“Ranch in the Sky”

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(Source: All photos by Orange Turtle Photography)

“You know when you know.”  That’s what it was like when we visited the location that ultimately became our choice of venue.  We almost skipped out on it.  There were already a few pretty good contenders on our list, the location was a bit further out, and we just assumed it would be outside of our budget.  But we decided to call anyway.  Luckily, they happened to have availability for an appointment that morning, so we figured why not and decided to pay a visit…and boy were we glad we did!

As soon as we arrived at Rancho del Cielo, we were greeted by the site coordinator and a couple, who all came out and hugged us like we were old friends.  We immediately felt so welcomed.  They showed us around the vicinity, which included beautiful grounds amongst the rolling green hills of Malibu, a breathtaking view of the ocean, and a charming little ranch house.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that Jill and Sparky, the couple, were the proud owners of the place.  In fact, it was their home that they resided in, which explained the attention they paid to every beautiful detail.  Some visuals to give you a taste of the beauty of the place…and I say “taste” because even these gorgeous images don’t do it justice:

The view out from the front of the premises…

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Standing in front of the house, looking out:

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The charming upper room where we got ready…

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The reception grounds, set against the Malibu mountains…

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A view of back of the house, looking out toward the ceremony grounds…

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And possibly the most gorgeous view of all, the incredible backdrop to the ceremony:

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We instantly had one of those chills when you know.  It had the perfect bit of Southern rustic charm plus a great view of some of California’s best beaches and the ocean…the perfect throwback to my roots growing up in the South and my love of mountains, as well as Mr. D’s Southern California upbringing and love of beaches.  It was unique and didn’t feel like a “wedding factory.”  Plus, we loved the fact that it was in such a private location – it was elegant yet had the feel of an intimate, rustic backyard event, which was perfect for what we were looking for.

But what really sealed the deal for us was the hospitality, dedication, and genuine nature of Jill and Sparky.  They wanted to hear all about our story – who we were, what we were looking for, why we were renewing our vows.  What was intended to be a short 30 minute visit turned into a conversation amongst friends that lasted throughout the morning.  Over tea, coffee and homemade biscotti, we shared what we had been through and how far we had come.  As a married couple who had been through the ups and downs themselves, they knew what it was like, and also shared some of their experiences and life lessons with us.  We could tell they were genuinely touched and were so excited for us that we had made this decision to renew our vows.  When we called and returned a few weeks later to seal the deal, we could see the joy in their faces.  It especially touched our hearts that Sparky even shed a tear in expressing how glad he was that we had chosen them.  What a contrast with our experience at some of the other sites we visited!

Since this is somewhat turning into a review of our venue, I’ll just include a few practical details as well – We loved the flexibility that came with it!  You could either rent the space out and bring everything in yourself, or you could use one of their packages with some of their already-negotiated vendors to keep things simple.  In the package option, the site coordinator would help with booking rentals (including the shuttle) and Jill herself would personally help out with some of the details, such as decor and appetizers.  We ultimately decided on going with a mix – We primarily used the package but was able to customize a lot of details and work with some of our preferred vendors to make it personal.  I do have to highlight an example of some of Jill’s work that she customized for us, which totally impressed and blew us away:

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They also have a site coordinator, Avesta, who is available to help with planning questions along the way and who manages the event the day of.  She has an incredible amount of experience with the site and a good sense of how much time we would need for various activities.  We still had to handle the bulk of the planning ourselves, but she served as a great guide and resource along the way in providing suggestions, referrals, and putting our day-of schedule together.  She also played a key role in keeping things moving and on track the day of.

When the day came, our guests couldn’t stop raving about the place.  But what really made the day special was the attention of the site coordinator and Jill and Sparky themselves.  They were so flexible and adaptive to the various unexpected things that came up (such as adjusting the schedule to accommodate delays, personally jumping in to help out guests who were late or lost, or filling in when we had forgotten to plan for something).  They were so attentive to every detail that it made our experience feel like the day went without a single hitch!  Thank goodness we decided to check out the place – it was perfect, and we couldn’t imagine having our vow renewal anywhere else.

Next up – I’m excited to share the details of how we worked our theme in to make the day come to life!

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Everybody’s Got An Opinion

When Mr. D and I finally decided “yes, let’s do this,” our first step was searching for a venue.  We were super excited to be doing this together – especially since the first time around we had to divide and conquer a lot of things due to Mr. D’s crazy medical school schedule, among other reasons.  It made us feel so “together” to visit sites and go through the process of planning something uniquely us and what would be a day to truly celebrate our renewed life as a couple.  We were ready!

