I awoke on August 4, 2018, blinded by my wedding gown, glowing as it radiated the light entering through my bedroom window. Excitement sent my body spiraling, as if someone slipped ice cubes in my shirt. The thought, “today is the day,” rang in my head. Today all those months of planning, organizing, coordination, and stress come to an end. Today I say YES to eternity with my best friend and love of my life.
Before our wedding day, Zac and I had endless discussions of what we wanted our wedding to be. We wanted it to be ours and we wanted it to be us. At first, we did not see how this could be a problem. But as we continued to plan our special day, the number of expectations and opinions being thrown in our direction quickly overwhelmed us. Selecting a color palate, invitations, venue, flowers, food, DJ, creating comfort for guests, pleasing family, and the inevitable financial stress. The wedding became a never-ending to-do list that eventually transformed my excitement to stress.
During the planning process, I allowed the little details and my pointless pursuit of perfection to blind me from the most important aspect of the day. The most important thing being saying yes to eternity with my best friend, Zac. As Monica once said in the ever-popular TV series, Friends, “I want a marriage, not a wedding.”
Okay, let’s be honest, I wanted a wedding. I really wanted a wedding. I can remember on countless occasions, sneaking into my parent’s closet to look at their wedding album. I’d sit there on the floor in awe at my mother’s beauty and at all the smiles on the faces of my family members. It was an album full of joy and love, not only for my mother and father, but for all those who shared the day with them. And as I sat on that closet floor, I longed for a day just like this.
And finally my day came. 8.4.2018 brought with it more joy and love than I have ever experienced. The wedding took place in our hometown of Lititz, Pennsylvania. Our venue was the Marie Dixon Chapel at the Linden Hall School For Girls (i.e., founded in 1746 and the oldest residential school for the education of young women in the country). It was a gorgeous and intimate venue, with its old wooden pews and stained glass windows. However, the one down-side of the building was the fact that there was no air conditioning. And in the humid, heat of August, you WANT and NEED some refreshing, cool air.
Needless to say, our poor guests and bridal party quickly began to drip with sweat and the pastor frequently paused to take a kerchief out of his pocket to wipe sweat from his face. I still vividly picture Zac standing at the alter, soggy wet, with a huge smile on his face. I loved the whole setting so much, heat and all.
Prior to walking down the aisle, my emotions got the best of me. Tears began streaming down my face as I waited in the lobby for the music to begin, signaling my entrance. I was just completely and utterly happy. This was everything I had ever wanted. I quickly came to my senses and put a stop to the tears. I realized if the waterworks continued, all the time and effort my sister put into my makeup would be wasted.
Then the music came. It was go time!
Once I finally made it to the alter (makeup intact), my father placed my hands in Zac’s and began to step away. As he was mid-step, he tripped on my veil, pulling it out of my hair, causing him to go flying into the bench behind me. It was certainly something my father would do, in addition to saying the wrong middle name when presenting me in front of the pastor. He says he did that on purpose but I think he is just trying to cover up the fact that he was nervous.
The rest of the ceremony went off without a hitch. Nothing made my heart more full than standing in front of Zac at the alter, with our closest friends by our sides. The only time a smile left my face was as Zac shared his vowels. His words were absolutely perfect. They were an honest depiction of his feelings for me, which caused my heart to swell so much, tears had to leave my body to create room for it.
Following the ceremony, everyone made their way over to the dining hall for the reception. It was just a simple walk from the chapel. However, Zac and I decided to ride over in style.
The reception started off with our first dance to Ed Sheeran’s song “Perfect,” the symphony version with Andrea Botticelli. It was fun to hear the audience gasp when the song switched to Italian. Towards the middle of the song, Zac and I both agreed that we should have cut the song early. Neither of us like being the center of attention and this type of situation warranted far too many stares for our comfort. But we just decided to laugh it off, which seems to be our response to most awkward situations.
Following the first dance, toasts were given and food was served. The toasts might have been one of the highlights of the reception. My Maid of Honor brought tears to my eyes with her kind words. Zac’s Best Man made me laugh with his old stories from college. There was an immense amount of love throughout the day and those speeches truly put that love into words.
Once the toasts were finished and tears wiped away, dinner was served. BBQ pulled pork, chicken, brisket, as well as mac-n-cheese awaited us. Zac’s uncle owns his own catering business down in Virginia and hooked us up with some Carolina Brother’s BBQ for our big day. In addition, we had an ice cream cart brought in from my former place of work, Isabella’s Ice Parlor. Isabella’s is a place that has a special place in both Zac’s heart and mine, as it offered me employment since the age of 15 and Zac’s because it was the place our relationship blossomed. Side note: Isabella’s was the place Zac had planned to propose before he got too eager and proposed early.
As if an entire ice cream cart wasn’t enough to satisfy the guests’ sweet tooth, there were also five different flavors of cake. We taste tested each of these flavors at Cake and Cup Bakery, loved all of them, and thought that we might as well get them all in order to please a variety of taste buds.
When the dinner had been had and dessert devoured, the party really got started. I told Zac before the wedding that we needed to have a lively and full dance floor. I love to dance. Nothing makes me feel more alive than jumping around like a fool with friends. Therefore, my goal going into our reception was to rush through the toasts, dinner, and dessert in order to get to the dancing.
By the end of the night, my bare feet were black with dirt from the dance floor. My makeup was rubbed off, my eyes were drooping, and my cheeks were sore from smiling for 10 hours straight. But even then I felt more beautiful than I have ever felt. It is amazing how confident you can feel when you have the support of those you love. More specifically, it is amazing how confident you can feel when you have the love of your best friend and husband.
I later asked Zac to sum up his experience of the day. This is what he said:
“During the 251 days before our wedding, I experienced all levels of emotions. There was stress. Stress as we sometimes got lost in the tiny details of planning a wedding. Frustration, because everyone wants to input their sometimes-unwanted opinions on how WE should take OUR journey. However, overshadowing all of that there was excitement. Excitement, to finally know that I’d have my best friend by my side for the rest of forever. I was excited to dance, eat food, gather with loved ones, and most importantly declare unto God and my friends and family that YES, I love Alex with all my heart.
I can honestly say that, that my wedding day was the BEST day of my life. I have never experienced a love so great in my heart. I have never felt closer to friends or family. When I saw Alex walk down that aisle, I had never felt a stronger conviction in my heart that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I wasn’t worried about taking this step. It was, and is, the best decision I ever made. And because of that moment, and that feeling I had in my heart, I know no matter how tough life gets, or what trials come along, that this is where I am supposed to be, by her side, always.”
All photos were provided by my wonderful roommate and friend Alexandra Leigh Clanton! Don’t hesitate to book her for your photography needs!