We're married! Oh-me oh-my we made it! What an unbelievable ride this has been. From conception to reception (I made that up!), it's just been amazing, and I thought I'd share a few words reflecting on what made the experience one for the history books.
To truly start at from the top, I must begin with the proposal. I was more nerved up for this act than I was for the ceremony itself, but I'm glad for it. It meant a lot to Ashley (and myself) that I did it in a meaningful way. In the months leading up to the wedding, this event would be reflected on many many times and analyzed for it's creativity, emotion, "me'ness", and most importantly sincerity. To half-ass a proposal would set the stage for a half-assed engagement, wedding, and marriage. So the stage was set for a "whole-assed" experience!
Whatever rules apply to planning a proposal also apply to the wedding planning, but on a much larger timescale. While the proposal requires forethought and effort in exchange for meaning, this can realistically be figured out within weeks or even days. Wedding planning, on the other hand, requires months of attention and many sacrifices. Still, it should be a fun experience that strengthens your relationship with each other and with your families and friends.
I must admit that Ashley clocked far more time than I did on the wedding planning timecard, but nearly every decision - big or small - was made by both of us. We divvied up the to-do lists, did our things, and met back in the middle when it was time to weigh options. The result was a relatively painless (I daresay it was fun!) planning phase and an unforgettable wedding that reeked of our collective personality, and for that we can thank ourselves over and over.
To be a bit more specific, Ashley was basically the art director for the wedding. Virtually every decoration came out of her binder of wedding ideas and was reviewed and refined with me. From paper lanterns, to bird cages, rustic photo frames, flowers, and hundreds of vintage bottles. While she was collecting and crafting, I was messing around in photoshop. After designing our Save the Dates, Invites, and RSVPs, I had some fun photoshopping our faces into the famous painting "American Gothic" which we used on our candy bar wrappers and as a sign for the seed packet favors. Then there was the task of finding (~140) photos to print as fake polaroids which would be strung up on a clothesline around the corral. With the help of Ashley's dad, we all painted boards with city names and distances as a tip of the hat to how far everyone had travelled. And I can't forget the first dance, which Ash choreographed and taught me in pieces over the span of a couple months. Each of these things brought us together, brought us joy, and gave us a deeper sense of purpose.
[video of our first dance]
Two people can only do so much, however, and when it comes to throwing a wedding and reception for over 100 people, I'm convinced the two people in question would have to quit their jobs for a couple months to make it happen. This is where friends and family can make all the difference. First of all, I should mention that Ash and I were lucky not to have bossy family members who insisted on certain decor or ceremonial proceedings... so crucial! Our parents made many suggestions and contributed an immeasurable amount of help across the board, but their biggest contribution may have been simply to let this be our wedding.
Some (and this is really just scratching the surface) contributions of our parents included the building of a natural wood arbor, painting of many signs, buying, cutting, and gluing candy bar wrappers, planting wheat grass boxes as a stage for free seed packets, preparing huge vegetable, cheese and fruit platters, making gift bags for all the guests at the inn, making a basket of emergency bathroom stuff, hosting the rehearsal dinner, and helping us pay for many other items and services, both small and large. Then of course there was all of the communicating that needed to be done which we were lucky to have help with. By the way, I really feel that our relationships with family and friends were strengthened by asking these favors of them. Not only did we get to spend more time with those who helped us, but they got to really be a part of this super-important event of ours.
We owe thanks to so many friends for their help with the wedding, and rest assured that if you helped you'll be receiving a thank you note. However, there are a few people who I have to mention specifically here because without them the wedding would not have been as special as it was.
Jackie "M.O.H. Extraordinaire" Donnelly made herself super-available to our every need, provided the beautiful bouquets that the bridesmaids held, photographed Ashley and I for the table-name photos, and wowed us all with an incredibly moving (yet very comedic) toast at the reception.
When I told Nick "Every Problem Has A Solution" Mosher that my grandparents would be stuck in a hospital during the wedding, he set his life aside and went and found a way let them be a part of the wedding. Without me even asking, he checked wireless coverage at the Inn and found that we'd probably be able to use his 3G phone as a modem to connect to Skype since the Inn was without broadband. In a day we had tested it successfully on our own computers, and the following morning I was chatting with him via my laptop at the hospital. A massive weight of guilt and sadness that was sitting on many of our shoulders was lifted.
"Reverend" Jonathan Welch, first of all, said "yes" when Ashley and I sat down with him and asked if he would officiate our wedding. He then did the legwork and paperwork to make our union official, and sealed the deal on the 21st by delivering the perfect ceremony -- ask anyone who was there. Few could have told our story with his timing and candor, and certainly no one with his perspective.
