Angel – Jennifer Hudson
And now to announce the winner of the Dodeline giveaway!
Thanks to everyone who participated!
The morning after our wedding we hailed a cab, which had just dropped off Joe Jackson at a nearby IHOP (For real. A friend who was randomly at the same IHOP vouched that he was there) and headed to the airport. Apparently, Mr. Jackson was craving pecans and didn’t tip the cabbie.
Our honeymoon took us to Napa Valley, where we holed up for 5 days at The Cottages of Napa Valley, eating, drinking, and generally being married.
I had a small weight gain during the trip, which I attribute to the daily pastry baskets which were discreetly delivered to our doorstep each morning. They looked something like this:
Our first full day in the valley took us to Sonoma. I absolutely adored their quaint downtown area full of locally owned boutiques, museums and tasting bars. On this day we also had a stroke of amazing luck. We drove by a little hole in the wall restaurant called Schellville Grill and decided to stop for lunch. Turns out, Guy Fieri has featured it on the Food Network. I opted for a salad while Adam enjoyed a sandwich. After our meal, we paid (including a tip, don’t call us Mr. Jackson) and headed to our car. That’s when “Uncle Bob” ran over to greet us from his Prius.
Uncle Bob: Are you folks wine tasting today?
Adam: Yes sir! We’re on our honeymoon and just getting started for the day.
Uncle Bob: Congratulations! You should make a stop at Ravenswood. Take my card and tell them Uncle Bob sent you.
Adam: Thanks so much, we’ll be sure to check them out.
Me: So nice to meet you! Have a good day.
We went our separate ways and as we were pulling out of the parking lot, I looked at the card and saw that it was not only Uncle Bob’s business card, but handwritten on the back was 2 free tastings courtesy of him. Typically in Napa Valley you pay anywhere from $10 – $25 per tasting, some wineries let you split tastings, but not many. Thanks to Uncle Bob we saved $30…and used our savings to buy the best Moscato either of us have ever tasted. We’d have never gone to Ravenswood if not for Uncle Bob.
Kaz Winery was also an off-the-beaten path find for us. When we passed the painted wine barrels at the entrance? Adam made a U-turn. Thank goodness for that. Kaz was an understated, no frills winery and had a metal chicken greeting guests at the front door. Though they specialized in dry wines, I was entertained by their random assortment of 80s vinyl while Adam sampled wine. He even got to cork his own bottle!
Day 3 is better known as the day Adam tried to kill me. Ok, not really, but it sure felt like it – and it was my own fault. Here’s the breakdown:
- Adam’s an avid cyclist. Me? Notsomuch.
- Adam wanted to rent a tandem bike in Yountville and, being the head over heels in love new wife that I was, I cautiously agreed.
- Adam wanted us to ride a short 14 mile loop and promised we’d stop at wineries that look appealing along the way.
- Adam and I are both 6’2″. The back seat of a tandem is not built for a 6’2″ person, so I got to ride for 14 miles with my mid-thighs on a bike seat.
- Adam failed to mention…err, remind me…that cycling typically means you ride on highway shoulders as cars zip past you at the marked speed limit, or faster. Including large trucks.
Let’s just say I freaked. out.
And could barely walk for a day and a half after the ride.
But hey, we got some good pictures.
Day 4 was our last day in the Valley and we made the most of it. We woke up early and headed north. It’s safe to say I
drank tasted more wine that day than I have in my entire life. I was quite the cool cucumber.
We walked into a castle, but decided to save our tasting money for a winery up the road we had heard a lot about, Sterling Vineyards. We splurged at this winery, getting the full package for tasting which included an additional 3 tastings after the winery tour – for a total of 7 tastings. All were fantastic, but the highlight of this winery for me was the gondola ride from the parking lot to the winery. It was so serene and beautiful.
