Saturday, March 8, 2014

the story of us (all of it)

I finally wrote the post about our wedding... and unfortunately, it seems to be too big and isn't showing up in feeds. So here's links to all of the posts. I'm sorry they're obscenely long, and I'm sorry it took an obscene amount of time. And now I'm so excited to get to blogging about my for-real-right-now life. 

and then we got married.

So we got engaged. And the crazy, wedding-planning, completely overwhelming, scary, antsy-to-be-married-already-sheesh 3.5 months began.

The first day I got to sit down at my computer to completely legitimately look at Pinterest and plan my actual, about-to-happen-wedding was a very, very good day. :) Ironically, now that I was actually engaged, the multiple and exhaustive wedding plans I'd made for the past (fifteen?) years no longer applied whatsoever, and I was pretty much at square one for most things. I felt like such a fraud as a female.

The photographer was pretty much the most important thing, and my plans to have Peter shoot my wedding were rather ruined by me actually marrying him. Awkward.

A couple months before we got engaged, during the time when I thought we wouldn't be getting married for a long time, and when Peter was designing my ring (!!), we were at a coffee shop a few minutes from his house, reading the "1001 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married" book. This couple (he was tall, she had perfect curly blond hair, and they had a dog), asked us "are you two engaged?" An awkward moment, followed by some kind of "no/uh not yet". They said the reason they asked was because they're wedding photographers. What do you know--we are too! We ended up having a blast talking to them for almost an hour about wedding photography. And we found out they're a married Christian couple doing photography as a team--and they lived just a few blocks from us!

When it came time to actually find a photographer, we were super bummed about the lack of good (and affordable for our budget!) photographers in our area. Peter's style is my absolute favorite, and that's exactly what I wanted for our wedding, so it was making things difficult. We had a couple consultations, but nobody seemed like that great of a personality fit, and everyone was beyond budget. We didn't think we could afford Jake and Anna (the couple from the coffee shop) at Sweetlife Photography, and we hadn't seen much of their work. We finally were able to go to their house to just talk photography, without the intention of talking about our wedding photos, but while we sat in their beautiful house drinking Izze and seeing their beautiful photos (kids with bubbles! ♥), we both simultaneously were falling in love. At the very end, they said they didn't think we were still looking, but if we were, they'd love to make something work for us. So they did! We were so thankful to find photographers that fit so well and that we have a relationship with.

Despite how crazy being engaged was, I absolutely loved it. I loved wedding planning, but whoever had the idea to be planning the biggest party of your life while in the most distracted and groggy-with-sappiness stage ever, was not very nice. Thankfully--MOMS TO THE RESCUE. 

Things I thought before I got engaged:
1. Wedding planning would be manageable and super fun! 
2. I'd never get tired of it like other girls seemed to.

Two days in, and I was already overwhelmed and wishing we could just get married. My event-planning-machine Mama gracefully headed up things so I didn't have to be the one keeping track of everything (the whole shebang would have run aground in no time), but I definitely didn't do the chill "I don't really care" thing. I DID care. Sometimes I had no idea what I wanted, or just knew I didn't want that, but I ridiculously cared about well, most every little thing. I'm not the kind of person that is chill with ivory for the wedding dress and white-white for the groom. World: I apologize.

But somehow, we still managed to do a bunch of really amazing things in the middle of it all.

The beach, a few times. Family Camp, which marked the one year anniversary of us first talking about photography and Jesus and TV shows. I was violently sick about half the time, but he still hung out with me. ♥

We got to register together (lifelong dream to walk around with the beeper things). We registered for Lucky Charms and superhero bandaids and luscious white towels (we had to touch every single one) and heavenly white comforters and bright red dishes.

My mama and I still managed to squeeze in our long-planned for adventure together, which was San Francisco. It was amazing. I took hundreds of pictures and haven't edited or organized them one bit.

We did premarital counseling with one of the wisest and kindest people in the whole world, and got to hash out budgets and complicated wedding ceremonies and holy-cow-marriage-is-scary.

We got to eat a lot of donuts in order to find the perfectest ones for the wedding. (That was something I was definitely sure about from the beginning).

He bought me amazing things like smiley face balloons and Coke and red roses.

