After Daniel proposed we started discussing when we should get married. Daniel at first considered waiting a while, so planning could be slow and easier. I wanted to make our randomly chosen dating anniversary more concrete, and the last occurrence of a May 1st on a weekend was coming up in a few short months. We had to decide, did we want our anniversary or did we want to calmly plan a wedding?
I don’t think I’ve ever “calmly” planned anything, so we went for a whirlwind engagement with a May 1st wedding date. This gave me just over 5 months to plan the whole thing.
I had about 5 locations picked out around Nashville, most of them Nashville parks or outdoor location. My first choice was the walking bridge. I contacted the city and put in my application for the bridge and the park amphitheater by Titan’s stadium. Within a few days I found out neither of those locations were available because Nashville was having a marathon that day. I called about my next choices, Riverfront park and Centennial Park gardens (3 separate gardens). They were all booked; in fact almost every Nashville city park was booked. At the suggestion of the city parks people (who were so very nice), I called Bicentennial Park, which as a state park was an entirely different office than I had been talking to. Bicentennial was available. In fact, I had my choice between the bell towers and the amphitheater! We chose the amphitheater and paid our deposit.
After much consideration and figuring out what we would need to rent for a reception at the park, it was driving me crazy. Did you know you can’t set up an event tent yourself? You can’t. And on Sunday the price was outrageous to have it set up and torn down. While we were trying to decide what to do our wonderful friend Sheri offered us the use of her restaurant, Hermitage Cafe, for cake & snacks after the ceremony.
I knew what I wanted my dress to look like; I wanted a recreation of Audrey Hepburn’s dress from Funny Face. I searched and searched until I found a dress maker on Etsy, the lovely Morningstar Pinup, who handmade my classic recreation. To make it my own, I had cerulean blue added as accents to the buttons and bows on the dress.
I found the bridesmaids dressed on Etsy also. Moonboot Studio made each of my bridesmaids custom dresses in which they looked amazing. I chose the color, and the skirt length and each of my wonderful ladies got to choose their bodice.
Dressing the gents was much more difficult. My mister and his friends are not fashion icons, but I wanted something that they could wear again and still match our vintage style. After much shopping and gnashing of teeth in stores, I settled on classic fit charcoal Stanford Travel pants, a white french cuff shirts (each gent chose his own brand), black suspenders, and checkered J Ferrer bowties. Daniel also wore a cerulean blue Stanford classic fit blazer.
Magnus got french cuffs and a cerulean bowtie and collar from Mia’s Closet on Esty for the big day.
I’ve never really care about flowers, or particular flowers. I do however have a event and floral designer that I adore, Branches TN, who happens to live in our building. Immediately after the engagement I asked him if he would do our flowers and he agreed. When I chose the locations and colors, I contacted Mark and we discussed what I wanted. I knew how many table pieces, corsages, and bouquets I needed and not much else. He asked me to go online for inspiration so I had at least a direction to send him in. After days of research, the only flower related things that jumped out at me was the use of herbs; lavender for luck and devotion, rosemary for remembrance, sage for a long life, and thyme for courage. Mark worked each of the herbs into beautiful bouquets, boutonnieres, and table settings. The bride's bouquet included; tweedia, white hydrangea, white spray roses, veronica, lisianthus, and rosemary.
The cake flavor was chosen before Daniel ever looked at rings. I love the vanilla cake from Publix with Strawberries between the layers and buttercream icing. It is the perfect spring cake. We chose a square tiered cake with Endless Rose styled white buttercream. I wanted a custom keepsake cake topper, so again I searched Etsy to find some special; the Laser Art Studio in Alvaton, Kentucky (where the mother-of-the-bride grew up). Laser Art Studio made our cake topper and the centerpiece for our flowers. The anniversary layer of our cake awaits our one year anniversary in the bride's parents freezer (they have a generator for security). The cake topper and centerpiece will hold a special places in our home for many years to come.
There was only one choice for our wedding photos, the only downside of which was that she wouldn’t be able to be in the wedding party. Veronica Sparrow Photography took our wedding and engagement photos. Not only do I love the images Veronica captured, I appreciated having another one of my best friends by my side even if it was behind the lense.
Daniel and Ammi chose each others ring and kept them as surprises. Ammi chose Spexton Jewelry on Etsy to make Daniel a custom titanium ring with a curly maple inset. Daniel chose the Willow set from Brilliant Earth with ethically sourced diamond and sapphires in platinum.
