Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Our Ceremony

All of the tears. Captured by Lisa Mathewson Photography

As much as I loved some of the other details of our wedding reception, it is the ceremony that continues to stick with me. It was the best part of the wedding. Because it is what made it a wedding, and not just a fun family party.

Throughout the evening, family and friends commented that the day was very "us." They could see Chris and I in all of the smaller parts. For me, this was most true for our ceremony.

As we grappled with what we wanted our ceremony to be, we decided on a few key things:

1. It would be heartfelt and thoughtful, while not being super traditional.
2. We would walk in and out together, without a processional.
3. We wanted something more than just the readings and vows. (As to the what, that took some additional pondering).

Our Officiant

Our friend Beau graciously agreed to officiate our wedding. And I think it was really special that it was him, because he was there when we first met at a professional development event, and later reconnected at a conference. Beau has officiated a number of other weddings, including some of our other friends. Plus, I think he both looked the part, but also did an amazing job of leading us through the whole thing.

Our Ring Warming Ceremony

This. I am so glad we did this.

If you haven't heard of a ring warming ceremony before, know that I had never seen one in person before we found it online. As we planned our ceremony, we didn't want to do a unity candle or a sand ceremony. Something about pouring sand in the same venue where our guests would be eating just sounded like an accident waiting to happen. I'm clumsy. As we explored other options, I read quite a bit about Celtic handfasting, before deciding that while we both have Irish roots, it wasn't something we felt confident about pulling off, and we didn't want to screw up something that holds a sacred place within a culture.

After reading a few things about a ring warming ceremony (here and here), it just felt like the right fit for us. It was a way to involve all of our family and friends in our ceremony, rather than feeling like they were just "spectators," which I really liked. And I truly believe that things carry energy in them, and having our loved ones inject our wedding bands with their love and positive energy seemed pretty awesome.

Many of the different sites that we read talked about the challenges of timing for this, so we put it at the beginning of the ceremony, in case the rings took awhile to get through all of our guests. We were a bit nervous about it, as specially as we talked it through with the wedding party in our Skype wedding rehearsal (side note: best idea ever) and worried that there might be awkward standing in silence. Also, sweaty, gross rings. But then we just decided to let it happen. Two of our friends, Aileen and Lucy, served as "ring bears," making sure that the ring was passed through all of our guests and returned safely to the front.

As we watched our rings pass through our family and friends hands, it just felt really intimate and special. And I had to hold back tears, as my grandmother was the last one to hold the rings and bring them back to the groomsmen.

Our Readings

We looked at a couple of different readings, and ultimately decided on "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in/my heart)" by e.e. cummings, which was beautifully read by Katie, one of my best friends from college. I first heard the poem during the wedding scene in "In Her Shoes," and way back then thought it was the perfect wedding reading.

Our second reading was "He'll Make Me Happy" by Jeff Moss. Also known as Miss Piggy and Kermit's wedding song. We're Muppets people. Call us cheesy, if you will. But the lyrics are actually pretty special, and our friend Ann did an awesome job reading it without it sounding corny at all. She did refrain from doing Kermit and Piggy voices, which was probably a good choice.

Our Vows

We had discussed writing our own vows. Not for us. We are much more likely to share our feelings and thoughts with each other privately, than to do so in front of folks, even if they are our loved ones. I don't think either of us would have gotten through them and actually been able to say the words - I had a hard enough time repeating back what Beau said first.

After much searching and finding things that we didn't want to say...("honor and obey" was out for sure), we found these online (slightly modified), and thought they fit us:

(Chris), I choose you to be my partner
Loving what I know of you
And trusting what I do not yet know
I look forward to the opportunity to grow alongside you
Getting to know the person you will become
And falling in love with you a little more every day
I promise to love and cherish you
To laugh with you and grieve with you
To be truthful and honest with you
And to bravely face together whatever life may bring us

It felt a bit ironic that a few months before the wedding, we watched one of the last How I Met Your Mother episodes where Barney was struggling to write his vows. He points out that Marshall and Lily had already broken all of their vows. They make the decision to update them, and continue updating them later on. Because life changes. And there are no perfect vows.

While our vows may not be perfect for our entire lives together, I don't know if that is a reasonable goal to be striving for. I think, instead, as we made the commitment to entering into this formal partnership together, albeit a legally binding one, we both agreed to do the best that we can. To try. And to understand that there will be many points along our journey together where stuff will get real and we will deal with it. And more than one time where we will have to face an obstacle that we never saw coming. In that regard, they are the best vows that they could be, for us.

