Yes, my wedding dress is in pieces.

When Joe & I interviewed photographers for our wedding, there was a key task that I wanted to ensure was included in our plan.

A Trash the Dress session.

It would be scheduled for the day after our wedding and the main purpose was the do just that – trash my wedding dress. The photographer that we chose lit up when we asked him about doing the session. He was so excited that he included the session for free. 

Many people have their dresses preserved, or want to pass it along to their family or have other plans. For me, the wedding dress and Joe’s outfit were important and certainly key to our big day but I didn’t have plans for them after that. I absolutely loved my dress- it was perfect. And the fact that I originally fell in love with it in a size 16 and bought it in a 6…well that moment of pride adds to how much that dress means to me. The session itself was incredible and some of my absolute favorite wedding pictures came from that. Even my bridesmaids got involved!

But at the end of the day, it had no purpose. I didn’t even wash it after that day (figured I’d just ruin it) and it had hung in my closet covered by the bag that it came in for the last 6+ years. I’ve toyed with doing different things with it over the years but never actually made any plans for it. Until now.

When I heard that my friend Audrey loves to sew – and is amazing at it – I knew that handing over our wedding outfits to her was exactly what needed to be done. I asked her about it, telling her that I had done some searching but hadn’t found anything that I fell in love with yet (wait…another Pinterest solution fail?!). I suggested maybe a blanket to pass along to Jacob but that I had no vision in mind and she agreed, getting excited about the possibilities. 

I handed her a bag filled with my dress and Joe’s attire folded nicely inside of it. We were standing outside of a restaurant where we had just enjoyed lunch and she looked at me. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I smiled, “Absolutely!”  I continue to get more and more excited about the blanket just thinking about the possibilities!!  Audrey even asked me what our first dance song was, so she could listen to our song while she began working on it.

I have no plan or thoughts for this blanket, I simply know that it is in the right hands.

She wrote a bit about the experience here:  Sew Sew by Audrey Perrott

10.10.10

Now say it with me as fast as you can – “10-10-10!” Haha, anytime someone asked when our wedding day was, I would say it so proudly and with the biggest, cheesiest grin on my face. Joe & I dated for years before getting engaged and although we tried for a smaller wedding, we were incredibly blessed with 100 or so people taking the visit to Florida for our special day.

I was up watching the sunset on the pool deck by 6am. The weather was amazing. The sun rose over the ocean in front of me and the wind blew a slight breeze in from the shore. I was in jeans and yet the gorgeous weather of the day was beginning already. It was mid-70s and I will never forget the perfection of the day. The weather was amazing. Despite the sun, there was no sweating. Despite the breeze, there was no chill. It was quite literally a perfect day.

While getting my hair done in the bridal suite, one of my bridesmaids asked if Joe was in the ocean. I peeked over our balcony and watched him in awe. He was out surfing the waves and while waiting to catch one, a pod of dolphins swam up next to him to say hello. He sat in awe, as I did from afar. A lot of the wedding party caught the moment and yet it seemed ours to share, despite not knowing the other was witnessing the moment. Truly incredible. 

The ceremony was beautiful, although I could be biased. 😋 We were swept away for pictures then the reception party began. We ate, drank from fresh cut coconuts and danced the night away. We had a Congo line, reggae music and the most amazing guests anyone could ask for. The night was truly a blessing.

I look back on that day and I cannot help but smile at all we were blessed with on that amazing day. But mostly, I look back at my husband. Neither of us had any idea what the future would hold for us and yet we embraced it, welcomed it even. We looked each other in the eyes and said that we would be there for each other no matter what – and we meant it.

And we have put that test to the limits. We have had our moments of complete strength and total weakness. We have laughed together and cried hard. We have hugged hard, loved heavily and fought ferociously. We have tested the limits of our marriage and then pushed them more.

At the end of each day, no matter what happens, I hug my husband. I kiss him and tell him how much I love him. I know that this life is not easy but it is ours. And I wouldn’t change that for anything. I am blessed beyond words to have this man in my life and for that, I am eternally grateful.

I love you, Joe. More than words. Forever and always. Happy anniversary, my love.

Another whirlwind visit!