When you live in Nashville you have lots of friends that are musicians, but you can only have one Ryan. That’s why I asked him to do our wedding music. Ryan played a 12 string guitar and arranged our songs for his instrument and style. I walked down the aisle to “Dream a Little Dream” and we walked out to “Heaven Knows”.
Ammi and Amy met right after Ammi was hired at iostudio. Amy had spotted Ammi during the interview and loved her pants. Ammi soon grew out of those pants, and now they live happily with Amy.
Ammi and Siobhan met soon after Ammi started working at iostudio. Ammi had an upset belly and Siobhan offered apple sauce to help. It was the start of a wonderful friendship.
Daniel and Ben have worked together in some of the roughest conditions cushy office jobs can dish up.
They've created a lot of great software and had a lot of good times in between.
Daniel and Jason met in 7th grade and bonded immediately thanks to Mortal Kombat and Ace Ventura. Through the years they've been bandmates, roommates, and friends.
I think a wedding is not only a day to show how much you love your partner, but also to show appreciation for the people who are important to you both day-to-day. For this reason it was important to me to choose something personal for each of those people.
For Daniel and each of the groomsmen, we chose custom cufflinks. Daniel’s cufflinks have the wedding date & our initials from Vintage Stamp Jewels on Etsy. Ben and Daniel met working in IT, so for Ben we chose silicon computer chip cufflinks from Sir Cuffs on Etsy. Daniel and Jason met in seventh grade and bonded over Mortal Kombat, so for Jason we found Mortal Kombat cufflinks on Etsy from Mod Cufflinks.
For the bridesmaids we had custom shawls made by my wonderful friend Richard.
For our fathers we chose “father-of-the-” wooden pocket knives with their names carved from Everything Decorated on Etsy. For our mothers we chose lily necklaces with their birthstones and a pearl and “mother-of-the-” pendants from Diana D Jewelry on Etsy.
Daniel’s nieces Bekah & Felicia helped with the wedding. For them we chose silver necklaces with their names from Sincerely Me PJD on Etsy. My cousin Matthew also helped, for him we chose a money clip leather wallet with his initials from Millers Leather Shop on Etsy. For my wonderful grandparents I found lovely handkerchiefs with personal messages embroidered from Mister and Mrs on Etsy. For our officiant Bryan, I chose Dark Tower cufflinks and tie clip from Wearable Collectibles on Etsy.
The day of
I have no idea how I slept April 30th. I do know that I woke up before it was light out and tried to relax myself. I was out of bed and started puttering around the house by 6. Veronica and her boyfriend Casey had stayed in our guest bedroom so that they would be there as soon as all the action started. Magnus and I were as quiet as possible to let everyone get the last few minutes of peace we would have for hours and hours. While Magnus and I cuddled on the beanbag, I had some Canada Dry and thought about what the day would be like and the road we had taken to get there. Soon Daniel, Veronica, and Casey were up and our day started. I showered, and realized I had not planned what I would wear while we all got ready… oops. Luckily I had just bought a cute “Let’s stay up all night” tank top and some cute pajama shorts for wearing at the beach on the honeymoon, so I wore that.
Daniel and Casey converted the guest bedroom to a little living room for the gents. They had classic video games and Xbox along with what we thought would be enough seating. They excused themselves to that room for most of the rest of the day.
Melissa and the bridesmaids started arriving for makeup and hair shortly after. We converted our great room into the bride's suite, as it has the largest mirror in the house. Melissa of Luli Pash came to give all us ladies gorgeous vintage hair and makeup. The ladies and I had already been to see Luli Pash for our nails and prep work the day before.
Daniel and I didn’t worry about not seeing each other until we were dressed, so we all hung out and enjoyed each other's company until it was time to get dressed. Then our friends who were not in the bridal party helped make sure Daniel and I didn’t accidently catch a glimpse at each other.
Finally everyone was ready and Daniel and I headed out in separate cars with Veronica and Casey to our “first look” shoot. For our first shoot we decided to look out over the city from Rolling Mill Hill, by our first Nashville apartment. Seeing Daniel there, in his perfectly him clothes and fresh hair, with the city we’ve called our home for so long behind him - it took my breath away. He looked so comfortable, so himself, so happy. I took a few moments to be thankful that I am the one that gets the privilege of giving him that look.
As we were leaving some of the new people living in the old apartment buildings commented on how nice we looked and wished us well. We all headed to the park where everyone was waiting for the ceremony. Daniel and I got to ride together and have a few more minutes of privacy.
