I Do

I’ve been waiting — on pins and needles — to release this blog post.  I wrote it the day James and I returned from our honeymoon, but because we were hoping a magazine would feature our wedding pictures . . . I did not “publish” this on my own.  Now, the wait is over.  (Sadly, no magazine deal.) But today, a few days past James’s and my one year anniversary, I want to publish my long-awaited post on our wedding.

* * * * *

Our wedding was beautiful.  I don’t know how else to describe it.

 Okay, maybe I do.  Romantic, gorgeous, magical.  Intimate.  So very special.  Beautiful.  It was all so beautiful.

I know, you’re thinking, “What bride says otherwise?  Of course, you thought your own wedding was beautiful.”  And in part, that’s true.  But I think our wedding was different.  James and I had one goal when planning our wedding: To do it together — every color, each flower, table cloth napkin and song on our Must Play list.  Every wedding aspect, we wanted to come to the conclusion together.  That’s because it wasn’t my wedding.  It was our wedding.  This day was equally important to both of us, and we wanted to create a wedding that portrayed, felt and showed our love for one another and our love for our family and friends.  I guess if there had to be a theme, it was simple: Romance.  Love.  Pure, innocent, sweet love.  The type of love with old fashioned traditions.  The type of rustic lets-run-in-this-field-barefoot-and-collapse-in-the-grass-giggling romance.  And you know what?  I feel we captured that feeling.  Perfectly.

Our wedding invitations

The day: June 2, 2012.  The women had just gotten their hair styled, and we were piling our belongings into my parents’ minivan — my wedding dress, three bridesmaid dresses, a mother of the bride dress and father of bride tux.  The six of us squeezed inside and, keys in the ignition, were off.

Before and during the ride, we played a game, asking one another, “If you were to use one word to describe how you feel, what would it be?”  From anxious to excited to overwhelmed and emotional, everyone’s words changed within the coarse of minutes.  At one point in the van, we asked my mom, and her answer came with a crocodile-shaped smile that spread across her face: “I just . . . I just . . . ohhhh . . . I just feel — I feel like SCREAMING with EXCITEMENT!”  Her eyes were twinkling.  I’ve never seen her so energetic, happy, eager.  “DO IT!” we begged her.  “Scream?!”  She is not the type to let go.  “YEEES!!!  SCREAM!!!  Let it out!” we encouraged.  With a deep breath, she hesitated . . . then, in the quietest whisper a faint “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” erupted from her as she shook, shivers racing through her body.  My sister and I looked at one another.  Surely, that wasn’t the scream?  There was a pause before we heard, “Oh!  There!  I feel so much better!” And that’s about how James’s and my wedding day was — This force, this huge emotional feeling of beyond-yourself-happiness overtaking you.  That feeling — bound inside leaving you wanting to, so badly, get it out . . . share it, express it properly — something . . . but despite best efforts, there’s too much emotion swallowing you up.  Overwhelming at best . . . in the most satisfying, gorgeous, I-would-never-replace-this-feeling-for-the-world sort of way.

After about an hour ride, we were finally at our wedding site: Berkeley Plantation.
Berkeley’s Manor House
Berkeley is known as “Virginia’s most historic plantation.” It was the site of the first official Thanskgiving in America in 1619 and the birthplace of two historical figures — the ninth United States President William Henry Harrison and signer of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Harrison V. Berkeley was also the ancestral home of the 23rd United States President Benjamin Harrison.
Large magnolia trees fill the plantation.
Magnolia leaves
The females got ready in a house similar to this that was next to the Manor House.

We fell in love with this spot when we saw our wedding ceremony and reception could be right next to the James River
Weeping willows droop over the green grass.
Our greatest gift: A clear, sunny, slight breezy 80-degree day.
Small tan pebbles created our long isle.
Our wedding ceremony took place in the Rose Garden where pink and red fragrant roses bloomed in front of the large boxwoods.

