Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Bridesmaid's Lunch

I feel like I'm working my way through wedding blog post ever so slowly.  I want so much to document every moment, yet life and marriage have been so busy that sitting down to reflect on this week has been hard to do.  Slowly I'm going to make it through this wedding that now was four months ago! How is that even possible?  

Ok, the bridesmaids luncheon!  

Getting to celebrate my bridesmaids and this weekend with these girls was just so special and surreal. My sweet co-worker and friend, Mary Branch, hosted the lunch at her house with the help of my brother-in-law's mom, Bertie. They made the entire thing so special and served us a delicious lunch!  
I really tried to think through the time I had with these ladies and wanted to make it special.  
After we ate lunch we sat around the living room and I had the opportunity to share with them.  I decided to choose a verse for each one of them that I was praying for them.  I asked an artist friend at church to paint the verse I chose for each bridesmaid on a pice of wood.  I took the time to share with each one why I chose the verse and told them I wanted to commit to praying that verse for them this year.  They turned out really neat and was a keepsake for them to have in their home.  
In addition to the verse I gave them each a monogrammed bag, a monogrammed tumbler, and earrings for the big day.  
It was a really special time together
Front Row: Kelli, Laura, Bethany, Colette, and Katherine
Back Row: Catherine, Samm, Amy, and Heather
In addition to celebrating my bridesmaids, I had the opportunity to celebrate my mom and mother-in-law.  I gave them both a verse that I chose for them, as well as mother of the bride and mother of the groom coffee mugs with our wedding date!  I felt like they were going to need lots of coffee the next day:-)  
I was also so thankful that my aunt and cousins from Minnesota were able to arrive in Birmingham for the lunch.  It was so special to have them there for all the celebrations leading up to the wedding.  

And I couldn't leave out the Blakester.  Although I felt like a bridesmaid's lunch might be too much for the 2 year old flower girls, Mary Blake did receive an invitation and was a part of the special day.
She loved getting to sit at the bridesmaid's table and helped me hand out gifts to everyone! 
It was a beautiful fall day and really was the kind of bridesmaid's luncheon I had always dreamed of when I thought about my wedding.  It definitely went by fast, but I tried my hardest to soak it all in. I just felt so humbled and so honored to have these women beside me.  They had prayed so long for this season to come for me and now that it was here it was a sweet celebration for all of us!  
Thank you Mary and Bertie for hosting such a beautiful luncheon!  

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Meet the Bridesmaids

One of the things I was most excited about for wedding weekend was the women who would walk through the weekend with me and stand with me on our big day.
Choosing our bridal party was one of those things Dustin and I prayed and thought through a lot.  I've been in 17 weddings and have many dear friends.  There was a part of me that really wanted each one of those friends to stand beside me, but realistically I knew that wasn't possible. 
So I chose some of the women who have known me the longest and impacted my life deeply.  They are the friends (although all over the country) who have been walked through the ups and downs of life with me and have prayed for my husband for many years.  
I know there are others not in this picture I could say the same about, but 8 felt like the right number so these are the 8 women I asked!  
Once I decided the women I wanted to ask, I wanted to ask them in a fun way.  Unfortunately due to needing to order dresses so quickly (why do bridesmaids dresses take so long?) I had to think quick!  
Etsy came to the rescue and I found these cute cards!  I mailed one to each of my bridesmaids with a note telling them why I chose them to be in my wedding and a request to take a picture with the card if their answer was yes!  It was fun to receive these pictures over the week after mailing out the cards!  
"I need something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue, but most importantly I need YOU! Will you be my bridesmaid?"

