Our Wedding Day: September 19, 2015

tabbywitness-211

I just wanted to share our wedding video. There are a few things I regret in life (like my not bringing my hair accessory for the wedding, silly girl), but marrying my husband is definitely not one of them! To think that God planned such a person at such a time to carry me, love me, and accept me is an incredible miracle.

We started dating after about three years of friendship. I realized that he was a person that I wanted in my life… basically, forever. I couldn’t imagine going through mundane, difficult, and exciting times in my life without telling him about it, asking for his opinion, and gaining his insight. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, second to following Christ.

After a month of dating in Chicago, I was led to Atlanta, GA, where I would pursue my calling for music. I got a job at a restaurant, trying to live sparingly in my one bedroom apartment and going to nightly performance and artist training camps. I struggled emotionally, mentally, physically, and at times spiritually when I was unable to find a stable community and church. I was especially mortified when giant 2-inch, flying, nasty, cockroaches would infest my apartment, one at a time… waiting until I got back home from a long day to terrorize, taunt, and forever enslave me to the fear of quick, flying organisms.

Three months in, and my mom calls to tell me my father was diagnosed with the fourth stage of prostate cancer. The cancer had spread to his stomach and lungs, and the doctors were giving him about 2 years to live. I was afraid, 750 miles away from home without a real friend, and I didn’t know how to handle it. Witness was there, each day, consoling and comforting me to be strong and press on. Those nine months were such a hectic time, but a time where I was birthed to be a more stable, practical human being.

My wonderful church friends from Immanuel stopped by to help me pack and stuff everything into my Jetta. Witness flew in at 12:00am and drove about 14 hours straight back to Chicago, IL. I was back at home with my family, my dad doing much better. A week into being back from Atlanta, he asked my parents for my hand in marriage. And a few days after that, we were engaged! The man is relentless and thorough, I tell you.

Vendor Information
Ceremony Venue: Blanchard Alliance Church
Reception Venue: Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse
Videography: HWu Studios
Photography: Christina Cee Lee Photography
Floral: Vale of Enna
Photobooth: Simplebooth Co.
Party Bus: M&M Limo
Honeymoon: Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Here are some links on why and how we planned the wedding:
10 Reasons Why You Belong Together
10 Things to Do Before and After Your Wedding (Part 1)
10 Things to Do Before and After Your Wedding (Part 2)

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10 Reasons Why You Belong Together

 

Christina Cee Lee Photography
Christina Cee Lee Photography

With Valentine’s Day coming soon, one can’t help but walk through the aisles and aisles of chocolates and enormous stuffed teddy bears. (And I’ll admit to it, I always eye a grand hug from one of those fluffy monsters.) Flowers, cards, and candy aside, I want to dig into the deeper topic of love, marriage, and joy in companionship.

From experiences and stories of 25 years of single-hood, being “taken,” engaged, then happily married, I’ve compiled a list of why a couple should be together. If you have at least a few of these, you’re on the right track to finding “the one.”

