It’s been one year since I had the most amazing, romantic, joyful, beautiful day of my entire life. I wanted to remember every detail so I could come back to this years later and feel all the feelings again. I got most of this written shortly after the wedding but stopped some time during the reception portion and had to come back to it a year later to finish fleshing out the story of the best party we’ll ever throw.
Here’s what I remember:
I remember that the process of getting ready had me a little bit stressed but that also I had this whole sense the entire day that everything was going to be fine and that I literally had nothing to worry about. I think part of that was because I was just so blissed out and excited for this day to finally be happening. But in a more tangible sense that was because I had Angela who literally would not have let anything truly go wrong. We were an absolute BROOD at the salon and I remember feeling a little uneasy about us doing our makeup there and using the mirror space to get ready without paying for it? But it didn’t seem to bother anyone and I did feel good about the fact that we brought them like 10 or so heads to fix up so probably they were happy to have us there.
Andie did my hair and everyone wore their (somewhat un-cute) matching oversized Wal-Mart men’s flannel shirts and I got to take pictures of all my bridesmaids primping in a row in the mirror and that made me happy.
We didn’t actually have the place to ourselves and I remember getting a dirty look from one woman when I sat down at the kiddie table with Angela to do my makeup and she I guess was offended because her purse was sitting on that table and therefore she felt it was her personal space. It didn’t bother me though because Angela was sassy and laughed at her and made me feel at ease and I spent the next full hour getting my face turned into this beautiful thing that I actually liked!
We spent some time fretting over what we would do with the time between the salon and getting to the venue but by the time everyone was ready there really wasn’t a huge gap so that was perfect. My car did end up going through the McDonald’s drive through to get me some chicken nuggets and then to Little Caesars for some pizza for everyone working hard setting everything up at the venue. When we got there, Angela went on in to make sure that the boys were all sequestered away somewhere so that I could come in and then gave us the all clear. We hauled lots of bags and stuff into the mansion in the freezing cold. It was like 17 degrees outside I think?
When I got inside, I was so blown away by how beautiful everything looked. The mansion’s Christmas decorations were so much more wonderful than they’d been when we’d visited in November. It looked perfect. The ceremony room took my breath away. The only things we added to that room were all the white garden chairs and potted poinsettias lining the aisle and it was absolutely stunning. The reception tables looked incredible with the tall and short floral centerpieces. I remember being a little underwhelmed by the globes, which looked somewhat cartoonish amidst all the other floral and greenery accents, but I liked that they were there. The sweetheart table was my absolute favorite, draped with a burgundy tablecloth and rose gold table runner then adorned with a fresh greenery garland and small floral piece. I couldn’t believe that this was MY wedding. It looked like a real mansion wedding and I felt so in awe and so grateful for everyone who had made it happen. It was so wild that in the days leading up to this, I had sorted everything into boxes with labels and numbers and sent pictures to my coordinator of how I wanted things set up and now it was all just done in front of me, without me having to ask or answer any questions or lift a finger and it looked so much better than I had ever envisioned. I was just so happy.
I guess I floated around for a little while doing this and that. I got out all my little pretty things for my photographer to take pictures of. My girls got into their gowns. Angela had us all do a toast. Then I went into the bathroom and I got into my dress. I put on my earrings and my necklace and my shoes. I came out and my sisters and mom helped me tie my belt on and loop all the buttons down the back while the photographer took pictures. There are lots of shots of us laughing and they are all very genuine (and not very flattering).
Once I was fully ready, we were in picture taking mode for a while. Me with family, me with the bridal party, me and Alex’s around-the-corner shots, and my bridal portraits. My photographer seemed to love my dress when we got outside, she kept having me twirl and let the wind catch it and she kept saying it was the best dress she’d ever seen (which I’m sure she says every time but I definitely believed her).
After pictures were done, the coordinator grabbed the girls and we did a quick ceremony run-through with music cues and timing to make sure everyone knew what was going on. I felt nervous that it wasn’t going to do any good because I was having trouble focusing on the plans being made, but everyone did great.
As it got closer to go-time, I got hidden away in a really dark room off the ballroom where the only person I could see was my dad. I remember feeling like there was a lot of build up to that moment, but I didn’t feel nervous. I had always been sure I would be out-of-my-mind nervous in that moment. Scared to have everyone look at me and whatnot. But as I watched my dad watch for his cue, I felt excited and just so so happy. My dad looked my way and I came out of hiding and took his arm. I could hear the music change to Sufjan Stevens’ “The Dress Looks Nice on You” and I took my place in the doorway. As we entered, I initially forgot to look at Alex! I so wanted to see his face right as I came in but I think I looked around the room a bit before making eye contact. When I did though, it was so perfect. He was smiling in the best way I’d ever seen. I felt like my smile couldn’t get any bigger.
My dad kissed my cheek and I took Alex’s hands and I felt so giddy and full of joy. We hadn’t been sure if we would hold hands during the ceremony or what we would do, but when it came time, we just held on to each other from start to finish. The smiles never left our faces. Mason said the most wonderful things. Hannah read Desiderata (and I later learned did so after throwing up most of the day!) and Griffin read an excerpt from The Alchemist. The vows we made to each other were the same but we came up with them ourselves and they were so perfectly fitting for us. I’ve had it reported to me that Bridget cried during the ceremony!
The ceremony went by so fast and I wished I could bottle it up and go back to those moments anytime I wanted. The moments where we promise to love each other the best and the most in front of all the people who love us. It was such a precious thing to experience. Mason told Alex to kiss me and he did the hands-on-my-face kind and it was so good!
