We might have eloped before Mexico…

It’s true. We didn’t want to deal with the crazy logistics of legally getting married in Mexico (having to arrive days ahead of schedule, hire a doctor come to your room to perform blood work and what not…) If you know Luke and I, you’d know that we’re not big on tradition, it wasn’t important for us to legally get married on the actual day of our wedding.
To properly tell the story…
Let’s rewind to about a month & a half before the wedding…
We were trying to schedule our “legal” wedding at the Courthouse.
I was getting all sorts of frustrated & upset over the times they have to offer.
It was either 1:30pm on a Tuesday for $100 OR 5:00pm on a Friday for $200.
In our eyes, we just couldn’t justify spending that much money,
when we were already going to have a wedding in Mexico.
I called my dad, explained the situation and how upset I was.
We talked through a few options
and together we came up with the best option that I could have ever imagined…

My dad became ordained and married us in our backyard.

In the month and a half leading up to this day, my dad couldn’t have been more excited.
He received the “welcome package” when he became ordained.
(you know the certificate, business cards, bumper stickers…)
He would insist on being called Reverend Mark Carman.
He would call me to chat about details of the speech he was preparing…
Every time we talked about it, I could tell that he had a smile on his face,
just like I did on the other end of the line.
June 8th ended up being one of the sweetest moments with my family.
Having my dad sign our marriage license…
Skype’ing in Luke’s parents from Indiana…
Having our closest family members with us…
It was such an amazing and unforgettable day.
Now Luke and I have TWO wedding anniversaries.
You know what that means… He has to buy me double the presents now!

When things don’t go as planned on your wedding day…

At the end of the day our wedding was perfect. For us. There were a handful of hiccups along the way though…

Leading up to our big day I scoured pinterest & all the wedding blogs, looking for inspiration. Happily pinning my little heart out; I found bits of pieces here & there that I wanted to incorporate into the wedding. For example, I made these cute little bunting flags that I wanted placed over the napkins at each guests place setting. But when we arrived at dinner, they were nowhere to be found. It turned out that it was too windy & they would’ve all blown away. I had a guestbook with blanks pages, my instax mini, patterned washi tape & colorful pens for everyone to take cheesy pictures, decorate a page & leave a note for us. But… our guestbook table wasn’t set up when all of our guests starting arriving. Since it wasn’t out in time (it eventually arrived late) no one knew it was there. We also had a “Bride” & “Groom” sign that I wanted placed on our chairs but I didn’t see them at our table either & later found them at the guestbook table in a box! (insert a mild panic attack right here)

All of these little details that had a place & a time just didn’t work out how I had envisioned them. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bummed out.

Luckily I had some of the most amazing bridesmaids you could ever ask for! Gina, Kaitlin, Abby & Heather picked up the bride & grooms signs & started going around to all of the guests & snapping their pictures with the instax mini! They even had everyone hold up the bride & groom signs in their photos. This was seriously one of the coolest moments of the day! These ladies were are out of this world amazing! They made sure that everything got done. They were one step ahead of everything. They seriously put me at so much ease. Just seeing Gina run around with the camera getting everyone to make a silly face & take a fun picture – wow it was awesome. Now I have the world’s best guestbook – thanks to those awesome bridesmaids of mine. (Some of the bunting flags that were supposed to go on everyons napkins ended up decorating some of the pages in the guestbook, too!)

moral of the story… if things don’t go completely how you envisioned them, it’s okay. Maybe it will turn out even better than you expected. That definitely happened in my case 🙂

Our Wedding: Time to Party!

Now this part of the whole day was hands down the best! We reserved the resort nightclub and it came with our own DJ and open bar! Let’s just say that when they offered us the open bar, they definitely didn’t know what they were getting into with this crowd. We’ve got some seasoned veterans in our group, if ya know what I mean. Oddly, Luke and I really didn’t drink that much – at any other wedding we’d take full advantage of an open bar – but at ours we only had a small handful of drinks. I was much more content drinking water and taking everything in. If you know me, this is rare, ha. I knew though, that at the end of the day I wanted to try and retain as may details of the day as possible.