Once we arrived it was all hugs and well wishes from our friends and family that had already arrived. We took wedding party and family photos (don’t you always wish you had gotten a few more) and then we all went and got in place. And then it started raining. Luckily there are small covered spaces that were big enough for the bridal party to hide under, and most of our guest had brought or were sharing umbrellas. Some of my favorite photos came from hiding from the rain with our bridal party, my dad, Veronica, Casey, and Ryan.
Little did we know, during this rain our videographers sound board shorted out, and we didn’t get any sound recorded.
Right at six when the ceremony was scheduled to start, the clouds parted and the sun came out. Everyone got in place, the music started, and I took one big breath. And that’s pretty much the last thing I remember for the entire day except for pure radiant joy.
I do have some tidbits that I held onto from the rest of the day:
- Daniel whispering his secret vow into my ear and mine in his.
- Reading my vows to Daniel from my bouquet.
- Looking at my bouquet to keep from crying.
- That kiss…
- Sheri arriving safely with the most amazing spread of food there ever was.
- The cake almost not having strawberries.
- Feeling like I was floating while taking the last few photos.
- Our nephew Jake driving me home so Daniel could get a few more flowers in the car (and I really needed to be home right then).
- Daniel arriving home with Veronica, Casey, and a billion flowers in tow.
- While Veronica & Casey packed up, making her get the camera back out to take a photo of Daniel’s wedding ring while he played guitar (another one of my favorite photos).
- Planting the herbs from the restaurant flowers on our porch, and cutting some to take for spaghetti at the beach house.
It was pretty busy. I was glad to go to bed.
But seriously, my memory of the day is oddly incongruent, like a patchwork quilt of lovely memories sewn together with stress and what I’m sure is pure imagination.
I don’t recall how the morning started, but I’m pretty sure it involved putting clean bandages on my bike wreck wounds. Oh, did I forget to mention I had a bike accident the week before the wedding? I thought she might kill me, had she not loved me so much. In retrospect, it just added flavor and color to the whole affair.
I sort of assumed my responsibilities for the day would mostly involve giving directions, keeping the men-folk entertained while the ladies got ready, and being prepared at any moment for any possible thing that may happen. No pressure.
We moved the TV into the second bedroom and I hooked up my retro gaming system. I figured we could fill the day with Mario Brothers and NBA Jam if we needed. I thought of our friends wedding. I remember so vividly several of his groomsmen playing Wii as we burned time - but not him. He sat, pensively prepared for whatever was to come. He was steeled. Suddenly I understand. I might’ve played 10 minutes of video games over the course of the day. The rest of the time I was rushing here and there, greeting friends & family, giving directions, moving things, getting lunch. Waiting. It wasn’t pensive, as I thought. It was full alert, ready to jump at the drop of a hat - but ready. Ready for this.
I was shocked how quickly the day passed. It was time to get really dressed before I knew what happened. I’m so thankful for our photos and Veronica’s remarkable ability to capture pure emotion. Were it not for that, I’d have very little memory of that day before the ceremony at all. I would’ve lost the beautiful, smiling faces of my friends and family as they arrived. Here just because they love us and to celebrate everything that was to come in our lives together.
Just as with a big storm, there was an unbelievable calm right in the middle of the torrent. We had our “first look”. Fully dressed and made up, we made our way to a beautiful overlook beside our first downtown apartment. I don’t remember what I said. I just remember being ready, calm, and in-tune with each other. “Grateful” isn’t a big enough word for what I felt.
It’s funny the things you worry about. One of my biggest concerns for the ceremony was rain. The whole shebang was outside and, while we had a backup plan, it was less than perfect. I didn’t think she’d be happy getting married in a flea market barn. I wanted this to be as perfect as possible for her.
Almost like clockwork, the rain stopped as the bells at Bicentennial Park chimed the top of the hour. Our loved ones were seated, the music started, and we were off. I’m not usually one to make a big scene or to want to be the center of attention. But this didn’t feel like that. I disappeared into the words and actions. I disappeared into the thought of what this meant for us. The memories we were creating, and the potential for what life was going to bring.
After the ceremony we made our way to Hermitage Cafe. We shot a few more photos, had some cake, shot a few more photos, signed some official documents, shot a few more photos, etc.
I’m incredibly grateful to all of our friends and family who were there for us and with us. Without them, the day would have lacked so much of the beautiful magic it had. My younger self never would have believed this.