So who are these women.... (Left to Right)
well the little ones are the cutest one and they were my flower girls!  Yes I might have been crazy to ask 2 year old twins to be flower girls, but they did amazing and with the help of big sis Mary Blake took their role very seriously! 
1) Catherine:  My older sister! It was so fun meeting my husband, getting engaged, and getting married in the city where we both live.  She was such a support and cheerleader through it all.  She was my matron of honor.
2)Amy:  My NYC bestie.  We overlapped in NYC for 5 years and literally did life together.  We worked in Children's Ministry together, led a community group together,  led a missions trip to South Africa together, and spent our days quoting "Friends" together.  She was my person in the city. We walked through singleness together, got married at the same age (although she is older than me so she got married before:-)) and stood beside each other on our wedding days! She lives outside Chicago Illinois now with her husband and son.  She lost her 8 month old son just  7 months before my wedding, but was one of my biggest encouragers and cheerleaders throughout my engagement. I admire her so much!   
3) Kelli:  Kelli started out in my life as a mentor when we were both on staff with Campus Outreach, but soon after became one of my closest friends.  she was my consistent NYC visitor, is my every week phone friend, and has always made me feel like she is on my team no matter what was going on in my life.  She lives outside Baltimore Maryland with her husband and 2 daughters.  
4) Samm:  Samm was on staff with Campus Outreach when I was a student at Western.  Like Kelli she started out as a mentor to me, but quickly became a close friend.  She was super impactful in my walk with the Lord during my college years and has consistently pointed me to Jesus over the years.  I also think I might laugh harder with her (and Colette and Heather) than anyone else.  The 4 of us have had pretty consistent reunions every 2 years since college and it's always the sweetest time.  We've also in been in/a part of each others weddings.
Samm lives in Minneapolis with her husband and 2 daughters.  
5) Katherine: Katherine is my crazy friend who I first met when I was a senior in college and we were going to be team leaders together on a summer project with Campus Outreach.  From that summer of living in a stinky hotel room in Myrtle Beach on bunk beds we have been best friends. I always tell her she brings out the crazy in me:-)  She's the friend I can have dance parties and laugh with until we fall on the floor and also have deep conversations about hurts and longings and Jesus!  Fun thing about Katherine is that we have never lived in the same city together, yet we have been best friends for 11 years!  
Katherine lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and 2 daughters.
6) Laura:  Laura I've known longer than anyone else.  Literally we have known each other our entire lives.  Our parents grew up together and have been close friends so of course we met at a very young age.  We grew up together and were inseparable through elementary, middle, and high school years. Our years of growing up together have brought a depth of friendship that is so sweet!  She is the friend I can go forever without seeing yet pick up where we left off when we re-connect.  
Laura lives in Daphne, Al with her husband and son.
7) Colette:  Colette was one of my besties in college at Western and was also my roommate and CO staff partner in Clinton SC.  We have shared so many moments (hilarious and hard) over the years.  She constantly teaches me, encourages me, and challenges me.  She is one of those people I know I can call at anytime and she will speak truth into my life.  
She lives in Greenville, SC with her husband and 3 children.  
8) Heather:  Heather was one of my other besties with Colette (I came in and was the 3rd to their friendship:))  We lived together for one year of college and it was a crazy fun year of dressing up in crazy costumes to scare people and playing practical jokes on each other.  Our journeys since college have been so different, yet so alike.  She has been my person who I felt like has been able to understand my journey of singleness well well and has been a consistent encourager.  
She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband.  

So, that's them!  Notice they came from 7 different states and left 11 children at home (not including my sister who handed off her 3 for the weekend) to be a part of my wedding weekend!  
All 8 of them mean so much to me and to have them all in a room together for a weekend was a dream come true to me. For several of them it was a sweet reunion not just with me but with some of the other girls who they are friends with from our journeys.  
They all arrived on Thursday afternoon and we had the sweetest afternoon and evening together.  
After spending the afternoon at the nail salon getting their toes and nails done, we came back to my apt for a little bachelorette night.  My sister threw me such a fun bachelorette party with dinner, dessert, fun drinks, and gifts!  
She also had all my bridesmaids send in pictures of us with a note to me that she compiled in a digital book.  I've read it over and over and treasure the stories, words of encouragement and pictures that fill the pages.  It will be the sweetest keepsake for years to come.  
We ended the night with lots and lots of laughing and a huge slumber party in my apt.  
It was the perfect way to begin the wedding weekend!  
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wedding Week!

 Wedding week is one of those weeks you think will never get here yet when it does it feels like it came so fast!  My goal in wedding planning was to plan as much as I possibly could ahead of time to keep the week of the wedding stress free and fun!  Other than the last minute details that couldn't be avoided, it really was a fun week.  
since I was taking off so much time after the wedding I tried to work as much of the week as possible.  My evenings were spent doing those fun last minute things.
Since Dustin and I have both lived in multiple places and it was a distance wedding for both of our families we had ALOT of out of town guest.  We decided to make fun hotels bags filled with goodies and a list of our favorite restaurants in Birmingham!  
One of the early pieces of advice I got was to hire out as much of the details for the wedding as possible.  Thankfully my parents were on board with this and we did our best to make the wedding logistics as easy on us as possible. The only problem was throughout the wedding planning season I kept getting ideas of things I wanted to do to add to the wedding.  Although I love all the personal touches we had at our wedding, I felt like my creative juices were run dry by the end.  All that to say the wedding week was spent doing those last minute things like printing out cute photo pics like the one above and so much more!  

