Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Walk Through Our Wedding

Today is the fourth anniversary of my wedding to the one and only Rohan, my darling, funny, handsome beloved. And I rather thought it might be fun to take all of you on a little photographic walk through our wedding, including some of the days leading up to it. Sound like fun? I hope so, because I'm feeling romantically nostalgic today, and there's no stopping me!

Due to all the craziness that is Wisconsin marriage policy, Rohan and I were legally married in North Carolina four weeks before our real wedding. This meant the judge had scarcely declared us “man and wife” before I hopped on a plane and zipped up to Wisconsin for four weeks to prepare the real wedding.
Of course there were dress fittings and the like:

Since the wedding was to be held in my parents’ back yard, I had originally intended to wear a much simpler gown, just a sweet little white sundress. But my father really wanted me to at least go try some real wedding gowns. So I did. This gown was the first one I tried on, and I fell madly in love with it. Still simple enough for an outdoor wedding in my parents’ back garden, but embellished with lots of pretty details.

Soon after this was taken, however . . . I came down with German measles. Which, while not dangerous, was probably the most miserably sick I have ever been! Not only that, but I had worked for months on getting a proper tan to look right in that pure-white gown of mine (not something this nerdy-writer-type ever does!), and now it was all spoiled with blotchy red lattice rash. Bleh!

But thank heaven, both the measles and the rash cleared up two weeks before the actual wedding date. To make me feel better, my handsome man sent me something pretty:

   That’s right, two dozen long-stemmed red roses! I’m looking a little pale and sickly there still, but I’m very happy. Not long now until I’ll see my legal-but-not-really-husband! (Keep those red roses in mind . . . they come back as an important plot point later.)

Things started speeding up around then! The dress arrived, and of course I had to “practice wearing it.” Papa had to practice giving me away too . . .

  Eeeeeee! So close to the big day now! You can still see some of the red patches where the rash was, but it’s mostly cleared up (thank you, Lord!).

And the ladies at my mother’s church gave me a lovely wedding shower.

 Note: the dress I’m wearing there is technically my FIRST wedding dress. It’s the one I wore when Rohan and I went to the courthouse and got legally married.

 And here I am with a lovely young woman who was at that time enjoying a long-distance correspondence with my older brother. Just a correspondence. No, really! They were just friends!

Uh huh. Riiiiiiiight . . .

Anyway, fast forward a couple of weeks to the day before the wedding. Finally! My handsome man and I are reunited just in time for a quick wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Did I mention that this was an outdoor wedding? Do you want to see what the weather was like the day before?
Yeah. Everyone is freezing. Bundled up against the drizzle. And the wet. and the cold.

“No, I’m not cold at all!” I insisted in my little sundress and sandals! Rohan’s sister made me go stick my feet in a hot bath a few minutes after this took place . . . and probably saved me from pneumonia as a result.

 But I didn’t care for the cold or rain! My handsome guy was back with me, and we got to practice our first dance on the deck, and everything was going to be beautiful . . . as long as the weather cleared. (None of you will be surprised to learn that my most consistent nightmare during the four weeks leading up to the wedding was all about thunderstorms and rain etc.)

Anyway, as I said earlier, our wedding was held at my folk’s house up in Wisconsin. A big beautiful log house on a lake. I loved being able to get married right out of my home! But there was also quite a lot of set-up to be done. So following the rehearsal, after Rohan was sent back to his hotel to catch a few hours of sleep, I, my mother, my cousin, my aunt, my former roommate, and my totally-just-friends-with-your-brother friend set to work getting the house ready for company! Here we are:

We decided that we all looked like a lipstick palette together in our clashing shades of red and pink. Oh, and yes. I am totally wearing pajamas in that picture. Another advantage to getting married from your parent’s home! Set-up is very casual.

I got up sooooooper early the next morning to have coffee with my father, as is our early-birds-of-the-family tradition. Then I hurried down to try to get my hair and makeup done on my own, before my two bridesmaids arrived. I thought if I could do it myself, maybe they wouldn’t feel like they had to . . . but I ended up needing help after all, so I shouldn't have bothered. Here I am having my hair styled by Rohan's sister, Rochelle.

See my pretty purity ring there? I actually kept losing (or breaking) my purity rings through the years, so that is purity ring number four, I think. Ah well. I suppose it’s the thought that counts.

Then of course we had to rush out onto the deck and get a few pictures taken of the overall look! I decided to have these taken without my veil so that the details would show.

I love my pretty flower crown! I always thought that if I did get married, I’d wear an off-shoulder wedding gown and flowers in my hair.

