Y'all, my BFF has a new last name!
So what do you do when one of your best friends wants you to be her Maid of Honor, a vocalist for the ceremony, AND her wedding photographer? First, you take the HUGE complement. Then you ask one of your closest friends (my personal favorite photographer) to be your double for the day. Thankfully, Kaitie is a rockstar and she willingly agreed to split the responsibilities with me. She drove all the way up to our neck of the woods and spent the day capturing the story of Chris & Lauren's wedding, giving me the freedom to be by her side! Of course, I couldn't completely put the camera down, but if there's anyone I trust, it's Kaitie.
If you've been following the blog for a while, you've probably seen a good bit of these two. Their engagement session was a blast, and so was Lauren's bridal session. You've heard bits and pieces of their story from my perspective, so I thought it would be great this time if you heard it from them!
Chris and I met in December of 2010. My best friends lived in a house down the street from his best friends in downtown Knoxville, TN. But, long story short, we didn't begin dating until December of the following year at which time Chris moved to Seattle to start working for ESPN's Fantasy Sports as a web developer. Therefore, we entered into an LDR, otherwise known as a long-distance relationship. Thanks to iPhones, Skype, FaceTime, monthly visits, and even a little old-school snail mail our relationship had no problem flourishing. On June 22nd, 2012 Chris flew into Knoxville. He had planned this visit to a T and everyone in our life was in on it except me! It involved Star Wars, the best letter I'd ever read, and a choreographed group dance. But more than all that it involved him asking me to marry him! A week later I moved to Orlando, FL to start graduate school, we were literally on opposite ends of the country, now planning a wedding for Tennessee. Finally, Chris moved to Orlando in November of 2012, four months before our wedding. The long-distance made beginning our lives together even more sweet.
It's unbelievably easy to get caught up in what everyone else and their mother on Pinterest is saying you should do for your wedding. What/who do you want your wedding to be about? Sit down with your fiance', write it down and put it in your planning notebook or somewhere you'll see it often for those little moments where you begin to lose perspective. Let who you and your fiance' are shine at your wedding, not the latest trends, and if they happen to be the same, then that's great too.
Let other people help you! This was a hard lesson to learn, I wanted to be involved in everything leading up to my wedding day. But when I actually let someone else take a task or two, I was able to focus more on preparing for our marriage and not just our wedding day. And let's face it, the marriage lasts a whole lot longer than the wedding itself. In the end, I was able to enjoy the things I didn't do myself just as much.
My bridesmaids dresses are from ModCloth. I love the color and the lace but most of all I love that they were so affordable and can be worn again and again. My girls looked beautiful in them and added so much character to the overall look of the wedding. The groomsmen's bow ties and pocket squares were from the fabulous Etsy shop, Fox & Brie. Jess Decelle is a fabric genius and so amazing to work with. The guys looked great in all their different fabrics.
I love this moment (above)! And more importantly, I love that Chris is a part of it. Lauren and I have been really close for a few years now, but there's a third part to this friendship: Meghan. She would have been a bridesmaid if she could have been here, but Nigeria is quite a long way away. But no worries! She managed to Skype her way into the wedding. Such a sweet surprise for Lauren.
From Lauren: Without a doubt there are two moments that stick out in my mind the most from our wedding day. The first was holding Chris's hands for the last time as my fiance, looking into his eyes and knowing the fullness of his love and commitment to me. I'll never forget it. The second was laughing at all the little mishaps during the ceremony (we had a couple), it just spoke to the lightness we have in our relationship, to be able to enjoy the moment, even if it didn't go quite how we'd planned.
From Chris: It's a tough call between two things. One was seeing those doors open and watching Lauren and her father walk down towards me. I'd already seen her, but seeing her coming towards me between all those people was totally different. I felt such joy (and could see HER joy) that we were about to become husband and wife. It was the one moment where I felt some tears coming. And second was eating alone in a room after the wedding, before we entered the reception. It was our first moment alone as husband and wife. It was kind of weird, there was an episode of House on TV and we were eating off of plates on our knees, but it was awesomely delightful.
Processionals: The Vitamin String Quartet's rendition of "Yellow" by Coldplay for my girls to walk to. It's one of my favorite songs of all time and it's just so beautiful. My girls are my favorite and so beautiful so I thought it was fitting! Bridal March: "Wash Me in the Water of the Word" by Shane & Shane. It's from the Bible, Ephesians 5:25-27. I've said since I was 19 that I would walk down the aisle to it and I'm so glad I did. Recessional: "The Throne Room" from the end of Star Wars Episode IV because we love Star Wars and it's totally played a geeky role in our relationship (see grooms cake). First Dance: Oh John Legend... how we love him so. His music was one of the first things we found out we had in common. We chose "Stay with You" by him as our first dance.
Outside Doors: I loved the idea of an outside wedding but still wanted the dramatic effect of doors opening at the end of a long aisle. I was inspired by some others on my favorite wedding blog. So my parents used their resources and my dad worked so hard to make them perfect for me. I love how they were involved in the making of the doors I walked through on my wedding day. Book Planters: I knew I wanted to do book planters the moment I saw them. It's such a fun and unique way to incorporate a natural or vintage look. The best part was making them with my mom and bridesmaids. Succulents: (not DIY but significant) I met and fell in love with succulents on Green Wedding Shoes. Seeing as Tennessee is no where near as great a climate for them as California I was worried I wouldn't be able to have them. But my amazing florist/designer Sam Franklin made it happen. They were my favorite part of our decor. Nail/Yarn Letters: I LOVE how these turned out, they now hang in our bedroom. They were fairly easy to make (after my dad helped drill the holes). Again, the best part of this and all DIY projects was getting to do them with my girls.
As part of the wedding I wanted a cool way to show just what a nerd I am (well, what nerds we are). I didn't have nearly enough time to do everything I wanted, but I was able to set up a live updating slideshow of instagram photos taken at the wedding. I actually took the code from a project on Github, improved some of the transitions, and changed some colors and fonts to fit with our style. (And after the wedding I submitted a pull request with some of my improvements to the author, which he happily merged in to his project!)
So on a big TV in the corner we had a live display Instagram photos, with our hashtag #rambillwedding (which we spent the months before cramming into people's brains on social networks). Just being able to see themselves up on a screen motivated so many of our friends and family to take photos of themselves. And the best part is, right after the wedding we had this collection of photos of all our friends having a blast with us. We didn't have to wait for photographers or Facebook photos, so many of the photos we wanted to see were right there for us!
For my day job, I'm a web developer at ESPN making fantasy sports happen. So when we got married, it was only natural that I wanted to custom build our website (http://www.rambill.com). I spent many hours making something that expressed us, but my favorite parts about it are the sections on our wedding party and thanking the people who made our wedding awesome. Now if you go there, you can check out all the awesome #rambillwedding instagrams people posted. Plus the registries are still up on the site, so if you want to buy us a gift, that's allowed :)
We also tested out a new way of receiving gifts, Wedding Republic. This site allows you to set up goals for things like Honeymoon, Date Nights, or furniture. It was a tremendous blessing to have people's help in those big expenses.
MRS. Brakebill -- It was an HONOR to stand by your side. Thank you for loving me so well.
Mister Christopher -- As I said at your rehearsal dinner, your wife is one of the most loyal people I know and I'm excited to see what that looks like in your marriage. Besides, lucky for you, that means you're stuck with me for a very long time!!
I'm sure you're both beginning an adventure of knowing and understanding love in a way you never have before. Thanks for being brave enough to respond to the love of our Father and pursue each other.