Friday, September 28, 2012

The Wedding: Our Ceremony

Welcome back to post #2 of the wedding series! If you missed our first post of the series, check it out here. If you're all caught up, get cozy and enjoy!

Our ceremony was held at the Walker Horne Outdoor Theater at the Coweta County Fairgrounds. I had always wanted to get married outdoors - never in a church much to the surprise of some. I chose to get married outside for two reasons. First, it was nontraditional. I tend to march to the beat of my own drum which can sometimes gets me into trouble. When it isn't getting me into trouble, it gives me the gumption to make things my own. In that regard, I wanted a nontraditional wedding that was uniquely my own with reflections of R.J. and I's personality and relationship. Getting married in a church just didn't seem to fit that.

Second, I've always felt closer to God surrounded by nature than in a church. Through nature, God provides the perfect backdrop for a beautiful wedding. Thus, we really didn't need to put much effort into decorating outside. It was already done for us for the most part!

And that brings us back to the picture above! Back in March, Mom and I bought 30 two and a half foot shepherd's hooks from Dollar Tree. [Here's a tip for future brides: Utilize wedding chat boards! My personal favorite was the Budget Weddings board on Other brides will post PSAs about good deals they find. This is how I found out about the shepherd's which were only a $1 each!] On the shepherd's hooks, we placed mason jars filled with a sprig of baby's breath and a single sunflower to line the aisle.

My granny had a wide collection of mason jars passed down to her from her mother. When I say a wide collection, I mean BOXES of all shapes and sizes. Mom (my wedding partner-in-crime) and I glued and tied twine to make the handle for the jars. 

The last bit of real decorating we did was add white ribbon streamers - three on each side of the arbor. I can't take credit for this stroke of genius. It was my granny's idea. [Thanks granny!] We bought a couple rolls of white, floral ribbon and some O-rings for index cards. Mom cut five 10 ft. pieces of the floral ribbon and glued them onto the rings. Then, we simply hung the rings on the nails that were already in the arbor.

Ta-da! Super simple AND super inexpensive decor that really made an impact. Take a look:

I told ya! :) Oh, you see that sign there at the back of the aisle hanging on that tall shepherd's hook? Here's a close up of it for you.

It was important to R.J. and I to really make a statement that we were becoming one, big family that day. We encouraged our guests to pick a seat anywhere they liked instead of doing the tradition of sitting on the left for the bride and sitting on the right for the groom. I was so happy that our guests gladly obliged to our request. As we stood up on the stage, you cannot even imagine the joy and love R.J. and I felt looking out and see our huge family intermingled among the seats. It is something I will not forget and I'd highly encourage any bride to do this.

Now then, to the ins and outs ceremony itself! My beautiful flower girl/junior bridesmaid who is our first-born niece, Aaliyah, walked down the aisle with a pompadour and a flag reading "Here Comes The Bride" which were both wonderfully made by my mother. She's following my maid of honor, Tessa!

A funny side-story: When I asked Aaliyah to be my flower girl, she asked me when the wedding would be. I told her it was in September. She said, "You know I'll be six years old by then, right Aunt Miranda?" I said yes and she responded, "Well, that's old enough to be a junior bridesmaid!" I couldn't even argue with her so she became my flower girl/junior bridesmaid.

There are also a couple special details about her dress I will share in the Bridal Attire post coming soon! For now, on to the flowers!

I chose sunflowers for two reasons. First, when I think of a country fair, I think of sunflowers! Seeing as our wedding had a country fair theme, I had to have them. Second, I wanted something different. [I know, I know. Here I go jumping on my nontraditional bandwagon again.] Plus, I wanted a flower that fit with the overall feeling of our wedding which was laid back and comfortable. To me, sunflowers fit the bill nicely. [Of course, it is an added bonus sunflowers are a cost-effective option for brides on a budget like me!]

I would like to take a second and recognize my granny, Alice. She made all of the bouquets you see in the pictures and they turned out beautiful! I could not have been more happy with them. She definitely missed a calling as a florist, because she has a talent for it.

Each of the girls' bouquets were made of three sunflower heads, a few sprigs of baby's breath and some greenery. Granny then wrapped some red, organza ribbon around the steams.

For my bouquet, the basic structure was the same but with some hidden surprises.