What we weren’t entirely prepared for were some of the responses when venue staff and site coordinators found out we were having a vow renewal.  The inevitable question that followed would always be, “Really?  How long have you been married?” and when we said “Almost 5 years” and explained our story, we’d usually get a “hmm,” with some raised eyebrows.  Some even went further to actually say things like, “You guys are so young,” “Well, any excuse to have a party I guess,” or just gave a quizzical look as they muttered “whatever floats your boat.”  While we were able to take it with a smile and a light response, I have to admit it did catch me a little bit off guard, especially given how much this event meant to us.

I’ve often kind of wondered just what it is about the topic of weddings that seems to give a green light for someone to be more openly critical of another than they would under normal circumstances (I hear it gets even worse when it comes to parenting, but that’s a topic for another day!).   Of course everyone is entitled to an opinion, but it seems like folks are quicker to voice them directly and often not-so-tactfully when it comes to weddings.  During our original wedding planning process, I can still vividly recall when relatives or family friends would openly criticize a decision we had made, whether it was the location we chose, what was served for a meal, or even how too much or too little money was spent on what.  Many of my married friends often also talk about how vendors would become rude and impatient once they knew you were planning a wedding versus a corporate event.  And the worst of all is when, whether jokingly or not, brides get referred to as a “bridezilla”.

I have a few hypotheses:  a) perhaps weddings seem to some to be indulgent and self-centered, which makes some people feel like they are more entitled to cast judgment, or b) it comes from a place of defending one’s own (likely very strong) convictions about what is and isn’t appropriate for an event that involves so many people.  It does still somewhat baffle me why folks can get so worked up though.

Luckily, for us, we’ve learned over time that you really can’t please everyone, so we were able to take things with a smile and let it roll off.  As unconventional it might be, when it came down to it, we knew exactly what we were doing and why: we both knew what we had been through, we had miraculously come such a long way, and there was much to celebrate – and that was reason enough for us. 🙂

What are your thoughts on why people are so quick to share their opinions?  And for those of you who’ve been on the receiving end, what frustrates you the most?

Our Theme and Inspiration Board Revealed!

As I mentioned in my last post, it was really important to us that our guests would walk away with a deep understanding of the significance of the day and their role in it, all while feeling like there was some cohesion between that with the actual details and décor of the day.  So in coming up with our theme, we took a really non-linear approach of simultaneously taking a step back to think about how we would love our ceremony to flow, while also starting to hone in on a few types of details or décor elements that we liked.

In speaking with our pastor, who’d be officiating and had also been one of the folks who walked us through a lot of the roughest moments in our relationship, one of the things he had suggested was setting the stage by sharing some background on our story.  While all those invited were friends who had played a key role in our journey, many had varying degrees of understanding of what actually happened.  Given that significant others who were less involved would also be attending, we felt like it would be good to level-set everyone and provide the context before jumping into our vows.  So the personal sharing aspect was definitely something to take into consideration.  Examples of other details we took into account were that our outdoor venue was definitely more on the rustic side, the event itself would be really intimate, we wanted to go for simplicity and hopefully something that felt personal and unique, and of course my not-so-unique love of kraft paper and string. 😉  So with all that in mind, we landed on our unofficial theme.

Our unofficial theme was around the idea of “good stories”.  I say “unofficial” because we wanted it to be subtle, since we thought making it too overt would take away a little bit of the sanctity of the day.  Why “good stories” and how does that come to life?  Well, for one thing, we were going to be sharing our actual story, but at a more general level, in the best stories, there always comes a point when you don’t know if the protagonist is going to make it, and the journey of how they do is what makes the story.  We felt like that was a picture of our marriage.  There was a point where we really didn’t think we were going to make it.  And a huge part of the day would be telling the story of how things fell apart and the miraculous things that happened that saved us.

In terms of how that would come to life, well, here are some selections from our pinterest board pieced together into an inspiration board for our event!  We are both big book nerds – in fact, we even have our very own library in our home.  We also liked how the “literary” look fit so well into the overall rustic environment (kind of funny that books are considered more “rustic” and “antique” now).

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From a color and floral perspective, we knew we definitely wanted to go with a light aqua blue – it is one of our favorite colors (in fact, much of our home is decorated in it!).  We also wanted to have a pop of color, and ended up deciding on a light peach.  This is the board that we came across that sealed the color deal for us.

