Category Archives: Wedding

Alexis and Jesse’s Wedding

This is a slightly embarrassing story, but I’ve got to tell it anyway…

The night before my childhood friend Alexis’ wedding, I was sharing a bed with my mom. In the middle of the night she swears that I, clearly as day, said: “I’ve always looked up to you, Alexis… And I still do!”

I’m not quite sure what I was dreaming about, but that is truly how I’ve always felt. Alexis is two years older than me and always set an example for how to be a great, genuine person. Although my family moved away when I was nine-years-old, I continue to count her as a friend and I couldn’t imagine missing her wedding.

Now onto the good stuff.

Before the wedding was set to start at 3 o’clock, my mom, sister and sister’s friend Dani, had some time to kill around town. My mom and I started with a three-mile run through the trails next to our old neighborhood.

After many legal battles, it was finally settled that the land cannot be bought for a subdivision. Instead, it will always be preserved for nature-lovers — like me!

(Although the run really made me miss having the trails so close!)

After showering, my mom met a friend for coffee while the girls and I did some last-minute shopping — which was when I finally got the dress I wore to the wedding!

When my mom was done with coffee, we all headed over to the newly opened Bungalow 47, an adorable shop run by Alexis’ mom.

We gawked around for a while at the handmade, unique gifts — and ultimately bought a few things for ourselves.

Then we rushed back to our friends’ house with just enough time to go back to the trails and take some pictures.

Goofiness ensued.

Finally, it was back to the house for an outfit change and makeup-reapplication. Then, out the door for the wedding!

The 3 o’clock ceremony was set to take place at a nearby nature center. Despite the fact it had rained for the three days leading up to it all, they went forth with plans to have the ceremony outdoors.

Thankfully, the skies had cleared up and the weather was perfectly crisp.

Upon arriving, we ran into Alexis’ mom who told us to go say “hi” to the girls before the ceremony.

I nearly started crying when I saw how beautiful Alexis looked, but I was able to keep it together… Until the ceremony when the waterworks began.

It was just all so sweet and touching.

After going through the receiving line, the guests shuffled over to a tent for appetizers and games while the wedding party took pictures.

From old-fashioned bottled sodas to antique decorations there were so many, incredible touches.

After snacks, we had some fun while waiting for the speeches.

We even got “professional” photo-booth pictures as wedding favors.

Before long, all the guests were gathered back together to hear toasts and head into a large, two-story barn for the official reception.

There, I continued to be blown away by all the details. I shouldn’t have been too surprised, though: Her family is incredibly crafty.

Apparently they’re good bakers, too, because the cupcakes were made by her aunt!

The focal point was a set of big, letter-shaped lights — made by Alexis’ husband, Jesse!

Food was served, cupcakes were consumed and fun was definitely had. Unfortunately, I had an early flight the next morning and my mom, sister and friend were getting back on the road. So, we called it quits before too late — but not without recreating one of our classic family pictures.

Twenty-four hours, three magazines and two flights later, I am back home with Dan and Tracker. Even though it was a whirlwind trip, it was oh-so worth it.

Congratulations, Jesse and Alexis!


Getting married young: Rebelling against society?

I recently received a question by a reader asking why Dan and I decided to get married young, especially considering that we aren’t done with school yet.

To answer that question, there is a short answer: Love.

But, there was a lot more that went into our decision. So, here’s the long story…

Dan is 21, which made him five years younger than the median age at first marriage for men in the state of Kansas and seven years younger than the national median. I am 20, which made me five years younger than the median age at first marriage for women in the state of Kansas and six years younger than the national median. Basically, we got married at significantly younger ages than most people.

Apparently, Dan and I also got married at younger ages than most people think other people should get married.

I know this because common responses to our engagement announcement included: Why don’t you finish school first? Why don’t you start a career first? Why don’t you do fill-in-the-blank first?

I also got all the statistics about how getting married young leads to divorce. But, it’s important to consider the source… In reality, getting married at age 16 or 17 is more likely to lead to divorce. However, according to research by the University of Texas and Penn State University, marriages that begin after age 20 are not nearly as likely to end in divorce as is widely believed.