My bouquet had a few roses tucked in between the five sunflowers. Roses are my absolute favorite flower so I had to have them in my bouquet. They also worked with my wedding colors. Perfect! Also, if you look closely at the top right hand corner, you'll see a white, lace fabric rose. This lace is from my granny's wedding dress. My mother carried some in her bouquet when she got married and we kept the tradition by putting granny's wedding dress lace in my bouquet too. When my sister, Madeline, gets married, she will carry the lace in her bouquet as well. 

As for the ceremony itself, my bridal party and I walked down the aisle to Christina Perri's "Thousand Years." This song had a special sentiment for R.J. and I. When I heard the song for the first time, I looked at R.J. and said, "I'm walking down the aisle to that song." When he proposed to me back in February, he had the song playing in loop over the speakers. At that point, it would've been a crime not to walk down the aisle to it. 

Just for fun, here's a picture of the proposal!

You may have noticed in the picture above that BOTH of my parents walked me down the aisle. I just didn't feel right not having my mother walking me down too. After all, she had just as much as part in raising me as my daddy did.

Also, once we were at the end of the aisle, I didn't want to be given away. I was not fond of the thought of me being "given away," because it made me feel like a piece of meat being sold to the highest bidder. Personally, I didn't want to feel demeaned in that way. Once again, I defied tradition.

However, the alternative was much more sentimental to me. When my parents and I got down aisle, we met R.J. I gave my mother and father a kiss. Then, my dad took my hand and placed it in R.J.'s hand symbolizing my parents' blessing of the union.

We then proceeded up to the stage with R.J.'s best man, Clay, and my maid of honor, Tessa, following. One of R.J.'s request was he wanted Clay by his side until the end. So, when Tessa got to the stage after her walk down the aisle, she stood opposite of Clay at the bottom too. 

As for our vows, R.J. and I wrote those together while eating lunch at Fabiano's Pizza in downtown Newnan. We both agreed we did not want to repeat the traditional Protestant vows. By writing our own vows together, it personalized our ceremony even more. 

Here are the vows we wrote together:

"With this ring, I give you my promise from this day forward you shall not walk alone. I, ______, choose you, _______, to be my wife/husband. I will respect you, care for you, dream with you, and grow with you. Although we will stumble, we will pick each other up and walk through good times and hard times as your best friend, and partner giving you the best that I can to fulfill our lives together. Forever and ever amen." 
The saying "Forever and ever amen" also has special meaning for us both. It's a phrase we say to each after one of us says "I love you," so it was natural to put it at the end of our vows. The phrase is even engraved in R.J.'s wedding band. 

My rings are also very sentimental. They belonged to R.J.'s grandmother who passed away when he was very young. For that reason, I'd have to say they are one of my most prized possessions, especially since his family would trust me with an heirloom so special.

So, as I said at the beginning of the post, I tend to march to the beat of my own drum which sometimes gets me in trouble? Well, I have another trait that has a tendency to also get me in trouble - I'm stubborn. To my defense, both of my parents are stubborn so I come by it honestly!

That said, I was DETERMINED to get married outside. In the days leading up to the wedding, I religiously kept up with the forecast which was quite the roller coaster ride. One hour it would be only a 20 percent chance of rain and then the next it would be a 90 percent chance. After a while, I had just resolved that I didn't care if it was pouring rain. I was getting married outside. AND I did!

But, you see my face in this picture?

Well, that's my reaction to a HUGE clap of thunder! If you look at some of the previous pictures you can see the dark clouds creeping towards us and the wind blowing to give us warning of the approaching storm.

Seconds after the clap of thunder, the bottom dropped out. I recited my vows back quickly and tried to shove R.J.'s ring on his finger...which I had a hard time doing.

When I finally got it on, the deal was done!

By this time, it was pouring. To my surprise, mostly everyone was still seated just sitting in the rain! I told R.J. that once I hit the bottom of the steps, I was booking it back to the bridal room. I paid too much for my hair to look so good and too much time on getting pretty to get it all messed up. He nodded, grabbed my bouquet and off went went as Mr. and Mrs. Winslett.

While the rain wasn't part of the plan, it definitely made for an unforgettable end to my perfect ceremony and one of my favorite pictures in the whole bunch!

I hope you enjoy this LENGTHY insight into our ceremony. Hopefully, you'll stick around to read the Reception post which should hit the blogsphere on Monday!

If you have any questions about anything you've seen, please ask below! Comments are always appreciated and welcome. Tell me what you think.

See you Monday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Wedding: First Look

The pictures are here!

