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 TheKnot.com. 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!