The second my dad’s feet hit the ground, he was in search of the men.  Poor thing — my dad.  He enjoys male bonding time because he’s been surrounded (almost sufficated) by women.  He has his wife . . . two daughters (who each have female dogs) . . . and my parents have their own dog — another female dog.  We joke that even his fish are females.  People talk about their families and how open they are, but know what?  Unless you have a family that consist of one man and the rest women then you’ll know about “open discussions.”  My sweet sweet dad had to sit through dinner conversations on periods and tampons, pubic and leg hair talks, shaving and bra loathing sessions mixed with deep descriptions of our latest school outfits, purses and nail polish.  And PS-These are “light” discussions.  I think secretly he has always wanted a son . . . or at least he’s always looked forward to this day — his daughters’ wedding day.  The day he finally, OFFICIALLY gets sons.  I’ll tell ya — Before I could wave goodbye, my dad had disappeared — in elation, I’m sure, after a long ride with us five women.

The tell-tale sign men are ahead.
I cherish these pictures because I was not there to see him get ready.  This gives me a small glimpse into how he looked away from me on our big day.

The most handsome man. God, thank you for bringing us together and making me the luckiest woman.
James with his brother (left) and Best Man (right)

Meanwhile, the women started getting ready . . .

James gave me this pearl necklace for Christmas. I could not think of anything more beautiful to wear during our wedding than his gift.

When James and I were dating, my mama gave me her Bible — the same one she carried with her when she walked down the isle 36 years ago to marry my dad. Once James and I got engaged, I knew I wanted to have this Bible with me on our wedding day — for comfort, support, and as a symbol that James and my marriage is forever, just like my parents.

Months before James’s and my wedding, I leafed through my mama’s ‘wedding’ Bible and came across an old while handkerchief, folded four times inside the delicate gold-rimmed pages.  When I asked my mom about it, she said she carried that handkerchief and Bible down the isle her wedding day.  I knew this handkerchief, too, had to come down the isle with me, and what better way than to make it my ‘something old.’  My mom surprised me by hand-stitching James’s and my names, along with the date of our wedding in the color of our bridesmaid dresses.  On the corner diagonally from that, she hand-stitched my dad and her names with their wedding date in green, the color of their bridesmaid dresses.  The thought is that when James and I start a family, I will pass this hankie down and hand-stitch my son or daughter’s name with their soon-to-be spouse or wife’s name in their wedding colors.

Our names and our wedding date
Our names and our wedding date
My parents names and their wedding date
My parents names and their wedding date

I desperately wanted to pay tribute to James’s family too, craving a symbol that shows we were uniting our two families.  That’s why I asked his mom if I could copy her daughter’s wedding idea — have a handkerchief made from her wedding dress.

My mother's wedding handkerchief and James' mothers hankie, made from her wedding dress

In the end, I knotted both hankies around my flowers and on top of that wrapped the above blue flowered locket.

My mom gave me this locket years ago when I was a little girl.  Not only did it fit my ‘something blue,’ but putting both of our parents wedding day pictures inside remains a meaningful keepsake.

My parents (left) and James’s parents (right)

Time to get ready for my man . . .

My gorgeous bridesmaids, helping me into my dress

My adorable mom
My sister/Maid of Honor tying my sash
After six years of cheerleading, my mom became an expert bow-tyer.

Katelyn, my bridesmaid and best friend puts on my necklace.
Katelyn, my bridesmaid and best friend puts on my necklace.
Jac and my mom helped put on my veil.

I am so blessed to have a mother who is my best very best friend. She was overwhelmed with happiness . . . and I loved every second of seeing her like that.
I love my mama so very very much.
As much as I love my mama though, I am 150% a daddy’s girl.
I beyond-adore my daddy. I could not have a better father.
The first time I got to look in the mirror and see myself our wedding day.
Ready to walk down the isle to my James!

