As many of you know, I was officially married at the end of October to the love of my life. Our unique elopement style ceremony meant that a month later we would have “The Party”, complete with wedding guests, a bridal party, and a proper reception.
A month of being legally married, allowed me the time to officially change my name, and get my new legal documents. I woke up around 5am on November 26, too excited to sleep anymore. After all, it was
Christmas morning (okay, it was really wedding day, but it felt like Christmas!) The entire morning, my bridesmaids and I watched the Bridesmaids movie on repeat. I’m not kidding. As soon as the Wilson Phillips song faded out, we just pressed “restart”. We had a blast reciting the movie quotes and even our makeup artists were laughing with us. I was working with vendors I knew and loved, so it was more like seeing old friends, than feeling anxious about how they’d do.
My 9 bridesmaids had 5 different hair options to choose from: all updos to show off the keyhole back in their mermaid dresses. Visions by Daili was able to give each girl their own version of a top bun with braids.
I gave the girls custom shirts and socks with personalized tumblers.
Once my hair and makeup were finished, I slipped on my “Bride” tank, and fuzzy slippers to see Warren. In our North Carolina wedding we opted not to do a first look. This time, we were having 2 special moments before the ceremony. When I first started in this industry, I was requested on the 9th floor of a hotel to help the groomsman tie bow ties… so I quickly Googled a “how to” video and became a pro before the elevator doors opened up. Since then, I would practice on paper towel rolls and an unwilling (then) boyfriend, to perfect my method. Since he used to be my practice model, we decided that on our wedding day, this was an intimate moment we could share.
Weeks before the wedding, I went on Amazon to find a simple blind fold, and wouldn’t you know it… a bunch of S&M accessories popped up. Silk blind fold? Throw it in the cart! So like something straight out of 50 Shades of Grey, I walked into a quiet room with my husband sitting blindfolded in a chair.
I burst out laughing! These photos, without explanation, are probably currently on some 50 shades fan site with incorrect context.
It was a sweet moment between us, as I knotted his bow tie in one shot.
On our first date, Warren took me to a gun range. I had saved one of the shell casings of a bullet from that day. I had the casing made into cuff links thanks to Matthews Custom Jewelers and gifted them to Warren.
My girls went to change into their dresses. Truthfully, throughout the entire wedding planning process, I was anxiously awaiting the day when I’d see my best friends all dolled up in these gowns that I fell in love with at first sight. I LOVE the color of cobalt blue against black. Since my husband is a police officer, we thought the blue would work dually as a “thin blue line” theme. I was shopping in Macy’s one day in December and my eyes immediately were drawn to these shiny royal blue dresses. I impulsively decided in that instant that I wasn’t going to wait for them to go out of stock. I bought all 9 dresses for my girls, and didn’t regret it one bit when they did indeed go completely out of stock the next month! I loved how they weren’t your typical “bridesmaid” dress, and I knew it would compliment everyone’s figures beautifully. (I know everyone says that they think their bridesmaid dresses will be worn again, but I’ll bet money that at least one of my girls repurposes it!)
My mom was there when I picked out my wedding gown (a story in itself), and patiently attended so many dress fittings with me. Naturally, she was the one to help zip me up into my gown.
It fit like a glove, and I felt so unbelievably beautiful. There were rare times that I allowed myself to actually feel like a bride throughout the engagement, and it was such a surreal experience going through the motions and picture poses that I’ve seen all my brides do before my eyes. I knew exactly how slow to “put on” my garter for photos. I knew just what angle to show myself placing my earrings and I knew how to coach my mom into “pretending” to zip up my dress about 4 different times so video could get their shot.
I wore the same veil that was edged with the lace from my mom’s wedding gown. I had Nina wedding shoes. They were soooooooo comfy! The low heel and ribbon ankle tie provided the maximum comfortable support I needed to be able to take unlimited photos and dance my first dance sans blisters.
I opted to have a first look with my dad, and I’m so glad we had that private moment together. I gifted him a picture frame engraved with the words “of all the walks we’ve ever taken, this one means the most” with a temporary picture of baby me in his giant gym shoes to be replaced with a photo of him walking me down the aisle.
I gave my mom a couple of “mom” Alex and Ani bracelets, and a frame engraved with “forever your little girl”. Of course, tears were shed. Now, it was time for my first look with Warren. Countless times throughout the planning process, I asked him what he thought my dress looked like, or what he hoped it didn’t look like. The standard, “you’ll look great in anything” response was heavily received. We had a long hallway to ourselves, he had his back to me. I had butterflies the entire walk up to him before tapping his shoulder. I felt like a little school girl! I was so excited to see him, and more excited for him to see me!