And that means I can finally begin my wedding series! I'm planning on having six posts (including this one) dedicated to explaining and sharing the ins and outs of our wedding. The six posts will be: First Look, Ceremony, Reception, Bridal Attire, Trash the Dress and the all important Budget and Advice post.

As you read, if you have specific questions about something you see in the pictures that I don't address, please post a comment below! I'll be more than happy to answer them.

Let's dive in!

Contrary to the wishes of many, R.J. and I decided to do a "First Look" photo session before the wedding. As we know, tradition typically holds that the groom should not see the bride before the wedding. However, the "First Look" allows for the couple to see each other before the ceremony - and it offers a great photo op!

The main reason that R.J. and I chose this new tradition was because of TIME. From the beginning of the ceremony to hopping in the getaway car, our wedding was two and a half hours. [Note: We had a short ceremony...and by short, I mean SUPER SHORT! But, you'll find out why in the next post!] When I sat down with my day-of coordinator, Corrie Kirk of Signature Weddings and Events, a few weeks before the big day, it became quickly apparent that if R.J. and I wanted to actually attend our reception we would have to do a "First Look" to get those pictures out of the way.

I'm not going to lie. It was a hard decision for us. From the beginning, one of the main things R.J. wanted was to not see me until I was walking down the aisle toward him. I was really resistant to the idea at first because I wanted R.J. to have his request granted. However, after showing R.J. the timeline without the "First Look" and the timeline with the "First Look," he also agreed the "First Look" was the best option for our wedding.

He also wanted to enjoy the reception. After all, from the beginning of the wedding plan process, we knew the reception was the most important part of our wedding to us. We wanted our marriage to be a huge celebration with our families and friends. The reception is really where we spent most of our time and money. We wanted to be there with our families and friends enjoying every second of the reception too.

From the looks of the pictures, I don't think he regretted it. I know I didn't!

 One thing I really liked about the "First Look" is it gave us a private, intimate moment before the fast-paced chaos of the actual wedding. Any nerves we both had completely vanished. It got me really excited and helped me focus on what was about to really happen. It was no longer an imaginary day in the distant future that I was spending a bunch of time planning. It was here. Finally here and I was, at that moment, so ready for it. 

Then, before I knew it, it was back down the bleachers to get the show on the road...

But, more on that next time! See ya then!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cashing in Those Gift Cards: Living Room Makeover

Since I am STILL waiting on wedding pictures, I'll share with you the makeover husband and I gave our living room yesterday evening.

When I had my one bedroom apartment in Marietta my senior year of college, my living room was a bachelorette pad of black and pink!
When I moved into our two bedroom apartment in downtown Newnan, I thought I'd be considerate to R.J. and ditch the pink for a more man-appropriate color scheme. My compromise? Red and black with a pop of yellow and grey!

While it looks like I bought everything except the black, slip-covered couch and chair, we only spent $110.89 on our man-friendly, living room makeover. Our most expensive purchase for this makeover was the curtains and rod ($36.97) and the coffee table from Ikea ($29.99). Most of the items in the room like the large picture of Paris and the end tables, I already had from my last apartment.  Previously,the picture was in my dining room. However, if you look back at the picture of my living room from the Marietta apartment, the makeshift "coffee table" in it is now my two end tables!
Husband assembling the Ikea coffee table (while watching TV)!

With the exception of the Ikea coffee table, everything else from our makeover came from Target which we purchased with gift cards from our wedding.

Here is the bill broken down for you:
Four decorative pillows for the couch: $28.95
Accent rug: $14.98
Two red curtains: $19.98
Curtain rod: $16.99
Ikea LACK coffee table: $29.99

On the hallway wall, I plan on putting some typography prints on the wall to blend in the yellow some more. Those might just end up in my Etsy shop too! Who knows.

Anyway, here are some more pictures for our viewing pleasure of our living room makeover!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Wedding: Photo Booth Fun!

I'm still in the process of gathering everyone's pictures from the wedding and waiting on the professional pictures to come in. However, I have some pictures taken by the lovely Dina who graciously volunteered last minute to man our photo booth. (THANK YOU!) 

Some in the wedding world have said photo booths are an over-done and dying fad at weddings. I happen to disagree! When we started talking about our wedding, husband and I both really wanted our wedding to be fun. And what's more fun than making faces and acting goofy in front of a camera?

