Thursday, April 5

Wedding Planning Tips from a Newlywed

Wedding planning for me was (overall) very fun. I enjoyed having the freedom to plan the biggest party of our life and invite all our closest friends and family to celebrate it with us. That's really all a wedding is: one giant party that allows others to stand with you and say that life is beautiful and so is the joining of the lives of two of God's creations. My wedding itself, I am sure, is ingrained in my memory as one of the sweetest and most joyful moments of my life.

However, there are times, I must admit, that wedding planning felt more like a horrible, terrible, looming storm cloud that couldn't be pushed back for all the science in the world. Of course, I don't mean that an impending marriage felt like that; only that in the moment, I sometimes would have rather done anything than spend hours picking the right bouquet I would carry around for one hour, tops. You spend a year (or almost two, like me) dreaming up every minor detail that may or may not even be noticed by guests, for a solitary night that passes like the blinking of an eye.

Sound exhausting? It is. But it is also worth it, if you keep the right intentions in mind. I've made a list of a few things I learned along the wedding-planning path in hopes that it may spare a bride somewhere some lingering doubts, hard conversations, jealous pinterest binges, or sleepless nights.

1. Finding ways to save money is definitely worth it, but so is splurging on select things that really, truly matter.

Weddings can really, truly, cost a fortune if you aren't careful. So, by all means, scour the blogs and wedding websites for tips on how to save money that will be much more valuable to you in the beginning of your married life. Use a dinner playlist instead of hiring a string quartet. Have a talented bridesmaid do your hair instead of getting the wedding spa package. Forget the favors. Just don't compromise on the few things that will really matter. Those drop-dead-gorgeous dahlias that are out of season will die in a week and aren't worth the extra dough, while a nice dinner out with your bridesmaids before the big day will calm your nerves and build memories that will last a lifetime. People matter; things don't.

Oh, and that person who told you to forget the whole thing, save money, and elope and spend the cash you saved on a house? Don't listen to them either. There is nothing in the world that can replace the beautiful moments of your dearest friends coming together on one day to celebrate one of the most important things you may ever do.

2. Planning is only as stressful as you make it.

Yes, there are big decisions to be made, and yes, you are the one that has to make them. You write the checks and you handle the execution. This is a lot of pressure. However, it is your attitude that will determine how much of a bridezilla you will be, both in private, and in public. Take a walk. Put down the laptop for the night and watch a good movie. Go out to dinner with your fiance and don't talk about wedding plans. The planning will be there tomorrow and you will be better prepared to deal with it then.

On the other hand, don't stretch out decisions that just need to be made. Have you spent the last three weeks choosing between two different invitations? Just pick one. You'll feel relieved and I'm sure they are both beautiful.

3. Ask a few trusted people for advice, but handle most of the decisions yourself.

Look into your options. Family and close friends are good people to ask for those hard questions about budgets and what exactly should happen at your wedding, but ultimately, only you know your wants and dreams. Other people may just end up telling you what they think you want to hear, which in the end helps no one. Too many opinions will leave you feeling overwhelmed, so just stick to a few trusted confidants.

4. A dream wedding is what you make it to be.

Don't be fooled by the wedding shows and magazines. A dream wedding doesn't need a horse-drawn carriage. It doesn't need a cocktail hour with elaborate appetizers and entertainment for the guests. It doesn't need a $5,000 dress or a wedding planner or personalized calligraphy escort cards. It doesn't even need to be expensive. A dream wedding is when you take your own unique love story and share it with others that you care about and that care about you. It is when you take the expectations and throw them out the window because, ultimately, this day is about celebrating you, your soon-to-be husband, and the wonder of love. No one else can tell that story but you.

By all means, spend the money you want to on your wedding and make it the best you can. Dream big and make it beautiful. Just remember that people and showing love are more important than things and expectations. Your wedding will be beautiful if you make it about your love story and nothing else. So good luck and get planning!

Picture by Melissa Copeland Photography

Thursday, November 10


I find it interesting, looking back at my blog and my last few posts, that I never wrote about my summer interning with CIY. I find this interesting for two reasons: first, I definitely intended to at the beginning of the summer, and second, it was such a momentous summer for me, you would think I would need to say at least a few words about it.  I met wonderful people and learned incredible things about myself and my faith. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to write about all the things I was seeing and feeling. I really did. But there is something about sitting down and putting your emotions into words that is a daunting task, especially in the midst of such a formational experience. My life was changing, and still is in a big way and something about trying to put that into words seemed sacrilegious.

Until today. At the end of the summer, Chase had us write a letter to ourselves to be mailed in three months. I got mine two days ago and couldn't let myself open it until today. I had a whole day off work and I wanted time to read, to think, to reminisce and absorb what I wrote to myself.

I wrote about so much I could share, but one thing really stood out to me. I talked about the feeling of homelessness that pervaded the summer. I was done at Belmont and gone were the days when my friends were, at most, right across campus. My apartment now belonged to someone else and I would be a visitor in Nashville, instead of a resident. Joplin was not my home and neither was Johnson City, TN, Knoxville, TN, or Roach, MO (thank God).  I lived out of my suitcase pretty much all summer and slept in dorm rooms and hotel rooms. Most of my meals were eaten at various restaurants around town or in college cafeterias. I talked about how I was, in a sense, "finding" my adult self. The end of my academic career meant that I needed to choose a path. What did I want to do? I was no longer identified by my major, now all anyone cared about was whether or not I had a college degree and if I could do the job required. Real life was no longer past the threshold of graduation; it was right at my doorstep.

