Read Happily Ever After: Part 1 here. Last night, as I laid in bed, I tried to replay the events of October 20. There were so many profound and amazing moments on our wedding day—from pulling on my dress to seeing Jack in his tux to exchanging vows to dancing with my dad. I can’t wait to see what our videographers and photographers captured so that we can at least try to relive the day. My wedding day started with an early wake-up call (and one of my sisters sleepily yelling, “Happy Wedding Day!”). For the bridesmaids, moms, and me, our hair and makeup prep started promptly at 8 a.m. So, with veil and hair accessories in tow, we made our way across the street from the Westin to Juut Salon in Gaviidae Commons. My stylist, Leah Lubbe, who had done two hair trials for me, went to work on creating my wedding-day look. Our group munched on Bruegger’s Bagels while we chatted about the events of the day (and caught up on some gossip from the after-party at Kieran’s the night before). By noon, we were back at the hotel, and all my bridesmaids looked gorgeous in their navy Jenny Yoo dresses and blush pearl necklaces. Our videographers (eMotion Cinematography) and photographers (BP Photography) arrived and began documenting the action at the hotel. They went back and forth from my room to Jack’s so they could record both sides of the "getting-ready" story. At 12:15, with the help of my beautiful mom and bridesmaids, I zipped into my wedding dress, stepped into my blush Badgley Mischka heels, slipped on my jewelry, and took a deep breath. Here we go! At that time, Jack and I exchanged gifts and letters. Since we weren’t writing our own vows, we had decided that we would exchange notes the morning of the wedding. The only problem was I couldn’t get through Jack’s letter without crying. The videographers had me read it out loud and I got to about the third sentence before I had to stop. Suddenly the magnitude of the day became very real. The ladies and I moved down to the hotel lobby, snapped a few photos, and boarded our limo bus to the church. (A nice surprise from Total Limo–they upgraded us to a 52-person luxury coach at no charge!) We settled into the church's bridal suite where we awaited the guys’ arrival. At the encouragement of our photographer, Jack and I decided to do a “first look” before the ceremony. That way, we got some of the nerves out of the way and were able to complete family pictures before guests arrived. The buildup to the first look was one of the most nerve-wracking times of the day. Our photographer positioned me outside, in front of the church, and had Jack walk around the corner. Relief came over me as soon as he was by my side, and the rest of the day seemed to go by with little to no anxiety. Even my walk down the aisle, which I had been worrying about for months, went smoothly. Yet, it was also one of the most surreal experiences I've ever had. I didn’t hear the music or see most of the guests. I just sort of floated along toward the altar. The ceremony was absolutely magical, but seemed to last only minutes. Vows were recited, rings were exchanged, blessings were read, and before I knew it, we were walking out the church as Mr. and Mrs. Jack Dean. [caption id="attachment_984" align="aligncenter" width="538" caption="Just Married! Exiting the church."]
[/caption] Our guests blew bubbles as we boarded the bus, and we kicked off the celebration by popping champagne. We had two hours until the reception began, so the bus transported our families and wedding party to a few iconic Minneapolis settings for photos: The Walker Sculpture Garden, St. Anthony Main, the Stone Arch Bridge, and in front of the Guthrie. [caption id="attachment_985" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="One of our "teaser" photos from BP Photography. Having fun in front of the Guthrie."]
[/caption] Our cocktail hour was held in Mill City Museum’s outdoor courtyard, which, in my opinion, is one of the prettiest places in all of Minneapolis. As the sun went down, guests enjoyed a view of the Mississippi River, passed hors d’oeuvres, and open bar. I eagerly awaited a certain event that was to occur at 7 p.m. Jack knew nothing about it, which is why I was so excited. Right on time, an authentic bagpiper entered the courtyard and began playing beautiful Irish music. By the second song, some of our guests joined in by performing traditional Irish dance moves. It was awesome. And the look on Jack’s face was absolutely priceless. (My sister joked that he might have been more happy to see the bagpiper than he was to get married.) [caption id="attachment_993" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="The surprise bagpiper."]
