It all started the day before.
We gathered at the Thomas Center to rehearse what would be one of the best days of our lives.
Friends and family came to run through our ceremony and work out the logistics (in the absence of our DOC who ran off with our deposit never to be heard from again). In spite of the last-minute stress, everything went smoothly and we were ready for Saturday and the big event. Piled into cars, everyone made their way a few blocks to downtown and the restaurant where our rehearsal lunch was held.
Everyone relaxed as more people came to start the celebration early.
We took the time for some portraits before the food, drink and tear-inducing speeches started.
Everyone left with full bellies and hearts, ready to spend our evenings finishing up all the details. Collin's parents friends 'The Bettys' came back to the house to collect my vintage glassware and buckets of flowers to arrange our centerpieces for the wedding (and party at the B&B while they did it). Meanwhile, our wedding party descended on our house to help with folding, bouquet/boutonniere making, and company-keeping. It turned into a relaxed and amazing way to spend our last night before marriage, surrounded by support and a huge group of friends and family who were there to hang out and help as needed. Including a midnight taco bell run to get some food into this busy bride-to-be.
The following morning, we started at home.
Some of my bridesmaids, my mom and myself made our way to the salon to get gussied up while the boys helped haul beer-filled coolers and supplies down the road to the Thomas Center for setup. Everyone helped beyond what I could have imagined. Some of Collin's sisters friends jumped in and acted as coordinators and decorators in absence of our DOC, our caterer went above her duties to make sure everything was perfect without the other help we hired, parents friends came early to drop off arrangements and local friends supplied the electronics and speakers, setting up a killer PA system to provide music that played throughout the entire day. It took a village, and all the hard work we did to plan and craft this day was brought to life by our amazing support team.
When everyone was fancied up and ready to go Collin and I had our 'first look' as bride and groom on the steps of our front porch.
We then walked as a group down our street the one block span from our house to the Thomas Center. There was something peaceful and magical about that short time between home and our venue. We held hands and talked quietly about how excited we were, how everything was coming together just perfectly. It felt like the world was saturated with color; I did my best to look around and soak in the green of the trees, the sun and all the love that surrounded us so completely.
Once there, we took formal portraits and I tried to stay calm among the bustling of finishing touches.
Then, once guests started to arrive and we took all the portraits I had the patience for (even though now I still look back and wish we'd done more), the bridesmaids and I went inside to wait and the groomsmen started showing people to their seats as our parents greeted friends and family from across the country.
Our pre-ceremony music had been playing (Sigur Ros, Sufjan Stevens, and other instrumental) and then someone came to tell me it was 5:08. It was time for the processional to begin. The bridesmaids and I walked out to our waiting place and met the groomsmen to line up. They started right on cue, and then it was time for me and my dad.
We all walked down the aisle to Explosions in the Sky 'Your Hand in Mine' and it continued to play during the ceremony. It was all timed so that I would get to our guests at the first crescendo - and it was beautiful and perfect.
Collin's neighbor, a lawyer and notary, led the ceremony that we wrote ourselves. He was more nervous than Collin I was told, but did such a wonderful job I never would have known it.
We chose to be married on the West Lawn under the great live oak. This tree that was over 100 years old canopied over us and filtered the sunlight through spanish moss like I will never forget.
After Fred said some opening words Collin's sister Meggan came forward to read my selection. A quote from my favorite book, The Fountainhead and another from a favorite author, Antoine de Saint Exupéry.
"We never need to say anything to each other when we're together. This is - for the times when we won't be together. I love you... as selfishly as the fact that I exist. As selfishly as my lungs breathe air. I breathe for my own necessity, for the fuel of my body, for my survival. I've given you, not my sacrifice nor my pity, but my ego and my naked need. This is the only way you can wish to be loved. This is the only way I can want you to love me.... that love is revernece, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. ...Once you've felt what it means to love as you and I know it - the total passion for the total height - you're incapable of anything less." "For true love is inexhaustible; the move you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow."
Collin's life-long friend Kevin then a selection of scripture from Song of Solomon
Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7
10 My beloved spoke and said unto me, 'rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
11 For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away'
6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it; if a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised.
Then came our declarations of intent
"Do you, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, freely choose now to speak the words that will unite your lives in marriage? Do you promise to treat him/her with boundless love and respect, to be faithful in mind, heart, and hands, and to honor the vows you will make here today for the rest of your lives?
... We did.
And our vows that we kept traditional despite writing the rest of our ceremony. Both our parents spoke these same words when they were married, and it was a nod to them that we speak the same.
"I, take you, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live."
After more words from Fred, Erin and Craig came up to join us as we performed the Scottish traditional tartan pinning. Granny Carol lovingly sewed us our tartan sashes and after I was pinned into the clan McLeod and Craig said some kind and moving words, we asked all our guests to join together and recite the Scottish wedding blessing as a way to bestow on us with their wishes, hopes and prayers.
"If there is righteousness in the heart,
there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
So let it be."
After that, came the rings.
"I give to you this ring as a token of my love and devotion, my faith in our strength together, and my promise to learn and grow with you.With this ring, I thee wed."
"May God be with you and bless you, may you see your childrens children, may you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward. I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride!"
We raced down the aisle, and ran off to be alone for a few moments while 'Time Stops' (again by Explosions in the Sky) played loudly for all to hear. After what seemed like not long enough, we took a few portraits together, capturing our post-wedding bliss.
Our guests made their way around the fountain to enjoy a cocktail hour with low-key music, snacks, and drinks. As we took most of the formal photos before the ceremony, we were able to join them and enjoy the relaxed company of our guests whome we were so pleased to see.
Then the fun began!
We were introduced after our bridal party and had our first dance to Paul McCartney's 'Calico Skies'.
Then it was time for dinner, served buffet style. We had Caesar and Satchel's Salads, roasted vegetables, Salmon with lemon and dill, Prime Rib with peppercorn and horseradish sauces, and a Pizza buffet with an assortment of pies made by the beloved local joint Satchel's. During dinner, we played classic rock and good-time tunes to get people in the mood for dancing!
The crowd awaits:
While the caterer was cutting pieces for mass consumption, we invited everyone back to the ballroom for the father daughter dance, Stevie Wonder's 'Isn't She Lovely'.
Immediately following, we played the Bay City Roller's 'Saturday Night' to really kick off the dancing and everyone joined in (while they weren't eating the best cake I've ever had that is).
The fun continued with some requisite Iron Maiden.
And from then on it was partying all night. Upbeat songs we love played from a laptop by our DJ and Collin's cousin Tyler.
Everyone got in on the fun.
And we were even hoisted onto shoulders at the end of it all (much to my surprise!).
The last song came too quickly, and before we knew it we were heading out. The night kept on though, as the cleanup and transport crew got working (thank you one million times mom and dad for taking our gifts and flowers back to the house) the youngsters made our way downtown and to one of our favorite restaurants/bars The Top.
We were even able to have friends join whom we couldn't invite to the wedding. When the bar was closing, we cleared out and into the street. Everyone said their farewells and Collin and I made the walk back home together. Feet swollen and faces sore from smiling.
We were married.