What I Remember Most
  • So initially my event-planning brain was on, and I couldn't get past the fact that we were standing really far off center from the ribbon backdrop. I was totally preoccupied. Did it really matter? No. Did it bug me? Absolutely. Once the ring ceremony started, I made everyone move. I own that this is sort of crazy, but that's just who I am.
  • Chris couldn't look at me because he was too worried he'd lose it. He spent most of the ceremony looking down at the ceremony script in Beau's hands. I watched him watching what Beau was reading. Such a handsome husband.
  • Vaguely knowing that other folks were there and that some were a bit teary, but having no idea that there were LOTS of tears. When I was told that a friend was genuinely sobbing, it was a total surprise.
  • Concentrating really hard on saying the right words.
  • Being SO happy and so excited when it was all official!
Seriously the best day.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Finer Details

I wanted to share some of the wedding projects, and how they turned out. I debated sharing my "Hot Tos" as I did them, but there was no way that I could do that along the way, as it just felt like too much. A number of them developed into love-hate relationships. I said "Why did I think this was a good idea?" many times. But now, I'm actually pretty proud of the ones that we focused on.

So here we go...

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
Our invitations were one of my favorite early projects. We ordered them through replybydesignstudio, and made arrangements through Chris' dad to print them at his company. They were simple and elegant. With the awesome help of my friend Claudia, we added the baker's twine and the gold glitter envelope liners, made from glitter wrapping paper from Paper Source. 


Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography

Our table ceterpieces were fairly simple. My amazing aunt made black and white "summer stripe" table squares and runners, which were featured throughout our event. Seamstress extraordinaire! We then used gold chargers as a base for the flowers, which were in an assortment of mason jars wrapped in baker's twine as well. I was all about the baker's twine, and using it wherever it made sense. I will tell you about how I ended up with $40 worth of the stuff some other time...

We did simple table numbers in black Ikea frames, which had different quotes on them. 

And one of my favorite, but more tedious details, were the votives. I added loose gold glitter with a bit of glue tape to the rims of the votive holders. Messy. Lesson learned: should have sealed the stuff. Just one of the many reasons that I continue to find glitter in the cats fur. 

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
One of our main goals for the wedding was to feature Milwaukee. Many of our friends and family were coming from out of town, and we wanted them to fall in love with the city that we call home. Because, of course, we want them to come back! That was why we chose Milwaukee Public Market as the perfect downtown wedding venue. The venue has such an amazing vibe, just by itself, and the staff did an amazing job of transforming the second floor area into a beautiful wedding space. Through the culinary magic of their different vendors, we were also able to feature foods that said Wisconsin, like brat bites, cheese, and mini cream puffs. Plus they showcased an awesome assortment of Wisconsin beers. It was seriously the best venue ever, and the only one that we looked at. Serious plug: If you are looking to get married in Milwaukee and want a fun venue, you must chat with Ellen and the other staff at the Milwaukee Public Market. 

We also thought it would be a fun twist to utilize the Milwaukee handkerchief from HANMade Milwaukee, as our "guest book." One of my favorite moments on the day after the wedding was looking at all of the places that folks had signed. While many put their names around the border, others picked out locations on the map that may have been special to them. I can't wait to frame it and hang it up in our house! 

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
We also wanted folks to have the opportunity to leave us a longer message, or advice as we start our first year of marriage. I found a cute little blue ceramic market basket at Anthropologie, that looked just like one you might put strawberries in. I thought it was an awesome fit for the location, and can't wait to figure out how to use it at home.

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography

Glitter was ever present throughout our wedding. In fact, long before we got married, I nicknamed our wedding, "Project Glitter Bomb." One of the sparkling touches was on the banners that we featured throughout the venue. Using a modified version of this tutorial from A Practical Wedding, I utilized a party banner kit from Party City to make banners that said "Mr" and "Mrs," "Always," and "Treat Yo Self," for the dessert table of course. I traced each of the letters with more of the glitter wrapping paper, and then adhered them to the different colored letters. They were on of my favorite things to see come to life in the beautiful space.

Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
Photo by Lisa Mathewson Photography
Ahh, the ribbon backdrop. No project became a bigger pain in the butt over the course of making it. And in hindsight, I would have loved to add some additional width to the thing. But it did look pretty nice for our ceremony.