Here you can see my pretty wedding ring! Rohan designed it and had it made for me in Sri Lanka, which is his home country. The stone is an Alexandrite, which is mined in Sri Lanka. It’s very beautiful, set in a silver leaf pattern—delicate and lovely!

One of these days I’ll have to write and tell you the story of our engagement as well. Heheh. It’s probably not the most romantic engagement story on the planet . . . but I would be willing to bet it’s the funniest! Yeah. One of these days . . . 

Here you can see my necklace, which was my grandmother’s (father’s mother). My grandfather gave it to her for a wedding gift, so they were both very pleased that I wore it (and the matching earrings) for my wedding. Something borrowed and blue (though Grandma insists that it does not count as old!).

My bouquet was the sweetest-smelling thing you ever did encounter. And it was heavy as a brick. Seriously, I could have clubbed someone to death with it! (And almost did. But more on that later . . . ) I didn’t have specific colors for my wedding, simply wanted as many colors done as classically as possible. The flowers were mostly roses and stock. While stock doesn’t have the most romantic name in the world, it is the most heavenly-smelling flower ever! So I thought my bouquet—both for beauty and potential lethality—was perfect. 

See those pretty little shoes? Guess where I got them. You never will, so I'll tell you: Wal-Mart! I could not find shoes that I wanted (needed flats for the grass, you know), so I finally just purchased $10 ballet flats at Wal-Mart. When I told the tailor who was fitting my dress of this, she offered to add matching lace to the shoes so that they would go with my dress. And all she wanted for payment was a signed copy of Heartless (which had just released a month or two earlier). I was so pleased and blessed. And the shoes turned out adorable!

Meanwhile, as I had my hair styled and pictures taken and all those other things to which brides are subjected . . . my handsome fiancĂ© brewed tea. 

Yes, that’s what he’s doing there—brewing a sample of the tea we would later serve at the wedding. His mother had just come over from Sri Lanka, and she brought tea leaves with her from the mountain tea region out there. The strongest and most amazing tea ever! (Rohan brought a gift of it to my father as the “bride price.” LOL. Papa doesn’t believe in dowries; he thinks he should get something after all the work he put into me! He and Rohan agreed that fresh Sri Lankan tea was a good trade for me. Um . . . thanks?)

Here are my folks, patiently awaiting the tea Rohan was brewing:

And my father and Rohan sit, discussing how very long it takes for girls to get ready for simple things like weddings . . .

Do notice Rohan’s quite wonderful get-up for this event! He wore an afternoon-grey suit with a beautiful silver cravat. We were going for a My Fair Lady Ascot races sort of look, and I think Rohan carries it of admirably. (Also, let it be known that the cravat was his idea.) 

Around that time it was discovered that my beautiful dress was lacking a hook and eye in the back! Thank heaven, my best-friend was on hand, ready with needle and thread to save the day!

Here I am being sewn into my dress. Still smiling though!

Rohan and I decided that we would not wait until the ceremony to see each other all dressed up. We wanted to take a bunch of pictures together well ahead of time so that after the ceremony we could mingle and enjoy our friends and family. So we had a private moment, just the two of us, for him to see me in my gown. He was quite delighted with the look! Still says he thinks it's the most beautiful wedding dress he's ever seen (though he might be a little biased . . . he's pretty head-over-heels for the girl who wore it).

Then we went out into the yard, still pretty early in the morning, to have our pictures taken. Here are some of my favorites!

Then we moved on to other locations and took MORE pictures together! It was Motorcycle Weekend in my hometown, and some motorcyclists saw us and asked us to come pose on their bikes. My dress was a little too tight for me to straddle a motorcycle, so I just sort of propped on the end there.

Rohan’s saying: “So, can we get one of these?” I’m laughing: “Not on your life!”

This is a discussion we continue to have to this day . . .

Our photographer spotted this cute little hideaway bench and had us pose on it too:

“Kiss each other!” she told us.

And we tried. We really did!
But we were at just such an angle that we could NOT reach!

Oh well. It was a worthy effort. 

Then it was time to head back to the house and part ways until the ceremony. While we’d been away, everyone else had been hard at work completing the set-up and preparation, not to mention greeting guests as they arrived! I slipped out of my dress and flower crown and had some help from my bridesmaids re-fixing both hair and makeup.

Rochelle tidied up my hair while I visited with my namesake, Annie . . . who wasn’t born yet but who was very present nonetheless!

Then it was time to get back into the wedding clothes and  . . . wait for our pastor. Who thought the wedding was at 4:00. Which it wasn’t. It was supposed to be at 2:00.


