Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Colleen & Ryan's Wedding

Dear Em,
Yesterday I shared a post about the photo booth, & now I want to recap Colleen & Ryan's rustic wedding day. I love when a couple's wedding day tells you a lot about the couple. Colleen & Ryan are both outdoorsy. They enjoy hiking & golfing, rock climbing & adventure. They wanted their special day to reflect that about them while also leaving a minimal environmental footprint.

It all started on the coast of Maryland, at the gorgeous Elk Neck State Park. The trees at the park were starting to turn beautiful autumn multicolors. Their ceremony was to be a simple & intimate one on the beach. Their reception would be held in the fresh air under a picnic shelter with a rustic, brick fireplace. It was absolutely Ryan & Colleen & absolutely perfect.

We stayed nearby the park, & I can tell you I already miss waking up to the sound of the ocean each morning. While you were eager to help prepare for the big day, it can be a little tough to have a four year old running around the business of setting up for a wedding. We tried to give you jobs suitable for your young age. When we ran out of those, we were lucky to have great friends who found fun ways to distract you.

The morning of Colleen & Ryan's wedding was a stormy one. We sat out on a deck looking at rain clouds & huge gusts of wind. We looked at the hourly weather forecasts & prayed things would clear up by the time of the wedding.

Luckily, the sun came out. Amidst the hecticness, Colleen had the most beautiful smile on her face as she got ready with her sister that morning. You could hear the ocean waves through the bathroom window. There was a zen-like calmness that filled the room. Ali & I joined them to help Colleen get ready. Colleen looked absolutely stunning & radiated calmness & joy. I couldn't believe my childhood best friend was getting married.

Hidden from the roar of the wind, Colleen & Ryan shared a private first look moment before heading to the state park. There was a lot still to be set up, & it was all hands on deck getting everything ready for the ceremony & reception. The end result was rustic & comfortable & beautiful & totally Ryan & Colleen.

We enjoyed a couple cocktails & exchanged hugs & hellos as people arrived. While he ceremony was originally planned for the beach, because of the wind the couple opted to get married right next to the picnic area, in the shelter of the trees. It was there that I was the officiated Ryan & Colleen's ceremony. While I've spoken in front of large groups of people a number of other times, this time was more nerve wracking & meaningful than all of the rest. I stood with Colleen & Ryan as they said their I Dos & tried my very best not to cry. They had written the words to the ceremony. They were touching & heartfelt & sweet. It was such a honor to be there & see their love as they exchanged their vows.

As soon as the ceremony had ended, & Colleen & Ryan were officially married, they walked back down the aisle. You headed right toward me. "Mommy, you did AWESOME!" My full heart overflowed. Em, I will never find a cheerleader quite like you.

The whole wedding day was the best kind of wedding day for a bouncy, four year old girl. With the reception being outdoors, Daddy & I were able to leave you to run around without worry you would be breaking anything. There was a playground just down the way & lots of lawn games. There were lots of kids. Being the kid-loving, only child you are, this wedding had all the makings for the best day ever. You ran around with your new, adorable little friends for the rest of the day. You made necklaces out of beads & colored in coloring books. You went to the playground. You chalked the stone floors. You took pictures in the photo booth. You had an absolute blast. We all did.

In front of a roaring fireplace, a few of us gave toasts. I talked about how much Colleen, my beautiful friend, has been there for me throughout the past 17 years. It's rare to find a friendship that grows as you grow, & that's what her friendship has been to me. I couldn't be happier that she had found the guy who would be there for her throughout the years ahead, encourage her to grow, & keep growing with her.

Colleen & Ryan shared a sweet first dance, & you & the littles showed us your dance moves soon after. 

As if the day hadn't already been awesome enough, there were desserts to be had. Colleen's mom baked delicious apple & pumpkin pies in individual mason containers. While I savored the apple pie, you skipped right past the pies & went straight for the cupcakes (there were mint & chocolate ones & maple & bacon ones).

After the desserts were served, you & your little friend went to work passing out the seed packet wedding favors.

As the sun began to set & the reception ended, your new friend & her family joined us back at the house for some hot tub, coloring, & movie fun.

You were devastated when your new "best friend" had to go, but otherwise didn't put up much of a fight when it was time for bed. After having "the best wedding day ever," you were exhausted.

I took a moment to reflect on what a beautiful day it was. I was so happy to have been a part of my best friend's wedding day, & there had also been another reason to celebrate. Colleen & I will share a wedding anniversary date. Your daddy & I were celebrating our six year anniversary that day. So much has happened in six years, & I can say more sure than ever that your daddy is the absolutely perfect guy for me. These past six years have been so full of love & adventure, as I hope Colleen & Ryan's next six years are.

I love you so,

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