Another great piece of advice I got was to pack for the honeymoon before wedding weekend began.  I am so glad I did this!  It made the night before my wedding so chill!  
My sister gave me the journal below on the night we got engaged.  I journaled in it all throughout our engagement and then took it on our honeymoon to close it out!  I know one day it will be so fun to look back on all my thoughts and emotions that took place during those 5.5 months.  
I got my bridesmaids a monogrammed navy bag as part of their gift for being in the wedding.  After receiving them in the mail I was kind of bummed I didn't order one for myself, so my parents ordered me one for my birthday!  It was the perfect honeymoon carry-on.  
Packing for my honeymoon was one of the most surreal parts of wedding week.  I just couldn't believe that after our big day we were going to get to go on such a fun trip! 
And the best part was Dustin was surprising me, so I had no clue where we were going!  
On Wednesday morning my mom, sis, and I had breakfast together and then went and got our toes and nails done.  It was super fun girl time and another one of those moments that just felt so incredibly surreal!  
Wednesday night we had family night at Catherine and Garys and I gave the nieces their flower girl gifts (baby dolls and monogrammed overnight bags).
It was a fun night as a family and was the last night before everything began!  
On Thursday morning Dustin and I planned a date! We had breakfast at one of our favorite spots, Over Easy, and exchanged wedding gifts!  It was so nice to just sit and look at one another before all the bridal party came in town and the events began.  We celebrated the Lord's faithfulness in our story and bringing us to this point.  It was a really special time together.  
Yet another piece of advice I got from someone was to exchange perfume and cologne to each other and wear it for the first time on our wedding day. Then every time you wear it, it will make you think of your wedding day.  
In addition to the cologne I got him I also made him a photo book that told our story.  It was filled with pictures and thoughts from our 1 year together.  I hope it will be something we will one day show our children and be continually reminded of the sweet story the Lord wrote for us.  I also got him a weekend adventure bag for all the many adventures I hoped we would go on!  
In addition to the perfume, he gave me a Michael Kors bag and diamond earrings that had originally been his mothers that her parents gave her on her wedding day.  They are beautiful!  I wore them on our wedding day and love wearing them as often a possible.  

We parted ways that morning knowing that really the next time we would be together just the two of us would be on our wedding night.  

By the time I came home from breakfast my dad was on his way to pick up the first batch of bridesmaids from the airport!  
Let the wedding festivities begin..... 

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Downtown Birmingham Engagement Session

I realized this week that I never posted our engagement pictures!  If you read our dating story you saw that some of Dustin's friends (who are now my friends:-)) were a part of our proposal day.  If you missed it you can read that story HERE!
After they captured such amazing pictures of that special day we asked them if they would snap a few photos of us around some of our favorite spots in Birmingham!  
Although it was super hot September afternoon, we had so much fun traveling from one spot to another in downtown Birmingham!  
Thank you Katie and Alec for capturing so many moments during such a special season!  

You can check out Katie and Alec's blog post on our session HERE
And if you need excellent photos taken in Birmingham these photographers would be a great choice!  
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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fairhope Shower

Our last shower before the big day was in Fairhope, the town where I grew up!  
It was hosted by some of my mom's best friends, all women from our church who have known me since I was a little girl.  
(L-R) Theresa, Kim, Debbie, Peggy, me, Barbara
I think what was so fun and so special about this shower was that it was a celebration with people who have known me for so many years.  The room was filled with women who have been some of my parents closest friends, my teachers, bible study leaders, families I baby-sat their children, and the list goes on.  These women have prayed for me for so many years.  It was such a special time to now have them celebrate this answered prayer.  
Like every other shower, I took very few pictures but the house was full of so many women who have impacted my life.   
I mentioned Laura in my engagement party post, but it was so fun to have her at this shower as well.  
And the nieces love her!  

I felt so loved and celebrated by all the people who came and showered me with gifts.  It was such a fun and special morning.  

This shower was at the beginning of wedding month and was our last shower before the wedding!  
If you can't tell from all the posts, it was a whirlwind of parties!  
I honestly couldn't get over the fact that so many people wanted to celebrate us.  In 2 months time we connected with so many friends and family and were able to celebrate this season with many of the people who mean the most to us.  
I will always treasure that season.  It was crazy busy and lots of travel, but it was also super fun and incredibly special.  I dreamed about this time for so long, I prayed that one day an invitation would have my name on it, and by the end of the wedding I had a bulletin board by my door filled with invitations.  Looking at that board reminds me that the Lord really does hear those quiet prayers that are prayed from our heart.  

I came back to Fairhope with less than a month before the big wedding.  It was filled with lots of last minute details and getting everything ready for the big day.  

Next up:
Wedding Week!  

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Celebrating in the BIG APPLE....