One of my very best friends celebrated her wedding day this past Friday! She has been planning this day for a year and a half (at least!) and I would not miss it for anything! Jacob & I were both honored to be in the wedding and everything was absolutely beautiful. Sheryl was the most amazing bride (and made things too easy for us bridesmaids!), Ryan was an incredible groom and Nick had the honor of walking his mom down the aisle. It was stunning, breathtaking and completely priceless.

Saturday we spent catching up with as many people as we could while in town! My sister and her family graciously opened up their home to everyone and we enjoyed snacks, drinks and the most wonderful company for a few hours! She even surprised me by giving everyone self addressed, stamped cards to mail to me whenever the mood strikes. I cannot express how meaningful a kind word is at what seems to be a random moment! It is seriously the best.

Today we ventured to church and were loved on by people who pray boldly for my family every single day. After an emotional and beautiful service, all of the pastors lifted my family up in prayer and boldly prayed for us some more. It was emotional, amazing and completely priceless. Lots of tears but even more tight hugs, which are so priceless to me!

Next we enjoyed a yummy lunch with my Momma on this cool fall day, a relaxing afternoon of snuggles and then it was time to pack up for the next adventure. I don’t know when we will be back but I am already missing everyone like crazy!!! 💚💚💚

The day after

My baby sister and her (now) husband have spent the last 2 years planning their wedding day. They visited venues and hotels, met with vendors and spent a lot of time on Etsy and Pinterest. There were points of frustration along the way, as with most things, and lots of late nights spent preparing all of the little surprises they planned for their guests.

There was a big party to celebrate each of them and a day spent showering them with love. There were tears of happiness, lots of hugs and tons of pictures along the way.
And then the day arrived. It started early, with a workout and coffee. Following that was girl time getting hair and makeup done while he shared a meal with the guys. Soon, it was time to head to the hall and dress for pictures. There was the clink of champagne, the sound of genuine laughter and the carefulness of handling the dress.

Pictures began, first with the girls and then with the guys. Then the big reveal…the moment the groom saw his bride for the first time. There were tears and hugs and love. 

The ceremony was filled with friends and family, all there to celebrate the love that these two share. There were more tears and laughter…and at the end, there was a new Mr & Mrs.  Pictures continued for a bit and then it was time to mingle.

The food was delicious, the hall was beautiful and the dancing was epic. The best part of the night though, was not the wine, or the yummy cake, or even the adorable kids boogying across the dance floor.  It was the look on Kate & Kelly’s faces throughout the evening. The pure joy and love that they share amongst each other is palpable. The world is a better place with them together in it.

To my baby sister and her husband, may you live a long, fun, adventurous life together as husband and wife.

My baby sister

Life has been a little busy this month and I both welcome the daily chaos and curse the lack of the mundane. This week has been especially busy as we prepare for the coming week’s festivities – my baby sister’s wedding.  One of the ways I have been trying to prepare is by writing out my Maid of Honor speech. Though I have written and spoke a few before, this step always gives me pause. I want it to be creative, meaningful and with just a hint of humor. In preparing for this speech, I’ve been reflecting on our childhood and recent years with my baby sister.

I remember the moment my mom told me she was pregnant with her. I recall looking up to my mom as she sat on the wooden bench in our kitchen, her dirty blonde hair laying just below her shoulders. My big sister and little sister stood on either side of me as we listened to the exciting news.  I remember watching my mom’s belly grow with my sister inside of her. I don’t recall the moment she was born but I know the days following…picking her up gently from her crib and changing her cloth diaper. Bringing her upstairs with milk to watch cartoons with me on an early Saturday morning. I remember the way she always wanted to be around her sisters. The way she played softball always amazed me, like it was second nature for her to hit that ball across the entire field. Her laughter has always been infectious and I find myself looking forward to the moments that she can still make me giggle. I once worked at a before-school program that she attended and I distinctly remember how much I admired her determination to do the right thing and stick up for others.

After I moved to Florida, she would visit and we would stay up all night playing board games by candle light when the storms knocked the power out. We have countless memories of the beach, spotting dolphins & manatees and watching the sunset. My visits to Georgia are filled with tours of her town, shopping sprees and ice cream. She always has a list of things for us to do together so she can show me the town she loves so much.