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So these are what set the tone for how we would begin our planning journey!  Of course, we did want things to be more subtle, so as I post about how the details, you’ll notice they don’t really look much like these boards.  But taking the time to think through a theme really helped us focus and ensure that all the various elements of the day would be tied together.

Image sources –
Daffodil inspiration board (clockwise, links from Pinterest): OnceWed, Melissa Baum Events Blog, Every Last Detail blog, Style Me Pretty, Matthew Alvarado, Style Me Pretty, Ruffled Blog
Peach & Blue inspiration board from Snippet & Ink  

“So What’s Your Theme?”

When we booked our venue and went in to sign everything, the site coordinator lost no time in getting down to business.  She sat us down and the first thing she asked was, “so what’s your theme?”  Mr. D and I looked at each other blankly – We had been consumed with merely finding available vendors and a venue on relatively short notice that we hadn’t even begun thinking about how the day would play out, let alone a theme.

As we drove home, we started talking in the car.  It hadn’t previously crossed our mind to incorporate a theme, especially for an event that seemed to be somewhat on the more sacred and serious side.  Even for our actual wedding, our “theme” was really just the color scheme more than anything else.  But as someone who loves party planning, especially themed parties, it got the wheels turning.  Upon further discussion, it seemed like a great idea – it could really pull the details of the day together and lend it cohesion, especially since this would be the first vow renewal most of our friends had attended and no one would be quite sure what to expect anyway.  Additionally, we loved that it would give the day and details a greater sense of intentionality behind it.

So we set out to come up with some ideas for a theme.  As we browsed online for inspiration, we saw plenty of cute ideas centered around a signature object, such as a fruit (we particularly loved the themes around lemons), or an inanimate object like typewriters (LOTS of typewriters!)…

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(Source: Snippet & Ink)

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(Source: Simply Peachy blog)

…we also saw a number of weddings themed in the veins of travel or places, such as nautical ones, or the beach, or just travel in general…

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(Source: Style Me Pretty)

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(Source: Pinterest)

And of course just themes of color or just a general style as well!   (I’m a huge fan of Snippet & Ink by the way – I tell all my engaged friends to go to that blog for inspiration!)

A green theme

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(Source: Snippet & Ink)

The one below is just a theme of rustic country life

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(Source: Snippet & Ink)

After getting inspired by all the different ways that themes could come to life, we took a step back to think about what we wanted our guests to really take away from the day.  For us, it would be really important for them to walk away with why we were renewing our vows and why the day was special, and to somehow symbolically tie that together with the decor and the venue itself.  Finally, after brainstorming through a number of different ideas, we landed on a theme…

…which is what my next post is going to be all about!

In the meantime, I’m curious: how many of you ended up going with a theme, and if so, what was it and how did you decide on it?

The Ultimate Secret Wedding Planning Weapon: The Brief

briefWhen our friends asked us about our planning process, they were all shocked to learn that in total, it took us less than four months to pull everything together.   “How?!” was the question that immediately followed.  Well, as proven time and time again, necessity breeds creativity!  Our schedules in this stage of our lives were insane, and having gone through the wedding planning process once before, we knew that focusing needed to be a priority, especially given how overwhelming things could quickly get.

Enter a bride’s best friend: the nuptial creative brief.  (I promise I’m not a one-trick pony in giving you all yet another template – this truly helped us streamline our thinking during the planning process!)  What is a creative brief?  It’s a tool used by those of us in the marketing world to articulate the idea, inspiration, and objective of an advertising campaign to our agencies.  It succinctly captures the background and history of our brand, our goals, the tonality of the campaign, and the one message we want our consumers to walk away with…all on one page.  The shorter it is, the better the outcome – it’s all about focus.  We invest a significant amount of time crafting a tight brief, which our creatives then take and bring to life.  So I thought – what better way to focus our planning than to follow a similar process in thinking through what to communicate with our vendors!

Now it may feel somewhat unproductive – you’ll feel like you’re spending so much time thinking when you could be out doing.  But the up-front investment will pay off later on in the form of saved time: you’ll know exactly what you want, it’ll make it much easier to make quick decisions, it helps you stay focused on what’s important to share with your vendors, and it helps them understand what exactly you’re trying to achieve.  Whether it is just an exercise for you or whether you actually share it with your vendors, either way it can be a great tool (for us, we didn’t ultimately share it in this form with anyone and used it more as a guide in our conversations with them, though we did send bits and pieces of it as appropriate). Here are the elements we thought through and articulated…ideally, all on a single page!

