Thursday, October 13, 2011

autumn in arizona...a real reader's wedding story

Melissa Dunstan Photography

When I get emails from readers it makes me giddy.  Like GID-dy!  And when I got this email from Kat, a fellow NAU Lumberjack, I freaked out!  Be still my heart.  Be still.  Thank you Kat for sending your journey ...your wedding was sooooooo lovely.  

When I began planning my wedding I found A Mountain Bride and it became a huge source of inspiration for me because Jes's wedding exuded the type of atmosphere that I was looking to create. It helped me realize that my wedding didn't necessarily have to have a theme or style; but that it could just be about us. I was so overwhelmed in the beginning realizing that by saying "yes" I had deliberately made my life very stressful by adding wedding planning to my already full plate of working full time as a store manager, and getting my Masters in History (did I mention Zachary was in school too; and that we have a 100lb German Shepard to take care of too?!) But the world of wedding bloggers are SOOO inspirational to know that other people have gone through the same things.

Zachary and I have a long history together, as we met at Freshman orientation after being at college for less than a day at NAU. We started dating 3 weeks later and had been together for 5 years when he proposed. He had my ring custom designed by a local artist, Will McNabb Jewelers. It's so beautiful; he had sapphires put in because he knows I wanted something a little more unique. Zachary proposed on 10-10-09 while doing our annual hiking trip in Lockette Meadow amongst the aspen trees, so it was only fitting that we would a) get married on 10-10-10 and b) get married amongst the Aspen trees. But that idea quickly faded away when we realized that our $10,000 budget wouldn't quite facilitate our vision. As most of our guests would be traveling from all around the country, and most were unfamiliar with the Southwest, Sedona quickly became a better choice to represent our lives together. We both wanted to get married outside and had no trouble at all finding an unforgettable location. We choose Red Rock Crossing; a FREE (ya heard me, free.) piece of Forest Service land along side Oak Creek with outstanding views of Cathedral Rock.

While checking out the spot, it was there that we realized our colors would be turquoise and orange; very reminiscent of the big blue skies Arizona possesses daily and the vibrant red rocks of Sedona.

We also knew that we wanted to have a simple, civil wedding. We had a good friend marry us and I wrote the entire 7 minute ceremony. The ceremony was one of my favorite parts of our wedding because I was able to express what things were important to us. We took a moment to honor family and friends who had passed and were unable to be there with us and also recognize those who are still denied the right of marriage. We also had a family friend read Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Both Zachary and I were uncomfortable writing separate vows for eachother and reciting them in front of every one. Instead, we wrote collaborative vows that we repeated to eachother:

I give you this ring as a sign that I choose you
To be my lover, partner, and my best friend, to the end of my days
Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you

We needed to save money in lots of areas with our high number of guests and our little 10k budget. So I handmade the save the dates as well as the invitations. I drew them, scanned them in, and had them printed on recycled paper at Kinkos. We saved ALOT of money doing that. Also, I looooove pumpkins and to go along with our budget and colors, we used pumpkins as our centerpieces, as either carved out tealight holders or as vases. It was a really fun DIY and an expensive way to create centerpieces. We also used pillar candles because I just happened to work at Armadilla Wax Works and also used turquoise and orange scented candles as our favors. All our guests loved the did the staff at the Heartline Cafe (our reception venue) and most the pillar centerpieces ended up doubling as favors when most of the guests took them home!!

I, unfortunately, was one of those brides who couldn't afford the dress of my was an Oscar de la Renta for $12,000!!!!! I knew right away that I would have to settle for something else. I flew back to NY and went dress shopping with my family and friends at David's Bridal and found a dress that had similar qualities. I got the dress and veil for only $450 and needed no alterations - the dress fit me perfectly! However, when it came in the mail a few months later it sat in the closet and I kept staring it knowing something needed to be done to make it mine. So, I took it Anne's Alterations in Flagstaff and she added a bubble hem. It came out so beautiful and I felt so great knowing that no one else had my dress - it was unique to me - and the price was right!

Photography was the most important aspect of our wedding. We hired a fantastic photographer, Melissa Dunstan. She had done our engagement photos in the SNOW and we had so much fun working with her. Our chemistry worked so well together and she was able to capture our special JUST the way we wanted.

Zachary really wanted sparklers, so we left them on the tables and had people light them up for our first dance, "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison. It was truly magical. Heavenly.

 Even though I spent the entire 365 days leading up to the wedding doing every DIY project I could think of, pinching pennies, and planning for every little problem that could happen, I also reminded myself that I had to let go. My goal was two days before the wedding, I would stop. Anything that wasn't done - wasn't done. And sure enough when 4pm, 2 days before the wedding came, when I was in the midst of crying...I just let it alll go. On the wedding day, LOTS of things went wrong, that were TOTALLY out of my control; I was even late, but I told myself that it was a monumental day that would only happen once and I wanted to enjoy every second I could. Everyone still tells me that I was oddly calm (like weird) on my wedding day and asks how I was able to keep it all together. I just wanted to have a day about Zachary and I celebrating our life together. I remembered what was important and let everything else roll off my back. Being the control freak that I am, I'm surprised I was able to do it.

Everyone commented on how our wedding was so full of joy and happiness. We loved having our friends and family there to celebrate our love and life journey together. Of course, I wish we could it all again <3 and...I was sad that our dog wasn't there, but they don't allow dogs on Forest Service land.

Hope this is good inspiration for fall brides :o)

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