All of these memories fill my heart and yet I know that we still have an entire lifetime of more memories to make together. And though I don’t want time to pass too quickly, I cannot wait for all of the incredible journeys that are ahead of us.

Though I have not completed my speech just yet, I find comfort in remembering all of these priceless moments that I have been so blessed to have with her.

Tell me, friends…what do you think makes the best wedding speech?

Where in the world…

After Joe & I were engaged, we started thinking about our honeymoon. Where in the world would we go?! The options in our minds were endless…we explored the idea of Fiji, Napa Valley, a week in a houseboat locally, Disney World, Europe and everywhere in between. Countless hours were spent researching where to go, how much it would cost and how long we could stay. Despite all of the research though, we couldn’t make up our minds!

Time continued to fly, as it often does, and all of a sudden it was a week before our wedding and we still hadn’t booked our honeymoon. Eeek! We started to research some more and decided on a cruise. There was one leaving just a few days after our wedding. Neither of us had been on a cruise before and weren’t really sure what to expect but we decided to go for it. So 3 days before our wedding, we booked it!

Little did we know at the time that we booked it, that we had picked the newest and greatest of the Norwegian Cruise Line ships – Epic. It was incredible. We spent 7 days on this ship and traveled to the Western Caribbean. We didn’t book any excursions ahead of time and decided to “wing it”.

Our first stop was Costa Maya. After a day of cocktails on an amazing beach, we walked into a local town and found a tequila shop set up in someone’s home – literally. We met the homeowner / tequila expert, as well as his daughter and a few friends of his, and spent the afternoon learning all about tequila. It was amazing! We bought as much as we could hold when we left. They didn’t even have real bottles in it so we filled all of our water bottles! He now owns a restaurant on the beach, where he sells his tequila. Someday we will visit again!

Next was Roatan, where we walked the town for hours and shopped a little. We met a local artist, learned about him and his family and enjoyed some of his artwork. It was beautiful.

Our last stop was in Cozumel. At this point, we felt relatively comfortable exploring on our own so we decided to rent a scooter and explore the island. We started by following the tour buses to the local Mayan ruins, where we learned about the history of the Mayans. Next, we decided to follow the road along the coast. We stopped every mile or two to look at the ocean. It was incredible. The waves crashed beautifully against the shore, taking the turquoise water and spilling it amongst the rocks and sand. Amazing.

We were sad when it ended and yet we couldn’t wait to experience such an epic adventure again. To celebrate being cancer free, we want to plan a dream vacation. Somewhere beautiful, possibly exotic, somewhere that we can enjoy the land, the water and the world while creating memories together. I once again feel like the choices are endless, and yet I can’t decide where to go!

Where have you traveled, that you loved? Where would you go, if you could travel anywhere in the world?

101010!

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My cousin once met us at the beach for a day trip and upon seeing us unload our bag filled with the beach necessities, she smiled and said “You’re beach people, huh?”  We hadn’t thought of ourselves as beach people at the time but we were.  Our bag is packed and ready for the beach at all times, so we can grab and go when able.  After getting engaged, we knew that our wedding would take place on the beach because it is our happy place.

The morning of our wedding, Joe and I both woke up early and separated to begin the wedding festivities.  I joined my big sister and her family on the pool deck, which overlooked the ocean, and watched the sun rise.  The sky slowly filled with incredible variations of pink, orange and red. What began as a sliver rising from the ocean, turned into a large, round sun that shined bright and seemed to cover half of the horizon.  I sat in awe as I marveled in its perfect beauty.

While I sat and watched the sun rise, Joe went surfing.  He paddled out past where the waves crashed and waited for the perfect time.  Sitting amongst the waves, he heard a splash and looked over.  There was a pod of dolphins swimming next to him – one within an arms reach.  They played and splashed and seemed not to notice Joe, though he sat in awe at their perfect beauty.

Our wedding day flew by.  It was filled with love, laughter and happy tears shared with family and friends.  We committed ourselves to a lifetime of love, through sickness and health.  When I think back over what the last 5 years have brought, I see the perfect beauty of it all – the perfect beauty that is us.  We have built a strong, indestructible bond throughout this marriage that continues to strengthen each day.  While we did not anticipate this disease attacking our family, we are strong and will continue to strengthen throughout this fight.  We will beat this, together, and continue in the perfect beauty that is our love.