I figure it's high time that I chronicled the events of my wedding day, and I have some spare time on my hands, so I may as well bite the figurative bullet and do it. Fact is, it's so much more pleasant to reminisce than to try to craft a meaningful narrative from my memories... but I know that I'm the kind of gal that needs some solid documentation to refer to in future times.

When my hard drive crashed recently, I lost a few recent photos and things that I hadn't yet backed up, but my greatest loss was the programs I had bought, such as iPhoto, GarageBand, Pages, Keynote, etc. I'm sure I still have the disks around somewhere, but they're hidden amongst my belongings that are now scattered to kingdom come from the move, which is frustrating. Fortunately, I uploaded all of the wedding and honeymoon photos to Facebook, in addition to having all of the wedding photos on a thumb drive. Whew!

Actually, I wrote up a summary of the day over on a bridal site that I frequent, so I'm just going to copy and paste that sucker, with the appropriate pictures interspersed. So much easier... and if I think of anything else, I'll just insert it in the appropriate place in the timeline. I'm a genius!

Without further ado...

*Long Post Warning and LOTS of pictures!*

"Well, I did it! Technically we did it, but I'm going to bask in the light of my accomplishment a little here, since there was a point during the rehearsal when I realized that holycrap holycrap holycrap we're actually going to get married to each other forever and ever! for realsies!, and I was not actually sure that I could go through with the wedding. (See picture for hilarious facial interpretation of internal feelings.)
This is the point during the rehearsal when I started getting nauseous and freaking out and wanting to call the whole thing off, or at least just elope. It's not that I didn't want to marry him, I was just fearful that getting married would ruin our relationship. Plus, I mean, a wedding is a Big Deal and a huge Life Change (for most), and I tend to panic in the face of such things.
However, I got over myself, and you know what? Our wedding was totally badass. I loved it. On the wedding day, I had no panic, no fears, no doubts, no hesitancies... Nothing but assurance within that I was making a damn fine choice and that I was going to be very happy.
The wedding that I spent six months crafting and envisioning sort of went to hell in a handbasket in  a few regards (what wedding doesn't?!), but the wedding that came out of it was even better than I could have imagined. To begin with, our venue for both the ceremony and the reception was a lovely little out of the way section of a local park that is surrounded by trees and flowers. It's called The Hummingbird Garden, because in spring it attracts hummingbirds by the droves. (Hummingbirds are also my favorite bird, and a very personal and spiritual sign of good luck for me, so seeing a bunch of hummingbirds whizzing about and hearing them chirp their happy little messages soothed me in an indescribable way.) I was hoping for cool weather, as a heat wave had hit us, and the projected temps for that day were the low 90's. Ugh. I felt sorry for the folks who had come from, well, anywhere else, as they are NOT used to these kinds of temperatures! It turned out to be very windy instead, and while that really threw a monkey wrench into some of our decorating plans it kept us all cool and comfortable. *Whew!* That was especially a concern as there was no shade to seat the guests in for the ceremony or reception. Several people showed up in the early morning to help us decorate and set up tables and chairs, and they did a fantastic job. (Side note: I got sunburnt that morning while "helping" to decorate the park! So all of the work that I'd done to get rid of my funny spaghetti-strap tan lines was for naught... and it totally didn't matter.) My husband and his brother did great work stringing long strands of beads through the branches of the paloverde tree we were to stand in front of, and even though they did it WAY differently than I had been imagining, it looked so much better their way; very romantic and fairytale-esque.
Fun fact: I've had this idea in my head for many, many years that I'd like to get married when the paloverdes are blooming. (I've also had the idea for a long time that I would marry outdoors.) To my disappointment, it didn't appear that the paloverdes would bloom in time for my wedding. However, two days before the wedding, every tree in town burst into riotous yellow bloom! So I did, indeed, get to be married while the paloverdes were blooming. That was really special to me. (See all the little yellow flowers?) By the way, for those who don't know, "paloverde" literally means "green tree" in Spanish. Can you hazard a guess as to why? :)