Background.  Who are you, and how would you capture your relationship?  This is the section that not only introduces you to your vendors, but can also help you think through a few key characteristics, attributes, or moments that really describe you as a couple.  We broke this up into three general sections:  1) Who we are, 2) History of our relationship, and 3) Why we want to say “I Do.” Some sample questions we thought through were: Who are we as individuals?  What are some adjectives that describe us?  How did we meet?  How long had we known each other and been together?  What do we love about each other?  Other questions to bring our personality as a couple to life were: What did we like to do for fun, individually and as a couple?  How would we describe how we spend a typical weekend to someone?  And finally, why were we renewing our vows, especially given that it had only been five years?  Thinking through and articulating all these in just a few short paragraphs (short is key!!) helped our vendors get to know us deeply very quickly.

Goals or Priorities for the Big Day.  In a true creative brief, you would spell out your objectives of your campaign.  It sounds weird to have an “objective” for a vow renewal or wedding, so we thought it made sense to think through our priorities for what we wanted the day to be about.  As an example, our goal was twofold: a) to remember, celebrate and commemorate the progress we have made as a couple, and b) to thank and honor our closest family and friends for being there for us by renewing our commitment to each other in their company.  This is also a great section to spell out what’s most important to you about the day, so folks such as your photographer and videographer get a sense of what to prioritize.

The “Creative Assignment” (Optional). This can be tailored to your specific vendor, or can be eliminated altogether if you just want to use the brief to give an overall feel for the event.  For specific vendors though, such as florists, this is where you can lay out exactly what your needs are, i.e. 5 centerpieces, 1 bridal bouquet, 2 boutonnieres, etc.

Who Your Guests Are.  Just a brief description of who is coming to your wedding.  How many people?  Is it mostly friends from college, co-workers, or family?  Are they mostly in your peer group, or is there a much broader range of ages?  You could even consider including some adjectives you would use to describe their personalities and give a feel to who they are.  You could tailor this for your various vendors as well, i.e. if it’s for your caterer, you might mention you have a bunch of self-proclaimed foodies or coffee aficionados among the crowd.  For our site coordinator, this was also where we made note of special requests to our site coordinator, i.e. that there would be three young moms who were nursing and needed easy access to a lactation room.

What You Want Your Guests To Walk Away With.  What is the one thing you’d want your guests to say or feel about your day?  This isn’t necessarily something you have to share with your vendors, but it helps to think through it when it comes to planning the details of your day.  For us, it was really about making them feel loved and appreciated, and to experience the same awe and gratitude we had in how good and faithful God is.  By articulating that, we were able to bring it to life in the little things, like our personalized favors, the food selections we made, the elements and order of our ceremony, and more.

Theme.  I’m planning on doing a whole other post about themes and some ideas on how to come up with one, but this could be a style, a combination of colors, a place, perhaps  even a signature object that inspires an idea.  Essentially, whether overtly or subtly, the theme is what will help to tie together the day and create cohesiveness throughout.  If you can keep it short, you can also describe the meaning behind your theme or why it’s significant to you.

Executional Considerations (or Executional Mandatories if you prefer).  This is where you can suggest some ideas or spell out a few additional details that you want your vendor to keep in mind.  For example, we put our color choices here, or also mentioned specific flowers we wanted incorporated. 

Tonality.  Using just a few adjectives, describe what the tonality of the day should feel like.  For example, it could be “sweet and romantic” or “offbeat and edgy.” One way to think about it is if your event was a person, how would you describe her?  This gives your vendors a feel for the personality of the event and can guide them in helping create the overall experience and air for the day.

And finally, some sample elements!  I created a Pinterest board with several images that served as inspiration for our theme and included the link.  For my more “traditional” vendors that were less web-savvy, I went ahead and printed out a collage of images that served as inspiration to us.  (That’s right, bringing back the good ol’ inspiration board, which was what we used to do in the days before Pinterest!)  Having examples of elements that evoke the overall look and feel you are going for goes an incredibly long way for your vendors, especially the more creative ones like florists and designers.

Well, that’s the secret!  I know it seems like a lot to fit on a page, but that’s the beauty of the creative brief – it’s brief, tight, and forces you to focus, so that you stay on track and don’t get distracted by all the beautiful inspiration and décor elements out there.  Hope this helps!