Sometimes doing things low-key can be a little bit accident prone. Still, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

While waiting, we took some more fun pictures.

Heheh. My train got a little tangled up there! But now you can see all the pretty colors of my wedding. Again, I didn’t pick a specific color scheme but told my bridesmaids simply to find pretty dresses in summery colors. This picture is a perfect depiction of what I’d hoped for! My cousin Nicole (the one who looks like me and is wearing teal) was my “bridal attendant”—not an official bridesmaid, but a help-me-with-that-long-train and help-carry-this-brutally-heavy-bouquet-maid. My mother is in the coral, Rochelle (Rohan’s sister) in the green, and Erin (my best friend and “sister”) is in the yellow . . . with baby Annie.

I love this picture of Erin looking tearful and happy! Rochelle did her hair, and I think she looks sooooo pretty here.

Pastor Steve did make it eventually, and we were able to start the ceremony only a little late! My former roommate Charity and Erin’s husband Daniel provided the music for us. Charity played Mussorgsky’s “The Great Gate” for the processional (Rohan’s pick).

Erin went out first (with baby Annie!) 

Then came Rochelle, looking lovely.

There’s my Peter. He was only fourteen then! Now he’s eighteen and off to college. Sigh.

And Jimmy, my middle brother.

Sadly my big brother Tom couldn’t come due to being off on deployment at the time (he’s a rescue pilot). But he found a special way of contributing of which I will tell you soon.

Again, we didn’t do things very much like a “normal” wedding. So I didn’t have bridesmaids on one side while Rohan had groomsmen on the other. Instead, Erin was my maid of honor, and my youngest brother stood beside her on my side. And Rochelle was Rohan’s “best man,” and my brother Jimmy stood beside her on his side.

There I am with Papa! The sun was so BLINDING just as we came through the door, I seriously couldn’t see for quite a number of paces. (Maybe it was just the blinding quality of Rohan’s love radiating at me? Maybe . . .)

There’s my handsome guy, watching me approach! You can see his mother, Mama Astrid, standing behind him there. She wore a gorgeous gold and black saree to the wedding and looked amazing!
 And here we all are, just on the verge of Papa officially “giving me away.”

Now comes the important part that I want all of you unmarried women to REMEMBER. Seriously. This is vital. Take notes right now. Let me show you . . .
Do you see what is happening there? In this picture? Do you? I’ll tell you what it is!

I handed my bouquet and my handkerchief off to my maid of honor. My beautiful antique handkerchief which I had carried down the aisle for a reason. That reason is that weddings are emotional. And emotional people like me are very likely to cry. And when you cry, you need something to wipe—not your eyes. No. Tears are romantic. Everyone likes a dainty tear trailing down your cheek. 

You need it to wipe your nose! 

There is absolutely nothing romantic about a runny nose on a bride, particularly not when she’s gone all traditional and worn her veil through the service and therefore can’t do anything about it.

Thankfully, during the prayer I was able to signal Rohan to pass me his handkerchief, which worked out all right. But do remember this, unmarried women all—when you hand off your bouquet, hold onto your handkerchief! Because you’re likely to want it. 

Speaking of tears, here’s a shot of Erin crying.

 And here’s a nice parallel shot of Jimmy crying. It’s all about balance, people.
Despite the absolutely horrendous weather of the day before, our actual wedding day turned out divinely beautiful.

Don’t you love those scattered flower petals? I don’t know whose idea that was (maybe it was mine?), but I think it’s so lovely!
Take a moment to admire my dainty veil, another gift my father insisted on giving me. (I had planned to just make something, but he wanted me to have the very best. I’m a spoiled girl!)

We sang the hymn “O Father All Creating” for our wedding song. Charity provided the accompaniment, and it was a special moment for all of us.

Then it was time to exchange vows and rings. Here you see Rohan getting my wedding ring from his sister:

And here you see me giving Rohan his ring . . . along with my life and love.

And a kiss to seal the marriage!

Hey! I like you and we’re married! (Again, you’ll see that we were very classic with the veil and him lifting it at the end of the ceremony to kiss me. I’ve always loved that symbol.)
Happy man and wife!
I tried to go CHARGING down the aisle afterwards, but Rohan managed to slow me down to a more elegant pace. Our recessional was Edvard Grieg’s “Wedding Day.”  I used to play this piece back in high school, and I always said that if I did get married, I would want it played at my wedding. Erin’s husband Daniel did a wonderful job performing it!

We went immediately from the recessional up to the balcony above the guests to dance our official First Dance as a married couple! We chose the beautiful waltz from My Fair Lady as our dance tune (again, in keeping with the My Fair Lady style of our wedding.)