And — brace yourself — there are even benefits to getting married young.

In an opinion piece for the Washington Post, author Mark Regnerus put it pretty well when he said, “We learn marriage, just as we learn language, and to the teachable, some lessons just come easier earlier in life.”

Because Dan and I are young, neither of us have very firmly set habits and routines. For example, I don’t pitch crazy fits if he puts the mugs in the wrong cabinet and he doesn’t freak out if I fold t-shirts wrong. We are growing and learning together.

In terms of maturity, I believe the adage that “age is more than a number.” There are some 35-year-olds who would be ill-equipped for marriage. We just happen to be 20- and 21-year-olds who are willing to take on the challenge that is marriage.

Not to say that we are better or worse than anyone, we just know ourselves and we have had the chance to be individuals.

Additionally, we’ve been through a lot together and we know what we want out of the future. We also know we don’t want the “freedom” to explore other relationships. We’ve been there already and it’s not half as good as what we have going on.

However, I actually think that author Bella DePaulo, who writes about the science of being single, is right in one aspect: “Most single people are already happy, and getting married typically does not change that.”

Dan and I were happy on our own. We are even happier together. Most importantly, we love making each other happy.

As for the fact that we are both in school, we perceive that as a benefit right now. We are on the same page in terms of going to school, having homework and cheering for the teams. If we had waited for me to graduate next year, he would still be in school working on his pharmacy degree. I would also be transitioning to a job, which would add another layer of stress.

Naturally, the downside is that we don’t have piles of money, but we do have the self-discipline and the ability to make it through.

Personally, I think many people have a large stigma against getting married young for reasons they cannot even identify. Maybe they think it’s important to make a statement against the MRS degree. Maybe they’ve seen marriages end in divorce and are just scared. Maybe they are waiting for some brilliant epiphany to come along later and tell them “the time is right.”

To be completely honest, I’ve been there. I used to subconsciously judge people who got married young and I probably would have judged the version of me that I now see.

But, when Dan and I talked about getting married, none of these things were important. All that mattered was — and will always be — that I get to spend my life with Dan.

From my point of view, getting married young just means more years of love.

Question: What do you think?

Wedding: The Details

The saying goes that, “The devil is in the details.” But, when it came to planning the wedding, the details were really my favorite. It was through the small details that Dan and I were able to express our individuality and make the wedding feel even more personal.

Here’s a look back at some of the little flourishes that really made the day special.

The Notes

Leading up to the wedding day, I set a few moments aside to write notes to my parents and to Dan. Before the ceremony, I hand-delivered the notes to my parents, telling them how much I loved them and how blessed I felt.

Because I didn’t want to see Dan before the ceremony, I had someone else bring the note to him. Afterward, he said it helped calm him.

The Vows

Dan and I agreed that we wanted to say traditional vows, but we also wanted to integrate our own words into the ceremony. We were able to work it out with the pastor so that Dan and I said both personal and traditional vows.

To me, it was one of the most touching moments of the ceremony. We were able to look into each others’ eyes and speak to each others’ hearts. I only cried a little…

The Flowers

What started as a simple decision to use sunflowers as the flowers for the wedding turned into a whole theme. Not only are they the state flowers of Kansas, but they are also a bit non-traditional and rustic. It just seemed fitting!

For my bouquet, the sunflowers were complemented by sprigs of lavender and some natural grasses. My florist also stuck a cute little pin inside one of the sunflowers for me to keep. It was really cute, but I got so caught up in everything that I forgot to take it out before throwing the bouquet.

The Guestbook

To go along with the sunflower theme, my sister and I created a large “sunflower” to serve as the guestbook. I asked two of my cousins to serve as the guestbook attendants, so they helped instruct people on how to write on the “petals” and then stick them back in.

Now, it serves as decoration inside our house rather than a forgotten memory at the bottom of a box.

The Sunflower Seed Toss

Dan’s mom was wonderful enough to sew 150 little bags for us to fill with sunflower seeds. Then, after the ceremony, my bridesmaids handed the bags out to guests. As Dan and I exited the church, everyone opened the bags and tossed the sunflower seeds at us.