At this point I could go into detail describing the ceremony and reception, the tearjerkers, surprises and bloopers. Scott's and Chris' toasts, by-the-way, will stick with us for a long time - if not for their sincerity and the laughs, then because we probably captured them on video. ;) Anyway... I digress. The point is love, and the giving, accepting, and sharing of it. To all of you who attended, and to everyone who has supported us in our lives together: Thank you. You have filled our cups to the brim, and though we dare not drink another drop for fear of bursting with love, you pour on.
My dad flew in last Thursday and words cannot describe how fabulous it has been to have him here! My dad and I are two peas in a pod, and I'll be the first to admit that I am a Daddy's Girl. :o) During my childhood years my dad was my soccer coach and braided my hair, putting beads at the end of each braids so I could look cool and hip like the Fly Gurls from "In Living Color." He taught me to fearlessly ride the waves on a groovy, orange boogie-board. He introduced me to every genre of music and was my trusty date to my elementary school's Father-Daughter Dance. Because of my dad, I enjoy tie-dye, traveling, and shamelessly acting like a complete spaz. In a word, my dad is AWESOME...and if you've met him, I think you'd agree. ;o) Needless to say, my dad is a *B I G* part of my life and so it's only natural that he take on a large role in helping us prepare for our wedding.
No, that doesn't mean he's footin' the bill. On the contrary, Adam and I are paying for the majority of our Big Day, but all parents are contributing in some way. I would never ask, expect, or allow my father to pay for our entire wedding---not only is it old-fashioned, but I think it's ridiculous to be under the impression that Daddy should pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for every aspect of a wedding. Financial assistance is greatly appreciated, yes, but gee whiz brides-to-be, let's get a little bit more in tune with our inner feminist and take on some of that financial responsibility, eh? I could go to great lengths with this, but I digress...Let's get back to the real reason for this post, shall we? We shall.
SO! Other than being the best dad in the world and being one of my very best friends and being the one who will walk me down the aisle in four weeks---which, by the way, is something I've imagined and cried about on multiple occasions for a number of years---I am proud to announce that my father is contributing his handy-man skills and making us a variety of awesome, custom-made goodies to go with our rustic and personalized wedding theme!
Tomorrow = Sign-Making Day!
From the get-go I knew I wanted to somehow represent my California roots. Stating the mileage from Chocorua, New Hampshire to my hometown of San Diego popped into my head without any question...but then we thought it would be fun to represent all the other major places our guests are traveling from! We've got friends and family from all over the map---California, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Maine, Kansas, Florida, Costa Rica---so why not pay homage to everyone's homeland? It's always fun to see how far away one place is from another place, right? Right! And it doesn't get any more rustic than old slats of wood (picked up from the side of the road and weathered to perfection), paintin' on 'em with white paint, and nailing them to a post. Stick it in a whiskey barrel and call it macaroni, woo! My dad has worked for years making sets and props for a theater company back in San Diego, so creating something like this is right up his alley and I know he's stoked about it. In addition to the multi-location directional sign post, I'd like to have signs like the ones you see pictured: one to put at the top of the dirt road that leads to The Brass Heart Inn, one that points in the direction of the ceremony, another one that points to the barn, and maybe one to lead guests to the fabulous photo booth that Adam and I will have set up inside the barn (*more info on THAT coming soon!).
Since early this week my dad has been working on constructing an arbor (with the help of Adam's dad, too!), which will be used for our ceremony---something quite similar to a "huppah", except we're not Jewish so I don't feel right calling it by that name. The Brass Heart Inn has one we could use, but it's one of those cheesy white-lattice ones and I just couldn't stand the idea of getting married under something so trite. Having a more natural-looking arbor was what I had in mind, and I knew that my dad would jump on the opportunity to make one. :o) The two dads collected branches from the woods of Salisbury and having been working their magic, creating us a special arbor which we have yet to see! They are anxious to surprise me and Adam with the finished product tomorrow, and I can't wait to see it! I have no doubt it will be awesome and better than I could have imagined, as this is something my father has been obsessing over for at least six months! Not only will it make for a picturesque ceremony site, but Adam and I will be able to move the custom arbor to our backyard and use it as an entryway to our future garden. Aww!