We ended our last day in Napa Valley with dinner at Bottega. We shared our first risotto and indulged in some amazing truffle-parmigiano fries. Adam ordered “Smoked & Braised Natural Short Ribs” with a whole grain mustard spaetzle, Sicilian pickles, quince paste & smokey horseradish jus, while I ordered the “Forno Roasted Chicken Breast” with “Marsala” sautéed forest mushrooms, marinated grilled onions, truffle honey and sherry vinaigrette. Both dishes were exceptional and at the end of the meal our waiter convinced us to order the house chocolate “cake” that wasn’t listed on the menu. It. Was. Phenomenal.
Our final full day in California took us back to San Francisco, with a slight detour thanks to Adam. Turns out Highway 1 is Adam’s dream road. At least in the US.
My hubby is a HUGE Top Gear fan and took this opportunity to channel his inner Stig. Let’s just say I have never seen him so chipper and filled with glee than I did while he was driving on Highway 1. Meanwhile, I was busy saying “OOOHHH! Pull over, I need to get a picture” or “OMG!!! REAL SEALS!!! IN. THE. WILD!!”
Highway 1 was incredible and I think Adam summed up the scenery best when he said, “This is proof God exists.” I have to agree, as I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Mid-way down Highway 1, I mention that I’m feeling a bit hungry and since it was almost time for lunch, Adam informs me that he already scoped out a place for us to eat in Bolinas. Unbeknownst to me, Bolinas is costal community known for its reclusive residents – I’d call them full out hippies, but that might not be PC – who TEAR DOWN any sign providing directions into their unincorporated community.
Thanks to Adam, we managed to find the town just fine.
I think the status I posted to Facebook as we were entering the “downtown area” sums up my feelings perfectly:
I have officially never felt more out of place wearing J Crew than I did when Adam pulled up in front of a “think globally eat locally” cafe for lunch in a very hippie “socially acknowledged nature loving town” called Bolinas. Needless to say, he loves me so much he didn’t make me get out of the car.
And it’s true, I was so scared of what the
hippies reclusive residents might do to me that I refused to get out of the car for lunch.
It was a wonderful trip and was exactly the relaxation we wanted after the hustle and bustle from our wedding festivities. Now I just have to figure out when we can go back – I miss our cottage…and the wine.
The one thing I was adamant about throughout the planning process was a reception that reflected the type of couple Adam and I are. We like to goof off, relax, listen to good music and spend time with family and friends. That’s exactly the reception we had. Our reception was high-energy and laid-back and allowed us to be ourselves around our friends.
Our DJ allowed us to create a playlist prior to the reception with music we thought our guests would be most receptive to and, while I stressed a bit about this element of the wedding, it turned out better than I ever imagined. Our dance floor was packed the entire night! Apparently we had a good mix of oldies, line dances, and current hits. 🙂
While we twisted,
my dad shouted,
and my aunts shimmied.
and threw their hands up in the air like they just didn’t care.
There were even a few sisterly dance moments.
And then the DJ played “Single Ladies”.
Remember the whole “Operation: No More Beyonce” thing and the fact that I’m slightly addicted to Jazzercise? I worked with my coordinator to loosely stage a flash mob, after I contacted my fellow Jazzercisers mere days before the wedding.
Yep, our reception had a Jazzercise flash mob in the middle of the dance floor.
It was so much fun dancing with my instructors and other Jazzer-buddies who drove down to celebrate with us! I seriously love those women!
There’s even video evidence of our Jazzer-moment!
Then I got sick…light-headed, stomach turning, overheated.
Note to future brides: don’t go a full day on only apples and caramel sauce, get married, then expect to dance the night away in your wedding dress.
Adam got me a bottled water, then got Heather, our coordinator, to come help.
So while my guests were doing this:
I was doing this:
Yep. I missed doing the “YMCA” at my own wedding.
But I was soon back out on the dance floor just in time for the “Time Warp”. My sudden weak state was nothing several bottles of water and a plate of food couldn’t fix.
While I went back to the dance floor, Adam went to hang with his family. And by hang, I mean totally goof-off.
Then it was time to drag him back out to the dance floor for the “Cha-Cha Slide”…
…before ending the fun-filled night with a sparkler getaway and a kiss to seal the deal.