The Bridesmaids’ Gifts

My bridesmaids were so truly incredible throughout the whole engagement that it was hard to find them befitting gifts. I decided to go with the moderately easy option of necklaces, but I made them a little more personalized with a pearl and peace sign charm.

They all wore the necklaces and matching pearl earrings for the ceremony. The hippy in me loved integrating peace signs, but, more importantly, I think the girls really liked them.

The Granola Bar

Most of my friends and family know that I kind of enjoy baking, but they don’t often get to enjoy the results. That’s why I decided to make granola for the wedding favors. As per my sister’s suggestion, we turned it into a whole “granola bar” at the reception. Guests were able to choose their granola type and add in various nuts, chocolate chips and dried fruits.

Making dozens of batches of granola in the days leading up to the wedding put me in a bit of a frenzy. However, the guests seemed to love it!

The Centerpieces

Dan and I love to travel and explore. To tie that in, I made little canvases with pictures of us in different cities. On the back of the canvases were brief descriptions of our visits to the towns. These also served to identify which tables people were assigned to sit at.

Once the reception got going, people ended up passing the canvases around to check out the different stories.

Spending time on the little details was tedious at times, but it certainly paid off in the end!

Question: What kind of fun details have you seen at different weddings?


Sue! Congrats!

Email your address to and we’ll get those snacks headed your way!

Wedding: Reception

When the ceremony was over, the sunflower seeds were thrown and the formal picture were taken, it was time to head back to Lawrence and get the party started at Maceli’s Banquet Hall.

Because Dan and I took our pictures after the ceremony, we didn’t want the guests to get bored waiting at the reception. So, we invited them all over to the reception site for drinks, appetizers and some fun with photo frames.

Before too long, Dan and I made our grand entrance.

Right away, we took our seats at the head table and got the dinner started.

When everyone was through the buffet line, my dad got the speeches started. Unfortunately, the microphone cut out a bit. But, considering that was the only real “problem” of the evening, it was no big deal. Plus, my dad is a seasoned pro at public speeches.

My favorite line from his speech was, “To us, it’s not as if we are losing a daughter. It’s as if we’re gaining a… pharmaceutical expert. Isn’t that what every family needs?”

Then, Dan’s best man, Brock, gave his toast.

Finally, my sister stood up and gave her much-anticipated speech. She is a champion in high school speech tournaments and is incredibly eloquent. She also said that my mom was in tears listening to her practice…

Once she began speaking, I could understand why my mom was so touched. Marian’s speech was beautiful, funny and kind.

It was truly a highlight of the evening.

Another highlight came when Dan and I cut into the cake. I loved the selections of flavors, but my favorite was definitely the white chocolate + raspberry flavor of the actual cake.

(Sadly, I only got a few bites at the wedding. But there were leftovers when we returned from the honeymoon!)

Next, Dan and I popped open some bubbly.

Leading up to it, we joked about being careful so the cork didn’t hit anyone. Neither of us had ever opened champagne, so I was genuinely worried. That explains this look of sheer terror that our photographer captured when the cork shot out…

Fortunately, the cork just ricocheted off the ceiling. Crisis averted.

Another special moment came when Dan and I took the dance floor for “Keeper of the Stars” by Tracy Bird.

It was no accident me finding you
Someone had a hand in it
Long before we ever knew
Now I just can’t believe you’re in my life
Heaven’s smilin’ down on me
As I look at you tonight..

Then, Dan allowed my dad to step in for a dance of “My Girl.” Growing up, I made my dad play The Temptations CD over and over. After a while, he grew tired of the songs. Yet, “My Girl” has always remained one of our favorites.

He caught me off guard by spinning me a few times, but it was really fun.

The final dance before all the guests were invited to hit the floor was for Dan and his mom to “I Hope You Dance.”

I felt so proud standing off to the side and watching them. Not only did I marry a wonderful man, but I married into a wonderful family.

Then it was party-at-the-party time!

One of my main goals for the night was to get people out on the dance floor and having fun. I’d say that the mission was definitely accomplished. Dan and I actually stayed later than we planned because we were having so much fun!

Occasionally, we took a few breaks to catch our breaths and talk with friends and family.