I turned 20. We ate Mexican food (of course). Bethany and I went on our last-hurrah mini roadtrip to the hippy festival/Matisyahu concert. Our eardrums were damaged and it reeked of beer and marijuana and it was glorious.

There was plenty of turmoil about venues, and we ended up taking the tom-fool risk to do it out at my grandparents' old property. My family had spent so much time working and playing and dancing out there, and it seemed like it could be the perfect place for the reception. My brother (pictured above, chained) and his wife live there now, and tons of people helped whip the rather sketchy place into shape. Tearing down falling-apart buildings, trimming, raking, hacking, mowing, tree-felling, turning-trees-into-benches etc. It was a huge job that we barely got done in time. And we all just prayed like the dickens that it wouldn't rain.

I had a dream-come-true bridal shower, pulled off by the greatest maid of honor of all time, my beautiful and impossibly amazing Bethany. There were waffles, fruit loops, whip cream, and presents. It was insane.

I had amazing late-night talks with my girls, and a very merry bridesmaids night and an amazing bachelorette party. 

We still managed to carve out some times of "NO WEDDING TALK", getting to read and play cards and dream like crazy together.

We drank coffee and talked about baby names and he made the happiest in the world because he actually liked some of the ones I thought he never would.

We practiced our first dance in rubber boots in our barn when I fed the chickens. 

We shot weddings and I got weepy every time because pretty soon we were going to be up there.

We went on an all-day ring shopping and movie buying spree at pawn shops, and found both of our wedding bands, and cried to our song on the way home. 

Peter planned an entire day that was a complete surprise (all I knew is that we were going to do awesome stuff). We got our marriage certificate and had a picnic and went to Oaks Park (ate a ton of cotton candy, rode the ferris wheel about five times, and I even opened my eyes on the upside-down roller coaster because he convinced me to--and it was glorious). Then he took me to The Old Spaghetti Factory, where we'd had our first accidental date while shooting a wedding almost exactly a year ago. AND we went to the fair (got to see pigs! ♥) and ended up sitting under a picnic-stained tablecloth in the middle of the carnival and being so, so thankful we got to be married in not-too-long. 

wedding morning verses

Real talk guys: being engaged was simultaneously amazing and terrifying. I hardly ever felt completely sure/at peace/how-an-engaged-person-should-feel. There was more than one "I don't know what's wrong with me", scary, teary conversation over hummus/Burgerville/sitting on a rock looking over the city. It wasn't just overwhelmed, emotional, bride-to-be stuff. I was spiritually out of whack, and I was really terrified. Saying "yes" when he proposed didn't make it all better. Peter could feel me holding back, and I think it scared him, too, that I was so palpably not all in. I was still clinging to self-protection because I was so dang scared.

Somehow, he gave me the space I needed to wrestle through my own confusion, without ever wavering in his commitment. While I was terrified that I might not want to marry him and he did want to marry me, I was even more terrified that he'd end up not want to marry me. And I gave him plenty of reason. I felt like a completely different, and a million-times-worse person. I can't even fathom how amazing he was through all of it. And when we came out on the other side, it was such a huge testament to his worth. I didn't deserve him one bit. The whole time, he treated me like the person he knew me to be in Christ, instead of this screwed-up basket case. If he had wavered, I would have panicked (ONE of us had to be sure or we're definitely doomed!) And then I would have botched the most amazing gift God has ever given me.

I seriously talked to Bethany and told her: I know marrying Peter is what I want, but if I freak out on/near the wedding day and say this isn't what I want, TIE ME UP. When I was thinking in line with truth and Jesus and what I really wanted deep down, I was confident. I just never "felt SURE". And I didn't want my stupid fear taking over and doing something horrific.

I didn't feel even close to normal until the couple weeks before the wedding. No, God never came down and told me it was all going to be okay, and duh, marry Peter because everything will be perfect, but somehow, he got ahold of my stupid, lie-believing, scared-of-myself, scared-of-commitment, clinging-to-self-protection heart, and on the wedding day, I didn't hardly even have nerves, except the I FLIPPIN CAN'T WAIT TO GET MARRIED kind.