[/caption] By 7:30 p.m., our guests were led inside Mill City Museum to be seated for dinner. My St. Louis-born-and-raised husband chose our grand march song—“Ride Wit Me” by fellow St. Louis native and rapper, Nelly. Not a very traditional tune, but it was fun to see all of our wedding party members dance to it while they made their way to the head table. The food (as to be expected from D'Amico) was excellent. I wished we had more time to savor it. There we were, looking out from our head table, enjoying delicious food, and surrounded by people who loved us. The highlights of dinner were the speeches from our family members. My dad and stepbrother paid homage to my new Irish family by reciting an Irish-inspired welcome speech and blessing. Then, Jack's sister stood up and made us all laugh (and cry!) with an amazing speech that only a loving big sister could give. And then it came time for my two sisters to talk. These ladies have been through so much with me, and tears streamed down my face as they told stories from our childhood and from the past year of wedding planning. Thank goodness eMotion Cinematography got every word of the speeches on camera. I was so glad we hired a videographer! Before long, dinner was over, the cake was cut, and it was time to position ourselves on the dance floor for the first dances. Jack and I chose "God Gave Me You" by Blake Shelton for our first song. With the craziness of planning an out-of-town wedding, we never really had time to take professional dance lessons. Instead, we spent a few October nights in our Kansas City condo, practicing a simple box step (with a few choreographed twirls and dips added in). I'm glad we didn't worry too much about planning something intricate, because in the end, no one cared if we danced well or not. I even forgot we had 150 guests watching us. It was just Jack and me, and everything else sort of faded away. (Advice for brides: Cherish every bit of your first dance. It's one of the many events I wish I could relive. Reason number 327 to hire a videographer!) Next up was the father-daughter dance, which is always one of the most emotional parts of a wedding. When I was little, I viewed my dad as a hero and believed he had the answers to all of life's questions. I had dreamed of having him walk me down the aisle and dance with me on my wedding day. And now, all of the sudden, it was here. (Side note: Before we walked down the aisle, I warned my dad not to say anything. I knew that whatever nice things he said would result in me bawling before the church doors even opened! He decided to reserve those words for a note he sent a week after the wedding.) Months ago, my dad had suggested we do a choreographed dance. He is a big Jason Mraz fan and was convinced that "Living in the Moment" was the ideal song for our father-daughter routine. It wasn't until a week before the wedding, when no one was around, that we finally went to work, planning our once-in-a-lifetime dance. At the reception, my dad and I stepped out onto the floor and began with traditional four-count dancing. When Jason Mraz belted the chorus, we broke out into our surprise choreographed routine. This time, I noticed our guests. Everyone was either laughing, crying, or cheering for my dad and me. When the song reached its final chorus, we invited my two sisters to join us on the floor. Earlier that week, I had sent them an iPhone video with the moves they needed to learn, and now the four of us were dancing in unison. At one point, I looked over at my dad's face. He was beaming. I think he'll be talking about that dance for a few dozen years to come. [caption id="attachment_1006" align="aligncenter" width="576" caption="My sisters, my dad, and me performing our choreographed dance."]
[/caption] Jack and his mom followed our dance with a true tearjerker. She didn't know what song would accompany their dance until Bing Crosby began singing "Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ra (That's an Irish Lullaby)," a lullaby she had sung to Jack and his sister when they were little. I don't think there was a dry eye in Mill City Museum while they swayed on the dance floor. The rest of the night sped by. It was a blur of memorable songs (yes, "MMMbop" made an appearance), crazy dance moves, and the most amazing people in the world. I just hope everyone had as much fun as Jack and I did. At midnight, we were forced to end the night. (I literally could have stayed at Mill City for several more hours, despite the fact that my four-inch heels were killing my feet.) Unbeknownst to me, a lovely horse-drawn carriage was waiting for us in front of the museum. It was the perfect way to ride off into married life. And to top it all off, a little wedding fairy (still not sure who it was, but I am forever grateful) had placed two giant pieces of wedding cake at our hotel room door. My new husband and I sat down in our room, exhausted but exhilarated from the day, and devoured a couple more bites of our mouth-watering wedding meal. It's been nearly three weeks since the wedding, and I think I'm still coming down from the high. Even though our guests moved on, the presents are unwrapped, and October 20 came and went, I am happier than I've ever been. I am married to my best friend, and I know we have a lifetime of more memories to come (plus an incredible group of family and friends to share them with).