My father-in-law crafted together our fabulous photo booth out of PVC pipe - making a 4x4 cube frame. I found the red, striped fabric at Hobby Lobby and made two three-yard-long panels to hand up for the backdrop. For the two sides opposite of the backdrop, I used a white, king-sized sheet I found for $4 at Goodwill. I just cut it into two pieces to make side panels. I left the fourth side open so Dina could get in there easily and snap the photos. 

The in-laws grabbed the black stools from their house for me and I printed out some mustache, glasses and sayings props I made using InDesign, gluing them to some small dowel rods. Total cost? About $30 with the red fabric costing the most. 

Not only was the photo booth an excellent form of entertainment for our guests at a really low cost, but it left us with a wealth of hilarious pictures of our family and friends to treasure. 

I've picked out five of my favorites to share with you below!

Hope you like them!

Our adorable niece, Shaylee, who didn't much care for the photo booth. 

R.J.'s Nana and her sisters...Oh and her neighbor in the middle who was a "wedding crasher"!

My creepy crazy sister and her boyfriend, Jess...enough said. 

Our handsome groomsmen! L to R: Jeff, Dan, Auto and Gershom

My lovely grandparents who celebrated their 50th anniversary the week before we got married. 

To see more of our photo booth pictures, go to:!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Wedding: Our Magical Fairytale Honeymoon

Greetings readers!

The knot is officially tied and we are slowly settling into our new home together. I thought I'd shoot up a quick post about our honeymoon and share a few of my favorite pictures from it.

As some of you know, almost husband planned our entire honeymoon. He managed to keep it a complete surprise. The secret honeymoon destination? WALT DISNEY WORLD! For us, it truly was the perfect honeymoon.

While the fact that the honeymoon was top secret drove me crazy, I'm really happy in the end it was a surprise. And, R.J. definitely stayed very tight lip about it too. At the bridal shower that his mother hosted for us, his grandmother pulled him outside on her back porch and tried to get it out of him. After almost 20 minutes had passed, she came in shaking her head and said, "He's mean." Even his granny couldn't get it out of him - and for R.J. that is saying something if his granny can't get it out of him.

The only two souls who knew our honeymoon destination were R.J. and his mother, Kim. Right now, I have to commend my mother-in-law on her valiant effort to compile the most adorable honeymoon scrapbook which told me where we were going. She has vowed to NEVER scrapbook again, but I absolutely loved my scrapbook and can't wait to stick pictures in it from our trip.

We stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach resort and had a Pirates of the Caribbean themed room. How fitting since it's one of my favorite movies! What can I say? He knows me well!
Our pirate themed room at Disney's Caribbean Beach resort.
We both really enjoyed the resort. It seemed like there was a pool or a little beach with two-person hammocks around every corner - which we only slowed down enough to enjoy once.

We spent a day and a half at the Magic Kingdom - it was my favorite. While roaming around the Hundred Acre Woods, we spotted Eeyore who I had to take a picture of for our Yorkie, Bentley.
At home, Bentley has an Eeyore stuff animal who is his best friend. He can't stand to go to bed without it most of the time and will cry until you put Eeyore in his crate with him. Here are the dynamic duo at home:

When you honeymoon at one of the Disney resorts, you come home to a surprise from Mickey and Minnie Mouse almost every night. One evening, Mickey and Minnie left us a signed card and balloons. Another night, they left us some Mickey Mouse shaped chocolate ears!

When we ventured to the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular in Hollywood Studios, R.J. was pulled out of the crowd to be an extra in the background. This was one of his favorite parts of our trip. That's him on the far left behind Indiana Jones!

One of my favorite moments from our trip was the Happily Ever After Dinner with Cinderella and the crew. 

Evil stepmother told me that when you have nice rings, you must show them off. So, we did!

Monday evening we dined at the California Grill which is located on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort beside the Magic Kingdom. This was my favorite place that we ate. We were able to watch the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom from the roof of the resort! It was so neat. 

Our last night at Disney World, we decided to see the fireworks from the ground at the castle and to see the Electrical Parade beforehand. 

Tinker Bell at the Electrical Parade
Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom
My absolutely favorite pictures come from our visit with the one and only Mickey Mouse and - of course - the lovely Minnie Mouse. This was right before we went to the California Grill and watched the fireworks from above. It was definitely my favorite day there. :)

As you can see, we had a blast. I already miss it! We bought so many souvenirs that I'm STILL unpacking them. 

I'm truly thankful husband decided to surprise me with Disney World. It was everything I wanted and more! (Thank you!)

Here's one last picture for you!

Over and out,