Getting the party started!

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Previous recaps: (First Look and Ceremony)

After we officially tied the knot, we took some brief family photos while our friends helped do last minute prep for the reception.  I’ll only bore you with the one awesome whole-family shot!

I absolutely LOVED how our reception decor turned out!  The dip dyed tablecloths and Mexican prayer flags looked awesome with our super amazing floral arrangements made by my friend Melissa.  That girl seriously needs to make a career change!  And just check out that blue Arizona sky!

As guests munched on appetizers, we signed our marriage license with some help from our witnesses.

And another witness watched from inside…

Our wonderful friends helped us heat up all our tasty taco buffet ingredients and brought it out to our rented catering dishes.  For the record, no one seemed to mind that we didn’t serve any meat.  We still had way too much food, a variety of vegetarian taco options and sides, and it was all delicious.  I know because I did make sure to eat!  We had worked too hard not to enjoy it!  While we ate, two friends and two siblings of ours all gave toasts.  Only one was slightly awkward (always prepare your speech, people!).

Then it was time to cut the cake!  I was super excited for this moment!  I know people always have strong feelings about cake smashes and whether or not they are appropriate.  I, for one, think they are hilarious and too once-in-a-lifetime to miss!  What made ours a little more risky, however, was that the cake we decided to cut was all chocolate!  It could’ve been bad but thankfully we had a good splash and I didn’t end up with any chocolate on my dress!

I say I won!

Coming up next: We dance!

All photos courtesy of Bright Fizz Photo

Highlights from our Ceremony

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Coming up with a meaningful wedding ceremony from scratch proved to be quite the challenge!  We ended up using many sources…traditional Christian ceremonies, literature we both loved, inspiration from wedding blogs, and my amazing Grandfather/officiant.  In the end, I’m so so so happy with how personal and emotional our ceremony was!  Here are a few highlights!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/19327177″>Mumford & Sons | Sigh No More | {el.de.te}</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/eldete”&gt;{el.de.te}</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

We used “Sigh No More” by Mumford and Sons as our processional music.

Zach escorting his parents.
Walking down the aisle with both my parents

Walking down the aisle, I couldn’t believe it was finally happening!  All I tried to do was breathe and stay present in the moment as much as possible.  After some introductory words from my grandfather, one of our friends read our first reading, a poem by e.e. cummings that we love!

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”

Instead of a unity candle, we decided to include a ritual that was much more “us” in our ceremony.  So we planted a tree!  Much of the credit for this idea goes to the awesome blog 2000 Dollar Wedding.  We played “Old Pine” by Ben Howard while we got our Aspen sapling into the ground.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/24410701″>Old Pine – Ben Howard</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/mickeysmith”>mickey smith</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Guys doing most of the work, girls trying not to get dirty!
My grandmother helped my 83-year-old grandfather hold the microphone while he officiated. Having them involved was beyond special.

Grandpa: Zach and Carrie have chosen to symbolize their commitment here today by planting a tree with the help of their parents.  Just as the love and support of their parents has helped them grow into the people they are today, so will the water and soil here support and nourish this tree.  While it is now a small sapling, over time, with proper care, it will grow and flourish into a strong and mature aspen tree.  Given the same care and attention, the marriage of these two will similarly flourish and prosper.

One of our best friends gave our next reading, a quote by Louis de Bernieres:

“Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And
when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether
your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you
should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is
just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over
when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate
accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other
underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their
branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.”

I loved how this quote also tied in the tree metaphor!  Next was the hardest part: our vows!  We wrote our own vows and didn’t share them with each other beforehand.  I was so afraid I would start bawling!  Zach went first, and I just tried to absorb his words without starting to cry!

Zach:  When I met you, my life was good, but there was always something missing.  After only a few dates, I knew you were the person I needed.  I knew you were the one.  I found a new satisfaction in life that was exciting and real.  I felt whole.
Carrie, I love you because every day you expect me to be a better man than the day before.  You’re never satisfied with the normal thing, only greatness.
I love you because there is no one like you in the world.  You’re caring, thoughtful, and the funnest person that I have ever met.
I promise to love you no matter what.  I promise to wake up every day with the thought of making our lives better.  I promise to work as hard and as long as I need to make sure we accomplish all of our goals.  I promise to listen to what you need and continue my quest to be your perfect partner.  I cannot wait to spend my life with you.