  That long train of mine was appropriately swoopy for a romantically swoopy song! Rohan is a wonderful dancer, and he taught me a thing or two before the wedding so I wouldn’t trip and break my pride.

After that it was all fun and games and cheesecake for the rest of the day! My mother and I worked hard for several days previous making cheesecakes of many flavors for the occasion, and “really, I’m just friends with your brother” Kristen made a decadent chocolate one as well! She also blessed us by decorating the cheesecakes with flowers and chocolate shavings and arranged the tables for the reception.

Isn’t it gorgeous??? I love my mother’s lace table cloth. Oh, and do you recognize those red flower petals? They come back into the story yet again later on . . .

We took family pictures, naturally. Here I am with Rohan’s family:
 And here we are with my family:
Yeah, we’re not a very serious bunch. (My poor father looks like, “I don’t know these people!”)

There was lots more dancing. I danced with Peter . . . we pretended we knew what we were doing.

I danced with my father, who was rather shy about it. But he promised that he would do a Father-Daughter dance with me as long as I picked a Very Slow Waltz. So here we are, dancing to this Very Slow Waltz . . . which Erin played for us quite a lot slower than this recording!
And I danced many, many dances with my lovely new husband!

Here we are dancing and singing “The Rainbow Connection” to each other. Which is also a waltz, in case you didn’t know! Charity played this one for us. We had quite a number of classically trained pianists at this wedding, so we were not lacking for great live music.

A bunch of my dear friends from college days road-tripped up to Wisconsin to be there for my wedding! Kristine (my talented freshman roommate), Melanie (a wonderful woman, wife, mother, and musician, who remains forever in our hearts), Hannah (the most gifted young artist I have ever met), Laura (a brilliant literary mind and wit!), Elizabeth (a poet-biologist), and Esther (multi-linguist extraordinaire!).

We all enjoyed family time. Here’s Rohan and his beautiful sister, toasting his new marriage!

Here are my happy parents:
I really love the dress my mother found for my wedding. It's a perfect color and style on her! My father looks so dashing in the tux too. I am not skilled at picking out clothing, but I tried to find a tux for the guys that went with Rohan's without matching it, per se. (Rohan was the star, after all.) I think my father and brothers all looked very handsome!

Rohan’s father made it for the ceremony . . . and I met him for the first time right after  the service!

My Aunt Paula and new mother-in-law, Astrid. Both teachers, so they hit it off right away!
 Don't you just love Mama-Astrid's saree? She looked so elegant.

We had an afternoon tea for our reception, and ladies from my parents’ church pooled their teacup collections in with my mother’s to make certain we had plenty!
Kristen and her sister Megan worked hard all day as tea and cheesecake servers, keeping the slices rotating, the kettles boiling, and the teacups washing. And not a single teacup was broken! They were amazing.
 One of my favorites of all my mother's teacups featured in the wedding!
Sadly I never got a taste of the tea and barely any of the cheesecakes! Some kind soul handed me a teacup at one point, but every time I lifted it to my mouth to sip, someone would ask me a question, and I'd start talking again! Rohan at one point told me to open my mouth and popped a forkful of cheesecake in. But that was all I got of that! But a few years later, Kristen remade her chocolate one for us, so I got to sample it then. And either Rohan or I makes the raspberry-white-chocolate cheesecake every year for our anniversary.

One of the most special moments of the day came when my father called everyone inside. He spoke of those who could not be present, including Erin’s brother, Matthew, who was serving with honor and courage overseas in Afghanistan at the time. And, of course, my own big brother, Tom. But Tom did not want to let the marriage of his little sister go by without being part of it . . . so he filmed and sent us a beautiful toast! (Which arrived the day of the wedding . . . talk about timing!)

 Rohan listened very carefully as Tom warned him how much I dislike having toothpaste squirted into my hair. (Thanks for reminding me of that special moment, brother dear!) But really, it was a wonderful toast, and I'm so glad we have it on DVD. Thinking of Tom's sweet words never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

It was a perfect moment. Made perhaps a little more perfect by the obvious delight in Kristen’s voice and face when she running downstairs earlier in the day to tell me Tom’s DVD had arrived on time. (Yeah. She was totally just friends with him. Totally.)

So do you remember that club-like bouquet of mine? Well I did have to toss it eventually, didn’t I?
 And what better place to toss from than the balcony??

All the lovely single ladies gathered below . . .

I tossed, and . . . you’ll never guess who caught it!
 That’s right! Kristen-who’s-just-friends-with-my-brother. According to witnesses (I had my back turned at the time!) it sailed over the heads of everyone else and landed directly in her arms as though aimed for her. Well, I know I didn't aim it . . . but perhaps some angel with a sense of humor helped it along a little.