One thing I learned in force from the days leading up to the wedding, and the day of the wedding itself, was how to receive from others. I'm a "doer", and a giver. I like to help, and I especially like to do it myself if at all possible. I hate asking for help, because I have this terrible fear of imposing upon others, bolstered by large and unhealthy doses of guilt for stupid stuff. However, the stress of the impending nuptials really ignited my chronic illnesses the week before the wedding, and I was very sick and in a great deal of pain most of the time. My friends and family knew this, and they refused to let me do pretty much anything the entire time they were there. For instance, a friend of mine came over before my guests came into town and cleaned the apartment for me. When my guests got to town, they took over the decorations, spending the entire morning setting up, decorating and guarding the site of our wedding, the assembly of favors, the baking and frosting of special allergy-friendly cupcakes, cleaning my bathroom(?!)... everything they could. And I had to learn how to receive this outpouring of love and care with gratitude. It was difficult. Very difficult. But it also marks that period of time as a very special and intimate time, because I don't think I've ever been so cared for by so many people. I felt so precious and valuable; it was incredible. And I also saw that, while some people may not have felt that I was making the best choice in marrying an atheist, they still loved and supported us as a couple because of who we are as individuals and their connections to us. It was very telling that there was little to no familial or friend drama during our engagement or during the time immediately before the wedding, with the exception of some well-meaning warnings from more religious friends, which I took as a sign of their love, support, and care for my well-being. I saw in a big way what a difference surrounding oneself with healthy friendships and relationships makes when it really comes down to it.
We all showed up at the park at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. (lol) to set up tables and chairs, decorate the ramada, and string beads from the tree that would serve as our backdrop. While I wasn't allowed to do much, I did end up doing a lot of shuttling and running around in my car. Some of the people that I was counting on showing up to help decorate were completely AWOL, but some people that I didn't expect to come help at all showed up and put in the bulk of the work, so it all evened out. As I mentioned before, my husband and his brother worked their magic on the paloverde tree with our long strands of beads, risking limb and life for beauty, because those things are loaded with some wicked thorns! My coordinator took care of everything, basically. I gave her the general idea that I had for the "look" of the scene, and she passed the vision on. Everyone kind of came together with their own artistic license, and it worked beautifully. There were some funny moments trying to deal with the stiff wind that was whipping through the park, and the men worked mightily to string up a bed sheet at one end of the ramada as a sunscreen for the cake later in the day. It kept coming loose, so one of the guys would climb back up the ladder, shout, "Twine me!", and go to work implementing another method of keeping the bed sheet tied to the rafters. It worked... eventually.
"Twine me!"
Since the only thing I was allowed to do was roll silverware up in napkins, I took off while my minions were still decorating the park in search of cute underwear to wear under my dress. It occurred to me that morning that I had nothing special and fancy to wear, and I wanted something different than the usual, so off to the mall I went. However, everything was closed but Wal-Mart, because it was Easter Sunday. I never knew that everything shuts down on Easter like it does on Christmas, but it is apparently so. I ended up grabbing several pairs of cute panties in different sizes, just in case, and... apparently my butt is huge, because none of them fit. Like, none of the 6 pairs. That was disappointing.
My mom, who was doing my hair and makeup, came over to our friend's house where us ladies were all getting ready, except that she was late, because that's my mom. She did a beautiful job with my hair and makeup, but because of her lateness and the length of time it took to get me ready, we ended up having to skip our pre-wedding portrait sessions that we had planned. Our photographers were very chill and continually reassured me that being late was no big deal. After all they wouldn't start without me. (Um, being late actually is a big deal. For me, anyway. And I SWORE that my wedding would start on time! Which it did ^_^) So we missed the picture session, but we got to the park with a half hour until the ceremony was supposed to start, so we had time for a first look (which was pretty cute!), and then we mingled with our guests who had already arrived. I suppose that this is a little unorthodox, as many people seemed surprised to see me wandering around in my wedding dress, but I didn't even think about it until later.
