"Once there was a princess and she fell in love."
- Snow White
May 16, 2015.
Here it is. The long-awaited day.
I will never forget driving the hour from my parent's home to the nearest mall, two days before our wedding. On a solo errand, I listened to music as I breathed deep and went over last minute details in my mind. "Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney came on the radio, and tears came streaming down my cheeks. I could just feel the Lord put on my heart: "Take in every moment. It's gonna fly by." I prayed that I would. It really flew! Here we are, 21 months, one self-published book and CD, lots of trips, two moves, and one baby later! And I am just now posting my wedding photos on the blog. Life has been full, ya'll. And good.
I am so excited to finally share with you some of the special moments and memories from the day our family began!
If there's one thing that stands out in my mind about our wedding day it's that it was so special. I know, every one's wedding is special! But, our day was so full of meaning and significance. Every small detail, every song, every decoration, every item, every moment.... meant something, had meaning behind it, and was a labor of love or gift from someone who loved us. Our wedding was full of heart. A California bride and an Oklahoma groom means many of "our people" came from many miles away to share our day. Daniel's family is mostly in Oklahoma and Texas, and other parts of the Midwest and East Coast, and many of them were able to make the trip to my mountain in Los Angeles. Most of my closest girlfriends don't live in LA. One of my bridesmaids flew from Canada to our wedding, and one all the way from the Midwest!
Rain threatened our day. Moms checked the weather apps and Dads and brothers made plans for tarps to cover our *all outdoor* wedding. Everyone else prayed. I didn't care! I literally didn't. If we get rained out, oh well! I'M GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW!!! It would have been a completely muddy disaster. But I didn't really think about it, and I wasn't stressed. I felt a complete and total sense of peace. And for that, I am grateful. All I could think was, "If the Lord took us this far in our waiting journey: through almost thirty years of ups and downs, fears and worries, loneliness and depression, financial struggles, losses, questions, dream chasing, broken relationships, and then literally brought my future husband from thousands of miles away and dropped him on my door step? He can handle a little rain." And He did. A storm was coming and it hit two days before the wedding, on May 14th, our rehearsal dinner (which also happened to be my amazing parent's wedding anniversary) it poured. POURED. The rehearsal dinner was full of love and BBQ-ed meat, family, dear friends, and happiness as it rained outside. As we played silly games and everyone chattered and laughed, Daniel's sweet grandfather became very ill in the middle of our rehearsal dinner's games.... he basically collapsed in his chair. The family rushed to his side, his eyes closed, not responding. The whole room wept, cried out, prayed. Arms held Pop up. Hands were raised, begging Jesus to save this beloved patriarch of the Morris family. Quick thinking mamas took terrified babies and littles upstairs, older children clung to siblings, someone grabbed the phone and called 911. Daniel took my hand, crying and begging with his eyes for Pop to wake up. Brothers wept in the corner. We prayed and prayed and prayed, tears streamed, it seemed like forever. The Paramedics arrived and attended to Pop. He was alright, but needed to go to the hospital. It was dramatic and scary, and all we felt was relief as we heard over the next few hours that Pop was alright.
As I went to bed that night, all I could think about was Daniel's Nana... and her strong but terrified, tearful eyes as she sat by Pop, unresponsive as those frightening moments passed. 50 + years of love and marriage, faithfulness and commitment. That was what this is about, I thought. It's not about how perfectly pressed my wedding dress was, not how clear my skin would be on my wedding day (#acneprobs), not if the sun was shining or the rain fell and ruined the decor, it wasn't about my lipstick shade or my spray tan, it wasn't about how perfect the ceremony music sounded or how delicious the food would be -- at the end of the day, I was committing my life to Daniel, promising faithfulness in sickness and health, "as long as we both shall live" -- whether we were given 5 months or 50 years. It was a huge, important, life-altering gift, responsibility, joy. And I wanted to walk into it with clear eyes and a ready heart.
As the wedding day closed in, the rain stopped. The sun shone. It was cold (well, cold to a California girl ;) But we didn't care. It just made everyone get on the dance floor (even people who would never normally dance) under the canopy of sparkling twinkle lights (one of my dreams) just to warm up. I loved that.
The way our people came together to celebrate with us, it all meant the world.
Our wedding day.