From Wedding Bells to Wanting Out

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(Source: Orange Turtle Photography)

When it comes to the most breathtaking, heart moving, tear inducing moments, the vow exchange is hard to beat.  There is nothing quite as beautiful as two people publicly and earnestly professing their love and commitment to one another.  In moments like that, I’ve often wondered how a couple could possibly go from saying “I do” to “I want out.”  And in my wildest imagination, I never imagined that I’d one day be able to shed light on how exactly that could happen.

It didn’t happen overnight.  I don’t think it ever does…I’m pretty sure no one gets married expecting the marriage to reach a breaking point.  We certainly never thought it could happen to us: we loved each other, we had a strong foundation of friendship, and we shared the same values and faith, which we strove to live out each day.  Yet, it still happened.

We didn’t start out with huge fights or arguments – those came much later, after the trust in our relationship had already been eroded.  Sure, we had a few big stressors that accelerated us down the wrong path.  But the real culprit – clandestinely guised as courtesy, an easygoing nature, or even selfless genuine loving care for the other – crept in, seamlessly becoming routine in the way we related to one another.  And that culprit was none other than lack of awareness – of self, of the other, and of the state of our hearts.

We both led incredibly busy lives, with very little free time.  We thought our relationship could wait; after all, we’d always be there for each other.  We had made it – we were married!  But the day to day busy-ness and the focus on work and life turned into a consistent lack of communication.  We didn’t realize that we would grow and change, that we still had to work on getting to know each other, staying connected and pursuing each other.

We were both nice people.  We went out of our way to try to be understanding of each other.  We didn’t want to cause unnecessary hurt by bringing up certain small things that bothered us.  But the trouble came when “not sweating the small stuff” and “being the bigger person” turned into denying our own hearts and sweeping hurts, disappointments, and unmet expectations under the carpet.  We didn’t understand that some of the small stuff was actually big.

We always gave each other the benefit of the doubt.  We assumed the other person didn’t mean something hurtful.  What we didn’t understand was that it wasn’t enough to leave it at a benefit…that doing so also left the doubt in there too.  And failure to clarify could then turn into unresolved misunderstanding.

For these reasons and many more, within a couple years, we found ourselves at a point where our relationship, unbeknownst to us, became extremely fragile.  And when the stressors came (and they always do), we quickly hit a breaking point.  We found that we didn’t know each other – we had such different personalities and couldn’t remember why we even married each other.  We found that we didn’t trust each other – it felt like we were never there for each other.  And we found that we had fallen out of love – there were so many hurts that had accumulated in our hearts that even in spite of our desire to love each other, we had nothing left.

I’ll have to save the story of how we got out of all this for another day, but to take the tone back up a bit (and not leave you all depressed!), I’d like to leave you with a few lessons learned – things that I think could have helped us avoid our situation, that have indeed prevented other couples from getting to that point, and that help us in our present happier times keep our relationship strong and our love growing.

Don’t stop pursuing each other.  Marriage doesn’t mean you’ve arrived at a destination and you’ve made it.  Find creative ways to enjoy each other, to persist in wooing each other, and to continue getting to know one another.  There’s a quote a famous professor from my alma mater said that I love: “Marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married”.  I love it because it starts with that marriage commitment.  We inevitably change.  Or even if we don’t, there are things we discover later either about ourselves or our partner.  Expect the change, and love your partner through it and because of it.  Keep things exciting by planning dates and fun ways to delight each others’ hearts.  Stay connected to each other, so that you’ll be growing together as opposed to growing apart.

Protect your space as a couple.  Work, friends, and family have a way of taking over the calendar.  While those are all important, prioritizing your marriage means actually making it a priority…which means intentionally carving out time for it and saying no to other things sometimes.  As a married couple, you are creating and becoming a new family, which becomes your primary family.  It was so hard to say no sometimes – to family events where there was a lot of pressure to attend, to friends when we didn’t want to miss out, even to some work events where it felt like it might be limiting to miss out on a happy hour or other relationship/career-building opportunity.  Even if your partner understands, your actions imprint what you really think on their hearts and whether they really are what’s most important to you.  I’ll likely dedicate a future post to discussing this topic more thoroughly, as this was a big one for us and a huge area of struggle for so many new couples.  But to keep it short, relatives will eventually come around (and if they don’t, can you live with that?), friends will understand, and there will always be more opportunities at work.  Set your boundaries and prioritize each other.

