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The Mother of The Bride

Some may know, others may not – but my mother was both my mother and my father growing up. My parents were divorced when I was a child, and since then, our lives have been amazing. ♥ My mother isn’t a stereotypical mom… she taught me how to be an independent and strong woman, yes, but she also taught me how to use a chainsaw and build a picnic table. She worked hard and sacrificed so much to support our family of three for MANY years.

My father may not have been around while we were growing up, but I had someone to teach me how to build and create (Mom), someone to teach me how to be brave (Gramps), someone to teach me how to be compassionate (Gram), someone to teach me how to keep going (Uncle Bob), someone to teach me to not take life too seriously (Uncle Bill), and someone to teach me how to toughen up (Mike)… and now, as a family we gain someone that taught me how to love unconditionally. So as I marry my best friend, I’ve asked my mother to give me away and grant us her blessing, and I’ve asked my grandfather to accompany us and share in that moment.

Designing Our Wedding Invitations

“I could NEVER design my own invitations. I’d never be able to make up my mind!” This is what a friend of mine responded when I mentioned we were going to design, print, cut, and assemble our own wedding invitations. I thought: “We’ll be FINE. It can’t be that bad. I do this for a living.”

Turns out… she was right.

As a graphic designer, you’d think I’d have my mind set on a design, or at least a direction. The truth is, I do this with clients and at work everyday, and it’s simple for me to make these kinds of decisions. After I settle into a deep brainstorm and let my mind wander with creativity, I have a vision…. and when I have a vision, I usually quickly develop a clear path, a set of rules and guidelines, to achieve it. Making decisions is easy from there. I know what I do and don’t need, what does and does not work for whatever project or design scheme it is, and boom… the result is a product that’s backed up with reasoning and meaning and designed to influence. Of course, there’s tweaks along the way and even complete revisions… but that’s all included in the process. My point is – I make informative decisions based on the rules of design and what makes the most sense… and sometimes decide to rebel against this intentionally. “Ya have to know the rules first in order to break them,” a professor of mine always said. But our invitations? oh. em. jee. What a process.

It’s simpler to design for someone else… it’s most difficult to design something for yourself. Have you ever remodeled your home? Ever try deciding on what color to paint your living room? I bet you suffered from at least some anxiety before you made the final decision. Ever help suggesting a new paint color to a friend of yours? It’s a lot easier.

I had the vision. And then another one. And then another one. Why was this taking so long? Why was it so difficult to make up my mind? Was I putting too much pressure on myself to get these invitations right? I am a graphic designer, after all… so these had to be perfect. Or was it that I was afraid to commit? Ah – the designer’s worst enemy. Design-commitment phobia… It’s common to hear among the design world, “a project is never truly done,” because, ya know… commitment. It’s also common to find tattoo-less designers for the same reason.

Moodboards, color palettes, and typography galore! Needless to say, I eventually developed the vision. Marble, copper, and gray all fell within the design scheme, and I experimented with transparent vellum in new ways. Weekends later, (and about 30 designs later) we had a final design. Then came the hand-cutting, the paper-tearing, and the assembling! Luckily I had some assistance when it came to assembling and sealing the envelopes. (A HUGE thank you to everyone that’s offered to help us throughout this journey!)

Finished invitations were dropped in the mail after I spent my entire lunch break post-office hopping for the right stamps.

The whole process was a lot of fun. It IS what I love to do, after all. Though, I may think twice before designing another invitation for ourselves… or at least get a tattoo first to break the commitment-curse.

 

The Dress

Ahhhh, the dress. It only took me, um, WEEKS (and a few mishaps) to find THE one. We knew our reception and overall design was going to be minimal and modern, but I just never fell in love with the modern dresses I was trying on. “Your dress should match the reception,” the consultants would always say. But, who cares! We’ve always done things to the beat of our own drum, and I was totally fine with finding something that didn’t necessarily “go” with our theme. I seemed to lean towards the more traditional designs. I tried on the wild and crazy, the poofs, and the dresses that lit me up like the Times Square Ball on New Years Eve – and they just weren’t me. My cousin, (whom is also my Maid of Honor), tagged along the first day as we hopped dress shops for a full day. If you know me, you know that you’ll barely ever see me in a dress – so it was a fun day trying on gowns and tiaras.

A few (ok, maybe more than a few) days hunting for the right dress, the rest of my bride tribe joined in on the fun. My bridesmaid and best friend Rachel, my mother, my grandmother, and Chris’ mom all were there on the final day. My entourage dolled me up in a veil, and it totally justified my inclination to say YES!

Hiding the dress from Chris proved to be challenging (we live in the same apartment), and he was tempted to take a peek… so off it went to my grandparent’s house for safe-keeping.

Next up, the fitting and the alterations. There’s so much pressure nowadays on being a size (or a few) smaller on your wedding day, and at first, this was my mentality… But, why such a big deal? Granted, I’m still working hard on shedding a few pounds for myself, but this whole experience has taught me something… Always love yourself and be confident in your skin, no matter what. Forget dress sizes – your wedding day is all about promising yourself to the one you love… and the one you love fell in love with you just the way you are.♥

He Popped The Question

“Get ready! We’re starting our day early.”

