Saturday, September 28 was the best day of my life. I married my best friend and spent an amazing weekend among my closest friends and family. Everything important went smoothly and it was truly an incredible day. The weather gods shined down on us and blessed us with a gorgeous, sunny day in the mid to high 70s and a slight breeze to cool us off.
I will follow up with a post with more pictures and shout outs to my amazing vendors once I get my professional photos back, but for now, a summary of the weekend.
Friday morning my mom drove down from Huntington Beach and joined Asia, her sister Aden and I for a nail appointment. Afterward Mike and my best friend since kindergarten, Samantha, joined us for lunch and then we packed up the cars and made the 30 minute drive from Encinitas down to beautiful Mission Bay. Along the way my mom and I picked up my wedding dress which made it all the more real (I got really nervous for the first time!). Before the rehearsal a group of us scrambled to assemble our S’more favors which had to be created the night before otherwise the graham cracker would get soggy. It was actually really fun working on them with our 10+ person assembly line before rushing off to the rehearsal.
Our venue was the San Diego Rowing Club, a clubhouse for local crew teams which has a gorgeous building called the Garty Pavillion which is available for event rental. The rehearsal made me nervous and excited for the wedding and although our actual ceremony site was taken over by the rowers (and later rowers doing yoga) we were still able to practice. Immediately following we headed back to the hotel where all of our immediate family and the majority of the bridesmaids and several guests were staying, the Catamaran Hotel, for drinks before the rehearsal dinner.
Mike’s parents hosted a wonderful rehearsal dinner in a banquet room at the Catamaran with three food stations for a delicious dinner. Claire, Mike’s sister, started off the evening with a funny speech about Mike standing up for her against a bully when they were children. She then invited others to speak and Mike’s Dad, our officiant and friend Bret, my Mom, my Dad, my Grandma, Mike’s college friend Stephen, Mike’s childhood friend Mike and my friend Lana all spoke about us. My Grandma mentioned how she had 7 kids hoping for 30 grand-kids and was upset that she only ended up with 10 – sorry Grandma! We followed it up with a slideshow that Mike had made of us – he did an absolutely amazing job at making it entertaining and heartfelt and included all our family and bridal party present. We wrapped up the night by giving our bridal party their gifts and chatting and taking photos. It was such an amazing start to the weekend!
Asia, my cousin Jessica (who was doing a reading at the wedding and attended the rehearsal), and Sam stayed in my suite that night. First we finally finished all the S’more favors then decided to make some in the microwave as a pre-wedding treat (not as good but still good!). That evening I wrote the love letter that I was going to place in the wine box for the wedding ceremony the next day. Finally by midnight we were in bed and I fell asleep quite easily.
Wedding morning came early and I couldn’t sleep in until my alarm. I had a rough night of sleep – in the middle of the night when I woke to go to the bathroom, I realized that with all the excitement of giving my bridesmaids their gifts I had forgotten to give the parents theirs – and also had LEFT the gifts in the banquet hall. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and went down to the lobby to frantically retrieve them. Thankfully they were with security but it definitely disrupted my night of beauty rest!
The stylists arrived around 8 a.m. to get all of us beautified. I had two hair stylists and one make-up artist in our room and they rotated through 8 bridesmaids, myself and three mom’s hair and make-up (not everyone got both hair and make-up). I gave us plenty of time and the morning was bizarrely relaxed for a wedding morning! We sipped coffee, ate a light breakfast and chatted as we got all done up. At some point we started drinking mimosas as well.
Around 11:30 my step-mom brought in sandwiches for us to eat for lunch and we were nearly ahead of schedule on hair and make-up. When the photographer arrived at noon my hair was done and I was in the make-up chair which was perfect for her to get some shots of that. All of the bridesmaids and my mom, dad and step mom arrived shortly after. I was ready to get into my dress around 12:45 and we took more photos. I opened a couple of cards/gifts from my bridesmaids, gave my gift to my mom (my dad and step mom opened theirs earlier that morning) and then opened the gift and card from Mike. He got me a gorgeous Tiffany heart necklace and wrote a very sweet card!