There was also more frame fun had by all…

Finally, it was time for me to toss my bouquet to the single ladies. There was quite a group, so the competition was fierce.

Somehow my youngest cousin managed to catch it!

Now, if the superstition is really true then my whole family is in for a crazy ride. (No “15 and Married,” Amy!)

Eventually, the party began to die down and Dan and I decided to make our exit. The reception was as incredible as I could have imagined, but we had a week of honeymooning ahead of us and had to get our “rest.”


Wedding: Special Moments

Even if the florist showed up with daisies instead of sunflowers…

Even if the cake tipped over and smashed on the floor…

Even if the audio went out on the first dance…

Everything would have still been incredible on my wedding day, because I got to marry Dan.

Although I was determined not to see Dan before the ceremony, it didn’t mean that we couldn’t communicate. On the morning leading up to the wedding, we exchanged a few texts. Even though the brief messages are usually hard to interpret — does that mean happy or sarcastic? — I think we both picked up on the excitement in each other’s words.

The most touching moment, however, came just about one hour before the ceremony. We decided we wanted to do a “behind the door” picture, which I first caught wind of from Julie’s blog. The basic premise was that we would stand on opposite sides of a door, totally hidden from each other’s sight. But, we would get to grasp hands and talk for a few moments.

Immediately upon touching hands, my racing heart began to calm. I couldn’t see him or kiss him, but I could feel in his touch and hear in his words that he was ready and excited.

Another special moment came just after the ceremony, when we went back to the library to share a few minutes alone.

By that time, the ceremony was over and we were both on adrenaline highs. I forget what we said, other than, “We’re married!” But, I do remember the connection I felt when looking into his eyes and knowing he was my husband.

After that, we signed the marriage license, made our official exit and looped back around the church for formal pictures with family and the bridal party. Once those shot all wrapped up, it was just Dan and me again.

By that time of the day, it was easily 104 degrees, but we weren’t in any rush. It was just nice to spend a few minutes together, taking pictures with our wonderful photographer.

And you can bet those smiles were all natural!

Looking back, I remember how cool it was to know that even though we were married, we were still the same people. I could count on always waking up with him by my side and having happy, fun days.

Eventually, we wrapped the pictures up, bustled my dress and drove on over to Lawrence to get the reception started. During the 20 minute drive, Dan and I pumped up the music and had our own little pre-dance party. It was the perfect way to jumpstart the rest of the perfect night…


First wedding

Today, I had the pleasure of going to my first wedding! You know, other than my own.

The lovely, lovely bride was my friend Rebecca, who I studied abroad with in Germany last summer. We were so attached at the hip that for the “awards” at the end of the term, our awards were something to the nature of “being the same person.”

But, don’t let that dampen your impression of Rebecca. She is seriously a sweetheart and so in love with her new husband. I remember one time that she and I basically ran around Berlin trying to find an internet cafe so we could shoot off messages to our boyfriends — who have since become our husbands!

The cutest thing about Rebecca and her husband, Cameron, is that they started dating way back in junior high. They are just perfect together and both very deserving of that love.

For those reasons, it was my honor to attend their wedding.

The ceremony was at a large church in town. All the space was necessary, considering that both Cameron and Rebecca grew up in Lawrence and had a lot of family and friends in attendance.

To start off the ceremony, Cameron ushered all four sets of his and Rebecca’s grandparents in. It was a sweet moment, but I especially loved trying to read Cameron’s face. I could tell he was ready for the real show!

Before too long, Cameron and the groomsmen assembled up front. Then, the bridesmaids began their walk. Finally, the doors shut and, in a dramatic moment, opened back up to reveal Rebecca and her father. I wanted to try to see Cameron’s reaction, but I couldn’t look away from Rebecca. So stunning!

The rest of the ceremony flowed really well. They are both heavily involved in the church’s youth group, so the pastor had a lot of personal, complimentary things to say about them. I also loved seeing the cute glances that Rebecca and Cameron kept shooting each other.

As per the program, the ceremony finished with the benediction and pronouncement of the newly married couple. Then it was time to move the party across town!

