Fridays are always fabulous, but this Friday is extra special. Why? Because I have a very special submitted story to share! As most of you know, Hitched in a Hurry: The ultimate how-to for a speedy "I do" was just published on April 3 (and is ALMOST back in stock on Amazon, I promise). One of my favorite features that sets Hitched apart from other bridal books on the market is that each chapter concludes with a Real-Life Love story from a couple that planned their wedding in six months or less. Although I didn't learn about Heather's story until after my book was published, I am so grateful that she sent her beautiful love story my way and allowed me to share it on today's blog. Heather and her husband were only engaged for 4.5 months before tying the knot, and today is their wedding anniversary!
Seriously, how cute are they? Many continued congratulations, Heather and Rich. Wishing you years upon years of love and happiness. Warning: This is one of those so-sweet-and-moving-you're-gonna-need-tissues kind of stories. So prepare yourself.
"After spending five years as a single mother I had serious doubts about finding anyone who could touch my shattered and hardened heart. Finding someone who would be a suitable father for my son seemed even less likely. March 23, 2002 my life changed forever. I had my first date with the man I would marry. For the first time since my son, Austin, was born I had found someone who realized I was a package deal and included Austin from the start.
Rich proposed on December 24, 2002 and on April 11, 2003 we were married. The engagement was short by design. We knew we wanted to be married and we didn’t want to wait. My only real requirements for the wedding day were that we both show up, a minister be present and we leave married. I didn’t grow up dreaming about this perfect magical ceremony. I never looked at bridal magazines before being engaged. The wedding isn’t what I longed for—it was the 'forever after' that I desired. I wanted a union that would last a lifetime with a man who understood the depths of who I am and could love me anyway. I wanted someone who could look at Austin as his own son and not be scared away by the thought of raising a child who desperately needed a dad.
The wedding planning part was pretty simple. We wanted our guests to attend the type of wedding we would love to attend ourselves. After being in dozens of weddings and attending so many more, we had lots of ideas about what we liked and what we didn’t. So our decisions were made with our friends and family in mind, rather than fulfilling a selfish desire for the 'perfect day.' Here is a list of 10 of the things we did to make the ceremony fun, simple, yet memorable and heartfelt.
1. We chose a location that would allow for a beautiful ceremony and fun reception under the same roof—the Alexander Mansion, home of the Dallas Women’s Forum. We got married at the top of the staircase in front of a gorgeous stain glass window. Our guests stood in the lobby during the ceremony so we kept it super short.
2. We took all of our pictures before the ceremony started! ALL OF THEM! The photographer we hired does all of his weddings this way, a concept that I understood and loved! I didn’t want the guests to wait while pictures were being taken, I wanted the celebration to begin as soon as possible. We still had our special moment of him walking down the aisle to me (or actually up the stairs) and we had that moment completely alone so we could talk and laugh together before the pictures of us were taken. So yes, he saw me before the wedding—but it was no big deal.
3. We got married on a Friday—it’s cheaper and was easier to find a date that would work for us. We spent the day after our wedding with the friends and family who flew into town; we went to the lake and enjoyed a day of fun and relaxation before heading off to our honeymoon on Sunday. I’m thankful we took the time to spend an extra stress-free day with the those who traveled to see us.
4. I let my bridesmaids help me choose the dress they would wear. I wanted black and white because I assumed they would be more likely to wear it again, and they probably had some black heels in their closet already. So I sent over several options, and fortunately everyone liked one of them so that is what we chose. They could wear any shoes they wanted, and we provided the jewelery and paid for their hair and makeup to be done. The bridesmaids from out of town stayed at my parents' house so they didn’t have to spend extra money on a hotel.
5. The rehearsal dinner was a BBQ at Richard’s mom's house, and was the most fun rehearsal dinner ever! So relaxed and laid back—good food, great company. Jon Rutherford, who sang at our wedding, brought his guitar and we all sang and laughed together. It was simple, it was fun, and it was affordable.
6. I bought the second dress I tried on and it didn’t have to be altered. I didn’t over-think it or keep looking. I knew it was the one, so why keep looking and confusing myself?
7. We included Austin in the ceremony. He was the ring bearer, of course, but he also had his own small candle and helped light the unity candle with us. When the ceremony was over, Rich picked him up and carried him as we walked down the stairs—we were a family and we wanted Austin to know he was a special part of this union.
8. Rich’s brother is a minister, so he married us. He was incredible and kept the ceremony light-hearted yet deep in true meaning. It was short and simple yet completely moving and memorable at the same time.
9. We had a buffet-style, finger-food kind of dinner. We wanted people to eat what they wanted, when they wanted, and not be confined to a table. They could mingle and enjoy each others' company without being forced to sit for a long period of time. Thankfully, the caterer boxed up food for Rich and I to take to the hotel with us, because we wouldn’t have eaten otherwise.
10. I let my mother have input in all decisions involved with planning the wedding. I listened to her thoughts and we made choices quickly. She was paying for it, so I was open to all suggestions. I don’t remember any drama surrounding the planning of the wedding or the actual wedding day at all.
Planning a wedding in a hurry can be done if you have the right attitude about the process. It’s not about having the perfect event—it is all about finding the best partner for your life and starting the journey of marriage with a positive mindset. We had a fun wedding, and guess what? We have had a fun marriage. He is my best friend and an absolutely incredible father. God knew what He was doing when He brought us together. God always knows what He is doing—we just have to step back, take a breath, and let go of the need to find perfection."