Next was my turn!  Ahhh!!!  Thankfully, my acting training from back in the day kicked in, and I was able to keep a clear and strong voice, despite the emotional weight of the moment.

Carrie:  Zach, when I met you, unexpectedly, the timing was horrible.  But it didn’t take me long to fall in love with you.  For the first time ever, I felt that my life was not all about me anymore.  You were the first and only person who I ever considered changing my best-laid life plans for.  When we were continents apart I laid under my African mosquito net and dreamed of our future together as I fell asleep.  I think I knew, even then, that we would someday be standing where we are right now.
Zach, I love that you are constantly seeking to learn more about the world.  I love how you can’t ever read a book or watch a movie without something making you say “I want to do that!” or “I want to go there!”  I love that you are so calm under pressure, so laid back, and so optimistic and joyful about life.  In you I find a balance I desperately need, and I am so grateful for that.  I love that you have so many talents and are wildly successful at anything you try, from hockey, to science, to music, to cooking.  Every day I am more proud that you are mine.
Zach, because I love you, I promise to always be by your side.  To take care of you when you’re sick or sad or tired.  To seek to understand you more every day.  I promise to control my temper and impatience, to be a better partner for you every day.  I promise to appreciate the ways in which we are different, as they make us perfectly compatible.  I promise to use my skills and abilities to make all of our adventures unforgettable.  I promise to support you and to prioritize our relationship no matter what obstacles we encounter.  
Love, I believe, is an action and a choice and I will choose to love you even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, and even when I don’t want to.  And I promise that I will be faithful to you, and God willing, we will keep exploring the world together until we are both old and gray.

Since we didn’t buy new or different wedding bands, we exchanged the same rings we had been wearing as engagement rings all along.  The symbolism of rings was still an important part of the ceremony for us.

The rings on our fingers, we were almost done!

Grandpa:  Forasmuch as Zachary and Carrie have consented together in holy wedlock and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have pledged their faith each to the other, and have declared the same by joining hands and by giving and receiving rings; by the power vested in me by the state of Arizona, I now pronounce them husband and wife.  What God has joined together let no one put asunder.  Zach, you may now kiss the bride!

We did it!

For the closing of our ceremony, we couldn’t help but include the commonly-used but wonderful Apache Wedding Blessing.  This blessing spoke perfectly to our love for travel, adventure, and each other!

Now you will feel no storms,
for each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there is no loneliness,
for each of you is companion to the other,
You are two persons,
but there is one life before you, and one home.
Turn together to look at the road you traveled,
to reach this—the hour of your happiness.
It stretches behind you into the past.
Look to the future that lies ahead.
A long and winding, adventure-filled road,
whose every turn means discovery,
new hopes, new joys, new laughter,
and a few shared tears.
May happiness be your companion,
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead;
And through all the years to come.
Go this day to your dwelling place
and enter into your days together.
May your days be good and long
upon the earth.
Your adventure has just begun!

As we recessed down the aisle in a haze of exhilaration, “That’s What’s Up” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros played and all of our guests clapped and cheered for us!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/48723183″>Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – “That’s What’s Up” (OFFICIAL VIDEO)</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/jasminedaghighian”>Jasmine Daghighian</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Totally unexpectedly, the recessional actually produced some of my favorite pics from our day!  Aren’t the looks of pure joy on our faces just unbeatable?

Coming up next:  Our homespun reception!

All photos copyright Bright Fizz Photo

Our First Look!

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I wish we could say that we woke up refreshed and well-rested the day of our wedding, but what couple ever does?  The stress and work of the week prior, plus the “catching up with old friends” shenanigans of the night before led to not the best sleeping conditions.  But, on the morning of June 15, who cared?  We sure didn’t!  It was our wedding day, finally!!!!!!!!

Since we spent the night before our wedding together, we had no reason to stay separate and not see each other the day of.  So off we headed to the house to finish the last-minute cooking, baking, and trying to make sure everyone knew what they were doing!  A couple Red Bulls were consumed to keep us going!

