I’ve been wanting to write this ever since the day we said “I do!” and, to be honest, I look at photos of our wedding day probably a little too frequently. I just loved it; it was the best of days.
If you’ve never planned a wedding before, let me just clear something up: it’s not easy. And the hard part doesn’t even really come from the logistics, but from the opinions of others. If you let them, the pressures that spill from other peoples’ words will steal your joy in your wedding-planning season. I admit, I fell into that trap – at first.
As some of you know, Tyler and I started dating again in June 2015. We both knew pretty quickly where God was leading us, so it wasn’t a shock to many people that we were going to get married. What was a shock to everyone, is how short our time of engagement was. To some, it seemed like we didn’t have the patience to wait; to us, it felt like a long time coming. That’s a post for another time, but I’ll sum up our short engagement like this: when my peace gets a certain amount of heavy about what God wants me to do, it’s so much easier for me to jump.
So, the wedding planning began. With a combination of a small budget and our readiness and excitement to start our journey together, you could say our thinking got a bit crazy. If you know me, I’m a planner and normally like to have things well thought-out before I do something. But with this? All of that went out the window. And I was 100% okay with it.
THE BACK STORY
We started out by setting the date at September 10th, 2016. We were going to get married in the town where we grew up, in an outside chapel at the city park, and have the reception in one of the conference rooms nearby. And then, we started on the guest list. Looking at that next to our slim budget made my stress levels skyrocket, and we knew we had to go with another plan.
The beach, for us, has always been a very special place. It was on a day trip we took to Gulf Shores in the summer of 2015, that I knew I wanted to be his travel partner forever. Tyler and I had tossed around the idea of getting married at the beach, but always as a dream, not a suggestion. The more we talked about it, the more we decided we were just crazy enough to do it. We decided around the first of June that we would get married on July 23rd in Navarre, FL (that’s right – a month away). Needless to say, we had some very opinionated responses to that. But we just had to decide that it didn’t matter – this is what we wanted.
I had about a month to plan, so all in June, we bought my wedding dress (thank you, Mom!), Tyler’s outfit, makeup, accessories, a burlap runner to use for the aisle, and some tiki torches to use for decoration at the wedding. We also ordered and sent out invitations!
Oh, and my stepdad got ordained.
I borrowed everything for the reception from my too-generous aunt, and made reservations at the only place large enough in the city to hold everybody. Because of our funds and space, we were only able to invite our families and a few of my closest friends. It was a hard decision, but one we had to make.
WEDDING DAY – MORNING
Things got crazier leading up to the wedding, as it was hard for our guests to find places to stay on such short notice, in the middle of the summer. By the grace of God, everyone found a place, and everything was ready!
Tyler and I drove down to Florida after our work days on Friday, the 22nd, and stayed with his parents at a condo they rented. I woke up the next morning, on my wedding day, in disbelief that our day was actually happening. I was so excited and had the greatest peace.
Unlike many weddings I’ve been to and have been a part of, it was the chillest wedding morning ever. Tyler came into my room that morning as I was waking up, kissed my head, and whispered, “Happy wedding day. I love you. There’s coffee in the kitchen.”
I walked in the common room, grabbed some coffee, and enjoyed it on the balcony overlooking the beach. Later, we walked down to the beach with family and enjoyed time together until it was time for my hair/makeup artist (AKA my little sister) to arrive to start my prep.
It took about two hours for me to get ready, and then it was time to go!
Makeup and Hair: Sydney Gillilan (sister)
Dress: Altar’d State
Bouquet: Michelle Shelton (mama)
Photographers: Michelle Shelton, Kayla Partridge
There haven’t been too many times in my life that something important went awry, and I laughed in response. The start to our wedding ceremony just happens to be one of those things.
As I was finishing up gluing my fake eyelashes onto my face in the car, we pulled up to the city pavilion, where I imaged we’d walk through to the beach, and everything would be laid out and ready to go (because nobody is on the beach at 6PM right? People have to eat! Wrong. So wrong.). I open the back door to the car, and see my mom standing in the middle of the parking lot, looking like she’s been in summer’s heat for an hour. No makeup (or maybe it was there at one point?), and a nervous look on her face, she walks toward us and whispers something to my sister. About five minutes later, I find out that someone has laid on our burlap runner (my aisle) as if it’s a beach towel to sunbathe, and my sister is in the process of telling them not-so-kindly to MOVE. I laughed really hard.
At about 6:15, the strange people had finally found something else to lay on, and my precious friends and family had found somewhere else to set up my little wedding. And so it was time.
I latched onto my daddy’s arm, and we made our way to where everyone was standing. “Which side are you supposed to stand on?” he asked. “Ehh.. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.” With a shocked look on his face, he responded, “You must really want this. I’ve never known you to just ‘wing’ anything.” “Yes, I do,” I said with a smile. About a half a mile later (okay, a little bit exaggerated), we reached the runner and from that point forward, the only person I saw was Tyler and the only thing I felt was the peace and presence of God.
Officiate: Kyle Shelton (stepdad)
Music: Lauren Oden, Violin // Katie Compton Brasher, Guitar and Vocals // “La Reyna” – Penny & Sparrow (wedding song), “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”, Be Thou My Vision (special), Make You Feel My Love – Adele
After we made our covenant in front of our loved ones, we started back down the aisle as one (with, might I add, an awkward delay in music). We made our way up to a hill nearby and had a moment together of “wow. this is it!” before it was time for a few photos.
We pulled up to East River, which I had only seen in photos, and I hoped to Jesus that everything would be decent. It far exceeded my expectations. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, the company, the delicious food, the view of the beautiful bay, and the live music!
It was so fun to have everyone in one place, and I’ve never felt more celebrated or beautiful in my life. After everyone’s bellies were full, we danced in the sand and took some more photos before the sun went down.
Food and Host: East River Smokehouse – Navarre, Florida
Cake: baked by Publix, decorated by Jake Funderburg, Gina Poole, and Beth Tate (sweet in-laws)
Decorations: courtesy of Rhona Osborne (love that aunt of mine)
To my sister, Sydney, that threw my bridal shower, prettied me up for my big day, and made me feel like the most beautiful of brides. Oh – and chased down the people who laid on top of my aisle.
To my stepdad, Kyle, who willingly (and over-excitedly) stepped up to marry us. We were honored to have you officiate our wedding.
To my mama, who took beautiful photos, laced together my bouquet, bought flowers the morning-of, worked tirelessly to make sure my day went smoothly, and did so much more than I probably realize.
To Jake, my brother-in-love, who took initiative to create our cake, buy decorations, and make it look awesome with the help of other sweet family members.
To Brittany, the best of friends, who bought me a pre-game sandwich so I wouldn’t pass out mid-vows. You’re a lifesaver.
To our friends and family, who helped with set-up and take down, and who supported Tyler and I in our wedding decisions, as crazy and disastrous as they might have seemed. Thank you for your understanding and willingness to support our wedding dreams.
To everyone else who played a part in our wedding day, thank you thank you thank you. It was the best day of our lives to date, and we couldn’t have done it without you!