  1. You Communicate Well
    • Texting, Facebook Messaging, and AIM Messaging (for the 90’s kids) can be tricky. Without tone being present within the means of electronic words (unless you’re using expressive emoticons in each message), many misunderstandings can loom under the surface of the relationship. Tone may not be as important to some men, but for ladies, in my experience, how you say something is more important than what you say.
    • Although it may feel particularly awkward for the technology-ridden generation, if you make sure the two of spend time together, face to face, you’re building the foundation for an open relationship. Messages like, “Hey, can you grab some popcorn before you come?” are reasonable through text and messages. Talks about “Hey, where are we headed as a couple?” or “I want to marry you, and here’s why,” should probably be done in person or at least through FaceTime or Skype (if you’re in a long distance relationship).
  2. You’re Committed to One Another
    • Google defines commitment as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. Its synonyms include dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, and faithfulness. The questions one should ask in deciding whether or not you’re committed are, “How long have I been with this person?” and “Can I see myself with this person for the rest of my life?”
    • If the first question is answered by a somewhat inconsistent or conditional answer like,”On and off for one year,” or “We always break up during the difficult times and then get back together again,” you may want to consider whether the relationship is really worth the heartache and most importantly, your time.
    • If your answer to the second question is, “Yes, absolutely, yes! I cannot imagine life without them,” then you’ve got yourself a keeper.
    • It’s hard to imagine couples getting into a relationship then married within less than a year’s time. It’s very difficult because you may possibly be in the “honeymoon” phase of the relationship. You may be obsessed with one another, without real knowledge of how that person really is in times of struggle and trial.
  3. You Trust Each Other
    • For some, trust is easily gained and given. For others, trust is built through time, trial, and error.
    • If you’re okay with your lady/gentleman going to the mall without worrying about who she/he is going to meet, talk to, or end up sleeping with (yes that’s quite a jump), you’re in a good place.
    • It’s a great sign when both of you know everything about one another, and you still choose to love and spend time with each other. Infidelity, numerous partners, or even emotional attachments (yes, this is a form of cheating) to someone other than your significant other can create barriers between you. And at times, the barriers can be so high that it may be time for you to move on to heal. Trust takes time, but it’s one of the most rewarding foundations of being in a good relationship.
  4. You Enjoy Each Other’s Presence
    • If you’re watching a movie and wonder about what he/she thought about the line Leonardo DiCaprio said, then you probably enjoy spending time with your significant other.
    • If you look forward to seeing him or her at the end of day, and it’s one of your highlights, then you enjoy being with one another. That in it of itself is a good reason to be together. If he or she makes you happy, then go be with him/her!
  5. You Feel Safe With One Another
    • If you feel that the other protects, nurtures, and loves you in the best and worst of times, you’ve got a keeper. Whether it’s judgmental words, fits of frustration, or an admirer bothering you, you know that your boyfriend/girlfriend has got your back.
    • If either of you have been mentally, emotionally, or physically hurt or abused by the other, you should look into finding accountability or help. If the negative behavior persists, then you need to remove yourself from that person straight away. I do believe in second chances, but that person may need to find it by himself/herself.
  6. You Have Similar Interests and Goals
    • Although opposites attract, you need something to talk about and work towards together. Whether it’s avid video gaming, playing sports, reading, watching movies, or knitting, make sure you have something in common.
    • If one person is incredibly ambitious and type A and the other is not, it may be difficult to the two to survive together in the long run. Make sure you’re both willing to meet on common ground to be together.
  7. You Work Well as a Team
    • Go run a marathon, bowling, or play basketball together. Find out if the both of you can work as a team. Eventually, if things go right, you’ll be married and have kids. Raising kids is a team effort. Know how you both stand in the realm of teamwork and working things out together.
    • My husband and I would play in a band together, so we instantly knew we clicked. Find what makes you two peas in a pod.
  8. You Prioritize One Another
    • Time and money is usually spent on things of utmost priority and importance. If you’re going on regular dates, consistently talking, and conscious of how the other person is feeling, you’re prioritizing your significant other above other things.
    • If work, hobbies, or friends is always the absolute priority, you are not one of the most important things to him/her. Yes, there is reasonable amount of time to spend with each of these good things, but if you’re not being prioritized during the week, it may not be a good fit.
  9. You’re Attracted to Each Other
    • Attraction can be instantaneous, from the first vibes or impression that you get of that person. It can also take time, growing as you get to know one another. If you feel that after you’re married, you’ll still be attracted to this person and perhaps make some babies, then you’re good for one another.
    • If everything looks good on paper for you two to be together, but you’re just not feeling his personality, then you probably aren’t attracted to him. Fashion and hairstyles are things that can be changed in the long run, but if even over time (and with the changes) you can’t stand him/her, then they aren’t the one.
  10. You’ve Found a Best Friend
    • You finish each others sentences, and you can laugh and talk about nearly anything with him/her. You can’t imagine life without them. If you didn’t marry him, you’d probably ask him to be your maid of honor. That’s a little silly, but you get my drift. He’s your bestie, and you know it within your innermost being.
    • Ladies and gentleman, sometimes the person who’s stuck around in the friend zone for years on end can quite possibly be “the one.” Don’t write off those faithful friends who’ve been with you for 5+ years. He/she can be the one who’ll give you joy for the rest of your life. Have an open mind!

I hope these 10 reasons are helpful in taking the next step with your loved one. Let me know in the comments if you agree or think something else should be added. Thanks!

