I asked my husband to write a small paragraph on what our wedding was for him, and here's what he texted me:
You know how the night before you go on a huge trip you can’t get to sleep, so you just have hours to play with and the anticipation just crescendos until it’s finally time for your big moment? This was what our wedding day was to me. I started my day eating McDonald’s breakfast alone while Andrea and her bridesmaids got ready. We had exchanged written vows, which I read for the first time as I scarfed down my Wedding McGriddles. I was overjoyed to the point of tears, knowing how loved I am. Yes, I started my wedding day crying alone in McDonald’s, and it was then that I knew without a shadow of a doubt I was happier than I’d ever been. I spent the next couple of hours driving around my hometown, taking in the highlights of my childhood until it was time to get ready with my best friends. We listened to our old favorite songs, as well as all of the music my best man and I made in high school. It was all very touching and nostalgic, and remarkably void of any hint of nervousness. I was ecstatic to be with my best friends for the first time in so long. I was thrilled to be in the warmth of family. And I hadn’t even gotten to the venue yet!
Getting to the Speed was surreal. All the months of picking things out, booking this, arranging that, scheduling the other, had come to fruition. The reception space was beautiful. Our cake was picturesque. The homemade decorations looked right at home in a fancy art museum. As I saw friends and family start to trickle in my heart was just so full. Like “the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day” full. Everyone was here. Everything looked perfect. Everything was going according to plan (shout out to Debbie our wedding planner). I was finally achieving my dream of marrying the love of my life.
The ceremony was a blur for the most part. I missed my cue to start walking down the aisle because I was watching my sister-in-law and wedding planner soothe a crying ring bearer. My best friends walked up to stand by my side. The ring bearers (our nephews) warmed everyone’s hearts and the flower girl (my cousin) stole them. People snuck videos and pictures, and I didn’t mind one bit. And all things came to a standstill when I saw my bride in her dress at the top of the stairs. My breath stopped, my heart skipped a beat, my eyes lit up, all of that. I literally muttered to myself “I won. This is it I’m the champion of life.”
As the ceremony came to an end and all of the people we love began filing into the reception area, all I could think was that this was what I was put on Earth to do. It was so fulfilling to be able to put on this celebration of the love my wife and I have, and to be so close with our friends and family. Our wedding planner put whiskey sours in our hands (seriously, shout out to Debbie) then took Andrea, our wedding party, and me to the dressing rooms to sit and enjoy our drinks and food, since so many couples don’t get to eat at their weddings. How lucky were we!?
I’ve written a LOT so I will give you bullet points of the best parts of the reception:
⁃ both of our dads gave the most heartwarming speeches to kick things off
⁃ My stepdad’s uncle’s band brought the HOUSE DOWN!! It took absolutely nothing to get the dance floor poppin’
⁃ My stepdad danced with my mother-in-law
⁃ I got lost in Andrea’s eyes for our 5+ minute first dance
⁃ My mom and my first dance was YouTube worthy. Not exaggerating.
⁃ The best men/matrons of honor gave incredibly moving speeches; my brother made all 120+ people in attendance weep.
⁃ My dad watched with pride as my groomsmen and I rapped Int’l Players Anthem
⁃ There was a full blown, high school dance-level dance circle. I got to tag in the same friends I jumped in dance circles with 7-10 years ago.
⁃ In My Feelings challenge
All in all, everything about this day was more than I could have asked for. The food was delicious, decorations were beautiful, venue was jaw-dropping. Everyone had so much fun and made Andrea and I feel so loved by everyone around us. I still have trouble believing that we got THAT wedding. But regardless of all of that, the best part was that I got to marry my best friend and start the most exciting chapter of my life so far.
(Sorry for writing so much longer than a paragraph).
As of today, Kyndl and I have been married for two whole months. 62 days filled with joy, major life changes, assembling IKEA furniture, and unpacking a million boxes after a stressful move (read: forgetting to bring a dolly to pick up a 600 lb washer/dryer, borrowing a truck without knowing it's a stick shift, and other inconveniences I won't burden you with). Though we've both been running around like crazy in this new chapter of our lives, I'm so grateful for the magic he brings me daily and I couldn't pick a better teammate. So far, nearly two months of marriage has brought us tons of travel, a birthday to celebrate, an amazing visit from my parents, a big job transition, and a strong urge to adopt a kitten. I mean it when I say how excited I am for the rest of my life with this dude.
