My husband was born in New Hampshire and went to college in Virginia, so he has friends and family from all over. The week of the wedding was full of flight arrivals, hotel check ins, and guest bedroom prepping for his family and groomsmen! Always having something to coordinate helped to take my mind off the nerves and stress of the wedding weekend itself. Before I knew it, it was Friday night and we were at the rehearsal! We had our rehearsal and dinner at our venue, the Vandiver. We had booked up all 17 of their guest rooms for the entire weekend between our family and wedding party, so everyone was all in one place. After the dinner, we opened up the venue to any other out of town guests to come and grab a drink and mingle. I’m so glad we did that, because a lot of Tim’s college friends came out to chat and we were able to get so much more quality time with them!
The morning of the wedding, hair, and makeup arrived at 7:45, and got to work on all my beautiful ladies! I feel like I barely blinked and magically it was 11 and it was my turn already and the photographers were arriving. It was extra emotional for me since my photographers were shooters on my team.
I managed to keep it together until everyone was dressed and then I headed back to my room to have my mom, stepmom, and mother-in-law help me into my gown. It took an army of people to fasten the tiny clasp on my antique necklace, but otherwise, all went smoothly (and everything fit)!
Once I was dressed I did a first look with my dad, which I think made everyone cry except for him. He insisted to me later that he knew he had to keep it together so that I didn’t lose it! After that, I did a first look with my bridesmaids (who all cried), and then it was off to my first look with Tim, who is the only one I REALLY wanted to shed a tear! The moments between when we were set for the first look and when he actually turned around felt like an eternity. When he finally turned and saw me, he smiled so big and immediately came to me for a kiss. As he got closer I saw his eyes watering and realized he was holding back tears! I said, “aw, babe, you’re crying!” and as I reached up to dab at his eyes, I heard a loud chorus of “AWWWWW” from behind me… my bridesmaids had discovered they could see us through the window and were watching the whole thing.
After that, it was off to a whirlwind of family and wedding party portraits, which was no small feat with two sets of divorced parents, but the photographers breezed right through it and had everyone back inside on time! We stopped into the ceremony space on our way in and I cried when I saw how beautiful it was. The arbor my father had made was adorned with a huge floral piece from Amanda’s. Rose petals lined the aisle, candelabras on wine barrels flanked the arbor, and the ceremony program sign I had designed sat at the entrance, draped with pink chiffon. That was the first moment it truly felt real!
Once we were lined up for the ceremony, I stood in the back of the line holding my dad’s hand and I felt like a little girl again, nervous for my first day of school or scared of a big roller coaster. As I sat there quivering with nerves, he stood strong and held my hand even tighter, assuring me all would be well. I nearly broke down when the processional song started.
We chose “Close Your Eyes” by Michael Buble; the entire processional was done to that song so that the final thirty seconds would be my walk down with my father. After so many times practicing the timing I couldn’t believe the moment had arrived. Everyone went right on cue, and at the final crescendo of the song the doors opened, and my dad and I stepped inside. I remember him whispering to me, “slow down,” as we walked! As the song finished, Michael Buble sang, “You’re the reason that I’m feeling it’s finally safe to stay,” as my father passed my hands into Tim’s.
I think Tim was too nervous to cry when I came down the aisle, but when it came time for the vows, his voice broke in the first sentence. I remember being so overwhelmed with how touching and moving his vows were, and if we’re being honest – I think they were better than mine! We finished the ceremony with a unity wine exchange. We each poured wine into a chalice from the same bottle and took turns drinking it. We didn’t pour in a lot… so I had to tip the cup really far to get any wine to my lips! I was so afraid of it spilling out onto my dress, and everyone giggled because I looked like I was shooting back a full glass of wine! Tim of course took his sip perfectly. After that, we were pronounced, kissed, and were married!!
After some more photos, it was time for us to be introduced and get the party started! The parents processed in to “Happy” by Pharrell, and we did “The Greatest Show” (by Panic! At the Disco) for the bridal party and Tim & me. Everyone had a great time showing off for their intros!! Tim and I kicked off the evening with our first dance, which was to “99 Years” by Josh Groban and Jennifer Nettles. I’m sure people were clapping and cheering, but all I remember is being lost in the moment with Tim. Once we were seated, my father gave a welcome toast and my mother gave the blessing. My father slipped his paper copy of his speech onto the head table so I could keep it, which is so indicative of how thoughtful my dad is.
At that point it was finally time for Tim’s favorite part: the food! Chef Susan at the Vandiver makes the most amazing wedding meals, so choosing our menu was incredibly difficult, but we got so many compliments on the final selections!
My dad and I opened the floor to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland. It’s been the song I envisioned for my father and me since the first time I heard it. I finally shed actual tears while dancing with my father, and when the song ended he lifted me up in a hug as easily as he did when I was little.
Tim and his mom danced to “Her Little Man” by Jami Grooms, which takes you through a mother’s journey of raising a little boy into a man who will someday take a wife. I probably would have been a lot more emotional during their dance, but I was tucked away in the corner having the front of my dress bustled up and changing my flip flops to cowgirl boots for my dance with my mom! Mom and I started with “Mama’s Song” by Carrie Underwood, sung from the perspective of a woman who has finally found a good man to take care of her.
I couldn’t believe how fast the day had flown by when we got to the last dance. We chose “I Believe In You” by Michael Buble for the last dance and everyone came onto the floor and circled around Tim and me while we danced like fools together.
At the end of the song, Jenny and the Vandiver staff worked together to clear the room of everyone except Tim and I (and of course a photographer), and the venue kept the lights down while Jenny played our song, “With You I Am” by Cody Johnson. Tim had me listen to that song early in our relationship and told me it reminded him of how he felt about me – a stoic, jaded boy who found himself transformed by the love of a woman. It’s been “our song” ever since, and I felt so overrun with emotions as he held me close while we danced to it in that big empty room. It was such a beautiful ending to the day – a final moment together where we could acknowledge that, hey, we did it!
As a wedding vendor, I had high expectations for my wedding day (and matching high levels of stress, anxiety, and nerves). I am so thrilled with how the weekend turned out and I would do it over and over again if I could! I’m still getting compliments on our wedding and I couldn’t be happier with all of the vendors I chose to turn our wedding vision into a reality. Six months down… forever to go!
Written by Sarah Koermer
Beauty: Swept, LLC (Hair & Makeup)
Cake: Desserts by Rita
Ceremony & Reception: Vandiver Inn
Entertainment: Jenny Z Wedding DJ Service
Favors: Bomboy’s Candy ( chocolate crabs, Irish creams, and chocolate covered pretzels)
Flowers: Amanda’s Florist
Formal Wear: Generation Tux
Invitations: Minted Weddings
Officiant: Rev. Frank McFadden
Photo Booth: The Magic Selfie Mirror
Photography: High Contrast Photography
Rentals & Decor: Maryland Party Rental (Candelabras), Etsy (Welcome Sign), Quickcandles.com (chargers)
Rings: Brilliant Earth (bride’s engagements ring and band), Jordan Jack (grooms ring)
Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Transportation: Scott’s Transportation
Wedding Gown: Edel’s Bridal Boutique