10 Things to Do Before and After Your Wedding (Part 1)

 

E-Session photo by ChristinaCeeLee.com

Hello there,

I recently received my gorgeous wedding photos from one of my favorite photographers, and it’s resulted in me thinking about the wedding. We got married about three months ago, so I figured I’d reflect about the process that took up my emotional, mental, and physical life for the 9 months after he magically proposed.

To tell you a little bit about my wedding… We got engaged on December 13th, 2014 and married on September 19th, 2015. We decided to plan it ourselves, and boy, was it a fun (and bumpy) ride!  We also received a good amount of help from our parents. My fiance at the time had already purchased a home on his own (he’s AMAZING!), so all we really worried about was getting married and furnishing the home.

Here are some things my husband and I learned along the way in planning our own wedding. I’ve complied this information from our own experience, that which I’ve heard from others, and a plethora of internet sites/blogs/articles:

  1. Small or Large Wedding? (Month 1)
    • If your parents are helping fund the wedding, chances are they may want to invite their friends and families too. Ask them for their opinion, and give them boundaries so that you two don’t get overwhelmed!
    • Choose one: Have you always imagined yourself surrounded by friends, family members, the extended family of family, the roommate’s brother’s dog walker’s cousin, and the rest of the town? Or do you want a smaller, intimate 50-100 of your closest friends and family type of wedding?
    • Choosing a number of people will help you decide what venue, what sort of decorations, and how much DIY you’ll be doing.
    • This will also allow you to choose a destination wedding or narrow down the people you actually want celebrating with you. Ladies and gentleman, it’s okay to say no and truly invite those you want walking with you for the rest of your lives.
  2. Do you want a Bridal Party? Tell them! (Months 1-2)
    • The Symmetric girl/guy: For those who are obsessed with clean lines and everything being even, consider choosing an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen (each) so that you two will be in the middle with an even amount of people surrounding you. This is mainly done so that the pictures come out with even symmetry. I had 4 bridesmaids, and the groom had 4 groomsmen. It worked out pretty well for us!
    • The Boisterous friend: If you are miss or mister popular and have a whole crew, then just invite the whole bunch. I’ve seen plenty of weddings with more bridesmaids than groomsmen and vice versa. It’s your first (and hopefully only) wedding! Make sure you have the people who mean the most to you standing right beside you at the altar! The more the merrier!
  3. Budget, budget, budget. Did I mention budget? (Month 1)
    • Choose a budget.  Here’s a website that’ll help you calculate your budget: http://www.costofwedding.com. Just plug your zip code in, and it’ll give you an rough estimate of what you’ll set aside for the wedding.
    • Stick to your budget. As easy and simple as it sounds,  it’s not. Remember, if you don’t want to start your married life in debt, learn to make compromises early. This is a great learning experience with your future spouse! Choose what is absolutely necessary and take out the frivolous items. Focus on the details that are going to allow you to marry your best friend!
  4. Choose a Date (Month 1)
    • Are you feeling spring, summer, fall, or winter? Often times, choosing a certain season will allow for discounted vendor prices. For example, the months of October to February often have discounts (in Chicago) as the cold weather may bring about less appealing circumstances.
    • Choose the time of day: Lunch or brunch wedding receptions can often be cheaper than the night and dinner reception with dancing. Consider these things in choosing the budget, and more importantly, focusing on marrying your significant other.
    • Friday and Sunday weddings can also be less expensive than Saturday weddings. Ask the venue if they have discounted prices based on date and time.
    • Holiday weekends are great for extended parties and celebrations but also tend to be very busy for the wedding industry.  If you’re choosing a holiday like Labor Day or the 4th of July, be timely about calling and visiting venues to book your date!
  5. Book the Venue, Sooner than Later (Month 1-3)
    • The venue can typically be about 40-60% of your budget. It usually includes the room for the celebration and catering (plus tip), where you can choose from a list of suggested vendors.
    • Based on your location and #6 (the next point), book a venue. Bigger hotels often have ball rooms where they can fit anywhere from 150- 1,500! Check out hotels, restaurants, museums, banquet halls, and backyards to find the look and size you need for your guests and budget. Call them and ask for their wedding/event coordinator and ask away!
