Tag Archives: recaps

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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Getting Ready: The Guys

While we were having our mini dance parties, partaking in a few beverages, and taking the entire morning to get dressed, the guys watched movies. They had brought game systems and tons of games to play that morning, but forgot some very necessary cords. No dice on the games, they were left with strange Saturday morning movies. (The most notable was Deep Blue Sea. Hola, LL Cool J.)

Bad TV at its best.

Matt took detail shots of JP’s great groom Chucks…

…and then JP got to stand on the bed to take pictures.

Then Laura brought over my card and gift to JP.

I had a specific order for him to open things. First the card, then he was to play a CD while he opened his gift.

He was quite amused with the card.

We have a long-running inside joke about re: saying “big love,” and so I couldn’t pass up this letterpress printed “big love” card I ran across. (Nothing to do with the HBO series, for the record.) Plus, who doesn’t want a wedding day monster card? Exactly.

Then it was time for the CD to be played. The disc itself was rather ghetto. Last-minute-bride forgot to buy printable CDs, and therefore hastily scrawled on a blank disc said bride had lying around. At least the outside case was pretty!

I am a person that mentally sets everything to music. Too many years of musical theater. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have such an appropriate/silly song play while he opened his present. So, as JP opened his gift, he had “Get Me to the Church on Time” playing in the background.

A wedding-day (and now everyday!) watch to help him get to the church on time.

He changed out the band that I’d also sent along, and then began writing his notes to the parents.

After leaving a huge present wake, it was time for him to get dressed.

First up? A shave, of course.

Then some more jumping on the bed time. (The hotel screwed us a bit on the suites. The boys got an infant-sized one, so portrait spots were fairly limited.)

Then they realized that JP had put his undershirt on backwards. Ruh-roh. He switched it around, but a full day of teasing followed.

That fixed, Best Man Joe helped him put on his cufflinks.

JP switched out the white buttons for black, put on his suspenders and cummerbund, and got all buttoned up. A big “unf” for the tuxedo shirt. Love. It.

Time for the bow-tie.

Nothing like a groom in a bow-tie.

Lastly, he gave a good tie to his shoes, and it was time to meet me for the first look!

Next up? First look action, complete with bridal attack.

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

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Getting Ready: Bringing It All Together

I’m not going to lie. I was a little nervous when it came time to put the dress on. The alterations and pressing weren’t finished until the Thursday before the wedding, and I never tried it on one last time. It was falling off at the last fitting, and the seamstress promised to fix it, along with some tacking issues, adding boning, etc. (She failed, but again, we’ll talk later about that.)

We decided that the best way to do this was for me to step into the dress. Not wanting to mess up any of the pleating (ha!), I sat on the bed and sort of slid into the dress.

I then stood up and took the tank I’d been wearing off. After playing basketball for 13 years, one learns how to totally undress and redress without showing everybody the kit and kaboodle.

I held the awfully heavy dress up while Mom and Laura zipped me in. There was a lot of boob-holding that day, as the dress was way. Too. Big. Didn’t bother me on the day of– I just kept absentmindedly hoisting it up or awkwardly boob grabbing.

Mom and Laura tied the bow, and then tried to fluff it to perfection.

After the dress was on, it was time for my something blue, one of Wednesday’s shaky mice. I still am eternally grateful to our kitty for letting us borrow one of her beloved toys for our wedding day.

Shaky mouse was safety-pinned into the underside of my skirt. It wasn’t visible from the outside, but I could always reach down and feel it for good luck and love.

Next, my mother put on my something borrowed, her pearls from my father.

I closed my eyes, held up my hair, and soaked up the moment.

Laura slid on my garters…

…and I leaned down to give her a hug. We were just big piles of love that day.

I sat down and she slid my shoes on.

Luke did a quick veil test, but we decided it would be better to put it on when the time for the first look came. Too much veil for travel!

With Hello Kitty and her kitty husband holding down the fort, and the other girls were dressing…

…it was time for Laura and me to leave for the first look!

I’d like to impart some words of wisdom at this point. While making your final preparations to put your gown, your accessories, and your special items on, realize what is happening. Don’t rush it. Be present. The amount of love and ceremony that came along with getting dressed was so special, so powerful, and so unexpected. Every element had a weight, a meaning, and I was filled with a love that I hope everyone is able to experience on their wedding day. Brides, relish in those moments with your family and friends. Absorb it, feel the love that is around you, and soak up every moment.