It means *so* much to know that my dad is excited for me and to know that he wants to help in any way, shape or form. Having my dad contribute his creative talents and personal touches to help us achieve our desired wedding aesthetic is truly priceless. Words cannot describe just how sentimental a person I am, especially when it concerns my dad, so I am thrilled about having his creations be a part of not just our wedding day, but the rest of our lives. Maybe we're not the first couple to have a family member construct something for the ceremony, or go with a rustic barn theme, but it still feels pretty great to know that NO ONE else in the world has ever had personalized wedding'y facets created by *my* dad. It's truly the little things that will make our wedding unique and extra-special, and I couldn't be happier. :o)
*Major props and thanks to my dad, as well as Adam's dad, for their dedication, enthusiasm, craftsmanship, and love!*
Woke up this morning and thought to myself, "Ah yes, it's Wednesday. I've got my running group tonight." But then after breakfast I took a gander at our dry-erase-board calendar and saw something in bright yellow ink:
"One Month Till Our Big Day!"
Holy crap! How could I have forgotten?? 'Tis the 21st of July and we are just four weeks shy of our wedding day. Let me just say that once more so it really sinks in:
WE ARE JUST FOUR WEEKS AWAY FROM THE DAY IN WHICH WE SHALL BE MARRIED.
It's kinda surreal, really. Am I excited? Absolutely! But stopping to realize that I'll be ridding my title of "Miss Ashley" and moving to "Mrs. Fraser" is just craziness. Getting married is BIG DOINS! It's like nothing I have ever felt or experienced. So really, the best way to describe how I'm feeling is "surreal."
I wasn't your "typical" little girl who dreamed about her wedding, wrapped in white bed sheets with flowers in hand. The *ONLY* things I have been certain of all these years is a) having my dad walk me down the aisle b) dancing my father-daughter dance to a Jimmy Buffet song c) no roses. I've always known I've wanted to be married, but despite my brief obsession with Jonathan Taylor Thomas ( J.T.T. had *much* nicer hair than this Justin Bieber kid....), there was no guy I could really picture myself marrying. Truth be told, I wasn't too sure I was "the marrying type." I began to believe I would never meet my ideal guy, and so I devised my after-college-graduation plan: Buy a VolkswagonVanagon with camper pop-top; buy a dog as a trusty co-pilot companion; drive around the United States, visiting and camping in all the National Parks and figuring out which of the 48 continental states I ought to move to. (!)
Thankfully, Mr. Adam Fraser---former internet pen-pal and long-distance amigo of three years PRIOR to our romantic connection---turned into a most excellent significant other, and now future husband!!!! Sometimes I yearn for the VW and dog and the traveling....but at least I know now that I'll have a life-partner with whom to share those experiences with, and I couldn't be more thrilled, grateful, and filled with exorbitant amounts of glee! :o) Thinking about our wedding day makes me smile, simple as that---it's gonna be fun, memorable, and not a happy ending but rather a happy BEGINNING.
SO! Just four weeks to go and so much to do:
Get all the D.I.Y. projects done (and there are many a'D.I.Y. project to be had).....
Pick up my altered dress.....
Pick up our rings.....
Write our vows....
Finalize our ceremony lay-out with "Reverend Jon Welch"....
Finish our first dance choreography...
Make our final song list(s)....
Pay deposits (with what money!?!?)....
Purchase our marriage license at the New Hampshire city clerk's office....
Pray to the sun gods for fabulous weather for the duration of our Wedding Weekend..... ;o)
On the upside:
*We've received all of our RSVP's and can start working on the seating arrangements----w00t!
*My dad is in town visiting and building our natural arbor and other fun goodies for the wedding
*Adam is a super-essited groom-to-be, and that makes me so proud and happy and giddy---tee hee!