At 3pm, we headed back to the hotel to meet our photographer and finally get ready!  This is the first time we separated, wanting to surprise each other with our completed “looks” once we were all pretty-fied!  From here on out, I tried to stay in the moment as much as possible, but day did speed up and everything was a bit of a blur of excitement and emotion.  Thankfully Rachel from Bright Fizz Photo did an amazing job capturing everything!  I’ll let her gorgeous work do the talking from here:

Zach’s completed look.

Makeup time!

My sister ties me up!

Rachel found the PERFECT place for our “first look” at this fun/cheesy little “Wild West Land” place in town.

Taking some more shots around town!

And taking a drink to loosen up!

Arriving at the house for the ceremony!

Here we go!

Last minute DIY for the win!

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Hey everybody!  Long time no write!  Life is awesome (but busy) here in newlywed-land!  I can’t believe it’s already been four months since Zach and I tied the knot!

A little preview of our wonderful day!

To start off my recaps, I thought I’d update you on how all of our last minute DIY projects turned out!  I was pretty stressed about all we had to do in the week before our wedding.  It was definitely a lot to do, and the process was not without its hiccups.  I’m pretty proud of how everything turned out in the end though!

One of the first things we tackled was our tablecloths!  In order to create the exact hues we wanted, we used this handy Rit Dye Color Formula Calculator.  The hardest part of the process was just figuring out how much dye we needed to make and calculating the amount of each color to use for a huge bucket of dye.  Once we got it figured out though, the dip dyeing was super simple!

Tablecloths in windy action! 

Our next big project was a photobooth!  My “Pinspiration” was this photo booth:

But with a little ingenuity and use of some already-lying-around wood, this is what Zach built:

Suffice to say, it was a HUGE hit and totally worth all of our (mostly Zach’s) hard work!

Inevitably, there were a few projects that fell by the wayside.  We never got around to making an arbor or focal point for our ceremony.  Oh well!

Our biggest project was definitely self-catering our food and desserts!  Thankfully, we had a lot of help from family and friends, and everything came together beautifully and deliciously in the end.  It was definitely a busy week in the kitchen!  We actually ended up with too much food!  Here’s a little peek at the dessert spread my mom, sister, and I slaved away over:

Mmmmm…

Would I recommend saving so much DIY for the week before your wedding?  Definitely not!  Making all this happen and getting along while doing it was not without its challenges!  I’m so happy with how everything turned out in the end!

Did you save lots of DIY for the last minute?  How did it end up for you?

(Special thanks to our photographer Bright Fizz Photo!)

We Did It!

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Photo Credit: Melissa Gebauer

Greetings from married life!  I want to wait for our professional photos to come back before I write official recap posts, but I had to pop in to say that WE DID IT!  Our wedding was a whirlwind of stress, hard work, last minute details, laughter, reunions, love, and joy.  It was completely homespun, perfectly imperfect, and we loved it.  To everyone going through planning conundrums, DIY frustration, and other wedding-related headaches, it is SO, SO WORTH IT IN THE END!

I promise you’ll hear more from me once I have some pro photos to back up the story!  Hopefully any day now!

6 Signs You Might Have Bride Brain

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1. You can’t sleep.  And when you do sleep, you dream about weird/crazy/horrible things happening at your wedding.

2. 90% of the things you say to your partner are wedding-related.  As soon as they open their eyes in the morning you’re asking “Have we called the rental company to tell them how many chairs we need?”

3. You decide it’s a great idea and totally necessary to work out 3 times a day.

4. You believe your wedding is a valid excuse for slacking at work.  When your boss asks you about a project you’re supposed to be finishing, you actually say, “You know, my wedding is in two weeks!”

5. Your “To Do” list has taken over your life.  Your response to most invitations is, “Maybe after the wedding.”

6. You thought of this entire blog entry during a yoga class, during which you were supposed to be relaxing and focusing on your breath.

Anyone else suffering from these symptoms?  What other crazy ways did “Bride Brain” manifest itself for you?  Well guys, my wedding is in 10 days and I will see ya on the flipside!

Our Grand DIY Intentions

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I must admit, I’m not much of a crafter.  Sure, I dabbled in cross stitching, rug hooking, and sewing back in my middle and high school days.  This mostly led to a bunch of abandoned-while-only-half-finished projects.  My creative talents mainly revolve around cameras, not quilts or paints.  Basically, Martha Stewart, I am not.