Then we walked out to Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing” and we definitely felt that it was true.
We held back with family and the wedding party for more pictures which I think took a while. Everyone had a different method for trying to get Amelia to look at the camera and I found it very funny and not at all taxing or frustrating like maybe I would have under normal circumstances. I felt so close to everyone there. I felt and meant every hug I gave and received.
After pictures, Alex and I were escorted into the kitchen area where we were hidden away while the rest of the guests were eating. We asked to have chicken and waffles brought in to us but only waffles ended up making it to us and we aren’t sure if that was a mistake or because our wedding coordinator was vegan, but it didn’t bother us much. While we were back there just basking in our wedded bliss, I got a text from our landlord reminding us to drip our faucets that night since it was freezing. We took our first ever married selfie and sent it back to him saying “Faucets are dripping! We are married!” and we thought that was a hoot.
When it was finally time for us to come in, (to Beyonce’s “Love on Top”), I felt a RUSH of emotions and I finally saw all of the guests really for the first time. I noticed Kyle and Amanda and Amy and Belinda and Jessie and Dave and Shanelle and just felt so overwhelmed by how much love I have in my life! We went up to the sweetheart table and listened to speeches. Josh started things off with a bang—he is very much cut out for the role of best man and played the part wonderfully. He told an EW Marland joke that I guess maybe didn’t land with the crowd but that I truly appreciated. He picked on Alex and made Star Wars references and did just a perfect job.
Then Angela got up to the mic and scared me as she started to read a note I’d written her in junior high before revealing that was just a tease and giving a truly wonderful, heartfelt, incredible speech. She brought me to tears and did such a perfect job.
Bridget’s speech was shorter, less rehearsed, but every bit as wonderful and just exactly her. She told me that I will always be her best friend and that moved me very deeply.
The rest of the reception was a whirlwind of joy and wine and dancing. Alex and I danced our first dance to another Sufjan jam, “Christmas in the Room.” I danced with my dad to Jimmy Buffet’s “Little Miss Magic” which I thought would make me weepy but that just made me feel so happy and comfortable saying on his shoulder. Alex danced with his mom to “A Mother’s Song” which I think she had picked out and seemed to really love.
We ate delicious lemon cake with cream cheese frosting and did not smear it on each other’s faces.
We toasted with cheap champagne. As the music played on, Alex made the rounds saying hello to lots of his family from out of town and I took to the dance floor with my sisters and best girl friends. I got to swing dance with Griffin which was incredible in my giant dress. I also joined our ring bearer (Alex’s cousin’s 5 year old son) on the dancle floor at the behest of someone looking for a cute photo of him I’m sure, and we danced very briefly before he told me “sorry, I think I’m getting a little tired” and I said that was perfectly fine and gave him a hug and left the dancefloor. I hadn’t been gone five seconds when the little guy burst back into the middle of the dance floor to continue his solo act. I was in tears from laughing at the hilarity of being a jilted bride in this manner.
A few minutes later my dad requested “The Day the Music Died (American Pie)” from the DJ and when it came on my family assimilated and stood side by side, the six of us just belting out the lyrics to the first couple verses. Around the three minute mark I realized that this song had about a hundred more verses to go and that we were super monopolizing the dance floor with our family karaoke sesh, so I sent Mason to discreetly tell the DJ to fade us out ASAP. It’s one of the dearest memories of my whole life at this point. I could see the joy and pride on my dad’s face as we sang and swayed together. It was such a wonderful moment.
The party was such a great success. I had worried throughout the planning process because I desperately wanted us to have a dancefloor that got utilized but I wasn’t sure that Alex and I were the type of people who could throw a true ~party~. But all that worry was for nothing because people danced and drank and really celebrated the whole night and honestly I don’t think that part could have gone better!
At some point during the festivities out photographer stole us away and took us outside onto the mansion’s outer patio area for some couple portraits. By this point it was pitch dark outside and possibly in the single digits temperature wise. We weren’t phased in the slightest. I had my faux fur wrap around my shoulders but honestly didn’t even need it. Joy and love were literally radiating from us and keeping us warm. We held hands and kissed and smiled for the camera but every pose fit our genuine emotions and just felt so special and real.
Eventually it came time for us to close down the party. We did a “fake exit” for photos but then actually did end up leaving and driving to McDonald’s really quick! The line was moving too slowly though and we truly wanted to help clean up so we went back without any fries. Everyone was so quick and helpful at boxing everything back up and getting things cleaned up. Our photographer and DJ and coordinator were there for the whole process lending a hand too. We helped get everything loaded up and hugged everyone again. Alex and I were the last to leave the mansion because after seeing everyone else off we went back in to give the place another once over and the security guard offered us a private ghost tour! We couldn’t pass that up! We followed him throughout the mansion listening to stories of where weird sounds and hauntings had been reported and had a blast. We finally pulled away from our venue and headed back to McDonalds… this time we were successful but the guy at the window did say “hey weren’t you guys here earlier?” which we did confirm but felt a bit salty about because he was more interested in why we ditched the drive-thru line than in congratulating the couple still in their wedding get-ups!
We got to the casino hotel and Alex dropped me off at the front door. When I walked into the reception area (which is also the casino floor) I was applauded! Several people noticed a bride coming in and dropped what they were doing at their slot machines to clap for me as I came in and I laughed so much and felt truly special. It was a silly, wonderful, beautiful ending to the most beautiful day of my entire life.