There's a lot to be done in the next four weeks, there's no denying that....but I'm not stressed out like your typical bride-to-be. Sorry, no Bridezilla here---I'm too busy with directing / choreographing children's musical theater productions and job-hunting to be preoccupied with minute wedding details. The weeks are flying by, but I'd much rather be EXCITED for our big day o' nuptials instead of stressed beyond belief, because what good is it gonna do being a moody stressball? I may not be a religious individual, but I have faith that our wedding day will be most excellent...and I can't wait to be married to my friend, my Fiend, my confidante, my teammate, my partner, my love..... <3
Adam and I both just *love* the look of glowing Chinese paper lanterns, and the calming ambiance they bring to any venue. We're most excited about bringing these relatively modern orbs of light to the rustic barn in which our reception will be held. What a lovely lighting accessory they shall make, hanging from the beams and wagon wheels that are suspended from the ceiling, and working in tandem with the white twinkly lights that shall be wrapped around the railings of the mezzanine!! We are certain that our amazing photographer, Shyla Dalirifar (www.shylaphotography.com) will capture the sense of romance and fun throughout the reception, and we couldn't be more thrilled! And I personally can't wait to cut a rug all night long under these little paper moons..... <3
When it comes to big purchases, Adam likes to do his research....look at every option.....narrow down his choices.....do some more research.....try things on for size....not make any quick decisions.....sleep on the idea of MAKING a decision....and after some time, finally decide that a decision must be made. ;o)
As I made mention in my last post, I already chose which wedding band I wanted; took less than 15 minutes! Went to Kay's and made my purchase tonight, done and done. I'm pleased to report, however, that my dear fiancé finally made his decision--AND purchase!-- just 45 minutes later. *HUZZAH!*
Both of our bands have to be sized, but they'll be ready for pick up in 2 weeks. Once we have them in our posession, I'll be motivated to sew a groovy ring bearer pillow for 'em to rest upon during their march down the aisle! :o)
We are just 6 weeks away from the A & A Wedding of the Century, and there is still quite a bit left to cross off on the ol' To Do list....It's time we really crack down and bring our A-game. *ba-dum, chhh!*
Yesterday, Adam and I went on a massive errand-running spree up in New Hampshire. It started out hot and sunny---Adam went surfing in Hampton, and I went for a run to the post office---but then the skies turned gray and the predicted rain began to fall. It certainly didn't keep us from being ultra-productive, though! We popped over to Gram's for a bit so she could alter the bridesmaid dress I'll be wearing on August 7th in Yankton, South Dakota...then we went to Michael's for some bouttonniere-making ingredients...followed by Best Buy so I could finally buy a new MP3 player (hooray!!!). Adam also got a groovy pair of slip-ins from Old Navy for $7.00 and a pair of new flip flops at Pac Sun, and ate a nutritious and delicious lunch at Fresh City. Then into the ol' Fox Run Mall we went, with the mission of finding fun ties for the groomsmen (preferably orange paisley).
Our search for fun groomsmen ties was a bust, but Adam DID enable text messaging on his cell phone FIIIIIIIINNALLY, after 4 years of textless communication. Then, much to my surprise, Adam suggested we pop into one of the jewelry stores to look at and try on wedding bands. *gleeful squeak!* Did my fiancé just think of something we had been talking about doing for a month now (and obviously escaped my mind completely)??? What a treat it was to have Adam remember a vital wedding-prep. detail! ;o)
Anywho, we talked with Anna from Kaye Jewlers for nearly an hour---she was a hoot and she likes us as well; said she's "putting us down with an 'F' for 'fun-people.'" She was thrilled with the fact that all of our names started with 'A', thereby making us The A-Team of course. ;o) She was super patient and helpful, letting us kinda run the show and explain what we like, don't like, etc. We never felt pressured by her, and that's huge with me because salespeople typically drive me crazy (especially when they think I don't know what they're trying to do). Adam, the most indecisive man to walk the face of this planet, and me, a relatively particular and no-nonsense individual, were semi-successful with this wedding band endeavor.
I believe I found the band I want, and for an *awesome* price too. It's a petite , 1/6 TDW chevron-style band with a cute beading lining on both sides of the row of tiny diamonds; 14k white gold band, to match that of my engagement ring. It's a small enough band to keep the engagement diamonds as the focus, but not so small that it gets lost. I think it's a lovely compliment; a happy match. "That was easy."
Adam tried on nearly every single ring, but for the giant mafia'esque "bling" and is still on the fence with the ones he narrowed out as "liking, but not loving." We both kinda dug the unique'ness of this stainless steel cable one, as well as the simple cross-hatch pattern. But I think The Fiend (aka: Adam) craves something more simple, and if he could he'd take the frickin' sizing band as his wedding ring! [no joke, Adam asked if there was a band that looked and felt as comfortable as the sizing band...LOL!]
I've put in my two cents (i.e. no yellow gold, PLEEEASE!), but I'm very willing to let Adam choose his wedding band. After all, I chose my engagement ring and I'm choosing my wedding band as well. HIS wedding band isn't gonna be on MY finger, it'll be on his. He's got to like it. I'll let him take some time before making the final decision....but not TOO much time, of course, because we're only SIX WEEKS AWAY and I'd really like to have bands purchased sooner than later. Anna-at-Kaye's-Jeweler mentioned that once you order a ring there's typically a two week turn-around, so we really gotta place an order in the not-too-distant future!