I started this blog in 2008 when I moved to New York City.  I was young, single, and had big dreams.  Living on dreams and spaghetti-o's (hence the title:-)) I spent the (almost) 7 years I lived In NYC praying for a husband.  I dated some, my heart definitely got broken some, but my prayer life was consistent.  Intermixed with that was years of so many friendship, so much adventure, and so much life!  I knew New York would always be deep in my heart and now that my dream of meeting someone in the city was over I prayed that whoever I did meet would at least appreciate my love for the city and would get the opportunity to know my life there! Fast forward a year when I met Dustin.
One of the things that we instantly connected over was our love for cities!  Even though we lived in different cities (he lived in Atlanta for several years) we could so easily appreciate the same things and have the same passions for things about the city.  It was a sweet connection

Let's keep fast forwarding to April when Dustn and I planned a trip to NYC so that he could see my life and meet my friends.  I wrote about it HERE when I wrote part 2 of our Dating story.  We now look back at that trip as a significant moment in our relationship when we both knew "this was it".  How kind of the Lord to allow such an important place to me be the place of such an important moment in life!
A month after that New York trip we got engaged!  And then life became a whirlwind.  In those crazy months we decided why not fit in another trip to my favorite city!  This time to go to an all day pre-marital seminar at Redeemer that my friend, Brent Bounds teaches.  As soon as we told people we were coming up my sweet friends started planning away for a weekend that would go down as one of my favorites!  

On Saturday night they hosted an engagement party for us on a rooftop  in Time Square. The room where the party was held was all glass and you could literally see the entire city.  
It was such a fun time of catching up with friends and enjoying the skyline of New York!  
What's a good party without a photo Booth!  

Amy, Sandi, and Jenni! 3 of my favorites!  

Misty and Amy, 2 of my closest NYC friends who had both moved away, were able to come back for the big weekend! Although we were missing lots of girls, we were able to take an original Community Group pic!  I can't imagine my life in the city without these people!  

Along with the Taylor's, the Bounds were my other adopted family!  So fun to celebrate with Brent and Jenni! 
And if my NYC friends weren't enough, my friend Kelli (who now lives in Maryland) came up for the big weekend!  Kelli might love NYC as much as I do, and looks for every opportunity to come visit!  I was so thankful to have this friend from my Campus Outreach days to be a part of all the celebrations!  
Christy Ray, Kate M, Erica, and Kate R
It really wasn't an all girls party, but somehow we didn't get pics of all the guys:) 
When we took this picture it was one of those moments where both Dustin and I had to pinch ourselves.  Who knew when I was living in city of lights that one day I would be on a rooftop celebrating my engagement with the man I had prayed for all those years.  And let's be honest, it was just such a trendy and amazing spot! 
We both walked away so thankful and feeling so loved!  

If Saturday night was not enough my sweet friends hosted a bridal shower for me at the Taylor's home on Sunday afternoon.  I know I keep saying stuff like this, but I just have to make notes of this.  Sandi mentored me for all my years in NYC, I baby-sat her girls, and spent many days at their home.  They were my family in NYC. I used Sandi's home to host many parties and showers for friends.  Each time I secretly wondered if there would ever be an opportunity to have a wedding shower for me there.  When I moved I thought that dream had died, but once again I saw the Lord enter in and give me that gift.  Sunday afternoon was special for so many reasons.  Each girl wrote down a verse, prayer, or advice for me and then they all went around and shared different things.  Each girl in this pictured has impacted my life in so many ways.  It was such a sweet time of hearing from them words of encouragement they had for me.  I often think back on that time, read the notes they wrote and just feel so thankful to have friends who encourage me in the way that they did that day.  
Front Row: Leigh Ann, Robyn, Misty, Sandi, Hannah, Erica, Kate M
Back Row: Maggie, Katherine, Lindsay Ann, Kate S, Karen, Me, Amy, Vicky, Jenni, Kate R.  

Isn't the Hashtag Banner the cutest?!?  (thanks Leigh Ann)

In addition to a time of sharing, Hannah and Margaret had a surprise for me.  Flashback to when Margaret was a baby and I started spending lots of time with the Taylors.  For whatever reason (not sure why) I started singing "There is a Redeemer" to the girls when I would put them to bed.  Although I sang different songs to them over the years, that song stuck and each night I was there we would sing that song together.  The words are powerful and I always prayed they would cling to those words as they grew up.  Even now when I go visit and stay with them, they ask me to come sing with them before they go to sleep.  Fast forward to the shower, when Hannah and Margaret sang the song to me. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life.  They both broke down so every girl in the room sang along.  The relationship I have with them is so special and to have them be a part of this shower was one of the most memorable things.  If you have never heard of the song, I encourage you to listen to it HERE

I started baby-sitting the Taylors and entering into their family when the girls were 4, 1, and newborn.  Now they are 12, 9, and 8.  How is this possible?  
They handed out programs at my wedding. Pics to come of that later!  

This weekend in NYC was a dream come true for me (I know I have said that often) and just so incredibly fun!  To get time with so many friends, have Dustin connect with the  people who I did life with for so long, and just be in the city together again was special and so fun!  

To all my friends in NYC it is now 4 months later, but I can't thank you enough for making this a weekend we will never forget!  

We went back to Birmingham ready for 1 more shower and the last month of engagement before the big day!  

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