Category Archives: Our Wedding

The Ceremony: Pure joy

I remember hearing the congregation stand and the processional music begin. I took a deep breath, the doors swung open, and my heart jumped up into my throat as I saw JP. Then we started to walk.

“Slow down, we’ll get there,” my father calmly said. In my adrenaline rush, I had started off too quickly. I closed my eyes, smiled, and realized what was happening.

Everything around me seemed to disappear. It felt as if the only ones that existed at that moment were my father at my side and my groom in front of me.

We reached the marble steps. JP stood to my father’s right, and Quincy began.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the presence of these witnesses, to join together Lauren and Jean-Pierre in holy matrimony, which is an honorable estate, instituted of God, and signifying unto us the mystical union that exists between Christ and His Church: which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence in Cana of Galilee. It is therefore not to be entered into unadvisedly, but reverently, discreetly, and in the fear of God. Into this holy estate Lauren and Jean-Pierre come now to be joined.

I felt my father, my rock through everything, begin to choke back tears. I put my head on his shoulder, grabbed his hand and squeezed. He squeezed back, caught his breath, and we continued.

I require and charge you both, as you stand in the presence of God, before whom the secrets of all hearts are disclosed, that, having duly considered the holy covenant you are about to make, you do now declare before this company your pledge of faith, each to the other. Be well assured that if these solemn vows are kept intact, as God’s Word demands, and if steadfastly you endeavor to do the will of your heavenly Father, God will bless your marriage, will grant you fulfillment in it, and will establish your home in peace.

Will you have Lauren to be your wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep only to her so long as you both shall live?

“I will,” he said, strongly and surely. I held my breath– I was up next.

Will you have Jean-Pierre to be your wedded husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep only to him so long as you both shall live?

“I will.” I was surprised at how clear my voice rang out. I sounded strong, assured, confident, and present– just as I was at that moment.

Who presents this woman to be married to this man?

“Her mother and I do.” I squeezed my father’s hand once more, as I knew I was about to let go. He lifted my veil…

..and gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek.

Then, after lowering the veil, he placed my hand into JP’s, and stepped back. Quincy led the two of us up the stairs, and suddenly my world became even more private and intimate than it had been before. This was something special and sacred, and we were surrounded and embraced by love. An otherworldly feeling washed over us both, and I squeezed his hands.

“I, Jean-Pierre, take you, Lauren, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinances; I pledge you my faith.”

“I, Lauren, take you, Jean-Pierre, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinances; I pledge you my faith.” I said each word, each statement, with purpose. The entire time I thought about what I was saying, and again, I absorbed it all.

Quincy took our rings from Laura and Joe.

The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to all the uniting of this man and woman in holy matrimony, through the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bless, O Lord, the giving of these rings that they who wear them may abide in thy peace, and continue in thy favor, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

“In token and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love, with this ring I thee wed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

We both exchanged rings, said these words, and then Quincy declared us husband and wife.

Forasmuch as Lauren and Jean-Pierre have consented together in holy wedlock, and witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have pledged their faith each to the other, and have declared the same by joining hands and giving and receiving rings; I pronounce that they are husband and wife together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Amen.

We stood there, the newly declared husband and wife, squeezed hands more tightly than hands probably should be squeezed, and beamed at each other. Tom, my trainer, friend, and confidant, stepped up to do our reading.

i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

-sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year-

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone’s heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love

He did a beautiful job.

It was then time for us to light the unity candle. The music started, and we stepped towards the candles. I was a bit quick on the draw, and almost lit the candle by myself. Thankfully I waited, and we successfully lit the candle together and returned the tapers to their holders.

A word of advice to those using a unity candle: Make sure you get slow-melting or low-drip tapers. We hadn’t prepared for that, and both of us ended up getting hot wax all over our hands. This, however, led to one of the funniest moments of the day for us. As we knelt down and waited for the musicians to finish playing, Quincy told us we did a good job. We both pointed to the wax on our hands.

He whispered. “Aren’t you supposed to save that for the wedding night?” I had to hold in the giggles with everything I had in me. Touché, Quincy, touché.

The song ended, he blessed us and our marriage, and then led the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer.

We stood. I felt as if I were going to burst with happiness.

God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord graciously with his favor look upon you, and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and love that you may so live together in this life that in the world to come you may have life everlasting.