However, a budget backyard wedding definitely calls for some crafting, whether I like it or not.  I do want our wedding to be pretty, after all!  With the overload of wedding “Pinspiration” out there, Zach and I tried to restrict ourselves to a select few important DIY craft projects.  Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish:

Dip-dyed tablecloths!
Source: http://www.housetohome.co.uk

I really didn’t know what to do about tablecloths until I found this beauty online and fell in love!  Our plan is to dip-dye white cotton tablecloths in several different jewel tones.  I already have all the dye and all the tablecloths, but we’re waiting until we arrive in Arizona the week of the wedding to dye them since we don’t have space for this project in our apartment.  I really hope it works!  We’re also hoping we can resell the tablecloths later if they turn out well!

Lighting!
Source: http://www.younghouselove.com

We definitely need some romantic white lighting to transform our very “driveway-ish” driveway into a magical fairyland!  Luckily, Zach’s parents already have a ton of white string lights.  Since Zach used to be an electrician, I’m delegating this project to him and hoping it will turn out as pretty as this picture!

Photobooth!
Source: sharonlovesthis.blogspot.com

This is our most ambitious project, and, I feel like, the most likely to get axed if we run out of time and energy.  But seriously, how awesome is this photobooth?  We want to use old family wedding photos to celebrate our loved ones and also get some funky props and costumes for people to pose.  I’m hoping we have time to construct this!

Arbor focal point
Source: apracticalwedding.com

We need some sort of focal point for our outdoor ceremony.  Zach’s also taking this one on, hoping he can construct something simple and pretty from some old wood and flowers!

Easy cake stands!
Source: number-2-pencil.com

At first I wanted to scour antique stores and thrift shops for vintage-y looking cake stands and serving plates.  I soon realized that was more expensive than I originally envisioned.  Then I stumbled into this idea on Pinterest.  You just buy some fun, colorful plastic plates and cups, glue them together, and voila!

These are most of the craft project we hope to accomplish, although this is not all we’ll be DIY-ing, by any means.  We’re also going to make all of our food and all of our desserts, do our own flowers, design our own playlists, and write our own ceremony.  Uh-oh, I’m getting overwhelmed just thinking about it!  The most stressful part about these crafts is that we can’t really do any of them until we arrive in Arizona.  It’s going to make for a busy pre-wedding week, but there’s really nothing we can do about it.  Thankfully we’ll have lots of able-bodied friends and family members arriving early to help!

What do you think of our craft list?  Too ambitious?  Anyone have tips for any of these projects?

Losing It

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Okay, okay, I’m not talking about the big “IT.”  I’m talking about losing some poundage!  If you’re a longtime follower of my blog, I’m sure you remember me mentioning multiple times over the last few years wanting to lose a few pounds.  I know I was far from alone in wanting this in the months leading up to my wedding.  I totally believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and I don’t agree with the immense amount of pressure put on brides to be a stick figure.  But on the other hand, I had been just a little over my ideal weight for years and I figured the wedding was the best excuse I would ever have to drop it!

So in January (along with millions of other New Years Resolution-makers) I commenced my very own Operation Flab to Fab!  The happy news I can now report is that I have lost 24 pounds!!!!!!

After a rainy hike almost a year ago…carrying a little extra weight!
On a recent hiking trip…trimmed it up a bit!

I don’t think the difference is too obvious in photos but people have been noticing in real life, which is nice!  Now you may be waiting with bated breath to hear my big, miraculous, easy weight loss secret…

Welp, I’m sorry to disappoint but I made this happen with the two classics: DIET and EXERCISE.  Since January, I’ve been using www.myfitnesspal.com to count calories.  This method works well for me because I can really eat anything I want, I just have to budget for it!  I also experimented with counting calories by the week, instead of by the day, so that I could have some extra treats (or beers) on certain days of the week.

Fitness wise, I’ve been pretty active!  On June 2 I will be running my first half marathon and training for that has definitely kept me moving.  I’ve also been going to yoga class once a week, biking, and hiking on days off.  I’m all for putting the effort into exercise in order to earn those extra calories!