Alright, let's get into it! This blog post has taken quite a while to compose because I really do want to mention every single thing, both so that I don't forget, and to create a resource for all of the brides-to-be that I talk to on a regular basis. There were quite a few decisions we made that made our experience truly blissful and kept our stress levels relatively low; though, hopefully no matter how your wedding day goes, nothing can outweigh the happiness of marrying the love of your life—I know that's true for me!
First of all, none of this could have happened without the love and support of our family and friends. Our wedding was an all-hands-on-deck affair from the very beginning. Because we live in Oregon, we weren't able to see any venues for ourselves, so our parents spent a Saturday touring Louisville and Facetiming us 4 venues. The officiant was Kyndl's cousin, the band at the reception was his stepdad's family, my uncle carved our W monogram guestbook, the church I grew up in provided the crystal candle holders at the reception, family and friends were in charge of arranging the decorations... I could go on and on. We could not have had the wedding of our dreams without the help of everyone around us, so here's a massive THANK YOU to all of the great people in our corner. We love you all so much and seriously cannot stop talking about how fortunate we are. (And thank you cards are coming!)
Our wedding was a two week long event, and we loved it. We got into town a full week before the wedding, had cookouts and lunches and late nights out with our friends and family, and we spent a full week after the wedding relaxing, whether it was the day after the wedding where we hardly left our hotel (the Omni, highly recommend!), the 4 days honeymooning in Punta Cana, and the long layover on our way home that we turned into a mini Phoenix vacation. This year has been exhausting for both of us in so many ways, and we had been dreaming of this two week escape since we got engaged. It was everything we wanted and more.
The Venue: The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky
Getting married in an art museum was like having 30 wedding venues in one. Every room in the Speed is so different!
Our venue and caterer ate up about 90% of our budget, which is definitely not recommended, but it was so worth it. The Speed is stunning in its own right, so we were able to keep the decor minimal and clean—and affordable! All of the greenery and the arch are from Hobby Lobby, and we bought a few bundles of fresh baby's breath from the florist to tuck into the aisle markers which are from my sister's wedding. We also had the florist make a lovely piece for the arch to tie in the bridal party's eucalyptus and ranunculus bouquets and boutonnières. We opted for the ceremony and reception standard chairs that were included with our venue package, as well as the standard table linens and servingware. This way we had a bit more room in our budget for what really mattered to us: the food!
From the moment we began planning our wedding, we knew we wanted one big party (which was kind of nerve wracking for the art museum hosting us!). We decided on a cocktail reception with hearty hors d'oeuvres, and we worked with The Speed's catering company, Wiltshire Pantry, to come up with the perfect menu with mini Kentucky Hot Browns, pulled chicken sandwiches on sweet potato biscuits, endives with a summer corn salsa, grilled vegetable and goat cheese focaccia sandwiches, bourbon/maple glazed turkey meatballs, potato cups with fresh chives and crème fraîche... sorry, my mouth is watering.
Everything was perfect, and we're one of those rare couples who got to enjoy every bit of the food at the reception, all thanks to our awesome caterers. After the ceremony and a few hundred more photos, the bridal party was led to a private room with everything on the menu and our drinks of choice, so everyone was able to get their fill before the party really started. If you're able to request to eat privately before your reception, do it! These 20 minutes with our bridal party were so fun, and nobody left with an empty stomach.
The Dress: 2014 Lazaro from Ania Bridal
This little number is practically the only part of our wedding that I've been asked about—and trust me, I get it! I wish I could wear it every day.
My mom and mother-in-law made a very special trip out West to come dress shopping with me, and that weekend was one of the best parts of our wedding for me. I had been dreading dress shopping because I knew I would be going alone, and let me tell you from first hand experience, it's quite lonely! I went to a&bé Portland by myself and the girls were so fun and helpful, the dresses were stunning, the vibe was unbelievably Instagramable, and I was still bummed to not have my gal pals behind me hyping me up. I told my parents how weird it was, and a few weeks later my mom and mother-in-law came to join me! One of my favorite things about my relationship with Kyndl is how much we truly appreciate each of our families, and I was reminded of that gift big time that weekend.
Unfortunately the shop I purchased my dress from overbooked their alterations, so I had to find someone to do quite a bit of work on such an intricate dress with only 5 weeks until the wedding. This was probably the height of my wedding stress. Every shop I called around Portland was booked (it was the beginning of June so wedding season was in full swing) but I remembered the awesome seamstress from Blush Bridal also worked out-of-house, so I gave her a call. She and her team saved the day! As you can probably guess, this dress was no easy task, but she got it to fit me perfectly just in time. She and her team took the dress up nearly a foot, added boning, created a beautiful bustle, and repaired 5 years of wear and tear (it's actually a sample dress from 2013). She even altered my mom's veil right in front of me while simultaneously operating as my therapist. God bless her. If you're looking for dress alterations in the Eugene/Springfield area, please check out A Beautiful You Alterations.