Talk it out…even if it hurts.  Loving someone doesn’t mean never making them upset.  Communication, or lack thereof, is almost always at the heart of conflict.  It may feel unnatural or awkward at first, but it is always better to express what’s on your mind and clarify any areas of potential misunderstanding or conflict.  While it helps to be tactful, being direct is way more important.  If possible, stick to “I” statements and how your partner’s actions made you feel, rather than accusatory statements.  Chances are it was a miscommunication – I can’t tell you how many times I interpreted and received a statement a certain way when the motivation behind the statement was so far removed from it.  Even in the middle of trying to work something out, we’d sometimes find that we heard something differently than what the other person meant to say.  Clarify, clarify, clarify!  And if in fact it wasn’t a miscommunication, it’s always better to have a discussion about it and to address it before it builds up and becomes a much larger issue.

Be direct.   I would also add that as romantic as it is and as much as I wish this could be the case, try to recognize that your partner can’t read your mind.   I used to think being “soulmates” meant we would be on the same wavelength all the time.  While it may sometimes feel like that while dating, you’ll quickly find that marriage is a different ballgame, as we all eventually lose the rose-colored glasses we wore during the honeymoon period of our relationship that likely filtered out the times when we didn’t get it quite right.  We each unknowingly brought in so many expectations into our marriage, expectations that we thought our partner would meet.  When that inevitably didn’t happen, rather than recognizing it was simply that the other person didn’t know what we were thinking, it instead led to doubt about the other person’s commitment and if we were right for each other.  We now try to be much more direct with each other – even in the simplest of things like what we want to do for dinner or how we want to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.  I know it sounds unromantic, but when the honeymoon stage is over and reality sets in, rather than hoping for your partner to always read your mind, help him or her out and just let them know what you’re thinking.  It will pay off, because over time, they will start understanding you better and “getting” it, keeping the romance alive.

Know each other’s patterns and give each other space.  Everyone deals with conflict differently.  Some people need to hash out the issues right away; others need some time alone to process through and calm down first.  If things get heated, it’s usually good to give each other some space to allow the situation to deescalate first, and then to try to have a more objective discussion when the emotions aren’t running as high.  I can’t tell you how many times just simply taking a 20 minute break made all the difference in the tone of the conversation.

And finally, stay vulnerable.  The worst thing you can do is to harden up and detach from one another.  Even though it’s scary, sometimes sharing your heart helps keep things in perspective.  Apologize to each other.  Own up when you make mistakes.  And be honest about when it hurts.  We get angry because it’s really masking our hurt sometimes.   But if you are honest about your hurt, it helps your partner see past the anger and stay in touch with his own heart too.

Well, that’s a lot.  I could go on and on, but these are a few key things that we always try to keep in mind and have helped us immensely, even in the present day when issues come up.  These are much easier said than done…just as wedding vows are much easier said than kept.  But the habitual act of putting these things into practice, of choosing to work things out, of sticking it out day after day even in the hardest moments – these are what truly say “I do” when it comes down to it…and that’s beautiful.

For those of you who have been in long-standing relationships, how about you?  What are some of your best tips for keeping the communication lines open?

A Daffodil Deja Vu

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(All images by Orange Turtle Photography unless otherwise noted)

Well, hello there Hive – long time no see…as in five years long!  And a lot can happen in five years. In fact, a lot has happened.  For those of you who don’t know me, I was part of the second generation of “flowers” way back when. So why am I posting?  It’s a story full of the good, the bad, and the ugly: the good being that Mr. D and I recently renewed our vows at an intimate celebration in honor of our five year anniversary, with plenty of DIY projects and nuptial inspiration I’m excited to share; the bad being that we pretty much went through hell before getting to that point, almost resulting in our separation (and trust me, there was plenty of ugly).  Yet in spite of those challenging times, by God’s grace, lots of therapy, and the support of our closest friends and family, we’ve made it through alive and are stronger than ever before.

So I’m back here for the time being to of course share the details of our day – from the planning through to the party itself – but also our story and lessons learned, many of which would have made things so different had I known them going in the first time.  My hope is that beyond just helping you prepare for your wedding, our story will also help you prepare for marriage and all the glories and challenges that come with it.

For now though, I’ll leave you with a few teaser images to whet your appetite for what’s to come:

The details that brought our theme together…

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The DIY projects that personalized our day…

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 New tips and tricks that helped us as we planned…

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(Source: HWu Studios)

And woven throughout, tidbits of our story and how everything came to pass.

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More to come!