A few other little things made the day special:
  • Bathroom baskets with all of the essentials for our guests. You know, tide pens, mints, bobby pins, etc.
  • Black and white striped "L-O-V-E" letters. Not my best painting, but they turned out okay and made good photo props.
  • Our fun and simple cake topper, that graced the little 9 inch cake that we purchased from Whole Foods. I think this was actually one of the first things that we bought.  
I am happy to provide tutorials on any of the crafty things if you are looking to do something similar. Just let me know which ones.
So there you go! : )






Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Goals


Summer is coveted time when you work in higher education.

Before you ask, no, I do not have summers off. But, throughout the end of the spring semester, I crave summer. It is a different pace. It is time to focus on planning ahead for the upcoming academic year, versus feeling like everything is getting done "just in time" or that I am constantly trying to catch up. It also feels like there is actually time to get out and enjoy summer, as I have less evening and weekend commitments. So we try to cram in as much fun as we can, and most of it in June and July. Once August 1 hits, something just shifts, and it feels like summer is over. That last month feels frantic as I try to get everything done before the students come back.

Last summer flew by at warp speed. We did a lot of fun things, but there were so many other things I would have loved to make happen that I just didn't get to. I think it was all of those baseball games and races. Because we aren't really traveling at all this summer and don't have too many major set things on the calendar, I have tried to set some summer goals, to make sure that I am making the most of it. Here they are for 2014:

Go regularly to the farmer's market. It is my favorite part of summer. And the best way that I can ensure that I am eating healthy and cutting costs on my grocery budget during the summer. So far I have gotten some delicious stuff: bread, honey, cheese curds, asparagus, strawberries, snap peas, lettuce, kale, spinach, and mushrooms. I can't wait to see what else the vendors will have as the summer goes on.

Actually cook. During the school year, it is easy to get out of the habit of meal planning and cooking and just choose to go out to eat instead. We really got out of the habit of cooking during the weeks before and after our wedding, and I honestly kind of miss it. Although I would love to spend every evening dining outdoors on a restaurant patio, I want to take advantage of the extra time that I have to try some new recipes and plan out our meals. Good old habit building. Grilling outside and utilizing our crock pot are actually better options for us during the summer, as we don't have air conditioning and will do anything we can to avoid making the house hotter.

Run. It's been a really long time. And I actually haven't scheduled out any races for this summer - mainly to save money, but also because I've been lazy. I need to get my new pair of running shoes, and get back out on the road. I miss the personal time that it provides.

Read. Summer is when I do the most leisure reading. And I have a long list of books waiting to be picked up. I love turning off the tv and reading instead. I just finished reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and can't put down The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling). I made a goal to read 52 books this year (one a week). I've only finished 11 and it's been 26 weeks. It's time to catch up!


Plan our honeymoon. I am so glad that we made the decision not to honeymoon right after the wedding. We would have been exhausted, and I probably would have been miserable, thanks to that good old summer cold that showed up during the week after our wedding. I think that having the time set aside to plan now also has been a good transition post-wedding. It gives us something to look forward to, and I'm not experiencing those post-wedding blues that some folks have.

Organize. Since we had folks around during the week before and after the wedding, we did our best to clean the house a bit. This sometimes (often) meant shoving things out of sight, which has left some of our closets and storage spaces in sore shape. Yikes. I would love to go through and organize them while we have the time to do it, so that no one gets an injury from opening a closet door. Not necessarily the most fun summer task, but one that will clear a bit of physical and mental clutter. I know the crap is in there, and it's staring me down. It has to go!

Checking out free/cheap stuff. In our effort to save for our honeymoon, we have been looking for all of the different fun, free things to do around Milwaukee this summer. There are a number of outdoor concerts, movies, and other cool stuff that we just haven't checked out yet. It is easy to stop paying attention to our fun budget during the summer because we want to do all of the festivals and stuff. My hope is that if we make a game out of finding the free stuff, it will continue to be fun. So far, we have been to a free Symphony concert in the park, the Jelly Belly Factory tour, the Criterion Classic cycling race that went through our neighborhood, and Summerfest, of course. I'm hoping to make it to Shakespeare in the Park this weekend, as it ends on Sunday.

It's so hard to believe that July is next month. It is just starting to feel like summer, and we only have 9 weekends left before the students move in!

Do you set summer goals? What are they?
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