I couldn’t have faked that smile if you paid me.
I twirled around to show him the entire dress, and his expression and reaction were so perfect. After witnessing countless first looks between my clients, it was a different level of special doing it myself. We took some photos together before our wedding party joined us.
Now, our ceremony was going to be extra unique. We’ve all sat through the hour long ceremonies where people are hungry and antsy and uncomfortable. We wanted our guests to have fun! With the sun set, and the cool waves of the ocean splashing below the pool deck, all of the sudden, the speakers blare “BAD BOYS BAD BOYS! WATCHA GONNA DO? WATCHA GONNA DO WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU?” Yup. The COPS theme song that we all know and love. That’s what the groomsman walked down the aisle to! I heard laughs and clapping from our guests, and the laidback, fun vibe had already begun. Warren decided to walk coolly down the aisle to that whiny “oooo waooo wowwwwww” theme song from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, his favorite movie. Cue even more laughs.
I passed off my bouquet to my maid of honor, which smelled so heavily of glue, that I was happy to get rid of it. (note: composite bouquets are a man-made arrangement by gluing individual petals around a single rose to give the illusion of an exaggeratedly full bouquet. Looked pretty, smelled terrible.) Again, Warren’s grandfather was our officiant. I had spent weeks perfecting the most symbolic, touching ceremony script for him to read.
With the uplights illuminating the darkness around us that evening, I knew something was wrong after his first sentence: “I can’t see my bible, so, I’m just gonna paraphrase this!” With the thud of the book shutting, “Dedaddy” gave the best possible rendition of my structured script. Haha! Through smiling teeth, Warren looked me in the eyes and said, “just go with it.” We wrote our own vows this time. Mine were laminated, his scribbled on Ritz Carlton notepad paper.
We actually said a lot of the same things in our vows, including the beliefs that we are solely funnier than the other. Deddady called for our kiss, and sentenced us “to a lifetime of happiness”. With that, Warren pulled out his handcuffs, and slapped those suckers on my wrist.
We walked our recessional to Haddaway’s “What Is Love?” and bobbed our heads with the music while laughing the whole walk down. True “Night at the R
oxbury itz Carlton” style!
Amongst other standard cocktail hour hors d’eouvres, our guests had tomato shooters and grilled cheese bites. Nothing like good Midwest comfort food! On the late November breezy night, it was perfect.
Warren and I were swooped away to privacy where I declined the champagne, and ordered myself a tequila sunrise. We practiced our first dance and discussed the hilarity of the ceremony. We entered the ballroom with friends and family surrounding the dance floor. We flawlessly executed our first dance to “A Thousand Years” and the party began!
We had the Ritz chef create a copycat recipe of the salad we ate the night we got engaged in Savannah, GA. Candied bacon, fried green tomato, and black pepper thyme buttermilk dressing. Yum. We had tattoo stations (the sponge and water kind) with sayings like, “I came for the open bar!” and “#LoveYouToBitzAtTheRitz”.
We thought out of the (cake) box, and omitted a traditional wedding cake. We served assorted cake pops (my favorite!!!!) , donuts (insert the police joke here), and munchkins with dipping sauces!
My bouquet toss catcher is currently engaged, and although still single, the garter catcher made a truly valiant effort in his catch.
We surprised our guests with continuous blasts of confetti and foam glow sticks. My father in law even led the electric slide, directing everyone like an air traffic controller! Our DJ, Sarz Entertainment, had every single person on their feet the entire night. So much so, that I missed our late night bites (sliders and quesadillas! double yum). Don’t worry, I ordered room service the next night and got myself a giant non-wedding-diet quesadilla. So worth it.
We sang “Happy Birthday” to my Irish Twin brother, and had a wonderful night.
I didn’t have an ounce of caffeine that night, but it’s true what they (and by they, I mean I, as your wedding planner) tell you on your wedding day… you have so much adrenaline and excitement that you could party until the sun comes up. So that’s quite literally what we did. I wore my Berta dress along the sidewalks of A1A, bar hopped, and took photos with sand snowmen (only in Florida!).
We sleepily made our way back to the hotel around 5am and immediately, I wanted to do it all over again. It’s totally acceptable to have a vow renewal, after one year, right?
all professional photos by (c) Unique Design Studios