Our Wedding: The Ceremony

Before the ceremony started, I had to walk through the pool area to get down to the beach where our ceremony was set up. Dameian (one of Luke’s groomsman) ran back to help carry my dress for me because we would be walking through the “party pool” area. It was so sweet of him. My dad and I were walking arm in arm and Dameian was following close behind, holding my dress up; what a gentleman. Minutes before the ceremony was about to start and as I was standing with my dad, watching our bridal party happily walk down the aisle, I felt a few nerves start to kick in. As soon as our song started the next 20 minutes or so turn a little fuzzy for me.
Walking in a huge wedding dress in the sand isn’t the easiest of tasks, let me tell ya! I had switched out of my wedges and into sandals because between the intense heat and the length of time I was in those shoes – it just wasn’t going to happen! Flip flops it was! But without the height of the wedges my dress was too long and I kept tripping – that’s why my dad is holding it for me above – what a guy.
Something else about the above photo. I warned my dad ahead of time and said “No Crying!” but I’m going to play the song that mom walked down the aisle to at your wedding (which was back in 1977). We didn’t tell mom though, we wanted it to be a surprise.
We had two favors that we handed out to our guests: one – grass fans to help beat the intense summer heat. These fans also came in pretty handy when we all started dancing our butts off later in the evening! two –maracas with a tag that read “shake when we kiss”. It was cute to look back and see everyone excitedly shaking their maracas… this continued into dinner as well – every time we heard maracas, there was kissing.
It might have been a little windy on the beach.
Ceremony Music
Bridal Party: “Everybody” – Ingrid Michaelson
Bride’s Entrance: “Breezin” – George Benson
Bride & Groom Exit: “When the Sun Goes Down” – Kenny Chesney

Photos by Linnea Paulina Photography

Our Wedding: The Details

The details of this day were my favorite. I loved my dress, I loved my shoes (they are Kate Spade 🙂 I loved how the bridesmaid dresses all complimented each other. The bouquets were all perfectly miss-matched just like the bridesmaid dresses. (something fun about the bouquets – my girls and I had a bouquet making party the morning of the wedding and did them all ourselves. I love how they’re all different).

I hadn’t seen how the ceremony was set up until I started walking down the aisle with my dad. When I was working with our resort wedding coordinator she sent me a picture of what the ceremony set-up was going to look like. There was an arch made up of what looked like pvc pipe with tulle wrapped around it. Let’s just say I wasn’t too thrilled about it. But after looking into other options for arches and learning that it would cost hundreds of dollars for something different, I bit the bullet and went with the free pvc pipe option. We weren’t going to be on the beach that long to justify the extra money anyways, right?
Well, when I turned the corner with my dad to walk down the aisle and I saw the ceremony set-up above. I was shocked! Completely blown away. It looked amazing! It wasn’t at all like the pictures that our wedding coordinator had been sending me. It turns out that the resort had installed this permanent structure right before we arrived at the resort. How lucky did I get!? This was probably the best surprise of the wedding. I love love love how it turned out!

Photos by Linnea Paulina Photography

Our Wedding: Portraits

Luke and I are definitely not a traditional couple; it wasn’t really important for us to see each other for the first time when I was walking down the aisle. So we did a first look before the ceremony. I’m so glad we did the first look, too, because we spent a good hour and taking photos before the ceremony… which meant we had all that time to spend with our guests after the ceremony instead of doing our photos then! Looking through all these photos (over and over again…) just puts a huge smile on my face. These photos were taken just a month ago now. Even though it’s only been a month, I’d give anything to go back and re-live that day – it was really and truly the best.

Here are some of my favorite photos of just Luke and I from the wedding. It was hard to choose just a few to share, let me tell ya! Hope you like them as much as I do.

After the ceremony and while all of our guests were eating, drinking and chatting away, we snuck down to the beach to take a handful of few photos when the light was just right.

Photos by Linnea Paulina Photography

Wedding Wednesday: Photographing a Wedding

This past Saturday we went out to celebrate our friends (Paul and Katie!) on their engagement that had just happened earlier in the day. We were leisurely enjoying drinks at the bar out on the patio and talking here and there about upcoming weddings.

Our good friend Kara (Katie’s sister) is recently engaged as well, as of about a month ago. Her and her fiance are thinking about a destination wedding next year, so we’ve been talking a lot about our planning process & I’ve been trying to give her some tips and tricks along the way. While deep in wedding conversation she asked me to be her wedding photographer!! WHAT!!!?? My first thought was, ME??!! REALLY?!?! I said YES of course and kept asking them if they were sure they wanted to pick me. I said yes a couple more times, laughed, smiled and couldn’t believe my ears that they asked ME! It means so much that they would trust me to take pictures for their special day. To say that I’m excited is a major understatement.

I’ve got a lot of practicing to do in the next year, but I’m confident that I’m gonna rock it.

I have never shot a wedding by myself before, but I’ve attended a few where I’ve taken lots and lots of photos and then later gave them to the couples. I’ve always felt that attending a wedding is an awesome opportunity to practice my photography, so I’m glad that I have a few of those under my belt.

Here are some of my favorite shots that I took at a family friends wedding a little while back. It was the best wedding we had ever attended.

