Our Wedding: Ceremony & Reception

Hi! Below is a recap of our ceremony and reception. In case you missed it, you can read about getting ready and first looks here. As I mentioned yesterday, this post is detail heavy - largely for my own memory and for those who love wedding stories. Later this week, I will share more utilitarian posts, such as our vendors and some advice :) Stay tuned!

My dad and I stood outside the Hydrangea Garden at Callanwolde as the violinist and guitarist began to play music that indicated the ceremony was starting. I expected to feel nervous but instead felt a calm wash over me as I watched my stunning bridesmaids walk down the aisle. I encouraged Della, my littlest niece, as she prepared to walk - telling her she was a mini bride. 

All five of my nephews were ring bearers, but only four of them were old enough to walk. I later found out that, right before heading down the aisle, my nephew, Diego, put a stick in his mouth. Just like the way Della refused to pose during photos - this makes my entire being smile. I love that my family can look back at the pictures someday and laugh, saying oh my gosh! I forgot Diego had a stick in his mouth! I think it will bring us joy for years to come.

As I walked arm-in-arm with my dad toward Chris and saw the faces of our dearest loved ones, I felt fully enveloped in their love. The bright green trees and flowers around us made the space feel private - like a secret garden in the city, just for us. 

The moment felt sacred as the violinist and guitarist completed playing and my brother-in-law, Ryan, began to speak. I felt the Lord's presence there, reminding me that we were committing to forever, eternity. It felt much bigger than us. I knew, in that moment, that we were being knit together and I'd never forget the magnitude of it as it washed over me. 

I gave my dad the biggest hug ever when Ryan asked him to give me a way. There is something that always gets me - no matter whose wedding it is - when the father has to sit down. I was once in a wedding where, when the minister asked who would give the bride away, the father replied: do I have to?

That sentiment has stuck with me at every wedding since that day, wondering if most dads want to ask that question in response. Do I still have a choice? The deal isn't done yet, you know...

One of my favorite things we did during the ceremony was passing our rings around while Ryan spoke, before the vows. We asked each guest to hold the rings and pray over them for a moment. Even today, sometimes I look at my band and tears well up in my eyes at the thought of each one of our guests touching them, praying for us, praying for our future and our marriage. Knowing they have prayed for us reminds me that they believe in us - that they believe in marriage.

I'd be lying if I said I remember a lot of the words spoken during our ceremony. I listened carefully, but felt like I was floating the entire time. I felt like I was on this cloud, watching everyone I love watch us and kept thinking: Holy cow, I have been waiting for this moment for my entire life. This is it! 

Everyone kept telling us how amazing the words Ryan spoke were - complimenting his eloquence, the magnitude. I felt so fortunate to have someone we both love and trust deeply marry us. 

I could barely contain my excitement as I held Chris' hands to exchange our vows. Right before we walked down the aisle, my bridesmaid, Jamie, told us to maintain eye contact during the vows. I'm so glad we listened - it would have been easy to look at Ryan or the audience. I felt the depth of what we were doing as we peered into one another's eyes - our souls connecting. 

As we recessed, my sister, Ashley, sang "Here Comes the Sun," which is what my parents recessed to at their wedding, as well as both of my sisters. It's a song that stirs a lot of emotion in me no matter what the setting and hearing her beautiful voice sing us out was magical.

After the ceremony, Chris and I dismissed each guest one by one to the cocktail hour. We hugged them and thanked them for attending and it felt surreal to have so many beautiful, familiar faces in one garden - just for us. 

While our guests went to cocktail hour, Chris and I had a 10-minute mini date. This was also one of my favorite things we did. It allowed us to eat (important!) and also gave us 10 minutes alone to say, pretty much exclusively, oh my gosh we are married! over and over. It was the happiest date of my life and gave us a few minutes to slow down again, regroup. I kept saying hi, how are you doing, HUSBAND?

From there, we went to our reception. I'll never forget the joy I felt as we walked into the big, white space and our friends and family stood and clapped for us. We danced to "For Once in my Life" by Stevie Wonder, which our band played. After that, we each danced with our parents, then sat down for toasts.

My dad welcomed everyone so eloquently and Ryan blessed the meal.  My sisters and Chris' best man, Matt, spoke beautifully as they showered us with love. Chris had cried some throughout the day, but this was when he really began to get emotional. I loved seeing the way he was moved by their words. 

Once the dancing started, the reception felt like a complete blink. We said hi to our guests, we cut the cake, we ate froyo (!) with rainbow sprinkles (!!). It was so happy. Once Chris and I hit the dance floor, we never left.

At one point during the dancing, I stepped back and looked at everyone singing and smiling and waving the tambourines and selfie sticks we'd given out and I felt completely overwhelmed, in the best way. I remember thinking: all of these smiling faces are just for us! It was incredible. 

When our wedding planner, Erin, came to tell us it was time to go, I was absolutely shocked. I thought we had hours ahead of us! She ushered our guests out for a sparkler getaway as I said goodbye to my parents.

I hugged them and thanked them, then grabbed Chris' hand and ran through the crowd. We jumped into an old Wrangler and sped away, waving goodbye to the beautiful, loving faces behind us. 

The whole thing was pure magic and I couldn't be more grateful to everyone who made it so special. It was the best day of my life and I was so honored to have such loving people by our sides.

So that's our wedding day :) Stay tuned for a vendor recap Friday! 

All photos by the amazing and beautiful Natalie Puls.