On July 14th, 2018, Mike and I were married in front of 105 of our dearest friends and family. The day unfolded similarly to how I envisioned it would when we got engaged 8 months earlier on Kapalua Beach in Maui; But the truth is, I don’t think anyone can prepare you for your wedding day. What surprised me most was the overwhelming amount of love, gratitude, pride, and fun I had. Feeling an inordinate amount of even just one of these emotions is a euphoric experience, but combining them all so that they create a magical, never-before-felt feeling of bliss that stays with you for hours… that is what made our wedding day the best day of my life thus far.
So many times I remember taking a step back and thinking “Remember this moment. SAVOR this moment. This is special. You are so lucky. You are so loved.” Every second of our wedding my immense gratitude didn’t escape me. For those who traveled far (we had guests from London, the East Coast, and my Aunt and Uncle DROVE from Atlanta, GA) and to be with the people I love most in the world, in one place at one time. For people from all stages of my life finally meeting for the first time or reuniting, dancing, laughing, and crying together. Every time I saw my friends and family sharing a moment my heart burst into a hundred pieces.
In no shock to anyone, the person who made it the absolute best day was the man I married; I fell in love with Mike over, and over, and over again. At our first look, during our vows, when we went to the beach at sunset, our first dance… I look back at our photos and just see us beaming at each other. And that’s exactly how I felt the entire day; I had the brightest light inside of me that was made up of all of this love, and there was nowhere for it to go but to radiate out.
Since there is so much to share, I’m going to break it up into two parts: the Ceremony and Reception, starting with the ceremony (I also have some wedding planning “tips” at the end, should you be curious and I also won’t be offended if you don’t read any of this and just look at the photos, or watch our wedding video :)…
Deciding our Vision and Venue:
We decided early on that the most important element of our wedding was that it was a reflection of us; we wanted it to be relaxed, outdoors, personal, full of love, and most of all fun. It wasn’t hard to land on Orange County as the location, as we travel there often to visit our family. We spend a lot of time in San Clemente visiting my brother Aaron, his wife Domo, and our niece Dinah, and it’s equidistant between where our parents live. If you haven’t noticed yet, we are beach people, so it was easy to land on the theme of a “beach wedding.” When we chose San Clemente as the location, Domo quickly suggested the Ole Hanson Beach Club. From the moment we saw the photos online, my heart was set. The Spanish architecture, proximity to the beach, and overall elegance of the venue were exactly what we were looking for; a place that is special and unique, and not to mention a place we could easily revisit in the years to come. We visited the venue 3 weeks after we got engaged when we were home for Christmas, and took it as a sign that the ONLY date they had left for the Summer of 2018 was July 14th, and that was that.
Our First Look:
We are both thrilled we decided to have a first look. Not only did it make sense logistically (so we could take photos before the ceremony and attend our cocktail hour), but it really helped calm our nerves. I was doing pretty well while I was getting ready that morning/afternoon, but once we made our way to the venue and I started to see everything set up the gravity of the day started to sink in. It wasn’t until I put on my dress in the bridal suite and I was told Mike was upstairs that I started to get nervous. Not the jittery kind of nervous, but the anticipation kind, most of all because I just wanted to see him so badly. Leading up to our wedding I had teased him so many times, asking him what he thought my dress would look like; a big cupcake dress or something “sexy.” When the moment came for us to finally meet and Emily, our wedding coordinator, lead me out to the front of the building I remember taking a deep breath, feeling ready and excited. And just like that, when I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around I immediately started to cry. I felt a huge sense of relief to finally be together, knowing that we would face the rest of the day, and all of our days forward together. We both were just sort of a mess those first couple moments, taking turns crying, smiling, kissing and saying “This is so crazy! It’s finally here!” We then took our photos and said hi to family and friends that had started to arrive.