We were officially married and on our way to Napa Valley for our honeymoon!
images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings
I’ll admit, we threw our amazing coordinator a huge curveball during the planning process when we told her the location of our reception. I wanted to create a warm, romantic, and vintage setting. In my hometown’s concrete and cinder block armory.
She accepted the challenge without hesitation and transformed the space beyond my wildest expectations.
During our dance, we agreed that we felt very awkward dancing by ourselves in front of our family and friends. I also remember Adam goofing off during our dance, I think he was rapping along with Adele – which doesn’t really fit but, as always, made me laugh. I love that our photographer captured that moment.
Next up, was my father-daughter dance. My dad selected Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World for our big dance – which was only a mere warm up for the rest of the night.
After we showed off our fancy footwork on the dance floor it was time for Adam’s mother-son dance. Adam’s mom chose Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You Dance for their special moment.
I absolutely love the looks of pure happiness on both our parents’ faces during these dances. Wonderfully captured by our photographer, yet again!
Once the dances were done, our coordinator whisked us away to cut the cake. In fact, we were whisked so fast that our parents missed us cutting the cake. Thankfully, we have pictures that captured the excitement and yumminess!
Our coordinator surprised us with some vintage forks I had been lusting over for months from Etsy. It was at the moment she presented the forks to us that my emotions from the day finally overcame me and I shed some very happy tears. Heather truly was the best!
After the cake cutting, Adam gave a speech thanking our guests for coming and celebrating our special day with us. We also wanted to thank our guests personally and went from table to table in an attempt to do so.
At the end of Adam’s speech, we led our Razorback loving guests in a Hog Call. It was only fitting since we intentionally picked our wedding day based on the Razorbacks’ football schedule – our wedding day was one of the only bye weekends of the season.
Throughout the rest of evening we had a few scheduled “events” for special moments. First up? A sorority sing. My Alpha Delta Pi sisters are the best and I was so honored that they made the trip to the middle of South Arkansas to celebrate with us.
Then, of course, we had to have the garter and bouquet tosses towards the end of the night…
Our reception wasn’t all structure and formality. After the cake was cut, the guests were thanked, the Hogs were called and the buffet was opened, the dance floor became a happening place…
images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings
Everyone has a specific part of weddings they love. For some it’s the ceremony or the way a groom looks as his bride is walking down the aisle. For others it’s the bride’s dress or the reception.
For me, it is all about the little details. The things guests may or may not pick up on immediately, but that have importance to the couple and their families.
Immediately after I got engaged, I started stalking wedding blogs and trying to determine a vision for our big day. I’m a Southern small town, Anthropologie loving girl and knew I wanted to bring in bits of this throughout the ceremony and reception.
I emailed picture after picture to my mom of mason jars, lace, burlap, and wheat. I overwhelmed her and confused her. In my head I knew exactly how I wanted my wedding and reception to be, but telling it to someone else? Not that easy. Eventually we got on the same page – understated elegance with a romantic rustic chic feel.
I loved my bouquet and I loved that I was carrying a part of the strong women who were no longer here with me down the aisle. In memory of my grandmother Gran-Merle, we pinned one of her brooches to it, which served as my something blue, and wrapped the bouquet in a handkerchief which had a border tatted by my great-aunt Lila.
In the months leading up to the ceremony, my mom worked tirelessly on various “mom-jects”. She sewed burlap table runners, found beautiful iron work medallions at a steal to use for mason jar candelabras, created perfect burlap bunting banners to hang at various places throughout the reception, sewed pillows and cushions for our hay bale lounge, hot glued lace to french pails, cleaned antique medicine bottles and glassware, made moss letters and burlap wreaths. And just one week before the wedding? She stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to bake 72 dozen of her famous dishpan cookies as favors for our guests.
She was quite busy and I’ll never be able to adequately thank her for all of the love she poured into making our wedding day absolutely everything I imagined.
Meanwhile, I was busy designing the program and other paper goods for the ceremony and reception using a few free graphics from the Wedding Chicks website which I manipulated to fit my overall vision.
The family fun didn’t stop there, though. My dad and uncle built a screen out of old doors my parents salvaged from the 110+ year old victorian home I grew up in, all of which had been kept in our shed since they remodeled the home in the late 80s and early 90s. My dad also cleaned up his old tandem bicycle that had been stored out in the shed for as many years as the doors.
