I’ll be honest, engagement was hard for us. It was a tough season, and I shared about 5 truths about being engaged a few years ago. I pass this post to my new brides when they join our little fam, because as you all know, I believe there is freedom in the “me too.” A little excerpt from that post:
Before we got engaged, I imagined engagement being this magical time where everything is easy, light, and where you’re always walking through the clouds. I wish someone would have let me in on a little secret, engagement is an extremely exciting season, but it can also be stressful, testing, and a little bit overwhelming. Hear me out, I’m not here to say that our engagement hasn’t been fun, it definitely has been, but a lot of aspects of engagement took me by surprise. To read the full post, go here.
The light at the end of our dating & engagement tunnel was August 24, 2013. We got married in the middle of downtown Greenville, and I found our reception venue thanks to Google. At the time, I was getting into photography but definitely still had lots of growing to do. I knew I loved photos – but didn’t necessarily have a style I loved or a look I was going for. My mother in law tagged me in a photographers post that was asking for couples to share their holiday proposal story – and if you were chosen, you’d receive a little incentive for booking. I shared our story because #gushingengagedgirl, and she “chose us” as one of her winning couples, and that my friends, is how I found our photographer!
It’s funny looking back because I am still so thankful my path crossed with Lauren Miller. After photographing our wedding, she became a mentor and my go to in the photography world. I second shot many weddings with her & she truly did shepherd and love me so well (ilysm Lauren)!
I’ll be honest – financing our wedding was hard, especially right after graduating college. Our families stepped up and helped fund most of our wedding, and we had to fund a little bit ourselves. We simplified as much as we could, and honestly I had a little fear of man, thinking people would think it was super plain & nothing special. I’m not sure if that’s anyone else’s fear, but at the time it was one of mine. We had to cut a few corners in order to not completely wash out our bank accounts: only getting bouquets and boutonnieres, getting extra flowers from Trader Joes, opting for a cash bar over open bar (or no bar), having one little main cake with sheet cakes in the back, borrowing props and books for our photo booth and center pieces, opting for barbecue because it was less expensive, and the list goes on.
The Lord tremendously blessed us when we were planning for our wedding. Some of our best friend’s mom was our wedding planner and coordinator, and she was honestly a saving grace. She loved us so well through this process, took such good care of us, and prayed over us consistently. Their family is still heavily involved in our life & we know they always will be. We met our DJ at our foundations class for church, and he so kindly offered to dj our wedding as a gift if we didn’t already have someone. Our dear friends sang in our wedding as a gift, and we are still so grateful for the time and effort they put into planning for worship during our ceremony. Another friend of ours ran our Photo Booth for next to nothing, and provided some of our favorite photos of our friends and family. Our list goes on and on of people we can thank for making this day so smooth, and truthfully I get teary thinking about it. Only the Lord, y’all.
What no one knew at the time is that we literally had next to no money for a wedding, but we still wanted it to be fun and be true to us. We wanted our day to point to Jesus in every way – through worship, prayer, and surrounding ourselves with our best friends & family. I’ll never forget – months after our wedding a friend told me someone at her table said something along the lines of “so how did y’all feel about them not having any decor in the church?” At first, I was devastated, my fear came true, someone thought our wedding was too simple. But then, I felt sad, I felt sad that they missed the bigger picture. They missed that the whole point was to honor the Lord and celebrate his goodness in our lives. It makes me sad, but that’s also just our world sometimes, it’s more focused on the material goods than our souls.
Our ceremony took place at Grace Church & Reception at Zen. I am honestly so thankful we got married when we did, pre-wedding saturated life. I think planning a wedding now would be a lot easier in many respects, but also exponentially harder. So, I’m glad our wedding was so simple. It was so us – all we wanted was for it to be honoring to the Lord and not overdone. We wanted it to be overflowing with worship, focusing on the bigger picture of marriage, not just our wedding.
Okay, flash forward to our wedding day. I was giddy and excited, not nervous like I anticipated, and had the slowest morning getting ready with my besties. One of my best friends & bridesmaids, Megan, offered her home for my girls to get ready in. Her sweet mom provided the best brunch for us & truly opened up their home and hosted us so well. We are still so thankful for this slow morning we got to spend with all the girls, and so thankful they offered to open their home to us.
After we all finished up photos, Braden and I wanted to read our letters from each other together. I had planned for us to meet and do the cute “hold hands around a door” situation, but when I walked out he was standing right in front of me with a blind fold on. I remember this moments so vividly because I just died laughing, it took me so much by surprise that he was RIGHT THERE. It’s one of my favorite memories from our wedding day. While guests were being seated, three of our dear friends sang many songs, a set list we spent weeks on. We wanted our church to be a space where everyone felt welcome and comfortable, as well as opening up the space for worship. One of my best friends, Taylor, sang “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris as I came down the aisle with my mama.
After our ceremony, we headed down the street to Zen. Y’all, the months leading up to our wedding, I stressed over our reception decor. I wanted to keep it super simple and on the inexpensive side, but also didn’t want it to look super cheesy. There’s a fine line between those two things! I did so many diy projects, collected so many things, and our family helped collect lanterns and other various centerpiece pieces. Looking back, those things truly didn’t matter. They didn’t make our wedding any more or any less, and now I wish I would’ve saved some stress & not worried about what was on our tables.
When we arrived at our reception, we took a few more photos and then Braden & I went upstairs at Zen to have dinner by ourselves. I am still so glad we did this, even if I didn’t really eat, just to take a second to breathe and actually be with just him. Our first dance was to Ben Rector “Loving You is Easy.” As I’ve mentioned before in our story, Ben Rector has played a role in our relationship even before we were dating, so it couldn’t have been more fitting or more perfect for us.
We ended our reception by running through sparklers & hopping into our wedding planner / family friend’s car. She kindly & willingly drove us down to the Westin Poinsett since we completely forgot to have a getaway car set up prior to the wedding day (whoops, minor detail haha). The next morning, our best friend Andrew, graciously offered to drive us to the airport at the literal crack of dawn. We hopped on the plane to St. Lucia for the week and it’s still one of my favorite trips we will ever go on. Braden kept our destination a secret until our wedding day, and it was so fun to have no idea where we were going until the day before we left!
I’ve learned a lot my 6 years in this wedding industry, and I’ve learned just how much things cost. Looking back on how much our wedding cost, I’m blown away at how “little” we spent in comparison to most weddings now. We were truly blessed by our friends & family who stepped up to help us. True, true blessings and we are forever grateful. It’s easy to get all caught up in the details, the party, the food, the music, etc etc etc. But what I wish I knew then, was that no matter what, we were going to be married at the end of it all. After all the stress, after all the planning, and after the day was long over – we were still married.
Simple concept, but it’s a hard one to grasp when you’re in the thick of planning. Expectations take over, overwhelm sets in, and it almost seems impossible to make all the details come together.
To my girls planning right now, take a deep breath, step away from the planning spread sheet & timeline, and take a moment to remember WHY. Your wedding day will come together, your best people will show up, and you will celebrate this new and cherished season you’re entering into in the best way. Your story matters & is special no matter how it plays out.