Engagement Shots: The Lake

We have our engagement photographs back and we are ABSOLUTELY AMAZED at Staci’s talent (of Dear Olive Photography) and cannot wait for our wedding to be documented by her come June 2018! I am going to /attempt/ to restrain myself over the next three weeks and stretch all her amazing shots out into three beautiful posts because there are just so many pictures I just have to designate this much time to making inspiration boards for each setting she had G and I pose for her.

This is going to be extremely tough for me, friends, and I already can tell you the blog will be the last place you’ll be finding these pictures posted unfortunately. Now that G and I have meticulously gone through the files, I’ll be uploading the pictures to Facebook and sharing them on Instagram over the next few days for my friends and family to see.

These first set of images were actually the last ones we took the day of our shoot. It was almost dusk and all three of us were pretty much done with the day as a whole. Sunday, November 5th was the first day in about a month that Michigan had decided to stop raining. Yet, even though Mother Nature had decided she’d hold off on the waterworks, she still threatened us with an ominous sky and very cold temperatures. As G and I had spent the previous hour in the mucky and muddy woods at Grand Mere smiling for the camera, we were already pretty wet and cold as was by the time we made it to the beach, and I for the sake of style had chosen to wear a thin dress with a slit. We wanted these pictures to go quickly!

Staci did an amazing job at not letting the audience know how freezing G and me were at this point in the shoot, didn’t she?! I am also personally relieved that she caught the cute-side of my crinkly-nosed-squinty-eyed-realer-than-real-smile. When you see me smiling that smile, you know I’m not faking it. And hey, Staci caught me smiling like that pretty frequently with G and I’m still ridiculously fanatic about these pictures! This woman is a rock star.

Pardon my language but… Damn. These. Colors. Are. Incredible.

Not only that, but have you SEEN my fiance? Holy cow, friends! On top of being an amazingly hardworking, selfless, appreciative, family-oriented, God-loving, strong, encouraging, and honest man, the person I am marrying is H-O-T. I am, hands down, the luckiest woman in the world.

“I crave a love so deep, the ocean would be jealous.”

With you, I have found such a love, G, and I relish making the waves jealous every day. Forever and always.

My Cup of Thankfulness

How richly my cup overflows. (A very Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friends.)

With every year I age and mature, I seem to find a little bit more wisdom in what I find to be blessings. Each year I realize those blessings become things less and less. Instead, my blessings, for the greatest part, are the people in my life who love me, care for me, support me, and keep me grounded during times of turmoil and stress as well as achievement and excitement.

The last two Sundays at church have been quite the God-send for me. Last week the sermon was on a look into the beginning of Chapter 4 of Philippians, specifically verses four through six:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

One of my superpowers is worrying. I worry about my family, I worry about my friends, I worry about my car, my heat bill, the fight with my best friend in second grade… Heck, I come up with more plausible situations for the outcome of an argument in any given morning shower than there have been episodes of Survivor. It doesn’t truly take me a half hour to wash my hair; I’m actually dissecting every single direction the other party may go and my rebuttal so that I’m prepared! To quote Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

One might think that my biggest stress lately would be wedding planning. Yet in all honesty, it hasn’t been. As the holidays approach I find myself missing certain people in my life a lot and worrying over their absence more than is mentally and emotionally healthy. I’ve been using wedding planning as a detracting agent for this larger stress, and you know what, friends, covering one stress with another isn’t a great strategy. (Who would have thought!?)

These words in Philippians, along with a heavy dose of meditation this past week, reminded me though that anxiety will not help me through anything in my life. There is a reason God misplaced and/or replaced certain people in my life, and my path is in His hands. It is with this thinking that I wish to move forward with the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 and the rest of my life.

When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty, I want my only response to be how incredibly thankful I am that I have a cup.

Not only do I want to remember this with the people in my life (which, as I’ve said, I consider my greatest gifts) but also with my other blessings such as my talents, my job, my home, my volunteering, and my possessions. There is so many things I forget to be grateful for throughout the day. Living with a grateful heart is only the beginning of greatness, after all. It is an expression of humility and of true thanksgiving to our Father for all He provides. It is a foundation for the development of so many other virtues such as faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.

A dear friend of mine has told me she makes a motion to begin every morning with a Movement of Gratitude. I think this is such an amazing approach to beginning the day. Though I am not positive her exact formula, I have been studying this theory and want to develop my own plan of action for the future.

So, before I get out of bed each morning and begin my day I will:

  1. Take five long breaths in and out
  2. Stretch every inch of body, paying attention to all my muscles and joints
  3. Express gratitude for waking to another day
  4. Smile for no reason
  5. Set intentions for the day
  6. Forgive myself for yesterday’s mistakes
  7. Compliment three things about myself

There are so many ways in which I could look at my younger years and not be grateful for the cup handed me. Within the last few years, I was not of the same mindset. I was someone who feared change, I held grudges, I criticized, and I was someone who thought she understood far more than she actually did.

Now though, I embrace change and roll with the punches. Even within the last few months I am amazed at how quickly I have adapted to changes I never saw coming — new job, loss of my best friend, engagement — all within half a year’s time. Sometimes I marvel at God and His plan. What does He have planned for me?

This thinking was reinforced with today’s Testimonial Service. The Sunday following Thanksgiving is always a service full of testimonies on how God has touched members’ lives at my church. It is one of the most beautiful services I have ever attended, and one which I was most grateful to witness this year.