It is my honor to present to you for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Jean-Pierre de la Croix. You may kiss your bride.

We frantically flipped up my blusher.

And he kissed me.

Boy, did he ever. There was a huge swell of laughter, hoots, hollers, and whistles.

There was a collective “aww” as our recessional began. We had a singer and guitarist come in especially for it– All I Want Is You.

JP reached up to give me a high-five…

…and I successfully didn’t leave him hanging.

Just like that, it was all over, and we were beside ourselves with joy.

Our ceremony was so incredibly special and so incredibly perfect. It was warm and loving, not at all sterile and intimidating as some may seem. Just magical.

As a last hurrah for our ceremony, I’m including the wonderful footage from Mr. Odom. Even though I made it through the ceremony without a single tear, I can’t help but watch this and have my eyes well up and a smile spread across my face. Please watch it, and hopefully you’ll know what I mean.

Just pure joy.

*All photographs from Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love. Video by Matt Odom of Rock and Roll Hearts.

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The Ceremony: Before the walk

For our six o’clock wedding, we had to get to the church ridiculously early. The church ladies wanted us there no later than 4:30, and I was supposed to walk down the aisle at precisely six on the dot, come hell or high water. We arrived at the church right at 4:30 during the beginnings of the massive thunderstorm. Boys and girls were segregated in different parts of the church– the girls and I in the bridal suite, JP’s groomsmen in the narthex, and JP, his best man, and Quincy, our reverend/officiant, in the preacher’s office. And we waited.

While JP had some lovely pictures of the bouts taken, I nervously clamped my ink-stained hands downstairs. Oh yeah, and then I decided I was going to burst if I didn’t use the restroom soon. I know a lot of brides go DEFCON 3 over the whole bathroom-while-dress-clad thing, but I decided long before the wedding how I was going to do it. My plan was just to take the dang thing off, hang it up, grab a sheet for a little hippie toga, and go to the bathroom. The closest restroom to the bridal suite was a public one (good planning, church!), and there was no way I was going to drag my train through that. (A field and dirt? Sure. But bathroom? Just couldn’t do it.)

After I had my little restroom party with Laura laughing like crazy outside, I was plunked down to eat a protein bar and drink some water. Then I sat around and paced in my sheet for an hour. During that time, Mom came down and told us the awful tale of how there was a colossal storm going on outside. They had had to play emergency take-everything-back-inside-the-house-so-it-doesn’t-get-destroyed back home, and she was dressed, but a bit frazzled. For some reason, none of this fazed me, but I guess I was just in my  happy zen-bride place. In my toga. Actually, that whole sheet-toga thing was really a great idea in retrospect. It kept my dress from getting even more wrinkled, it let me cool off, and it was comfy and relaxing. If you have a big gap between portraits and the ceremony and you’re in a position to have a quick-change, I highly recommend it.

It came to be time to put on the veil. This was a large task, and somehow, no matter how many billions of bobby pins we put in my hair, it always just slid out. Having your hair down + having fine hair + veil = easy situation. Thankfully, photog Reagan came to the rescue with a magical little twisty hidden hair trick in the back, and we got the veil to stay on.

Upstairs, the musicians were playing as guests began arriving.

The pews were all decked out with our sticks, billy buttons, and twine. I really love what our florist did with all of our arrangements. We didn’t want too much going on decorations-wise at the church because it already was such a grand space.

Programs in use! All of that hard work nailing and sewing was put to good use.

We all lined up, and I was still tucked away at the base of the staircase. I so clearly remember these moments, and looking back on it all is so surreal.

I remember the moment I heard the sounds of Passacaglia trickle down the stairs, and I knew it was time for the parents to start walking.

I imagined my parents carrying the flame, trying not to let the flame go out before they got to the unity candle. Laura reached down and grabbed my hand, and I bit the inside of my mouth to stop the tears from welling in my eyes.

My father walked back down the aisle. He had another lady waiting at the base of the stairs to escort.

With Passacaglia still playing, the bridal party made their way up the aisle, boys and girls alternating.

Then, just as the song was ending, my father and I reached the top of the stairs and entrance to the narthex. The church ladies closed the doors to the sanctuary, and as my father and I readied ourselves behind them, Quincy asked the congregation to stand.

It was time.

*All photographs from Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love.

