Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm officially a married woman. Now that free time is back in my life, I want to tell you all about the nitty gritty details of planning that I didn't have the time to share before the big day, but today I just want to tell you about the day itself. To say it was amazing is an understatement. It was everything I dreamed about (and more). The first concern on my mind when I woke up on Saturday, July 28 was the weather. I inched from my bed to the window, while simultaneously praying for the sun and mild 70–80 degree weather. (Sidenote: To everyone who said I wouldn't sleep the night before . . . I slept like a baby . . . I'm not sure what that says about either my previous sleep deprivation or my state of mind, but I was happy with the seven hours of sleep I got that left me bag-less under my eyes.) Anyway, when I cracked my shades and saw that the sun was shining, I knew the day was off to a bright start.
All my bridesmaids arrived shortly thereafter and we headed to the room designated at my parents' house for our preparations. There eight hair/makeup stylists met the eight bridesmaids, the two mothers, and myself with a very detailed schedule about who was working on whom and when. I sat down in an adjacent room to begin my prep. After three trial runs, I knew what I was in for, but that didn't change the feeling of excitement that bubbled in my stomach. It was nice being close to the girls, but not mixed in with the madness. They would occasionally peak on to check the progress, and I could hear the fun they were having, but I could also revel in the day on my own and know that this was probably the only calm I would have almost all day. The Fiance and I exchanged one text, but we were otherwise on radio silence all morning. While I was being prepped, the photographer popped in to snap some shots of us getting ready. He also took my dress, jewelry, and invites to capture before the madness began. I had a whole stack of goodies that I wanted him to shoot: our save-the-date (complete with a stamped envelope that included our personalized picture), all my jewelry, my shoes, my accessories, my certificate of authenticity from Vera Wang, the "emily hearts brian" hanger for my dress, and a few other odds and ends. I heard rumblings that while we were getting ready he actually took my dress outside to hang from a tree by the river my parents live on (had we actually seen this I may have a had a panic attack, but I trusted him completely).
Once the hair and makeup was complete, we headed over to my childhood bedroom to get dressed. (Sidenote No. 2: Everyone also says you forget to eat on your wedding day, which seems almost impossible. I had bridesmaids, mothers, grandmothers, anyone and everyone shoving food in my face all morning because people were afraid I wouldn't have enough sustenance to make it through the day. I think I had a bigger breakfast the morning of the wedding than I had in months!) Nonetheless, once we got there, I waited for my mom to arrive so she could help me into my dress. All the bridesmaids were already dressed, so they were in the background, which visually made for some nice images. I wish I would have thought about the pictures because there were little piles of everyone's clothes in the background, but who's complaining . . . Once we were all dressed, we hit my parent's yard for pictures with just the girls. Since The Fiance and I weren't seeing each other until the ceremony, I wanted to get all the "maids" pictures done ahead of time. We all carefully navigated the yard without ruining our shoes (the heels certainly got a bit dirty, but nothing a little water couldn't fix). After a few pictures in our yard with my parents, I decided to take my dress off for the trolley ride with the bridesmaids and get redressed at the church (no use risking a wrinkle). At this point in the day, were still going according to our wedding planner's timeline (all 12 pages of it), so I was feeling good and enjoying being surrounded by all the women who I care about most in the world. It wasn't until I saw the church that it all became very real . . . and the excited nerves kicked in. Once we arrived at the church, the planner quickly ushered me into a side room, while the guys wandered around the inside of the church waiting for the guests to escort. We had eight groomsmen, so they also served as ushers. I nearly saw The Fiance (his back was to me) on a last-minute bathroom run, but fortunately he didn't see me (and I didn't have the dress on, so we would have been safe nonetheless). We killed an hour in that room, taking pictures and goofing around as friends do. I didn't even put my dress back on until about 15 minutes before the ceremony, so I felt comfortable the whole time.
When the time came to head for the back of church, all the bridesmaid left, which meant it was just my dad and me left to face the music. I think this was the moment we were both dreading. It's such a happy and exciting day, but there is a monumental shift that happens when the father gives away the daughter, and I'm admittedly a total daddy's girl. This is the one part of the day that I knew would be really tough for me . . . and for him. Plus, I'm a hugely emotional person at weddings (seriously, I could be at a complete stranger's wedding and I guarantee that I cry when the father walks the bride down the aisle), so as the two of us stood there, me in my dress and him in his tux, we tried to talk about anything and everything that wouldn't make us cry: my crazy dog, the McDonald's French fries that would await us at the late night party after the reception, the realization that this day was actually here. We were doing okay until I saw the planner start to head for the doors to get us. Then I totally lost it. It was a momentary loss, but still, the makeup lady was right there to blot my eyes and pinch my cheeks. After a few satisfactory sniffles and some deep breaths and a BIG hug by my dad, we made our way to the back of the church. The doors were closed, so the planner fluffed up my dress and lined up my veil so when the doors opened, I could head straight down the aisle to my groom. Once the doors opened and I looked up, the adrenaline ride began and I don't think it ended until we arrived on our honeymoon. (OK, I'll admit there were a few more tears during the actual "give away" process at the altar, but I'm only human.) Once I reached the end of the aisle, survived the big "give away" and the ceremony began, the day just started to fly by. The ceremony was a smashing hit, even with its imperfections that made it memorable (one example, the priest changed the gospel on us; in his defense he wanted something that suited us better than a generic reading about love, but you can imagine my surprise when he said "A reading from the gospel according to "Luke" instead of "John"). Our guests were especially surprised when The Fiance and I headed to the front of the altar to distribute the Eucharist to our visitors (a great idea for a Catholic wedding).
Seeing as though my husband and I are both Notre Dame domers, we wanted to include that in our wedding somehow. Thus, the "Marry Like a Champion Today" sign was born. It's an ND thing; the players all slap a sign that says "Play Like a Champion Today" before every game . . . so we thought, as we left the church and headed into our new life as a married couple, we could do something similar. The resulting photo is one of our favorites. Immediately following the ceremony, The Husband and I grabbed a few minutes to ourselves hidden away in a side room while our guests lined up outside the church doors for our grand exit. My dad had found an amazing Excalibur car that was parked outside for us, so once we got the cue, we ran through the church, out the doors, and into the car for a quick spin around the block. Our guests cheered us on, and though we only went around the block because we had to head immediately back to the church for pictures, it was a fun exit and another great photo opp. (Sidenote No. 3: Have a list of every picture you want for the photographer printed out AND have a digital copy in your e-mail. The one thing I forgot was to print the list, but thankfully a bridesmaid grabbed my phone and we could reference the list from there. All the pictures moves so fast: mom and dad, mom and dad and brother and sister, mom and dad and gram, etc. Having a list certainly helps!) Once we couldn't stand smiling another minute on the altar, we let the wedding party board the trolley (complete with snacks and beer) and head back to my parent's house. The photographer grabbed The Husband and me, and we hit the exterior of the church for some more snapshots. Our photographer has an amazing eye for cool backdrops, so we let him call the shots. We played around with all sorts of different locations for just the two of us, before heading back to my parents for more pictures with the whole group. After about two hours of shooting this and that, we loaded up the trolley once again (only 30 minutes behind schedule) for the reception. Details on that to come in my next Real Brides post. Check back for part two, and I'll include more pictures (with a few from the front) and a video from our wedding flash mob; yep, I said it. We had a flash mob at our wedding. As always, happy planning and until next time . . .