The first thing I noticed upon arriving at the reception was the amazingly decorated cake.

Rebecca’s theme for everything from the invitations to the flower girls’ hair pieces was blue butterflies, so the cake was very fitting. As I later learned, it was also pretty delicious.

The bridal party stayed at the church to do pictures after the ceremony, but they made it to the reception in time for a choreographed entrance dance and the start of dinner, which was actually prepared by friends and family of the couple.

Then, the couple got on the floor for the first dance.

It was such a fun day and a joy to share with the both of them. Even though, I must say, I preferred going first in the buffet line at my own wedding.

Questions: What do you like about being a wedding attendee? How many weddings would you estimate that you’ve been to?

Wedding: The Ceremony

Throughout our engagement, Dan and I spent a lot of time reflecting on what marriage meant to us. Still, the concept always seemed vaguely distant and I never got exceedingly emotional.

That was until 4 o’clock on July 16, 2011, when all the buildup, anticipation and excitement finally culminated. The wedding coordinator had just come into the room and told us it was time for the ceremony to begin. There was no more distance or vagueness to marriage. The time was now and I felt a sudden rush of emotion. It was all so real…

The church was filled with real people.

Our mothers had really been seated.

The bridesmaids had really walked down the aisle.

Then, the doors closed and it was really just my dad and me.

The floodgates opened, but the tears weren’t because of anxiety. They were tears of happiness from a girl who never thought she’d find love, let alone have it returned. They were tears of pride from the privilege of joining my life with that of such an amazing man. They were tears of hope and dreams and excitement for a life shared with my best friend. They were tears of real joy.

The organ began to chime and my cousins, who served as ushers, began their count to seven. I knew that when the seventh chime rang, they would open the doors and I would finally see Dan.

As I tried to regain my composure, my dad whispered to me, “Emily, be happy and keep focused. What are we doing here?”

“I don’t know about you,” I replied. “But I’m getting married.”

With that, the seventh chime sounded, the doors opened and I looked down the aisle to the most comforting sight in the world.

It was all real and it was all wonderful.

After a slow walk, filled with many blurred faces and one very clear face at the alter, I made it to the end of the aisle.

As I stood next to my dad, the pastor said a few words. Yet, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Dan.

“I love you,” I mouthed.

“I love you,” he mouthed back.

Then, my dad formally gave me away — with a quick joke thrown in there — and took his seat next to my mom…

Then, it was just Dan and me at the altar.

Our pastor, who we met with for counseling sessions throughout the engagement, was so genuine and kind in his words. He made the ceremony about Dan and me, but also kept it focused on what marriage means in God’s eyes. In doing so, he really captured the magnanimity of our vows while also keeping it lighthearted.

After the sermon, Dan and I took out the note cards we had prepared and said our vows to each other. Dan went first and as he spoke of my eyes and the night we first met, I couldn’t help but tear up again.

By the time for me to say the vows I had prepared, keeping a straight face was a lost cause.

Yet, Dan’s loving gaze provided me with the calm to make it through. Then, we joined hands and recited our formal vows.

“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live.”

After the vows, Dan accepted the rings from his best man.

Then he slid the ring on my finger and I clumsily tried slide one on his…

With that, we were officially wed and able to hear the words we’d been waiting all day to hear…

“You may kiss the bride!”

As we turned to walk down the aisle, I felt another incredible wave of emotion sweep over me. It was real. We were — we are — really husband and wife.

Once we made it down the aisle, we stepped into the church’s library and had a few moments to ourselves. I think we both said something like, “We did it!”

There were, of course, a few extra kisses.

Shortly, the pastor, the best man and maid of honor came into the room and we signed the marriage certificate. Then, we moved quickly to make our exit. Guests had already congregated out front and we didn’t want to keep them waiting long with a 115 degree heat index!

As we exited, our friends and family tossed sunflower seeds. Dan and I continued picking stray seeds from our hair and clothes for the rest of the night, but it was really fun.

Then, it was down to Dan’s old truck for our getaway.

His dad had decorated the whole thing with balloons and window paint.

Naturally, there were also cans tied to the bumper. So, noisily we went away from our ceremony and on to our reception!