Adam and his brother joined in the project fun as well, bringing wine barrels from the winery Adam worked in throughout high school and college which would serve as the “legs” for the groom’s table and my sister brought her large collection of wine corks to fill additional mason jars for the groom’s cake stand.
The effort that was put into these details by our families helped to make my wedding day all that I dreamed and more…
images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings
I wanted our ceremony to take place in the sanctuary where I spent every Sunday of my childhood.
The sanctuary where the kneeling pads my grandmother Ottie helped to needlepoint are placed around the altar rail.
The sanctuary where I have so many wonderful, peaceful memories.
I wanted to make a new memory in the place where so many of the memories that shaped me into the woman I am today were made.
Well, we made many memories that day. From the chills I got as soon as the organist began playing the processional music for the bridesmaids – a song I had chosen in memory of Ottie, The Wedding Processional from The Sound of Music, to how I felt right before I walked down the aisle alongside my father. The memories were only beginning.
As I walked down the aisle towards Adam, I faintly remember seeing friends and family out of the corners of my eye, ecstatic to be able to share this moment with them.
I remember looking at Adam and seeing the look of sheer happiness across his face. I couldn’t stop smiling.
It was time.
We were ready.
After my dad presented me, the preachers began our traditional Methodist ceremony. Everything was moving along perfectly until the first prayer.
That’s when my sister realized she forgot the ring.
Thankfully, our coordinator, Heather, sensed that Madeline had forgotten the ring and was already halfway down a side aisle when it was time to place it on Adam’s finger.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t fast enough to save Madeline from embarrassment. When the preacher asked for the rings, Madeline had to admit her mistake – which was the first moment Adam and I knew what had happened.
Madeline hates to draw attention to herself – specifically embarrassing attention – so this moment couldn’t have been more perfect for me and I laughed heartily at the altar.
Then I exchanged a forgiving smile and a high-five with her – yes, you read that right, we high-fived at the altar – before taking the ring and placing it on Adam’s finger.
The moment we exchanged rings was surreal for me. This was actually happening. I was becoming Adam’s wife!
I remember Adam proudly and loudly repeating each line of the vows after the preacher and I remember the look of complete commitment in his eyes. It warmed my heart and showed me a new side of him that I immediately loved.
After a final prayer it was done.
The ceremony was over and we were taking our first kiss as husband and wife.
As we were exiting the sanctuary, I felt a swell of happiness greater than anything I had ever felt before. It was overwhelming and exciting and the perfect emotion to ramp me up for our fun-filled reception…
images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings
Our wedding party was the best!
Just as I wrote of how wonderful my bridesmaids were, the same could be said for Adam’s groomsmen. They were attentive, hilarious, easy going and supportive all day long.
Made up of siblings and close friends, there was no other group I’d have wanted standing in support of the commitment Adam and I were about to make to one another than this.
They were willing to hold one of several bunting banners my mom made for our wedding day…
Willing to stand in rocky alley way terrain for a less traditional photo-op…
Willing to wear matching shoes and socks…
Willing to put up with Adam’s excitement…
And, most of all, willing to put up with our shameless displays of affection in the moments leading up to the ceremony…
images via Karen Segrave | KES Weddings
Adam and I chose to have a “first look” prior to me walking down the aisle and I’m so glad we decided to do this! After exchanging our gifts and putting the final touches together before our wedding party pictures, our photographer whisked us off to the garden of the church between the education building and the sanctuary for our only chance to be alone on our wedding day.
Adam stood with his back to me and between the coordinator and photographer we had a timed photo opportunity, followed by several moments of alone time to soak up all that was about to happen without interruption. It was perfect.
Seeing him for the first time, EVER, in a tux was great in and of itself, but knowing that in just a couple of hours he would be my husband made seeing him at this moment even more special. I was overwhelmed with joy.
I was full of love.
I wanted to know if he was nervous.
And just as soon as we were left alone, we were swept back into reality for wedding party pictures…