So, what was JP up to while I was having bridal-zen-love-fest 2k10? Well, we’ll see in the next installment of recap-a-palooza!

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

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Getting Ready: Hair, Presents, Crying, and a Video

While detail shots were being taken, I resumed position for the tail end of getting my hair done. I opted for clip-in extensions rather than sewn in ones, because with my fine hair we were afraid that it would destroy hair post-extensions. I admit, it was a little weird having an unknown Russian’s hair mixed in with mine, but I quickly got over that when I realized how long and awesome it looked. (Before I totally destroyed it, that is. Thanks, June weather in Georgia. Best wishes.) June also thought it would be a prime time to get a bit of an adult beverage into my system. (I bought the cups at Swoozies about 100 years ago. I’m pretty sure they still exist.)

When my hair was just about finished, Laura came back in with my wedding day gifts from JP.

I was nervous as to what they were, because I heard tons of awws, laughing, and crying the day before while he and Laura wrapped them in the back of the house. Nervous toe curl in the adorable pink Valentinos, along with evidence of the worst pedicure in history.

I opened the card first, which was so very sweet.

I still am surprised that I didn’t cry while reading it– cards and notes tend to turn me into an embarrassing mush!

Previous two card photos taken by me. Couldn’t resist.

Laura instructed me to open the larger package first, and much to my delight I found a Hello Kitty bride and groom.

You see, I have a thing for Hello Kitty, and JP knows it. Big time. I am banned from buying anything Hello Kitty for myself, otherwise we’d have an HK hoarders situation on our hands. My only avenue to HK is via JP, and he was sweet and thoughtful enough to track down these guys. So, so adorable.

Next up was the small package. Laura started crying as she handed it to me, and I had no idea what to expect. I carefully unwrapped the package…

…and cry number two hit like a ton of bricks. I instantly went from jovial to tearful, and thankfully everybody had tissues on standby.

What was this gift that turned me into an ugly-cry-face mess? As mentioned in my previous post, I had planned to wear the earrings that my father gave my mother on their wedding day. JP knew how special this was to me, and decided to continue the tradition. He gave me a pair of beautiful pearl earrings, just as my father had given my mother.

I promptly put them on, then Luke did the finishing touches on my hair.

I went to the bathroom to finish putting on makeup. (I have realized that my putting-on-lipstick face is a little too similar to a “Here’s Johnny!” Jack Nicholson face. Awesome.)

I checked Twitter and played with the giant scissors while the rest of the posse got their hair finished up.

To top this pre-dress getting ready adventure, here is a clip of the girls’ side of the morning from our longer-in-length wedding video from Matt Odom. It’s positively lovely, and you’ll get to see my weird switch to instant cry. And silliness, etc.

Next up? We’ll put on the dress, check on the boys, and blow this taco stand for the first look!

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

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Getting Ready: The details

When our pros arrived to start documenting, everything was lined up and ready to go for said detail shots. Brides, I highly recommend having all of your accessories, dresses, any paper goods you want shot, etc. neatly arranged for when your photographers arrive. Make a list a few days prior, then take a few minutes to set up that morning. It makes the process go so smoothly and much more efficiently.

Our dresses were all lined up after the steaming extravaganza.

The bridesmaids’ dresses were Vera Wang, and my dress was a slightly-modified (and slightly butchered/poorly altered) Christos. (I’ll save my alterations/dress failure for another time.)

I had a lovely hair flower headband from sweetpea & fawn to wear during the reception.

These 40-year-old pearl earrings were a gift from my father to my mother on their wedding day, she wore them on their wedding day, and graciously let me borrow them for our wedding day.

She also lent me a strand of pearls that were an anniversary present from my father, as shown here with the earrings and one of the bridesmaids’ hair flowers that we sewed the night before.

Wednesday was kind enough to let me borrow some of her mice to use as my something blue, and of course she got some catnip treats as a thank-you.

I was lucky enough to be able to have my grandmother’s hanky around for any potential crying episodes.

The beloved love flats…

My lovely garters from Julianne Smith

…and some probably-wedding-inappropriate underwear for the day.

Lastly, I had laid out our invitation suite, complete with freshly-written envelopes. (Later on you’ll see india ink stains on my right hand. Probably not a very good idea to use a dip pen on the morning of our wedding, but it also wouldn’t be very Lauren not to be covered in some sort of ink, paint, or other art mess.)

And there you have it, the getting-ready detail bits for the ladies’ suite! Next up? We get dressed, of course!

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

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