I rushed to get ready. I had just finished some exciting interviews for a new job that week and had a lot to wrap up, (I later got the job, which was super exciting). It’s really easy to be so busy all the time. We work multiple jobs, spend time with our friends and family, and always come home to each other, but every once in a while we make sure we have “monkey-days” – full “date-days” that we take to slow down and spend some quality time with one another. We set this time aside to reminisce, talk about our present and future, and make each other laugh. Kayaking, walks, movie days, and dinner dates. (If you don’t know this already, Chris and I have used “monkey” as a nickname for each other since the second week of our relationship). Saturday, June 24th, 2017 was one of these days. I threw together an outfit, grabbed some earrings, and we ran out the door. First stop – Chris surprised me with a visit to our favorite lake. We often go to Lake Horicon to walk or talk in our spare time. We’ve been living in the area for years now, and it’s only a quick trip down the road. It’s really beautiful there, especially when we catch the sunset over the water.

We went for a  walk, spent an hour talking in the fresh air and sunlight, and Chris taunted the geese (as usual). We talked about our plans for the week and our exciting dinner-date ahead. There weren’t that many people there that day, which was nice. It gave us room to be loud and goofy without anyone watching. The sun was shining through the trees as we walked along the water, and the breeze was especially pleasant. We slowly made our way to the dock that’s about half way through the park and stood there for a while, talking and reminiscing about all of the times we started our monkey-days at the lake. We looked out over the water and welcomed the cool breeze in the warm afternoon. I noticed Chris was acting a little strange… quiet… (which usually means he’s hungry).

“What is that?” Chris said, as he pointed across the water. I squinted to see what he was talking about. I looked across the lake and saw nothing but trees. He was no longer next to me. “Where’d you go?” I asked. I turned around, only to find him on one knee and trembling.

“You’ve made me the happiest man in the world. The last four years have been the most amazing years of my life. Will you do me the honor in spending the rest of your life with me? Will you marry me?” If you ask him today, he has no recollection of what he said. He was so nervous it melted my heart, and he barely got the words out. I cried, of course, as I happily said “yes!” He put the ring on my finger, and we couldn’t let go of each other. We stood on the end of the dock, hand-in-hand for a long time. Everything felt surreal to both of us, and we just could not stop laughing. Chris whipped out his car keys and engraved our initials and the date on the wood railing. We both can only hope it’ll be there forever.

Both of us agree when we say it all felt like a dream. In those first moments, he explained how no one really knew he was going to ask. He wanted it to be a special time for the two of us, where we shared something so private without the world knowing. This was so romantic and so intimate, that this time for us holds a very special place in our hearts.

As we left the lake, we stopped at Mrs. Walker’s in the heart of Lakehurst… one of our favorite ice cream parlors. We sat at a bench on the sidewalk, eating our favorite ice cream and living in the moment. I made a phone call to my mother, of course, and told her the story.

Our next stop… Rinn Duin – a brewery down the road. We shared a toast, smiled, and celebrated. Then off we went to our favorite restaurant, where we shared a romantic dinner by candlelight. We went to sleep the happiest couple in the world that night.

Ever since we got engaged, it’s been an awesome whirlwind planning our wedding. We can’t wait to be married! ♥

Our Story

This is the first photo we’ve ever taken together. It was New Year’s Eve, 2012. We were dating for a couple months, but we became “official” in January, 2013. Five years of dating my best friend, but it only took a couple dates to know he was the one. I used to imagine what true, once-in-a-lifetime love felt like… the kind of love that makes you smile for no darn reason, the kind that makes you feel complete when you didn’t even realize you were missing something. Life has this funny way of reminding you of the things that matter most, and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, life throws in a dash of the unexpected. That’s what we were… unexpected, but perfectly on-time.

Chris wasn’t looking, and neither was I, and somehow we fell so perfectly into each other’s lives. I’ll never forget the time I was sitting on a friend’s porch in Seaside Heights, and as I looked up, there was Chris… running past me on his usual running route with sunglasses on and a giant smile on his face. He stopped and we talked for a while. We talked about the weather, boardwalk arcades, and his love for running, and then off he went… jogging into the salty Summer afternoon. Some football Sundays, plenty of late nights, and hilarious text messages later, before you knew it, we were in love. We shared so many things in common, including a love for friendly debate and a passion for music. We even wrote a song or two together, (which we promised would never see the light of day). He tolerated my obsession with art and design, while I tolerated movies like “Clerks” and “Airplane.” (We still debate our love/hate relationship with these movies. LOL). We bonded over football and beer, and our deep conversations about life, love, and… yes… his passion for chicken wings. We’re still trying to plan a trip to Buffalo, NY.

I’ll never forget the night Chris formally asked me to be his girlfriend. After watching a movie, he shyly turned to me and asked me how I would feel if he asked me to be his girlfriend. My response: “Do I have to love chicken wings?” Just kidding… I of course said that it would make me the luckiest girl in the world. Little did we know that his simple jog in Seaside before hurricane Sandy would blossom into the amazing relationship we have today.

Over the years, we’ve built a home together. We’ve laughed, we’ve disagreed, we’ve celebrated, we’ve worried, we’ve loved, we’ve struggled, and we’ve forgiven, but most importantly, we’ve helped each other grow to become the people we are today. We share common goals every day: to be a better son and daughter, to be better friends, to be hardworking, to always believe in ourselves, to always support each other, and to work together to leave the world a better place than it was yesterday. We’ve agreed that no matter what happens, we will leave a positive mark on the day, to never go to bed angry, and to always kiss each other goodnight. “I love you. I will protect you.” are our final words to each other before we fall asleep.

Chris inspires me every day, and I truly couldn’t have asked for a better person to share this amazing adventure with. Chris, I will always protect you, I will always feel safe with you, and I will always let you eat as many chicken wings as you want.