While we were getting ready, the guys had a little photo time.

From left to right: James’s brother Marc, Best Man Doug, the handsome groom, James’s best friend Sam, and brother-in-law Ryan

I cannot remember if I’ve said this in my blog before, but orchids have a special meaning to James and I.  On our first date (which I remember so clearly, he gave me a white Phalaenopsis orchid.  The blooms were trembling because his hands were shaking from nerves.  Since then, he’s given me an orchid for practically every special occasion.  That’s why we decided his boutonniere and my bouquet would be made solely of white Phals.  For our groomsmen and bridesmaids, we chose a Leonidas rose as a symbol of love.  Lastly, our grandparents wore a Dendrobium orchid, the orchid James placed my ring on when asking me to marry him.

James’s boutonniere
The grooms’ boutonniere
I cannot help but smile whenever I see my man.

Now it’s the ladies turn for their photo shoot!

From left to right: Katelyn, Maid of Honor Trista, me, Jacqui, and my now sister-in-law Lauren
My mama was watching as we had our pictures taken . . . I just love these pictures of her. They really show how excited and emotional she was.

Don’t know what I would do without these four ladies . . .
My sis and I . . . Love you so much, T! You were so worried you wouldn’t be a great Maid of Honor, but you were nothing short of extraordinary. As always, I don’t know what I’d do without you!
My now-sis . . . I could not be more lucky! Love you, Lauren!
My white Phal bouquet
The bridesmaids Leonidas rose bouquets
It’s not every day a girl gets to play with a veil!


A ‘mama hug’ . . . one of the most comforting feelings in the world.
Both of my moms!  Again, could not be more blessed!  BEST moms the world has to offer.
Heading back inside

Finally, it was time.  The ceremony was starting, and I strained to hear the music outside.  Glancing down the long isle, I could faintly see black-tuxed figures . . . and then James, tucked among the huge boxwoods.  My mama’s voice brought me back from my sneaky eye-hunt for him.  “Honey.  You are bee-u-tiful!” Tears began to fill her eyes . . . and that’s when I realized — What on earth was my mom still doing by my side?!  She needed to be walked down the isle too!  And at that moment, I was pretty sure that’s why everyone was paused.  With a screech and look of horror, she tore away.  Her sandals clicked on the pebbles while she pranced, disappearing — as James did — into the hedges.

James walking down the isle next to his best man
James parents and brother


My now sister-in-law
My little sis
I adore this picture because at the time, I could not see his face since I was walking further away

The few moments before I walked down the isle were serene.  Next to me was my daddy — proud, so proud, standing tall, carefree and baring a teeth-showing-smile.  I giggled up at him and tucked my hand around his arm.  It was our turn.  Our big moment, together.  We stood for a seconds, looking into each other’s eyes.  “Are you ready to go?” he asked in a hushed, even voice.  After a minute of soaking up my dad and our time alone, I gave him a private smile.  “Yes.”  I hoped he understood those words instead mean “thank you.”

He was and is so proud of me . . . which makes me even more proud of him.


Before I realized it, we were there.  That ‘long’ isle sucked in and soon we were in front of our preacher.  I could see my groom’s light blue eyes twinkling as he looked into mine.


Our ceremony was perfect, and I mean it — perfect.  We embraced the service, every word our preacher said as 100 of our dearest friends and family were by our side.

There was this amazing beam of sunlight that fell directly onto James and I. I secretly think it was my grandma and best friend who passed a short time before our wedding.


We chose to have traditional vows . . . and ones we both wrote to each other.  James’s vows were beyond what I’ll ever be able to write.  He made them personal, secrets between him and I along with promises for a future forever together.  His words were all a bride would want to hear . . . and a million times more.  PS-They also jokingly claimed he was grateful for the Red Sox because they brought us closer together.  (That had to be pointed out!)

While he has always been open about his feelings towards me, seeing and hearing him read his emotional vows made me cry.