My sister in law captured this picture the morning of our wedding and it means so much to me. My girlhood room (where I'd moved back home to in the few years before getting married) was a torn-apart disaster on the wedding morning. Literally, it had never been such a mess. Hosting a wedding at home is no joke and not quite as tidy as it looks on "Father of the Bride" haha -- my mom is a ROCKSTAR for pulling it all of and dad is incredible. My Wedding Notebook that I made as a dreaming little 14 year old girl laid in the mess. Full of magazine clippings and written-out plans and dreams. 13 years worth! Behind it is a print that hung on my wall all through high school of Gilbert and Anne from the "Anne of Avonlea" movie and it reads: "LOVE: I don't want sunbursts or marble halls.... I just want you."
Daniel and his boys and family got ready at a rented mountain home down the road from my parent's property, the wedding venue. I love these photos, because obviously I wasn't there seeing all this. His relationship with his brothers, and especially his twin brother, gets me allllllll teary-eyed.
Our Save The Date and Invitations. My friend Margaret designed these for me. Isn't she talented? It was so kind.
I remember as a teenager, I would write out the wording for my wedding invitation on the backs of school notebooks and at church when I was bored ;) I always placed a _________ after "Erin Elizabeth to _______." Feels good to see it filled-in.
My mom placed roses and some of my favorite books from girlhood on tables in our "getting ready room."
My gown. You can read the story behind it in At Long Last.
The moment I saw Mom for the first time on my wedding day is one of my top 5 favorite moments of the day. She'd been attending to decor details downstairs (Wonder Woman, seriously. She made the dream happen) and when she came in the bathroom as I got my makeup down, I LOST IT. I ruined my make-up and we had to start again!
The moment I saw Daniel for the first time on our wedding day, out the window.
My handsome groom.
My bridesmaid Lisa and I met back in High School, on the Internet before meeting online through blogging was a "thing." We met on a forum that connected young women who were praying and waiting for their future husbands. I lived in California, she was from England. Years went by, and she came out to LA to meet me in person. One afternoon, we climbed out my bedroom window and sat on the roof, overlooking our backyard oak tree, pouring over wedding magazines and dreaming. Fast forward 7 years later. She, happily married to her dream man and expecting their first little one. I, about to marry mine. That morning as we got ready for my wedding, we stopped. We noticed our two long-prayed-for men setting up chairs for the ceremony, laughing and chatting as they worked. We looked at each other, tears filling our eyes and full-circle joy in our hearts! The very same view we looked out at 7 years earlier as we dreamily flipped through those wedding magazines. The dreams really did come true! I will never, ever forget that special moment.
And, more tears ;) Then, got it together and put my lipstick on.
My best friends helping me put my wedding dress on.
This picture makes my heart happy; it's such an example of my sister Mandy's love for me. She is the most servant-hearted, kind, genuinely sweet, mama-bear protective, thoughtful, fiercely loyal best friend in the world. And the bravest and strongest girl I've ever met. Your wedding day certainly highlights the people who are "your people." Along with celebrating and sealing our love, Daniel and I marveled later on as we talked about "our day" how overwhelmingly loved and blessed we felt on our wedding. It was almost too much!
If a picture is worth a thousand words...... it's this one. It would tell of all the years of waiting. The moments of feeling forgotten. All the pain. The loneliness. The hurt. The painful things I went through those long years that only those closest to me know about. The heart ache. The "forgotten feeling." I felt like I'd made it to the finish line of a very long marathon. Joy mingled with all the pain of all the years, culminating in that moment, that day. I'll never, ever forget it.
Every little detail meant something. Each small thing that made up the whole big wedding was a labor of love, a gift from someone special to us, a thoughtful sacrifice, precious time and hard earned money spent. It wasn't a million dollar wedding, it was a wedding at home made up of lots of small things. My Aunt Theresa created my bouquet. Fresh peonies were expensive, so as we planned what my bouquet would be, I opted for a less-expensive flower that looked similar. You can imagine my heart when she waltzed in the getting-ready room with my dream bouquet. I'm a lucky girl to be so loved.
Thanks to my caring mama, all my rustic romantic dreams came true in the very important details.
"Nothin' fancy, just love."
Joel's boots. 9 years before our wedding, Daniel's three year old brother Joel went to Heaven after a battle with childhood cancer. In honor of Joel, his boots sat on "his chair" on the Morris family's aisle. It was a special reminder for us.