I went to a total of 4 bridal shops, and if you're looking in Eugene or the Portland area I would recommend all of them, just make sure to book your alterations as soon as possible, and triple check that they have time for you (I was told there was plenty of time!).
The White Dress
Just for fun, here are the 5 dresses I loved equally, but nowhere near as much as I loved the ruffly sparkly princess dress I ended up choosing:
... and now, the star of the show:
My mom's veil and her diamond earrings were my Something Old and Something Borrowed, my shoes were my Something New, and my grandma's moonstone pendant was reimagined by my very talented friend, jewelry maker Tree Myriah, for my Something Blue.
Here's a picture of my mom and I with her veil, just because. How 80's was my parents' wedding look? I love it so much.
And let's talk about this necklace duo situation. SWOON. My friend Tree, of Tree Myriah jewelry, helped me reimagine my late grandmother's moonstone pendant, and I can't get over it. She added a simple chain to the pendant, and then she created a shorter necklace to layer with 3 tiny moonstones to match. I wear the shorter necklace all the time. Tree is the best. Queen of bridal jewels. Check her out!
Getting ready with my bridesmaids was a blast. My mom made us all peanut butter & berry smoothies, avocado toast, and veg-heavy omelettes for brunch while we got our hair and makeup done (she was very considerate and came up with a Millenial friendly spread. Love that lady.) Once we got to the Speed, everything slowed down and I got to hang out with my besties, playing Never Have I Ever and eating Baked Lays. Good times.
We had a pretty big bridal party: 2 matrons-of-honor, 2 best men, 6 bridesmaids, 6 groomsmen, 2 ushers, 2 readers, 2 ring bearers, and the flower girl! It was important to us to incorporate as many people who played a crucial role in our lives, and pairing it down to 23 people was harder than you'd think.
My heart was bursting, being surrounded by this bunch all day:
My 2 sisters, the matrons-of-honor
My college roommates and sorority sisters
My best friends from high school
Kyndl's cousin, the cutest flower girl ever
And our perfectly coordinated moms
Our ceremony was simple and intimate, just us surrounded by 125 people we love. We were married by Kyndl's cousin, who offered so much guidance and support throughout our engagement process, and two of our good friends (my sorority sister, his fraternity brother) read these passages:
Choosing these passages was a truly unifying task, Kyndl and I loved it. We spent a night each choosing scripture we were drawn to and reading them to each other until we found two that really resonated with us.
The ceremony was only around 15 minutes, but it felt like 10 seconds! Kyndl and I exchanged very simple vows during the ceremony, the only things we said were "I do" and "I will", but we meant every word! I kind of spaced out for a second and took a really long time to say one of the "I do"'s... Kyndl was a little terrified.
Kyndl knew there was no way I would say my vows in front of anyone but him, so we agreed to write our own vows and exchange them privately before the wedding, promises just for us to hear and to keep. I'm relatively outgoing but I have major stage fright, and I'm not big on public displays of vulnerability, so our vows are something we kept private and I'm so glad we did. I woke up the morning of the wedding to a folded up piece of notebook paper with every promise my husband has made for me and our future, and he woke up to the same from me. It was the sweetest thing I've ever read, and we both got the crying out of the way first thing. They're now framed and hanging above our nightstands in our new place (tour coming eventually).
Before the processional I was whisked through a blurry maze to a gallery upstairs where I was completely alone for a good 15 minutes, and my nerves were nearly uncontrollable. I had been surprisingly calm the week leading up to the wedding, but I don't know if I've ever been as excited as I was during those 15 minutes. Lots of prayer, gratefulness, joy, and a whole lot of adrenaline.
All I could hear was our friends and family below us and the most beautiful serenade from our string trio. We found these talented ladies from the University of Louisville's School of Music, and if you're getting married I totally recommend checking out a local college's music department for performers! I chose this song to walk in to because 1) Romeo + Juliet and 2) It makes Kyndl cry. They played it perfectly, that moment was surreal.