I don’t want to make it sound easy, because it definitely hasn’t been.  I LOVE cooking, baking, eating out, going out to bars, and pretty much every other unhealthy hobby out there.  Thinking of the wedding, support from Zach, mental toughness, and encouragement from a couple other dieting friends has helped me get this far.  The thing is, I’m not done yet!  I have a mere two and a half months until my wedding and three weeks until my final dress fitting and I still would like to lose six more pounds.  Despite my success so far, I feel like I’ve hit a wall.  I’ve been making too many excuses and cheating on my eating far too much!  Getting close is not enough; I want to meet my final goal!  (Which is still in the middle of my healthy BMI range, FYI.)

So I guess part of my reason for writing this is to ask for some support and accountability!  The clock is ticking and I really need to recommit in order to get my body to truly FAB status by wedding time!

Does anyone have any tips for getting through the last few pounds?  Any other encouraging pre-wedding weight loss stories out there?

Video Invites Revealed!

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I imagined us making a video for our wedding invitation pretty much from the beginning.  We obviously had no budget for buying fancy invitations and paper crafting is something I’ve just never been into.  So we decided to put my film degree to use!

We basically wanted to share a little of our journey and history with our invitees through this video.  I came up with the stop-motion animation idea as a fun, cartoony way to tell our story.  Zach used his artistic talents to make the cars, buses, and boats you see in the video.  We chose the song “Flowers in Your Hair” by the Lumineers because we love the sound and lyrics, and its so short it forced us to keep the video brief!  All of our guests received a short email with the link to this video.  (Also, in the version guests received, the last title shows our wedding website URL, but I took it out here to maintain our privacy.)

So, without further ado, the Carrie, Onwards! premiere of Zach and Carrie’s wedding invitation video!

What do you think?  Did anyone else make a video invitation?  What did you do?  How did your guests react?

The Big Doozy: Changing vs. Not Changing My Name

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One family=one name?
Source: http://www.truewoman.com

The name change issue can be divisive and controversial.  The changers and the non-changers too often pass harsh judgement on each other.  That’s not right!  We should all band together in realization that this issue is TOUGH and puts ALL women in a hard place.  I truly believe that what’s most important is that each woman realize the implications of either decision and truly give it some heartfelt thought and discussion with her partner before deciding.

That being said, my own name change journey involved lots of, well, changes- both changes of my own opinions and others’ expectations of me.  You see, growing up in a conservative family, I never considered NOT changing my name when I got married.  That’s what my grandmothers, mom, and all my aunts had done.  Until quite recently, I honestly never even gave it a second thought.  Like many of us growing up, I often matched my first name with the last name of whoever my current crush and doodled it in curlicued hearts along the margins of my notebooks.

Even early in my relationship with Zach, I first remember thinking to myself, and later actually admitting it to him, “It’s a good thing I like your last name.”  And I do like his last name.  It would sound good with my first name, maybe even better than my family last name.

Yet, as the prospect of marriage grew more real, I started to unearth other options…wedding blogs written by women who chose not to change their name, who hyphenated, or even women whose husbands changed their names (gasp!).  It was like stumbling into a whole new reality I didn’t know existed.  As I started researching and thinking more, I realized how weird/unfair/sexist it was that I had been so cultured into the idea that I HAD to change my name.  In so many other cultures, it is completely normal NOT to change your name.

Ultimately, I went through a lot of soul-searching of my own and a lot of discussion with Zach on the name change issue.  He (being wonderful) agreed with me that the concept is sexist, paternalistic, and unfair.  He didn’t care if we had the same last name or not.  He just wanted me to feel at peace with my decision and my name, whatever it ended up being.  Also, neither of us wanted to hyphenate; it just seems too cumbersome.  In the end, I decided not to change my name.  Woohoo not having to do all that paperwork!

Avoiding this is a definite perk!
Source: site.k2motor.com

Despite our comfort level with my current decision, we are both remembering that “nothing is set in stone.”  If kids come along, for example (a very big, and very far away “if”), and my feelings change, I can always change my name then, or we can choose to hyphenate.  I can change my name at anytime if I so choose; it’s not a decision that can only be made when I get married.

For now though, we’re happy with the idea that “You don’t have to have the same name to be a family.  You just have to be a family to be a family!”  (Quote stolen from a wedding blog I read but can’t find now, sorry!)

This issue has been much discussed but it is so important!  Did you agonize over the decision?