We chose to have a First Look because of the wedding timing and photograph schedule, and I'm so glad we did. It was one of the day's top 5 favorite moments for us. Our photographer and sister Kristen set it up and didn't tell us what the plan was as far as music. As I walked out the doors under the pagoda that Daniel built especially for his bride to walk down the aisle through, the song "Love is Waiting" drifted through the air. It was such a special moment and that song is one I replayed hundreds of times through my single years. Daniel loved seeing me in my wedding gown and I was smitten with him in his dapper suit. "Perfect" is the word I would use for this moment. It was so perfect. And I loved having that special just-us-two moment amid the craziness of the day. I loved it.
"Oh, the longer the waiting, the sweeter the kiss
It's better my darling, I promise you this."
- Josh Turner
"But it was a happy and beautiful bride who came down the old, homespun-carpeted stairs that September noon--the first bride of Green Gables, slender and shining-eyed, in the mist of her maiden veil, with her arms full of roses. Gilbert, waiting for her in the hall below, looked up at her with adoring eyes. She was his at last, this evasive, long-sought Anne, won after years of patient waiting. It was to him she was coming in the sweet surrender of the bride. Was he worthy of her? Could he make her as happy as he hoped? If he failed her--if he could not measure up to her standard of manhood--then, as she held out her hand, their eyes met and all doubt was swept away in a glad certainty. They belonged to each other; and, no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other's keeping and both were unafraid." - Lucy Maud Montgomery, "Anne's House of Dreams"
A few of our super-talented siblings (all of them are so talented and musical!) played beautiful music -- some worship as well as the song Daniel wrote for his future wife as he stood atop the Empire State Building a few years before (and those who have read my book will remember the lyrics and story behind it!)
My dad did a beautiful job officiating. He led the ceremony in such a poetic way, telling stories of our waiting journeys, lives apart, and our love story, weaving it all into the vows, communion, worship and music, etc.
Our parents prayed for us during the ceremony. So powerful.
There aren't any photos of it, but my precious lifelong friend Bruce Marchiano read 1 Corinthians 13 as part of the ceremony. It was significant to me to have him be a part because he encouraged me so much in my waiting journey as an older brother/uncle who was also praying for his future wife and waiting for her. He is now married and has the most beautiful family. The word of the Lord is true!
We combined sand from the beach in California and red dirt from Oklahoma as our "Unity Sand." It was sooo windy, though, the morning of our wedding, that the original glasses we had the sand in blew over and broke! So we had to use these random glasses and a Mason Jar. But it worked haha
Exchanging the rings. Before we exchanged our rings, I gave Daniel my purity ring. I got it when I was 13 years old as a symbol and reminder of waiting for my future husband. 15 years later, of wearing it daily, I gave it to my husband. Chills!
"And now, we party."
Thanks, God, for the golden light.
Another Top 5 Favorite Wedding Moment: the Best Man and Maid of Honor speeches, given by our lifelong besties and twin brother and sister, Caleb and Mandy. Good LORD was that a special moment. I can't even write about it without tearing up! The two of them are naturally more reserved, quiet personalities. They aren't talkers or expressers, especially publicly. Both of their speeches were so beautifully said, so wholeheartedly thoughtful, so carefully prepared. They were straight from their angelic hearts (they are both two of the sweetest, kindest people on the planet) and we were blown away. The whole wedding was blown away. The strength of friendship and love. These two have loved us our entire lives, they've lived side by side with us (we were all inseparable growing up) and experienced so much life that no one else will ever know or see, we have all played music together and can give each other a look without a word, and read one another's minds.... and they know us in a way that no one else does or ever will. Those moments will be ones I hold close to my heart until I die. I have their speeches written down and will keep them forever.
Father/Daughter / Mother/Son dances and ... just, dancing!!!!!
Our entire wedding! I have this photo on the wall in our dining room.
The lights turned out even more magical than I always imagined.
Almost the entire wedding on the dance floor. Butterflies! (The one good thing about the cold weather ;)
The dessert table created by my fabulous mom
It was an epic dance party. Just like we wanted!
I read the quote below when I was in Jr. High. It's in one of my mom's favorite books, and we she had me read it for school, I remember skimming over it and not fully grasping what it meant. Now, I know.
"I have now been married ten years. I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward's society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character — perfect concord is the result."
- Charlotte Bronte, "Jane Eyre"
The Lord truly writes the most beautiful, redeeming, always-on-time stories. He listens to little girl's hearts and little boy dreams. He cares. He is there. He does not forget.
What a day! What a life. And today, I'm even more in love.
Read our whole love story in my book, At Long Last, get it here.
Photography by I'm Kristen Photography (And her trusty second-shooter, Ally Michele!)