John and I got married on a cool, sunny Sunday in October. It had been freezing and rainy for the week leading up to October 21, but when I woke up to go for a head-clearing run on the big day, the sun rose without a cloud in sight.
Everything about the day felt surreal. Before seeing John, it felt like time was moving through a thick honey. And then after the ceremony, everything went faster than the snap of a garter. Or finger. Either way.
So many couples get married all over the world every day. This is what I told myself to calm my nerves and quiet my worries about whether our guests would have fun and enjoy the evening we’d planned for 11 months.
Oddly, it worked. As outspoken and honest as I can be in my writing, I’m fairly introverted and quiet in big groups. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, I imagined I’d be dealing with sweaty armpits and a bright red, flushed face and shaky hands and a trembling voice as I was surrounded by 140 of our dearest family and friends for our wedding.
I was definitely still nervous, but never about the “us” part of it. I felt as certain about John on our wedding day as I did the day I said yes to his proposal in the Smoky Mountains last November. My biggest concern was that I wanted everyone to have a good time and not be bored and feel like they were a part of the celebration, not just witnesses to it.
Yet, somehow among those nerves, I woke up on wedding day to a strange calmness. My sister and my best friend both commented about how weirdly chill I was as we got ready at my house. I didn’t know what to say, other than, “I know—I don’t know why!”
It really was unexpected, but I just felt at peace with everything—even when we were running a tad late to the venue. Whatever was done and planned for would happen, and whatever was forgotten or not planned didn’t matter anymore. It was time to celebrate.
The Rehearsal Dinner
Mandola’s catered the rehearsal dinner, and John’s parents hosted at their house, which ended up being an enormous blessing. The majority of my family and friends came from out of town, and we knew it would be tough to visit with everyone at the wedding.
Graciously, my in-laws invited all out-of-towners from both of our families, and we probably had 80-something people at their house for buffet-style his and hers pizzas, salad, gelato, and John’s home-brewed beer. We had the opportunity to chat and catch up with so many people that we could only briefly talk with on the wedding day.
My brother and my in-laws’ church’s piano player provided music for the evening, and they strung lights throughout their backyard for a pleasant and lovely ambiance. It made me feel so excited to celebrate with everyone the next day.
On the morning of the wedding, Blush ‘n Bangs sent a hair and makeup artist to my home to do my mom’s, sister’s, best friend’s, and my hair and makeup. We weren’t permitted to arrive at the venue until noon and were scheduled to start pictures at 1, so hair and makeup needed to be done before getting there.
Getting our glam done at my house ended up being one of the best parts of the day. I was so grateful to be in my own environment, drinking coffee and eating breakfast with my favorite people in the world. The one slight issue came when my mom, who just started wearing contact lenses, lost one of them somewhere between the guest bathroom and the kitchen.
Let me tell you, finding a contact that could literally be anywhere in a sea of beige carpet is not an easy task, but I was just glad there was something to preoccupy everyone. Have I mentioned I really don’t like being the center of attention? My mom’s contact hunt was a welcome crisis, although she never did find it (sorry, mom!).
The First Look
Before John and I saw each other, we read notes that we’d handwritten one another. I wasn’t sure what my level of waterworks would be that day. I figured it would either be nonstop or nonexistent because of adrenaline. It ended up being a solid halfway point between both of those, starting with reading John’s sweet note.
Somebody really should have advised against reading a tearjerker note right before taking all of our pictures, but alas, the ugly crying commenced then and there. After reading our notes, John and I had our first look outside the bridal suite at our venue, The Addison Grove.
Side note: The Addison Grove is a stunning venue for engaged couples in Austin looking for the chic-barn, nature-centric environment. Outside, there’s an oak grove, a pond, tons of green space, longhorn cattle, a fire pit, and a big patio that we used during our cocktail hour. Inside the barn are beautiful chandeliers, wood beams, and plenty of space for parties big and small to eat and dance the night away. The bridal suite alone is pretty incredible; it’s a beautifully appointed on-site house that is cozy, spacious, and adorable.
I was so ready to see John and start celebrating our wedding together, and I am so completely thankful we chose to do a first look. I know they aren’t for everyone, but for us, we are both so emotional that waiting to see each other until we were in front of more than 100 people would’ve been torturous. I have pretty severe stage fright, too, which further enticed us to have a quiet moment alone to relax and reflect before the ceremony.
A first look also allowed us to knock out our bridal party and immediate family photos before the ceremony. We just had a few extended family shots to take after the ceremony, which let us get to hang out with our guests sooner.
Speaking of our bridal parties, we opted to each have one sibling and one best friend for our groomsmen and bridesmaids. We both have quite a few close friends from the different stages of our lives, but we wanted all of our friends to enjoy their time at the wedding and not feel obligated to spend a bunch of money on attire, travel, or extra details that come with being in a bridal party.
It can be expensive and burdensome to be in weddings, and we both can get stressed easily in certain circumstances. Having two bridesmaids who I adore and who know me best made me feel extra at ease on the wedding day. It just made it feel more special to share such an exciting experience with my sister and dearest friend.
We had asked my aunt to officiate the wedding because she is such a cool, progressive, eloquent, and amazing woman. She is strong in her beliefs, yet loving toward everyone. Our ceremony was different than any I’ve been to, and I absolutely loved that about it. Because we wanted everyone to feel like it was a celebration from the start, we had our caterers welcome guests with a glass of champagne.
A few more interesting touches made it extra-special. Both of my parents walked me down the aisle. The guests participated in a sort of symbolic art project with yarn. We personalized our vows: “I take John in fantasy football season and his backseat driving. / I take Audrey in her obsession with making to-do lists and desire to donate everything we own.” And everyone held hands at one point. I laughed and cried. Everyone told us how very “us” the whole thing was, which I think is a compliment…
It was magical. I walked down the aisle to a favorite song of ours, “Mess is Mine” by Vance Joy, and we recessed to “Home” by Phillip Phillips. Our ceremony and cocktail hour music was performed by a wildly talented local strings group, The Better Halves.
This is getting long, so…
I decided to add the rest of our wedding day details in a second blog post. Check out that next post for all of our vendor info (Austin brides, this is for you!), details about the reception, things I would change, and my absolute favorite parts of the day.