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The First Look: The best of intentions

Sometimes things don’t always “work.” We were stuck inside during our bridal party portraits, and were all a little slap-happy. For some reason, we decided to be all play-serious. It came from a place of silly. We had a lot of fun being weirdos, and knew the results would either be on the awesome side or on the awkward side. We landed on the latter. I almost left this little section out, as we did some normal/fun bridal party pictures post-ceremony. (Good call, photogs.) Buuut, I didn’t. For one, the guys didn’t look as awkward as we did, and for another, well, it’s a good learning experience. Sometimes having fun and being silly doesn’t translate into the best photos later.

Case in point, my “relaxed” face. When I tried to relax my face and look bored, I’d pull my chin back. Why? Why would I do this when my normal relaxed face was, well, normal. I have no idea.

Yes, I went there.

No idea.

Awkward, yes.

Ok, whew, shoes! Yay. (I know I’ve shown about 1,000 shoe shots, but, as I’ve said before, I have a thing for shoes, and these help cut the awkward.)

Standing around, intentionally acting bored.

Then, as thunder was booming outside, we started doing the robot. Matt was kind enough to beatbox for us while we robot-ed.

I’m actually a fan of this one, because it was moments before the breakdown of weird. (And it does look pretty cool!)

You can see the beginnings of the laughter about to go down. I started snickering, and it was all over from there.

I finally burst out laughing, because, well, you just have to laugh when you’re doing the robot. With your best friends. Inside an art museum. While the sky is opening up outside. On your wedding day. I believe I bent over for a good few minutes to laugh and compose myself.

JP and I then held some cranes in our hands.

Laura did the same.

Then, as it was about time to roll out, the boys brought back some cool, jumping around and such.

And showing everybody their socks.

And looking like members of the secret service. Pretty great, I think.

So there you go, some of the strangest and most awkward bridal party portraits you probably ever did see. Part of me rushes through them, nervous to even see them, but another part of me clings onto them. We really did have a truck-ton of fun, even if we look nuts. Looking back on them, I remember how between every shot, we’d have trouble composing ourselves. The amount of awkward jokes we made, the beat-boxing and robot-ing. It truly was great fun, all in the midst of a giant thunderstorm.

My advice? I really don’t know. Going back in time, I probably would have not gone this weirdly serious route with the girls. The guys pulled it off. As a group, we had fun doing the robot, and were killing time. I would advice past-me to maybe take a few normal shots as well. So yeah, the advice part. Have fun on your wedding day. Have fun with your portraits. Just maybe try to pull the slap-happy back if you start doing things that will, at that point in time, will end up “really awesome or really awkward.” Maybe air more on the side of shots that don’t have polar-opposite possible outcomes. But, still, first and foremost, have fun.

*All photographs from Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love.

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The First Look: Breaking and Entering

Ok, so, confession time. We had some not-totally-legit action during the first look. Our first look was supposed to take place outside of the art building and in the surrounding areas. I never planned to venture into the museum. I also never planned for it to be about eleventy-billion degrees outside, nor did I have any contingency plans for rain. When we arrived, before all of the running and jumping took place, my father asked me if we were going to get into the building via the front entrance or the loading dock. I looked at him blankly. “We’re going in?”

“Lauren, you’re kidding me. It’s insanely hot outside, there are chances of thunderstorms starting at any moment, and you’re taking pictures outside of a building? That you cannot enter?”

Yeah, not the best planning on my part. Wonderful rescue-father that he is, he called my mother to relay the news, who then called head of campus operations [ed. note: I made that up. I have no idea what his actual title is.], who then called campus security, who then called the police department, who then arrived right as we were finishing our outside shots. I saw the police car pull up, immediately got scared, as I didn’t know about the longest game of wedding-day telephone had been played. Oh crap. They’re going to make us leave because it’s a Saturday, and technically school isn’t in session right now. Crap crap crap crap.

The police officer smiled as she walked by us, unlocked the doors, congratulated us, and told us she’d be back at 4:30 to lock back up. Totally stunned, I thanked her profusely, and thanks to everyone involved, we all rushed into the heavily-air-conditioned building to towel off, regroup, and maybe take a few pictures before venturing back outside.

When I’m really hot, really tired, really sore, or really anything, I like to lie down on the floor. The floors in the building are cold and marble, and as stupid as this may sound, they called to me. So we took some photos on the (very, very clean) ground.