"Our song" was Dancing in the Minefields, which I'd first heard, eerily, in a video slideshow of my brother Benjamin and his fiance's engagement pictures that Peter had taken, way before we had started talking. I was SO hoping that whatever love story I ended up having, it would fit with that song, because it was the song I wanted. I didn't want any other song. I realize it's inappropriate to pick your song before you uh, have the person you're supposed to have the song with, but I was just really hoping it would work out, okay? I didn't want to pressure Peter into liking it (as in, not "SO PETER THIS IS THE SONG I HAVE PICKED OUT FOR US, SO YOU HAVE TO LOVE IT OKAY? Good, that's settled.") I casually (while freaking out inside) showed it to him and as he started to really like it, I eased into the backstory of why I loved it so much. When it got closer to the wedding, after all the scariness and the doubt and the clinging to Jesus, when we listened to it, it gave me chills because it already was our story, in so many ways.

"And we're dancing in the minefields
We're sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love's chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

'Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there's nothing left to fear
So I'll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

'Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby, 
I can dance with you."

After the most stressful Thursday of my life, a ragingly hot rehearsal, and a semi-peaceful Friday, Saturday dawned, rain-free. I'd had a horrific head cold, and at the rehearsal, I couldn't even talk. It was a knock-down-drag-out cold, complete with excessive sneezing, and an horrifying amount of snot. I was praying so hard that I'd at least be able to say the vows/be able to breathe while making out. By Saturday I was finally functional, by complete miracle.

By the sheer grace of God, we got to the wedding day, without regrets, without running away, 
and without any mental breakdowns.  

[some of my iPhone pictures I took]

While we were all sitting around waiting and reapplying lipstick and perfume, Peter sent me a note and a dozen donuts. KEEPER.

I wore my rainbow socks and my Lion King shirt. He gave me diamond infinity earrings.

I think I tried on about 25 dresses in one day before I found The One. I'd planned to be mature and get something more classy and not puffy. So I tried on a bunch of glamorous, soulless dresses that made me feel like I was wearing a fancy dress, instead of feeling like a bride. My mama convinced me at the very end to just try on a ball gown style one, for fun. I put it on and couldn't stop grinning. It was strapless, and Mrs. Payne, hero of all things sewing, altered it. I couldn't figure out exactly what I wanted, but eventually I just said: "Belle. I want to look like Belle." And I ended up absolutely loving it. Plus, she had to add an inner corset thing so it wouldn't fall off, and we got to add the rainbow ribbon. :)

We couldn't get married at our church, because it wasn't big enough, so did the beautiful (yet pink) church, which I was a bit worried about. It turned out okay though, and the inside made up for it.

We had six bridesmaids and groomsmen. He had his three older brothers, two of his friends, and MY BENJAMIN as his best man.

Grace, who I've known forever and married Peter's cousin/friend/old roommate, did the flowers. His boutonniere was my favorite.

I LOVE HIM. Hot and hilarious.

I would have been insecure, a complete disaster, and never married Peter if it hadn't been for Benjamin.

I searched for hours online, in stores, and even in hippy-town in San Francisco for rainbow-striped shoes. The right ones didn't exist, so my mama MADE them. I'm not kidding. We bought dyeable flats and she made them perfect.

Rebekah (Benjamin's wife) is a for-real makeup artist and did exactly what I was hoping for. And another friend, Sara, gave me my fantasy bridal hair.

This is my family. I love them.

[a picture my lovely bridesmaids took for me to find on my phone later]

As you can see, I ended up going for rainbow. :) All of the bridesmaids picked out their own dresses in the designated colors, and somehow they all ended up looking beautiful together!

I wore my tiny elephant necklace Peter had given to me for my birthday.

We wrote the program, and we had "what he loves about her" and "what she loves about him", and descriptions of everyone in our bridal party.

Peter made all our hot air balloony engagement pictures into a photo book and we had rainbow Sharpies (♥) for people to sign it.

My mama made the flower girls little purses with tiny mirrors, stickers, lip gloss, and a bunch of fun stuff to make them feel pampered.

It's mind-boggling how hard this best-of-all-mamas worked for my dream-come-true day.

Our church friends played St. Patrick's Breastplate for the processional. And Ange played instrumental versions of a bunch of my favorite pop/love songs for the prelude. (Including Taylor Swift and Jonas Brothers. heh.)