After he was done, it was time to recite my vows, promises to him.  I also tried to make mine quirky . . . promising to let him dunk his Oreos in my milk (something I — for whatever reason — find disgusting and won’t let anyone else do), vowing to sing random made-up songs just for him and more.  I also hoped my vows packed as much love as words are able to muster.

I think this was when I swore to him I would never assume he was sharing his dessert with me. His family jokes that they knew instantly he would marry me because at dinner, he looked me straight in the eyes and asked if I wanted to share a dessert . . . something he has never done in his life. To him, sharing a dessert is a crime, and despite efforts to make him share growing up, he could never break that one (and only one) selfish nature . . . until he met me.


Once our vows were proclaimed, we exchanged wedding bands . . .


and then the glorious moment of being pronounced “husband and wife!”


I was holding a tissue so I look ridiculous — like I’m not hugging my new husband with everything I have. I did, everyone! I truly did!
And they lived happily ever after . . .

As with most weddings, pictures come after the ceremony!

My dad, mama and sis surround my new husband and I
James’s brother-in-law, sister, brother, father, mother
My mother, father, sister and soon-to-be brother in-law
James’s sister, brother, mom and dad surrounding James and I
I could not stop kissing him . . .

During the pictures, my bridesmaids were so adorable, huddling together . . .


I just love these pictures because it’s the exact feeling we were going for: That happy-go-lucky, kid-in-the-grass feeling

that is until they decided to get into some trouble . . .

My sister and I have always loved finding frogs (we’re country girls at heart) . . . and this little guy was found during our pictures!
The frog jumped all over Katelyn! I just love her expression so I had to post this!
Our most-incredible groomsmen and bridesmaids
Our most-incredible groomsmen and bridesmaids
I also absolutely adore this picture. Having those that mean so very much to James and I surrounding us, partying with us . . . I can never thank you enough, loves!

Time to sneak away . . . and get pictures with just the two of us . . .


I get chills whenever I see the happy look on my husband’s face.  I hope I can make him this happy forever.




While I wanted badly to stay wrapped in this private bubble with James and our photographers, we were eager to see our family and friends at the reception.  But before going there, we wanted to get a close look at the beyond gorgeous arbor my cousins made for us as a wedding gift.

I cannot wait — literally c.a.n.n.o.t w.a.i.t — until we have a house to finally keep our arbor. Right now, my uncle and aunt have been generous enough to keep it at their farm because we have no yard. While I know it is safe there, I honestly and truly think about this arbor every day. This gift means extremely much to me, Corey and Josh. I’ll never be able to thank you enough. 
My cousins went above and beyond by carving our initials inside a heart on the arbor.


We wanted to be be surrounded by our loved ones in any way shape and form. Because many had past before our wedding, this was a way we could bring the memory of our grandparents there.
Instead of signing a guest book, we wanted to have something we would use and see often so we had our guests leave notes on quilt squares which I hope to piece together and make a quilt.


I loved the inside of our reception tent.  We had put so much thought and work into it . . . with ‘o so much help from loved ones!



My mom and sister painstakingly made thousands upon thousands of these
My mom and sister painstakingly made thousands upon thousands of these “doily balls” which hung from the reception tent ceiling. They were even sweet enough to recruit “doily ball” workers . . . and Becci and Susan, that was incredibly nice you came to help us with our crafts project!

Once inside, we had our First Dance . . .korielynn_padgett-0979

Our First Dance was to Iron and Wine’s From Such Great Heights.


My mom said my dad practiced his Father of the Bride speech often.  Daddy, you did amazing, and it meant so much.  Thank you.

Father of the bride speech


A prayer before dinner


After dinner, our Father/Daughter dance . . .

We danced to Loudon Wainwright III’s “Daughter”
Love, love, love this picture

Mother/Son Dance . . .

