HILARY: I first saw Jake in Physics class, sitting next to a girl that I was convinced he was already with - or he was at least talking to her. I had a crush, but didn't worry too much over it. I spent a good amount of time at a certain fraternity that, as luck would have it, Jake was a member. We first spoke after a philanthropy fundraiser where we had to wear ridiculous outfits to eat dinner in the cafeteria. My getup? A denim trench coat with geometric designs painted on it, and a purple Bozo the Clown wig. For charity, right? Anyway, so I'm standing in line to get a chicken patty, or some other great food decision, and a voice says, "nice outfit." It was Jake! I about died, but I smiled and laughed it off. That broke the ice, and we slowly started talking over the coming weeks - good ol' AIM messenger and early, early Facebook wall posts, ha!
The first night we seriously talked, I bet him he couldn’t guess the name of my tattoo, but he did, - it's a fleur de lis - and I had to buy him beer. That was November 2005, and over the next couple of months I visited him at home in Morris, hosted his sister Jessica after she drove him back following break, went to see his track meet only to miss his race while getting a hot dog (haha!), and he filled my room with roses on Valentine's Day after hearing me mention wanting that one day. We made it Facebook Official, as millennials do, on 15 February 2006.
Fast forward many years, through moving in together, my impatient reminders about how I want to get married, attending 25+ weddings together (not an exaggeration), more impatience, our first doggo, traveling, our second doggo, and 10 weekends spent at the Grundy County Corn Festival (big event here in North Central Illinois!), and we're at our favorite band's concert in September 2015 (http://www.thegivingtreeband.com/). It's at a biker bar in the middle of Illinois, so I have NO HOPES of any proposal, but after my favorite song, the lead singer called me up on stage and following a very confused couple of minutes, I turned around to see Jake down on one knee: https://youtu.be/traUQ6m_h0UI SAID YES, of course :).
Wedding Planning was fun, but my favorite part of it all was connecting with all of the important people in my life and bringing them into the fold of our big day. I loved our wedding day, but if I could do one thing again, it would be my bachelorette weekend in Nashville with my closest friends, my bridesmaid brunch for rental dress try-ons, and shopping for dresses with my sister, sister-in-law, and our mothers. I chose to enjoy every little thing we did for the wedding and the planning, and if something wasn't enjoyable, we didn't do it.
This was a day I had hoped for over a decade with Jake, so he and I were committed to making it one that was memorable for us. We pulled in details from all of the things we enjoyed - a canoe cake topper, an anatomically correct heart on our program, and we rick-rolled the reception on our grand entrance.
Even our wedding date was important - I'm pretty weird about numbers, and really wanted our wedding date to be a number that had some connection to us. Our solution? My favorite holiday since I was little - New Year's Eve! We already write letters to each other each NYE (to be read a year later) and we always throw a party or go to a big one with friends, why not? I tell ya, looking around that dance floor at midnight and seeing everyone I love countdown together was transcendent.
When you choose your bridal party, don't think of who you called first about the proposal - think of who you would call in the worst of times. THOSE are your people. THOSE are the lovelies who will carry you through the tough stuff, both in wedding planning and life. And, do NOT worry about equal numbers in your bridal party. See my other Bridechilla blog post to get the whole story about my Bridesmaids!
You two get to do this ONCE. One. Time. I don't care who wants cake - if you want donuts, do it. It doesn't matter who hates sand - if you two love the beach, get married there. Your favorite wedding blog says flower girls are a must, but noisy kids make your skin crawl? Skip it. I will be honest, it was hard in the thick of it, but looking back I am glad we stood our ground. While saying yes to someone else would have been easier that day, we would have regretted it.
You don't want to rush and set up decor. Neither do your bridesmaids or family members. When someone shows up with an uninvited +1, you don't have time to deal with it and your mom is busy too. If a groomsmen is hungover, late, and can't operate his damn hands to button a tux, you don't want to care about that. Look at your budget, and make room for a coordinator. You will not regret it.
Go for coffee or breakfast the morning of your wedding with - GASP - your betrothed. One of my favorite parts of the wedding day was meeting Jake for coffee at 5:00am to exchange our yearly NYE letters and our gifts to one another. Not everything has to be documented on a video or photo, some of it is best left to just the two of you. And, when it got busy that day and we were pulled in so many different directions, we still had that 30 minute block of time that was just ours.
My sister told me about the podcast when I was having a near meltdown over the guest list. I laughed SO HARD and felt so empowered to say "NO, yo' damn half sister's one night stand cannot come to our wedding!" After that, I was hooked. I also found support when I had a BAT-SHIT-CRAZY bridesmaid I had to ask to leave the bridal party, and I actually told my story on the Bridechilla blog and my voicemail to Aleisha was on the podcast!
Cut wood slices, glued sparkly numbers to said wood slices, put together a collage frame of our 10 New Year's Eves spent together, printed name cards, my sister made the most AMAZING programs, and collected clocks from thrift shops for the "time" idea of New Year's Eve, put sparkly ornaments in glass vases. Honestly, we didn't do a ton of DIY - that was the plan, but it was stressful and not fun so I said FUCK THAT.
Ceremony Venue: Kendall County Historic Courthouse
Reception Venue & Catering: White Tail Ridge Golf Club
Coordination: Dessa Event Planning
Design: Hawkinson Events
Floral Design: L.A. Flowers Inc.
Cake & Cupcakes: Sweet Temptations Dessert Co
DJ: Brad Berro
Invitations: Denise Wood
Hair: Laura Drake
Makeup: Carly Pribich
Violinist: Thomas Milschewski
Videography: Azalea Films
Transportation: Elite Minibus
Bridal Gown: The Crystal Bride
Groom's Attire: Men's Wearhouse
Bridesmaid Dresses: Vow to be Chic
Groomsmen Attire: Jim's Formal Wear
Bride's Stole: Lucille & Irma
Bridesmaid Necklaces: Jewelry Hills
Bridesmaid Earrings: Best Friends and Bows
Bridesmaid Scarves: Wedding Pash
Groomsmen Tie Bars: SnappinStudio