Sometimes it’s a perfect detail that really gets me. Other times it’s a fabulous dress, a gorgeous photograph or the most lovely cake on the planet. But today, it’s the story. It’s a tear jerker for sure but one that I think we can all learn from. Plus, it’s one of the sweetest, prettiest weddings we’ve seen and is overflowing with steal-worthy deets. Pink, peony filled, totally girly steal worthy-deets. Click here to see so much more.
It’s hard to describe our wedding without first talking a bit about our past. Paul and I met one summer day over a decade ago. We were neighbors in a small neighborhood in MD, met through a mutual friend and started a romance in high school that seemed like it would last forever (you know how young love can be!). But, it didn’t…..college happened, Paul moved to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon and I went to D.C. to go to Georgetown. We remained friends, but also started lives of our own and moved on.
Fast forward 6 years and 3,000 miles to the California coast and it’s where Paul and I reconnected. He had moved there for graduate school at Stanford and I had gotten a job out here after finishing my Masters program. We met for a date, he cooked me dinner, and 11 months later of our “Round 2” as we call it, we were engaged! It was Christmas morning 2008, and it was a bittersweet holiday that year. My mother had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and was about to start chemotherapy treatment New Years morning. The engagement was both a surprise (happy one of course) and a much needed source of joy for our families. My mother was so incredibly happy for us and having seen how much Paul and I had grown up since the days when we were young 14-year olds in love, she was excited for our future and for the wedding. Sadly, she died 4 months after she was diagnosed in April 2009 after a brave and strong fight.
Needless to say I was devastated after my mother’s death, but wedding planning seemed to provide a happy distraction and a time to really show how love can conquer all- something my mother really believed in. We had a tight budget, but I was determined to design a wedding on my own that really reflected Paul and my personalities- young, vibrant, and full of love. Planning a MD wedding (where most of our family and friends live) from CA proved to be a difficult task, but in the end the wedding was everything we could have hoped for. It was a casual, yet elegant summer wedding- filled with love and emotion and of course homage to both of my parents who could not be there that day (my father passed away when I was 5). I knew I wanted an outdoor ceremony so likely an evening wedding- East coast heat in June is the worst- so we set out to look for places that had outdoor space and fell in love with Grey Rock Mansion. They provided a beautiful garden area that was perfect for the ceremony and since Paul and I are not very religious, we asked a good friend from Stanford, Linus, to marry us and he did an amazing job. The ceremony included reflections of our past, our present and just the right amount of humor. One of my favorite moments about it though was when my brother walked me down the aisle. It was so special to have him there with me when our father couldn’t be, and when he whispered “I love you” when we got to the end of the aisle and I saw Paul, I knew everything was going to be all right.
Other details of the day and wedding include invitations designed by my amazing cousin, a graphic designer, and letter-pressed by a local company I found tucked away in Chinatown in San Francisco. We also got a photobooth for our guests to use for our guestbook –everyone had a blast with it! I designed the centerpieces myself by getting these whimsical table squares off Etsy and my sister spray painted wood numbers we also got off Etsy. I collected milk vases for the whole year and a half we were engaged- getting them from Ebay, Craigslist, flea markets, and anywhere else I could find them. My florist- a friend of one of my bridesmaids and who so generously did the work for free- filled the vases with all my favorite flowers: peonies, dahlias, spider mums, roses, etc! We stuck to the soft palette of light pinks, ivory, yellow, and peach and placed 3-4 vases on each table. I choose homemade caramels from Mouth Party (a local Baltimore company that donates some of it’s proceeds to cancer research) as the favors and stuck hand stamped cards on each box that let guests know we also donated to the American Cancer Society in their name in honor of my mother. The place cards were hand calligraphied by an amazing vendor on Etsy on these fun paisley cards I bought from Wedding Paper Divas, which I custom colored to match the lime green and pink color palette of the wedding. My amazing college friends hung all the lanterns I had collected over the last year in the tent and made it look so dreamy inside! My favorite detail though was a antique locket I tied around my bouquet that had a picture of both my mother and father in it. Having a part of them with me that day calmed me and gave me a great sense of peace.
We danced the night away with our guests and our amazing photographer, Meaghan Elliott, captured every moment so beautifully (at 6 months pregnant I might add!). From getting ready to the sparkler exit her pictures reflected how much joy and love there was that night.
Our wedding was magical. It showcased so much of who Paul and I are and how far we’ve come. And, my closest friends kept telling me how “me” the wedding design was from the dress to the details. In my speech to our guests I said:
“Tonight is about celebrating love and my mother would have been the first person to tell you that we aren’t anyone in this world without the people who we love and who love us back. So, this is a very personal thank you from me to all of your– thank you for being there for me this past year, for comforting me and grieving with me, but most importantly for loving me.”
Our wedding was certainly about love and I can honestly say I married the love of my life!
Wedding Photography: Meaghan Elliott Photography / Flowers: Kathy McCormick / Wedding Ceremony & Reception Location: Grey Rock Mansion / Catering: Simply Elegant Catering / Wedding Invitation Design & Paper Goods: Vincent Lee, Cousin of the Bride / Wedding Invitation Printing: Culture Lite Printing / Bride’s Shoes: Nina / Wedding Dress: Melissa Sweet / Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Bridesmaid Dresses: Priscilla of Boston + Alfred Sung + Watters & Watters + David’s Bridal / Favors: Mouth Party Caramels / Photobooth: Party Booths / Wedding Cake: Artistic Desserts / Calligraphy: Dancing Pen Calligraphy / Bridal Bouquet: Crimson and Clover Floral Design, Inc. / Place Cards: Wedding Paper Divas / Table Squares: Darling Damask / Wooden Table Numbers: Blue Mountain Crafts / Bride’s Shoe Clips: B. Poetic / Bride’s Hair Flower: xoxoDesigns / Jewelry: J.Brown Jewelers