Wedding Wednesday: Bridesmaid Dresses

So we’re going with gray dresses for the bridesmaids! There I said it. I finally made a decision. I’d been going back and forth with different blush tones and putting too much thought into it. I wasn’t completely sold on pinks or purples mainly because we’re not sure on the colors of our flowers until we actually get down to Mexico and see what they have. If we went with pink dresses and only had purple flowers available – then it would clash. I decided my best bet was to pick a neutral, but pretty color that any bouquet of flowers would compliment. Is that a totally weird way of picking my bridesmaid dress colors? It made sense to me… so gray dresses it is!

I am also one of those girls that jumped on the trend of miss-matched bridesmaid dresses. When I say jumped on that trend, I mean that I am absolutely in love with the idea. I love the idea that each girl will get to wear a dress that she feels the most comfortable and beautiful in. I’ve never been a fan of symmetry, or a perfectly matched assortment so miss-matched dresses seems like a great fit for our wedding. The last three photos below are some of favorites that I’ve seen floating around on the internet.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Wedding Wednesday: Welcome Bags

Since we’re having a destination wedding, it’s only appropriate that we give out welcome bags to our guests when they check into the resort. Don’t you think?

I’ve been to a few weddings that have handed out welcome bags to their guests and I thought it was awesome. It was nice to have a few snacks and bottles of water in your hotel room while you’re getting ready – or winding down in the evening. Especially since everyone will be traveling for our wedding – I think it’s a must to hand out snacks and water for everyone.

In doing some internet sleuthing, I found that a lot of people are anti-welcome bags and think they’re a waste of money. My take on that is… It all depends on what kind of wedding you have. A few local weddings that I’ve attended didn’t have welcome bags – and that’s okay. But it you’re having a wedding where a lot of people have to travel in – I think it’s a fantastic idea.

A rule that I think I’m going to stick to – which should also help me stick to budget so I’m just not throwing just anything and everything into these welcome bags… is to include something edible, something useful and something fun.

Some things that we’re thinking of using in our welcome bags:

Something edible: bottles of water, granola bars, fruit snacks, chewing gum
Something useful: a weekend itinerary, map of Cabo, packets of sunscreen
Something fun: a mini-size bottle of tequila – we’re going to be in Mexico, so that only seems appropriate 

Martha Stewart welcome bag contents can be found here
Customizable Welcome Bags: 1 | 2 | 3
Assembled Welcome Bags: 1 | 2 | 3

Wedding Wednesday: I picked out my own engagement ring

This week I’m talking about engagement rings. I picked out my own engagement ring.

There was a time a little while back when one of our friend’s got engaged & we saw her ring. Luke said, “oh that looks nice, he did a good job picking that out for her”. I sat there quietly and didn’t say anything. A little panic might have settled inside me. I made a mental note though. That mental note was that if Luke liked that engagement ring, Luke wouldn’t be picking out mine! Does that sound a little harsh? I certainly don’t mean for it to – it’s just the truth. And it’s the start about how we both set about to find the perfect engagement ring.

When we started talking a little more seriously about our future, we went looking for engagement rings, together. I thought I was certain in what I wanted and I went into the ring search knowing that I wanted a square diamond with a halo. When I tried a few of those styles on it just didn’t feel like “me”.  I was kind of surprised. After a few shops, trying on lots of styles, I fell in love with an emerald cut ring. A cut I never thought I would ever want. But it turned out to be THE ONE ring that I kept coming back to, the one ring that I couldn’t get out of my head. It’s the ring that Luke ended up buying.

Now, when I tell people that I picked out my ring I get one of two responses…

I get the… “omg I did too!”
or I get the… ” ohhhh really? why’d you do that?”

People have asked me if it’s any less special, or does it not mean as much that you already knew. The answer is NO. It was such a great experience going all around town with Luke, trying on rings. We spent two different days searching and those were two very special days to me. I remember feeling very excited and giddy. I remember thinking that we were taking the next step in our relationship & that I couldn’t be more excited.

When I knew that Luke had the ring, I began to wonder when exactly he was going to propose. I knew he had the ring, but was I going to be able to figure out when he was going to ask me? He definitely kept me in suspense and ended up completely surprising me when he *finally* did propose. It was the best surprise; it couldn’t have been more perfect. It was us.

Truth be told, Luke felt a lot better about both of us picking out which ring I wanted, because he didn’t want to mess it up. He wanted me to have the ring I wanted. I am the one that is going to wear it forever, after all.

Now every time I look at my ring, I think of how we picked it out together and it actually means more to me than him guessing on something I might like.

I want to know… 
Did you pick out yours – or was it a surprise?
What are your thoughts?
(all photos via Martha Stewart)

I’m also linking up with Ashley, so you can check out other Wedding Wednesday posts!