We got a picture together, and I took a moment to whisper to her that, “just friends” or not, I hoped she would marry my big brother someday. I got my wish-come-true not very long after! (And I’m so glad my bouquet didn’t break her skull as it came hurtling straight toward her from above . . .) 

Someone was so happy about the bouquet toss, she had a little meltdown moment!
I think Kristen was touched. If Erin—the surrogate sister of the Stengl family—was that happy, she was going to fit in just fine!

It really was all good!
 Rohan wore fencing cufflinks in honor of how we met. (At fencing class, for those of you who don’t know the story.)
 Yeah, we make each other laugh a lot!

Then it was time for us to leave. I changed into my beautiful get-away dress (a sky-blue saree, a gift from Mama Astrid), and everyone else gathered outside and grabbed big handfuls of . . . that’s right! Red rose petals. (I told you those would come back into the story! Rohan’s gift from a week earlier came in very handy.

 And there we go! Off into the wonderful adventure of married life together!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of our wedding. My best friend calls it the "Fairy Tale Princess" wedding because of the setting, the style . . . not to mention the woodland animals who came out to watch it. (Seriously, a chipmunk came and sat on her husband's foot.) I don't think that day could have been more perfect.

Though honestly, it could have thunderstormed in buckets, and I would have still been happy, because my sweet husband was now REALLY my husband, and there is no man in the world so darling as he.


Unknown said...

EEEEEEEEE!!! I LOVE weddings! You have a beautiful home, a beautiful family, beautiful friends... And can I just say, your sister-in-law looks exactly like how I picture Imraldera? : ) Thank you for sharing!!

Riley Pleasants said...

wow, your wedding was beautiful! Everything about it was so sweet :)


Meredith said...

How absolutely outstanding!! What a wonderful day. Thanks for sharing such a special time with us all and for including music as well. Happy fourth anniversary! And, the cheesecakes sound phenomenal! So glad that your friend made you one later. So thrilled for you, and thanks again for taking us on this journey. Loved the part about the purity rings, too.

Tracey Dyck said...

Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing!

@Allison: You know what, she does remind me of Imraldera... And Rohan makes me think of Lionheart and Foxbrush. :)

Happy anniversary, Mrs. Stengl!

Platypus Pianist said...

Great. Now I'm crying again. :)

Anna said...

AWWWWWW!!! It was also so beautiful and so sweet!! Thank you for sharing !! :D

Christa Wilson said...

Wow, that all looks absolutely lovely! :) And I was just thinking the same thing as Allison--Rochelle looks just like how I imagined Starflower would look!

Anonymous said...

Happy Wedding Anniversary! This is a great post! Sounds looks like you had a great wedding.

Unknown said...

Happy anniversary, Anne Elisabeth!

Oh, your wedding was lovely! Your dress was beautiful! And the roses were so pretty and it's really neat that they kept coming back into the story!

I think that it's so nice that you put something into Heartless that you wanted -- the flowers in your hair for your wedding day -- and then you got it!

And I'm with Allison, Michelle, and Christa. Rochelle does indeed look exactly like I picture Imraldera!

And again, congratulations on four years together! I can't wait to hear your engagement story!

Sara said...

What a beautiful wedding! Love the dress, the flowers, everything. And seriously, there were woodland creatures in attendance? You are officially a Disney princess!

Sarah Pennington said...

Happy anniversary, Anne Elisabeth!

Your wedding sounds like it was absolutely beautiful. <3 I love your dress and flower-crown. And pretty much everything else too. I think I agree with your best friend- it definitely deserves the title "Fairy Tale Wedding"!

Shantelle Mary said...

Aw, so beautiful!! Thanks for sharing this, Anne Elisabeth. I love wedding pictures!! :)
Always loved the idea of flowers in the bride's hair too... simply lovely!


Hannah said...

Oh.........I'm not sure I can express how much I love this story! I was misty-eyed by the end! That was so, so perfect! I MUST keep so many tips in mind if I ever get married! Thank you for sharing, Anne Elisabeth, this was so lovely! :')

Becky said...

What an absolutely gorgeous day for you and Rohan! You were beautiful and handsome. (The cravat was a great addition.) It was wonderful to see the pictures of all your lovely family and friends and hear your story. Thank you for sharing.

benilhalk said...

Great blog!! I loved your white gown and you are looking pretty in this dress. You know, I am also going to celebrate my vows at most prettiest vow renewal location. I hope everything will be going smoothly.

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