She's joking, really. It was a posed shot. Convincing though, no?
I had both of my parents walk me down the aisle, because while my step-dad has really stepped up to be a father to me when I had none, my mom has been my best friend my whole life, and raised me all by herself for most of my life. She and my step-dad only got married 6 years ago. I actually wore the very same dress she wore when she married him. My step-dad's mother was dying of cancer at the time, so to honor her my mom wore a necklace that my step-gramma gave her. When I married in my mother's dress, I wore a necklace made out of a kilt pin that my step-gramma had given to my mom, who then passed it on to me. We kind of made a little tradition there, with the dress and the jewelry from my step-gramma, which I thought was very neat.
When we got to the head of the aisle, my parents handed me off to my groom, and I picked up my walking stick from the officiant, which I had decorated that very afternoon while getting my hair and makeup done. It's the one C bought for me the weekend before at the Renaissance Festival (so I wouldn't have to use my walker as much). I had been hoping to do the deed without any walking aides at all, but I realized the morning of the wedding that I would definitely need some support up there, as well as help walking. I was already dealing with a minor flare, just due to the stress of the wedding and having an influx of people from out of town, but the day of the wedding I awoke in some pretty severe pain. My parents helped me walk down the aisle, and my stick helped me the rest of the time, plus I was downing the upper limits of my pain killers. The neat thing is that most people thought the stick was just for decoration and didn't realize that I actually needed it! That was cool.
The ceremony, which we wrote ourselves, was only about 15 minutes long, and it included a Wax Sealing Unity ceremony, instead of the unity candle or sand. (Our officiant was gaga over our ceremony, by the way. He forgot to do it, but he had wanted to print out copies of the ceremony and have them available at the reception for people to take home. He just so appreciated how meaningful and personal what we put together was, not to mention well-written... which I'll take the credit for. ^_^) I had printed out our vows and one of our readings on a piece of paper, and then we melted two colors of wax together at the bottom of the page and stamped it with our very own wax seal, the Celtic knot of eternity. I couldn't find an actual seal that I liked, so I bought a leatherworking stamp and C assembled a handle for it. During the ceremony there was a place where I maintained the whole time that I was going to read a poem, all the way through to the rehearsal. However, I surprised him by having my guitar handed to me and singing "God Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts. (The only people in on the surprise were a few people that I told, my friend who was in charge of the guitar, and our officiant.)
Twine me! Oh, I mean-- Ring me!
Actually, the order of things was this: song to C, the vows and ring exchange, the wax sealing ceremony, then the piece de resistance. C's best man/brother D was charged with guarding the wooden ring box with his life, which he did, and then handing both rings over at the appropriate time in the ceremony. In all actuality, he pulled the drawer from the box that held the rings and handed C the drawer.
After the pronunciation and the kiss, we scampered off to my husband's truck for a few minutes to ourselves, where quilts and pillows were set up in the bed of the truck for me to rest on. He had bought a celebratory can of Arizona Green Tea for us to split (our favorite beverage, hands down!), and that's what we ended up using for our toast. We drank out of a drinking horn that we purchased the weekend before at the same Renaissance Festival where I got my stick, but I did it wrong and accidentally splashed tea down the front of my dress. (The dress was fine.) Before the cake cutting or drinking horn toast, my grampa said a blessing for the food and for us as a couple, as I had asked him to, and it was very special for me. I wanted to include him somehow, since he has been my father figure for most of my life, and is basically just a very, very good man. I wanted to honor his role in my life, and I think that having him give the blessing captured that well. It meant a lot to him as well.
Catch sight of the ramen box in the background that the favors never got taken out of? LOL