    • Room size: Look for venues based on how many they can fit comfortably into the room. Don’t choose a huge ballroom that fits 1,000, and don’t don’t do the other extreme and force 300 people in a room for 100. Be reasonable in your choice, and make room for 10-20 extra wedding crashers.
    • Visit the location. My fiance at the time had to search and visit 3-5 venues per weekend since I was working on weekends. He knew my goals for the venue, and he did a wonderful job finding the absolute perfect venue for us – Harry Caray’s!
  6. Choose a theme (Months 1-3)
    • Color: It’s usually easier to choose a theme after you’ve chosen the season. And based on the weather, pick 2-4 colors that you want as the theme of your wedding. Summer weddings might be bright and colorful whereas for a winter themed wedding, one might go for browns, reds, and metallic colors.
    • Whimsical? Romantic? Classic? Simple? Rustic? Glamorous?: Choose three words that you dream your wedding to be, and make decorative decisions based on those three words. Mine were clean, romantic, and simple, so I made sure the decorative choices followed those words. Check out the photos from my wonderful photographer at christinaceelee.com.
  7. Create a Wedding Website 
    • The Knot has great templates for making a wedding website. You may want to check them out for a simple design to your story and info.
    • AVOID the RSVP option on the Knot. (Until they update the kinks). We tried using it for our wedding in 2015, and the app would sporadically delete our RSVPed guests. It was quite uncomfortable, but fortunately, our Excel guestbook-keeping system was more thorough.
  8. Send out Save the Dates! (Months 1-3)
    • Write out the guest list. Ask your groom and families to write out their own as well (if you want them to come, that is).
    • Now that you’ve settled how many and who, send out the save the dates! Witness and I used Paperless post, but feel free to go a more traditional route by sending out snail mail! Some hire calligraphers or print out E-Session (engagement session) photos, and send them as a preview for what’s the come. Here are some adorable ideas on Pinterest.
    • Also, check out Paperless Post as they have the awesome option of seeing if people read the card and a mini RSVP of what’s to come.
  9. Do you have a Pinterest account? (Months 1-3)
    • If not, please DO SIGN UP! Some of your makeup and hair vendors will end up asking you for photos of what you want. You’ll need to have thought about it beforehand, and Pinterest is a great way to get all your ideas onto one forum!
    • Once you sign up and get one, start pinning about your dream wedding! There are so many creatives and romantics on Pinterest, that you’ll be able to organize and plan for all facets of the wedding in a one stop, colorful, and easy-access avenue.
      • Pin about these topics:
        • Dress: From A-line, to mermaids, and tulle fabric, there are so many beautiful and budget-friendly brands/designers out there! Pin as many different styles and colors, and if you’re indecisive like me, you’ll begin to a notice a pattern of what you actually want for yourself.
        • Bridesmaids: Dresses, shoes, colors, gifts, accessories, nails, and hair styles (if you’re choosing for them)
        • Your Makeup, Hair, and Nails: Different styles for what you’re expecting for on the wedding day. Make sure you take the weather/temperature into consideration. If it’s hot outside, you may not want your hair down.
        • Accessories and Shoes: Decide on if you want something more glamorous or simple. If you normally don’t wear fully studded tiaras and diamonds galore, you may not feel comfortable doing that on your wedding day.
        • Photos: Save examples for certain poses and what photos of people you need the photographer to take to help you capture that day.
        • Food and Cake: Choose examples of what you’re wanting to eat. Make sure to ask the caterer about gluten-free and vegetarian options for the specified-diet.
        • Invitations and Programs: Choose examples of different stationery. Check out Pinterest, Etsy, The Knot, and Paperless Post for ideas!
  10. Buy the dress, suit, and/or tux! (Months 2-4)
    • Based on your theme and pins, you can decide what sort of dress and suit your man will be wearing!
    • Make sure to take a trusted friend/family member when shopping for these expensive items. You’ll need other opinions, aside from the salesman’s.
    • Make sure your bridesmaids/groomsmen get theirs as well.
    • All of you will need to get your fittings done a least a month before the wedding, and then again a two weeks before the wedding.

Thanks for joining me onpagetwo! Let me know what you thought about the steps and how I can expand on any of the given points!

With Love,

Tabitha