Kappa Danielson’s “Simple Man”


Doug, James’s Best Man, is incredible . . . for so many reasons, but here’s one: After our dances, there was this  pause where no one moved to dance and I was thinking silently, “I hope someone comes up and breaks the ice.”  No sooner did I think that, Doug jumped on the dance floor in front of all our guests and started dancing alone.  That prompted James and I to dance with him . . . which then prompted  people to come dance as well.  The rest of the night, someone was always dancing.  I don’t think we ever said, “Thank you” for that move, Doug . . . Thank you.korielynn_padgett-1142

Call me . . . maybe?
Uncle Tom breaking it down!
I had no idea my dad enjoyed dancing! Then again, maybe when he’s surrounded by these pretty ladies, he does!
Doug dancing with his beautiful wife, Hayley
(PS-They just had their first child!  CONGRATS TO THEM!)
Ian and his fiancee, Sandy, will be getting married in a few days! CANNOT WAIT!
My aunt and uncle dancing together
One of my cousin’s that made the gorgeous arbor — Corey dancing with his wife, Courtney
My cousin Jeremy dancing with his wife, April.
My second cousin, Andrew . . . He was full of moves. The crowd loved him!


After dinner, we gathered around of stunning cake for Best Man and Maid of Honor speeches.



Both Doug and Trista had such funny and heartwarming speeches.  The speeches were perfect.  Love, love, love you both.

Boy was I excited about our cake! I’m not a “cake” person, but this one called to me in our tastings. Thank you Laura!
Lemon raspberry and red velvet layers
One of our friends gave us a word of advice for our wedding day, and I cannot stress how much I would suggest this to other brides and grooms:
Take one moment together — just you and your significant other — alone . . . to absorb what’s happened and see all your loved ones that came to support you.
With all the hustle and bustle, this time remains as one of our favorite and most memorable part of our wedding.
Tossing the bouquet . . .
My bridesmaid Katelyn caught it! She was sweet and gave it to my second cousin . . . but we know who really got it first! Crazy thing is Katelyn was proposed to months later . . . Maybe there is some charm to a bouquet toss after all!
Tossing my garter . . .
James’s brother got the garter!

The night winding to a close . . .


A sparkler good-bye
Shots with our Bentley before we were off!
And they lived happily ever after . . .

As I said in the beginning, our wedding could not have been more perfect.  I told James this, and I want to tell you: I was never the type of girl who dreamed about my wedding.  I didn’t know what dress I would wear or what flowers I would have.  I only envisioned who I would marry . . . one incredible man.  I found that man . . . and from there, I began to dream of our wedding day.  While the details took time, effort and money, that wasn’t what made our wedding perfect.  It was spending the day next to my new husband . . . and celebrating beside our closest family and friends.  To those that came out and took part in our day, the warmest thank you.  James and I love you all . . . and each of you has made an impression on us.  Without a second doubt, our big day would not have been as meaningful without your support and love.  So thank you again.

* * * * *

Pictures are from Korie Lynn Photography.
Korie, I am beyond fortunate to have met you, been able to call you our photographer, but most importantly, our friend.  I know you have family and friends in Virginia, but please know, if you ever want to grab a hot chocolate, ice cream or need a place to stay, our home is your home.  Cannot wait to see you again!

Author: L

Hi there! I am the impulsive do-er, the jumper, the one tugging to move past comfort zones to embrace a life of sheer surprise. I am a writer -- a pursuer of stories -- because I believe in the destination over the journey. I am a chaser of sunrises and sunsets and cherisher of the moments between. I have an overwhelming curiosity, an insatiable desire travel, and an obsessive yearn to turn dreams into realities. For all of these reasons, the word that best summarizes who I am is "seeker" -- I am forever a seeker.

2 thoughts

    1. Thank you so much, Jeana! You’re so sweet to read and comment on my blog! Your message made my day!
      How are you and your family? How’s Emily? Hope you guys are all enjoying your summer!

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