The cake cutting was kind of funny, because C didn't realize that the ribbon around the cake layers was actual ribbon, so he was a little stymied at first while making the cut. He sawed through that sucker, though, and I fed him a bite of the "normal" cake while he fed me a bite of the "special" cupcakes that J had baked. (The "safe" frosting that I had picked up had been refrigerated as per label instructions for the week before the wedding, after I opened it for the cupcake test run. However, even after letting it sit out overnight it was still very stiff and congealed... so the girls used it as a sculpture opportunity and turned my cupcakes into full blooming roses! How cool is that?) Also, Mom outdid herself in creating TWO cake toppers for our confectionary needs. The first one, the one on the big cake, is one that I designed (sorta), but the second was a surprise to me that she brought with her. She used one of our engagement pictures, and believe it or not used the same heart-knot design around the border that I chose for our cake! And that without communicating about it in any way. Great minds think alike :) (Honestly, I wasn't happy with how they looked on our cake... Sloppy, I thought... but hey, I didn't pay for it, so I don't really care! It was a gift from C's dad and his lady.)
Karateeeee CHOP! (Seriously. That's what I was doing.)
While everyone ate, we had a giant inflatable 20-sided die for people to play with, and some rules to go with it. If you rolled an 11 or higher, the bride and groom would kiss. If you rolled a 10 or below, you had to go kiss someone else! Our good friend was supposed to do a fire breathing show during dinner, but it was too windy for him to perform. He did finally consent to do a little show right before we packed up to leave, but the photographers were already gone, so we only got video. It was pretty awesome, though.
My mom and my husband's brother read toasts from our absentee matron of honor and best man, a married couple, since the best man had joined the military and gotten shipped out the weekend before the wedding. That resulted in his wife and son (matron of honor and flower boy) moving to Texas two weeks before the wedding, which we were all sad about. Fortunately for us, my sister and my husband's brother were willing to stand up there with us as our wedding party. (We had a lot of issues with dearly beloved people not being able to come due to finances, health, school, or all three.) After the reception wound down, my husband and I and our families stepped aside to do those wedding portraits we had missed earlier. While we were doing that, all of our friends pitched in and packed up the decorations and tables and other miscellaneous items we had set up in the park, so that by the time the pictures were done, everything was more or less cleaned up. We were out of there by sunset, headed home to change and pack for our night in the fancy hotel room that I reserved with part of our budget. We stopped on the way home to get some sushi, still in our wedding clothes, and the employee manning the register freaked out. It was hilarious! He took a picture of us on his phone, and the owner (who we've gotten to know through our consistent patronage) asked if he could put us up on the restaurant's Fb page. We said sure. :)
I'm really glad that I have the pictures to look back on. While the day did go by fast, it wasn't a blur, but there were so many things that I just didn't see happen. For instance, while we were trying to light the wick on our wax during the sealing ceremony (during our very windy day, remember?), our officiant stood behind us and spread out his robe in an attempt to block the wind for us. I had no idea until someone told me about it, and then I saw it in pictures later! And the pictures spark memories and stories that might otherwise get covered in dust and forgotten.
Sneak attacked! :)
It was a really, really great day. So many things were different from what I had so carefully planned, and I'm grateful for that. It showed me that even when I "lose control" of a situation or hand the reins over to someone else... it doesn't mean that the world will end, or even that it won't get done well. In fact, so many things were done better than I could have done them myself. It was a valuable set of lessons for me, and it was wonderful to be so showered in love and good wishes from those that came together to make the day possible. It really was a group effort; even though I planned it, they accomplished it. I just got to sit back and watch. Oh, and eat cupcakes. And kiss my new husband. I got the good end of the deal, I think...
Also, having just been to another wedding... C and I found it near impossible to refrain from comparing the wedding we were at to our own wedding. I've decided that I love our wedding. As I said, many things were different than I had planned, but still... It was so much fun! It was bursting with personality. The wedding we attended was sweet, simple, and heartfelt, and I think it matched the couple pretty well. C and I, however, are not your average couple, and our wedding definitely reflected that. I have heard again and again not only how beautiful the wedding was, but much more frequently how much fun it was and how it was so "us". That's the thing that people remember, and that's what I remember. We did it our way, our style, and included the things and people that were important to us. That is what made my wedding day not only memorable but meaningful.

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