We asked our former colleague and dear friend, Amy, to officiate our ceremony. It was important to us that our officiant was a significant figure in our lives, and Amy has special relationships with us individually and as a couple (we often describe our relationship as a mother/sister/mentor/best friend). She has always supported our relationship, and not to mention she’s one of the warmest and kindest people you’ll ever meet, we knew she would do a fantastic job. And let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Many of our guests told us after the ceremony that it was the best ceremony they had been to, because of the backstory and context Amy told about how we fell in love and our journey that lead to us getting married. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
And now a bit of the story of Mike and Brittny. Theirs is a story of timing. It’s a story of growth, of perseverance, and of patience. It’s a story of undeniable chemistry. It’s a story of a die-hard Giant’s fan and a die-hard Dodgers fan, and proof that this unique and precarious combination can live in harmony. It’s a story of timing so perfect that everything came together to create the absolutely gorgeous moment we’re having today. We are here today to celebrate the love that Mike and Brittny have for each other and to give recognition to their decision to commit their lives to each other and accept each other completely…
I am one of the fortunate few who had the honor of seeing Mike and Brittny fall in love. We worked together at a software company, and during the early stages of their relationship, the timing was a bit of an issue. However, there was no denying that Mike and Brittny had something truly special, and it was clear that eventually, we would come to this moment. It was meant to be…
At one point in their relationship, both Brittny and Mike experienced significant pain and heartbreak and personal growth. During that time, Brittny focused on training for the San Francisco Marathon. While they were not officially a couple at the time, Mike and Brittny remained close friends.
Mike wanted to support Brittny by going to the marathon to cheer her on, but Brittny was hesitant. She began the race, and at mile marker #3, there was Mike, holding a sign that said, “Go, Yuloo!”
She continued on and got to a place where she was struggling. As she approached mile marker #16, she was both mentally and physically worn down and wondered if she could continue.
And there was Mike, holding up the sign that read, “Go, Yuloo!”
I love that story not just because it’s like a scene from an unwritten romantic comedy, but because it’s about perseverance on both sides, and that Brittny knows that when times are hard, Mike will be there to hold her up and support her. That when Mike needs Brittny, she will be there to hold him up and support her. And that together will be there for each other, supporting each other along the way, and that they are absolutely meant to be.
Amy closed the ceremony by reading the Apache Wedding Blessing, which was also read at her own wedding.
Admittedly, if I had to pick one absolute favorite part of the day, it would be our ceremony. And, isn’t the whole point of a wedding the ceremony, to formally and officially declare your love? Nowadays so much focus has turned to the reception and party, and don’t get me wrong, we had a GREAT reception and were very focused on guests having a good time. But we found that saying those words to each other, expressing our love and commitment to one another in front of those we love most and to legally be a family, it really does feel different now. To us anyway. I truly am all for whatever people believe and what works for them; for Mike and me, it was our wedding ceremony and declaring our love to one another that solidified our forever.
We spent a lot of time thoughtfully choosing songs for our ceremony, to reflect the symbolism of who was walking down the aisle at that moment. We wanted to set a more serious tone with our family entrance and change it up for the flower girls to make it fun and upbeat (this also helped when they practiced walking down the aisle). One thing we struggled with for a couple months was the song I would be walking down the aisle to. Mike decided he wanted an instrumental song, but we just couldn’t find one we both liked that wasn’t too sad or serious. We were listening to John Mayer one night at home, and when Gravity came on, we sort of just looked at each other with this look of “Duh!” John Mayer is my favorite artist (I know, judge away!) and Gravity is my favorite song of his. Lastly, landing on All You Need is Love was definitely inspired by this scene from Love Actually 😉 :
Mike & Family Entrance: Ophelia by Vitamin String Quartet
Flower Girl Entrance: How Sweet It Is To Be Loved by You by James Taylor
Processional: Gravity by John Mayer
Recessional: All You Need is Love by The Beatles
In keeping with our goal to have our wedding be intimate and personal, we decided to write our own vows. In natural form I had written mine months earlier and was fairly confident about them. I included my favorite quote/poem by Mitsugi Saotome in mine, and built in my promises through his words; to laugh with each other, to touch, enjoy the beauty of the stars, to grow, and discover the joy of challenge and each other. But Mike… Oh Mike. I should have known he would one-up me. And he sure did and really brought down the house with his vows. I don’t remember what his were exactly because I was sobbing through them, but they included lyrics from Gravity. He said that the first time he ever saw me, the feeling he felt was Gravity, and he promised to keep me where the light is; that light is our life and our love. Just. So. Amazing.
