standing in the middle of it with Isaiah, clinging to each others hands, unable to not smile, overwhelmed and excited and relieved and so so happy. It was happening! We were getting married! What we had wanted for so long was finally happening before God and everyone we love. It’s a sort of fulfillment, a glimpse at beautiful bigger things to come, an idyllic gorgeous event, a dream. Everyone was there and we were there too. An ordinary extraordinary day.
Jeremiah 31 was a centerpiece of our wedding service, read three times in three different ways. It is our prayer for our marriage, our way forward, our song. A wedding is a celebration of radiance, of fulfillment, of torn things mended, of gardens carefully planted and watered with grace.
11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.”
GETTING MARRIED WAS THE BEST THING EVER.
These three are my sisters, one biological, two heartfelt. My childhood and adulthood companions, with a long history of gingerbread houses and cinnamon melts, car rides home in winter and summers at the pool. I knew that I needed them to sing at my wedding. I called Ruby, pictured with the guitar, one night this summer to talk about the music for the wedding. I wandered around my backyard barefoot while talking to her, squishing my feet into the mud under our crabapple tree and pacing on the freshly mowed grass. I was feeling indecisive and unsure about music, and Ruby detected this in my tone, I think. She assured me, “Amy, I will not let the music at your wedding suck. Leave it up to me.” And the music did not suck. In fact, it was far from sucking. It was wonderful. For the processional and recessional, they sang their own arrangement of “Gold” by Interference, a special song for Isaiah and me. It was exactly what we needed on our wedding day, just like how Ruby’s assurance was exactly what I needed on that ordinary planning day, weeks earlier. I love these women, and so often they provide exactly what I need.
Also, just for fun, some happy happy wedding links!
Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, my favorite shop in Pittsburgh where I bought all of my lovely dried flowers!
Hello May, my very favorite wedding blog. It’s based in Australia, what’s not to love?
This wedding, featured on Hello May, was a huge inspiration for me as I planned.
Also, this wedding, belonging to a favorite blogging inspiration of mine, Erin Boyle, was another huge inspiration.
Here is my wedding pinterest board. Not going to lie, I still post things on there every so often. It’s just fun!
All of our wedding photos were taken by my wonderful dear friend Whitney Bauck, who I can’t even smile about enough. She is a fantastic lady who has done a lot of fantastic things. Check out her AMAZING blog that merges fashion and theology HERE, and her photography facebook page HERE.