Fun fact: The gallery I was waiting in started playing some kind of sex positive art installation audio on a loop, and I was mortified (and also laughing pretty hard... completely alone... just picture it) thinking all of our guests below could hear this interview, where people were vividly describing their sexual preferences and fantasies. And when that finally stopped, all I could hear was my nephew, the ring bearer, sobbing right before his big debut! Again, I started laughing, still totally alone. Luckily he got it together with the help of our amazing wedding planner, and he actually ended up stealing the show by running down the aisle and proudly exclaiming, "I made it!"
I wish I had gotten to see this moment for myself, but hearing our guests' laughs and the unanimous "Aww" was good enough for me. I was so nervous about walking down those stairs, I needed some comedic relief.
Look at these little angels:
Oh yeah, did I mention my dad and I walked down this 40 foot staircase for my grand entrance? No big deal, just the scariest part of our entire wedding. Not like I tried to chicken out the night before or anything. Totally chill.
My dad has always been one of my closest friends, and he is 100% the root of my emotional nature, so standing up there with him, just us, was a moment I'll never forget. I don't exactly remember all of the words of wisdom he was spilling out, but I will always remember that feeling. We were both shaking the entire way down the stairs, but we managed to hold back the tears. Kyndl and my dad are similar in many ways, and they have a tremendous amount of respect for each other, so being given away by one of my besties to another one of my besties was emotional, but also incredibly comforting.
Also known as the best night of our lives. We walked into the reception with our bridal party with Bound 2 Instrumental by Kanye West playing, because duh. The night began with two beautiful speeches from our dads, and was kicked off from there with the band's 45 minute set. They played all the wedding essentials: Mustang Sally, Brick House, Purple Rain... our guests danced the night away, and that was our goal.
After the band was our first dance ("Nothing Even Matters" - Lauryn Hill), the father/daughter dance ("Little Miss Magic" - Jimmy Buffet), and the mother/son dance ("Inspire Me" - Big Sean). Kyndl's grandma snuck this little clip of Kyndl and his mom. It was adorable, see for yourself:
Before and after the band played, we played a playlist Kyndl spent all summer curating. On our RSVPs we had our guests request songs, and Kyndl had been keeping a running list in his phone of songs he wanted to play at the wedding since the very day we got engaged. We didn't have a DJ, so again our amazing wedding planner stepped up and took care of the audio. I loved seeing our guests get up and dance when their song came on, and we got to hear so many of our favorite songs that represent us and our relationship. The whole vibe was exactly what we wanted: fun, laid back, and focused on fellowship.
I don't have many photos of the reception, but I can assure you it was a good time. Kyndl requested a sweetheart table so that our guests could talk to us easily, and we were able to relax and spend the whole night together (except for when I lost him to his friends for a very special rendition of "International Players Anthem", and then again to a gigantic dance circle for "In My Feelings"). Our guests loved the menu, and the cocktail-style seating/lack thereof went off without a hitch. Everyone that wanted to sit down was able to find a seat, and everyone else danced and socialized.
The day felt like a movie, and I've found myself desperately wishing to relive it lately... I had heard of post-wedding blues, but I was never one to daydream about my wedding day (not even while we were engaged!) so I wasn't expecting to feel bummed now that's over. There were so many beautiful speeches at our wedding that I wish I could hear again, and countless magical moments with my love I wish I could repeat. Kyndl and I have begged the universe to send us back to our reception, the most fun we've ever had. Living across the country from our friends and family has always been a challenge, so being in a room with everyone at once was a dream come true. If we had a bit more room in the budget, we probably would've opted for a videographer.... though everyone tells you that you'll never watch the video as often as you think, and the memories are crystal clear in our hearts.
Rings: Andrea Bonelli Jewelry (mine) and Gemvara (his)
Hair & makeup: LeBliss Salon & Spa
Florist: Nanz & Kraft
Decorations: Hobby Lobby, At Home, and a whole lot of helping hands
We spent ~$350 on decorations and were able to sell everything we purchased after the wedding. Everything looked beautiful, and we were able to stay on budget!
The first layer was chocolate/vanilla/chocolate, the second layer was almond, and the third layer was red velvet, all with a cream cheese filling and a buttercream frosting. Heavenly.
Wedding planner: Debbie, from Weekend Wedding Warrior
The backbone of our wedding day. I'm the youngest of 3 girls, the last to get married, and we didn't think we would need a planner because if there's one thing my family can do, it's plan a party. But Debbie walked us through every little detail , down to the minute of the day, and made sure that everything we had planned came to fruition. I could not recommend Weekend Wedding Warrior more.