“Breaking from Tradition”:
As I mentioned earlier, we wanted our wedding to be a reflection of us, even if that meant deviating from tradition. My step-dad, Frank, has been in my life since I was 9 years old. Admittedly, I wasn’t too stoked on him those first couple of years (my mom’s new boyfriend, come on I had to give him a little bit of a hard time), but over time when I would go through bouts of not getting along with either one of my parents, Frank was my solice; he was always there to keep my secrets or sympathize with me on which parent was currently ruining my life. Frank is the most patient, endearing, and supportive person I know. He has always treated me like I his own daughter, despite our lack of shared DNA. Because of our special bond, it was only natural to me that both he and my dad walked me down the aisle, and that I had father-daughter dances with them both. And I wouldn’t change that for the world. Having both of the men I have loved my entire life walk me down the aisle is something I am so proud of, and I know they are too.
Both Mike and I are incredibly blessed to have many friends from every stage of our life that we are fortunate to still be close to. For me personally, I have friends from preschool through college, colleagues I’ve kept in touch with and friends I’ve met through others that are all a huge part of my life. Something I really like about myself is that for as long as I can remember I’ve always had a lot of friends and from a young age I’ve always put a lot of effort into my friendships. I try to treat my friends how I want to be treated; special, loved, seen, uplifted, and supported. It just didn’t feel right to us to only select a handful of our many friends to stand up there with us. It didn’t feel right to say someone is more special than the other, because all of our friends have carried or lifted us at monumental moments in our lives. So instead, I invited my friends over in the morning while I was getting ready for bagels and mimosas, and they all came early before our ceremony to take photos with us. It was the best way to incorporate everyone and still spend dedicated time with them on our wedding day.
Ceremony Vendors & Tips:
We were incredibly lucky to know a few of our vendors before we worked with them. Domo (who was truly the unsung hero of our wedding) introduced us to Emily, who is Domo’s best friend’s brother’s girlfriend. Did you follow that?? Anyway, when I met Emily in person, I knew she would be our coordinator because of her warm aura, and at the time was also starting her own business as a coordinator and florist. She mentioned she studied flowers under Shannon of CargoCreative, who I had already been following for years on Instagram. When I reached out to Shannon and told her our budget, she was so helpful in making suggestions for how we could make everything work. And I personally think my bouquet is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but I know I’m biased 🙂 Lastly, Heather, our photographer, shot Aaron and Domo’s wedding five years ago, so she was naturally our first choice for our photographer as well. And although I didn’t know her before I started working with her, Kaylyn, our invitations and design guru was an absolute joy to work with. She is incredibly talented and the sweetest person.
I can’t tell you how much it put our minds at ease to have these friends be in charge of such important aspects of our wedding. I highly recommend getting vendor recommendations from friends or from your venue and then trusting them. Not only are these people professionals at what they do, but I like to think ours had a personal investment in making sure our day went by flawlessly.
Photographer: Heather of Vallentyne Photography
Videographer: Brian of Love is Cinema
Wedding Coordinator: Emily of The Moody Blooms
Flowers: Shannon of CargoCreative
Groom’s Suit: Calvin Klein
Arch & Guestbook: Built Gary Gettman, Father of the Groom
Details (Invitations, Chalkboard, Guestbook design, etc.): Kaylyn of Pirouette Paper
Bride’s Dress: Essence of Australia via Archive Bridal
Bride’s Veil: Borrowed from my cousin, Caroline Wesley
Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Sarah of Beach Bridal Beauty
If you made it this far, I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read about our ceremony. It was truly magical, and I thank you for allowing me to express that to you.