Though all testimonies have a significant power in their own right, this year’s service was especially wonderful because G chose to give his testimony in front of the congregation. I’ve provided the video below so you are welcome to view this at your leisure, friends — he appears at about 36:20 — and his message is incredibly powerful. I could not be more proud to be marrying this man. G has gone through more trials in 29 years than most men do in their entire lives and he is still one of the most grounded, sincere, and upstanding men I know. His character was what initially drew me to him, and his quick-wit and humor, along with so many other amazing qualities, are what kept me coming back.

Following the service and witnessing the testimonies of multiple members, not only G, I was able to put my own life and situations into perspective. I am so incredibly blessed by God! He has guided me through some dark times this past year, in my own right, and brought me out unscathed and into a brighter and much more loving environment. It amazes me that I still allow myself to worry over trivial things when I know that He is always working towards the best in my life. It is time, again, to lay my worries at His feet and turn my face towards Him in prayer and servitude.

God is so good! 

This Thanksgiving was a great reminder of His blessings as well. Time was well spent with family and beloved friends. There were so many tears cried from laughter over the long weekend and far too much good food eaten — Wow! Do the women in our families know how to cook!

So as I move forward into the Christmas season, I am moving away from my worthless worries of the past and into a new gratitude spirit. Who would like to join me in my endeavor? You are all welcome!

 

#Inspiration: Head Tables

I’m all over the board, I know, friends. One day I’m thinking about cakes, the next I’m considering the seating chart. I tell you, coordinating someone else’s wedding is 542,568 times easier than trying to plan my own! At least, in the respect that coordinating and planning are TWO. VERY. DIFFERENT. THINGS.

But, let me stay on target with this post before I rant: head tables. Let me give some insight on the wonderfulness that is where G and I will be sitting throughout the Big Day, and how we’ll be spinning away from tradition a bit…

When I was in my friend Kari’s wedding last year, I absolutely loved something her and her hubby chose to do, so G and I are stealing the idea for our own wedding: we are having our wedding party’s SO’s sit with them at our head table. We agreed that it is always painfully awkward for a SO to sit by him or herself at a wedding where he/she may only know the marrying couple and their SO who is in the wedding party. Thus, to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible, an additional seat will be added beside each bridesmaid and groomsmen to allow SO’s a special seat as well.

With this decision, though, our head table is a bit off-skew. As our Man of Honor and one bridesmaid are married, they will be sitting together. This means we will have eight placements on one side of G and me, and only six on the other.

So, to make the bride and groom’s seats centered, we’ve chosen to have a round Sweetheart table set between two longer tables. Behind the round table, G and I will sit, and we will design a special backdrop for unique picture opportunities. I’m also a big fan of texture and am looking at options for changing up our linen on our table for something a bit different than the other tables — I am LOVING the sequin overlay in the image below!

As for decor, we’re going to keep the tables relatively simple just like the other centerpieces throughout the tent. Greenery garland will slither down the front of the party’s two tables with numerous candles and four vases to hold the bridesmaids’ bouquets. On the Sweetheart, a single vase for the bridal bouquet will be centered, as well as some more candles. I am hoping to find a vintage bench or love seat to borrow for the evening to mark the table even more special.

As a back drop, I am torn between the garland hoops and the simple falling fairy lights with tulle. I would like to build a L-O-V-E lighted sign for the front of the Sweetheart table, though I may try to work with a galvanized “S” and tree stumps with lanterns or something rustic as well.

Hmm…

What have you tried that you would recommend or not for your own head table? Any pointers for us brides-to-be?

Vendor News: Music is Booked!

About a month ago I took to Facebook’s recommendation posting and asked my friends for advice on affordable DJ’s in the area. As expected, I was granted far more options than I knew with what to do! However, the worship leader at G’s and my church had also commented on the post that his band, Steadfast, would be willing to consider playing at the reception if a live band was something we were interested in having. G and I talked it over not realizing that Steadfast actually meant the comment more as a joke than anything, and we then approached the band the next Sunday in church to inquire with them on more details.

After getting over a little bit of laughter that we were serious about a live band playing instead of a DJ (due to our wedding’s rustic and laid back feel being more in-tune to their tone as well), we agreed to meet later on in the week and go over a possible set list. Fine tuning a first-dance song as well as other traditional dances was a bit of a struggle, but with some guidance from Steadfast, we have officially drawn together an amazing set for not only our reception’s dance party but also our cocktail hour!

I’ve witnessed Steadfast play around town here and there over at local wineries and breweries, but I will post some of their music on the blog from time to time to share their awesomeness with you as well. It is official, friends, our wedding’s music is booked and we are privileged to have our church family join us in the form of a live band. G and I are SO excited!

Engagement Shots Sneak Peek

Last Sunday we were able to catch a break from the wind and rain and venture back to Grand Mere, which was the location of our first date, to have our engagement pictures session. Staci at Dear Olive Photography was our photographer and will also be our photographer at our wedding. I am in love with her eye for photographs and ability to capture natural lighting! Plus Staci is a fantastic person overall, so who better to put our trust in preserving such a precious day of our lives?

Though she said we would not receive all our images for about three weeks, Staci treated us to a sneak peek of a few of our pictures this past week through Instagram and Facebook… and G and I absolutely adore them already! We are going to have a hard time deciding which pictures to use for Save the Dates, our wedding website, and hanging in our future home. With these three already being so adorable, it’s going to be quite the challenge!