There were five flower girls--my four nieces and one of his nieces. Virginia, the youngest and probably most thrilled to be getting to be a flower girl, threw up randomly right before the ceremony, which was tragic since it was her dream. But she was back in full form at the reception.

Gah. This man.

All of my brothers gave me away, too. I would have been lost without them.

Everyone sang "And Can it Be" and "Amazing Grace".

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, 
And grace my fears relieved. 
How precious did that grace appear 
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares 
I have already come; 
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far 
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me 
His word my hope secures; 
He will my shield and portion be, 
As long as life endures."

My brother Joseph directed a hodge-podge choir of a bunch of some of our favorite people (who all happened to have amazing voices), and they sang In Christ Alone, which was one of my favorite parts about the day. That song. Holy cow.

I had no idea wearing a veil would be so WARM. Sheesh. I was dying under there.

First-ever kiss. Holy moly, me-oh-my. Yeah. Kissing is THE BOMB. I've heard it's overrated or that it's awkward to do for the first time in front of everyone. I was worried we'd knock heads or something, but things went well (other than the part where we were supposed to stop kissing..) and I'm completely and utterly happy we waited.

I liked this moment. A lot. :)

Things that are hard to do:
1. Be aware of anything when you're busy making out with your BRAND NEW HUSBAND'S face.
2. Specifically, pose for pictures.

Notice Benjamin & Rebekah's shenanigans on the right there? :)

Amy Hayes, the best wedding coordinator of all time. I didn't have to worry about anything on the day and it was such. a. blessing.

Again, my wonder-woman mother. She pillaged thrift stores for all kinds of things for the reception, and bought frames, painted them with blackboard paint, and wrote all the signs.

I made advice cards for people to fill out. (On that Most Stressful Thursday two days before the wedding.) :)

I'd always wanted my wedding to be something kids actually have fun at, instead of sitting awkwardly dying of boredom. Also, handily, my tastes are kind of in line with a basic 6-year-old, so it all worked out. Hence, there had to be a pinata.

A food-extraordinnaire lady from our church headed up the dinner. There were a bunch of individual stations for food, like at the fair.

Krispy Kreme donuts with a rainbow layer cake on top!

My mama made these too. :)

A photographer friend ran the very sketch photo booth.

Keegan is one of the best people in the world. He worked so hard helping us get the property ready for the reception, and he even brought us food.

Face-painting! My one regret is that I didn't have time to get mine done. :)

Running around talking to people and eating donuts and "Don't Worry Baby" and kissing him whenever possible. Some of the things I remember best.

My Disney princess dress was like a magnet for all the beautiful butterfly-face little girls. One of my favorite parts of the entire day.

We had Dumbo playing on a tiny thrift store TV.

Dancing to our song. Gah.

The surprise we had for everyone was Benjamin's father in law driving up in a pickup and being the ice cream man.

Not sure what happened to Ruby...


By the end of the night, the dance floor was mud and my dress was foot-deep in it. I kept just grabbing pieces of tulle and tying them in knot. It got pretty destroyed, but I really wanted to LIVE in my dress. It's meant to be worn, after all. I wore the heck out if it.

FUN FACT: These are two of my best friends, who've been crazy about each other for basically forever. Just a few weeks before the wedding, they for-real became official and I love them.

The confetti was genuinely terrifying. It was getting in my mouth and eyes and I couldn't see a thing.


It was my favorite party of all time. It was more amazing than I ever thought my wedding could be. A million things that could have gone wrong, didn't, and God just really pulled a miracle. I am so humbled by how many amazing people, many of whom have invested in us for our whole lives, came together to bless us out of our minds. It took an village/army of Jesus-loving, servant-hearted people to get us to that day, and to make that day such a beautiful one. I can't even fathom how perfect it was. 

And it was just the beginning of being married to Peter, and these have been the best days of my life. Gloriously imperfect, and THE BEST. Shouting-from-rooftops-the-best. I'm floored at God's grace in giving this man to me. His love is an outrageous miracle, every dang day. Ever since the morning of our wedding day, I have never once not known that this was resoundingly God's will.

""I do" are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I've heard
Is a good place to begin

'Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it's an easy price
For the life that we have found."