I was surprised at how difficult it was to lie down like a normal human being in a wedding dress. All of those photoshoots with brides rolling around in fields? Bah! They must be professionals!

It felt a bit awkward at first, but the cold ground felt too amazing to resist. It was also pretty entertaining to have cranes and hearts tossed around us as well.

All cooled off, we decided to go to a field across the street while the weather would still allow. The wind was blowing like mad, and you could see the thunder clouds rolling in. My only thoughts were of excitement. Oooh, angry skies. What a lovely backdrop. I love a good angry sky in photos.

We loaded up the props and headed across the street.

The wind blew, my dress swirled, and I stood.

Then everybody took turns throwing the inflatable heart over.

JP joined me in the heart arena.

Then it was my turn to throw the heart.

Just look at those skies.

We each were given a heart, and I still maintain that I got the short end of the deal. The pink stuffed heart did not like to be held, was heavy, and I kept hulk-smash squeezing it. And laughing.

“You’re smushing it, Lauren! Hold it more gently!”

Sweet success, though you can see my vice-like grip on the heart’s edge.

We put the hearts down, made sweet for the camera, and then the drops started falling. Big alligator drops.

Our fearless photogs prepped us for more running. I was all about running around on our wedding day, so nobody had to tell me twice.

As the water began to pelt us all, we ran for the camera.

And then we all…

…ran for the cars.

Gear was quickly thrown into cars to protect from the skies opening up, and we all headed back across the street to meet the bridal party for more shots. This time? Inside.

*All photographs from Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love.

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The First Look: Am I allowed to run?

It makes my heart race to think about our first look. It was one of the biggest rushes of pure and unadulterated joy I’ve ever experienced. The intensity, the nervousness, the excitement of seeing each other for the first time as bride and groom, the love– it was overwhelming.

We chose the art museum where I had practically lived for the past two years as our location for the first look. The building was just a wonderful backdrop, lots of wooded area, and good shade for what was surely to be a very hot day.

We arrived in separate cars– JP out front, I was out back with my father and Laura.

Matt Odom played go-between to make sure when both parties were ready, running back and forth with his rig and crane contraption.

I was a little slower than we had anticipated, as the lovely veil that the mothers so carefully steamed would not stay on my head.

Got it on, but it kept falling off, all the while poor JP was out front wondering if he had a bride with cold feet.

With the veil sliding off my head, Laura and I made the executive decision just to take the dang thing off. I was no less a bride without a veil. Odom double-checked to make sure that everybody was set and ready, Matt Miller and Amber were camped out front with JP. It was time. Reagan and Odom quietly crept around the corner with me as not to disturb the waiting JP. Standing there, hiding behind some trees, staring at JP, I had no idea what to do. I looked at Reagan. “Now what?”

“Do whatever you want!”

A surge of energy and adrenaline pumped through my veins. “Am I allowed to run?”

“Sure, I mean–”

I didn’t hear the rest of her sentence. I bolted, running full-force towards the man I loved.

And he caught me. I have this thing where I run and jump on him when I’m excited. He said he heard the scurrying of everyone as well as the whoosh of dress and knew what was coming. That JP. Let’s check out the bridal bolt from a different angle.

I was on cloud nine.

A kiss and a hug for my groom, the first of many face-grabs to come that day.

Then it hit him. “You’re my bride! Let me look at you!”

“You look beautiful.” I, of course, giggled.

I asked him if he approved of my dress and what he thought, to which he replied, “You look like the girl I’m supposed to marry. It’s perfect.”

We talked for a few minutes and probably sounded like two little kids, but we were high on the moment. Spastic and bubbly and in love.

Then of course, he wanted to see where I’d put the mouse. I yanked up my skirt, as I did several times that day, and showed off the mouse. He was a big fan.

With my skirt already halfway up, we took some required shoe shots.

I have a shoe thing, I admit it.

After that, we all went inside and toweled off, because it was hot as all get-out. Into the air-conditioned gallery we went for portrait time!

For those questioning a first look, I say do it. I would do it one thousand times over. The rush was incredible, the moments were priceless, and it didn’t take away from the power of the ceremony either, I promise. We had an absolute blast during our entire first look. We allotted enough time so that we could have a few grand adventures, spend some time together, and just play. If you aren’t superstitious, do it, do it, do it. You won’t regret it.

*All photographs from Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love.

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