Now, three months after my CIY experience ended, I still have similar feelings. I am living at home again, working and trying to plan a wedding that is coming up quickly. Even though I am 'home,' I still feel a bit homeless. Much of my stuff is in storage and I no longer have a room to myself. I am trying to be patient and wait until Dustin and I know what city and state the next chapter of our lives will take us. I know for a fact that in two or three months, my stuff will yet again get packed up and moved across the country to a new home. I still don't know what I feel called to do career-wise, or even what will be available in the city to which we move. It is hard to feel settled in such a situation.

Even though many of the familiar feelings of homelessness and restlessness are still there, but I am not worried. I think deep down I know that God has big plans for both Dustin and me. I just have to trust that they will work out and I need to keep working hard and take life one step at a time. My three-month-ago self is so full of wisdom: I end my letter with "speak Lord, for your servant is listening, seeking, speaking, and trusting." I also remind myself, something that I need reminded of every day, to "keep sight of the fact that you are created beautifully and perfectly in God's image and have your place in God's kingdom. I can't wait to see where life takes you!" I am still waiting to see where life takes me, but I cannot miss what my life has for me right now. God has a place for me and my job now is to be patient and trust that it will come at the right time.

Monday, October 24

Wedding planning and work have kept me busy these last few weeks, but at the very least, here is a wonderful quote from one of the most interesting and brilliant men to ever have walked the earth.

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way into the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace." 
                                                                                   -Frederick Buechner

Monday, September 19

Late Summer Love

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words... so here are some pictures from the last month of summer.

Monday, August 22

Forgotten Letters

Sometimes life hits you right between the eyes with incredibly beautiful moments: moments you didn't foresee and couldn't have predicted even if you tried.  Today I had one of those moments.  I was going through the piles of stuff in my room, trying to get some semblance of order, when I came across a bag of letters from my Chrysalis flight.  For those of you who din't know, when I was still in high school, I went on a little weekend retreat called Chrysalis.  They have all kinds of activities for you to experience, (spoiler alert for those who haven't done one!) one of which is getting letters and cards from people that care about you and know what you are experiencing over the course of the weekend.  I decided to go through the bag and throw away the cards from people I didn't know or didn't remember.  I started in.  I read letters from high school friends, some of which I still see and talk to occasionally, and some that I regrettably haven't heard from in a while.  I found a letter from a high school teacher I had that wasn't my favorite in the classroom, but she wrote me a beautiful letter that changed my opinion of her.  I reread the cards from my siblings and from people I didn't even know.  Then I came to it.  The letter I wasn't expecting, not even in the slightest.  The letter from my mom's mother; my Grandma Betty.  It was marked as written in 2005... a year or so before she died.  I carefully opened it, not in the slightest prepared for what I would read.  It was the most beautiful, heartfelt letter I think I have ever received, and I had forgotten it even existed.  She told me how much she loved me and how proud she was of me, and I instantly broke down.  It was one of those moments that just jumps out at you, and all you can do is lift your empty hands and let it happen.

I was incredibly touched today to find a rare gem of love and encouragement on the brink of an unsure season of my life.  I felt so deeply loved, even though the gap of death and time, from someone that meant a lot to me.  Chrysalis wasn't a defining weekend in my life and it isn't one of my fondest memories, but I know God worked on me then and is working on me now, even though an old letter that I had forgotten about.

I want to encourage you to tell the people you love that you love them, and often.  If you can't say it outright, then write them a letter.  It can mean so much more than what you ever intended.

Monday, July 11

Love this!

For those of you who don't know who Andrew Peterson is, let me just say that he is one of my favorite musicians ever.  He has an incredible mastery over thoughts and words that I think is very rare and beautiful.  He blogged recently about his thoughts on Harry Potter and Christianity, and it's a post I think everyone, fan or not, should read.

Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me


Today, as I'm sitting in the Christ in Youth offices, one thought has struck me.  Five weeks.  Five weeks left here in Joplin.  Five weeks to spend time with my event staff team and family, and five more weeks until I finally get to embrace Dustin.  Five more weeks until I go back to live at home for a few months.  Five more weeks until concrete wedding details have to start emerging.  Five more weeks until I need to find a way to make money.

The thought is a bit overwhelming.

The thing is, time goes so fast here.  When you are busy going from event to event, sometimes working eighteen hours a day, a summer flies by.  It eventually becomes just a blip on the timeline of your life; a series of fond memories that are the distant past.

I'm not ready for the next few weeks to become a checklist or a finish line.  I desperately want to see Dustin and my family, yes, but I don't want to miss what God has for me in this moment.  Barbara Brown Taylor, Episcopal priest, professor, and theologian, wrote one of my favorite books ever entitled An Altar in the World.  In this book, she describes the manner in which Biblical heroes encountered moments in which the Living God reached out to them.  Many times, they encountered the sacred in the everyday: a dream, a whisper, a bush.

The problem is the everyday is simple: we are used to it.  After we notice the gently swaying willow tree outside our window, we forget it exists.  We create routines and start to mechanically plow through our day.  I wonder how many times God is waiting in the gentle rain, only to have me brush right past?

I want to be present in the moment...I want to encounter the living and active God in the everyday and see the sacred in the mundane.  This is my prayer for the rest of the summer, and really, for this whole season of life.