At about 1:15, I headed downstairs to see Mike for the first time during our “First Look” photo shoot. Mike and I decided to see each other for photos before the wedding. I’m not a traditionalist and I really didn’t want to miss the cocktail hour (I don’t like missing out on fun!). I also didn’t want the photos to be rushed. So instead, we gave ourselves 2 solid hours for photos of us, our parents and our bridal party before the wedding. If I have one recommendation for anyone it would be to give yourself as much time! It went perfectly – Mike and I saw each other ( I cried a bit!) and took a few photos and then the bridal party joined us and we walked the grounds of the hotel and then headed to the beach for more photos. I felt like a celebrity walking around Mission Bay – everyone was staring and yelling congratulations! It was a weird feeling!
After all the photos were finished, Mike headed to the ceremony site with his groomsmen and the girls and I went back to the room to freshen up and relax (and take a shot….) before the ceremony. I was so happy to have a few minutes to decompress before the big event. The venue was less than a 1/2 mile from the hotel so we just caravaned over just before we were ready to walk down the aisle.
We lined up and my heart was beating out of my chest! My dad and I told each other we loved each other and that’s when the tears started to well up. I pushed them back as we started to walk down. A friend of ours played acoustic guitar for our processional and then switched to one of Mike and my favorite songs, “Better Together” by Jack Johnson as I walked down the aisle. I was beaming ear to ear and tears were welling in my eyes as I spotted my groom standing at the end of the aisle waiting for me.
Our officiant was a great friend of ours and he did an absolutely amazing job conducting his first wedding ceremony! He is an amazing public speaker and he made the ceremony thoughtful, funny and enjoyable. He incorporated stories about us throughout and also included advice on marriage from our bridal party and family which he had contacted on his own. My favorite part though was our vows. Mike and I wrote our own and we worked on them a bit together to make sure the flow was similar but we didn’t hear them until our wedding day. I was floored by his vows which were heartfelt, romantic and witty. This was the only time all day that I actually shed a tear (I was surprised that I held it together so much actually!). We also included a reading by Bob Marley (surprisingly beautiful!) and a Wine Box Love Letter ceremony. Finally after exchanging rings we got to the good part – the kiss! We are husband and wife!!!!
Then the party started! Since we had taken most of the photos before the ceremony, we got to spend the majority of our cocktail hour enjoying our guest’s company. I even got to taste each of the appetizers and had a drink! It was pretty overwhelming at first to have so many people you love in one place, but we got in the groove and it was so incredibly fun chatting with everyone. We also signed the marriage license to make it official!
Immediately following cocktail hour was the grand entrance which led immediately into our first dance. We danced to Mason Jennings “Be Here Now” which has special meaning to us. We kept it short and sweet and sat down and immediately dug into our delicious meals. Everyone said we wouldn’t eat on our wedding night and we were on a mission to do so – we cleared our plates! After we finished we talked to more guests and then as soon as the photo booth opened we made our way into it for the first photos. Soon afterward the toasts began, starting with Mike’s Best Man Greg, then my Maid of Honor Asia (who did an amazing job and didn’t even read off a paper!) and then my very proud and happy Dad. Mike followed up with a great speech thanking everyone who helped out and then telling the story about our relationship. It was one of my favorite parts of the night.
Then it was time to dance (and make S’mores – although I never made it over to the fire pit)! We danced the night away, stopping for the cake cutting, more photo booth time with our friends and family, and the garter and bouquet toss (Asia caught the bouquet!!!). Toward the end of the night, the dance floor got really crazy. People were having dance offs (Asia! Page!) and at one point Mike and I were in the middle of the dance floor surrounded by everyone. Soon after, we were both lifted into the air by our friends and were dancing above everyone. It was pretty surreal and another of my favorite parts of the night! The last song of the night, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” had everyone on the dance floor singing and dancing their hearts out.
Needless to say, I was sad when it was over. It was the best day of my life and I couldn’t have been happier! Luckily, after saying goodbyes, we headed over to the hotel bar for more drinks with friends and the night was extended until Mike and I made our way back to our honeymoon suite. The weekend continued with a fun event the next day (more on that later) and then of course the honeymoon… but really September 28th was the Best. Day. Ever.