Becoming a bride made everything better. January is a fun month for Fred and me. We both celebrate birthdays, mine on Jan. 14 and Fred’s on Jan. 31. But this year, January will be a little extra special. It will be the first time we begin the year and celebrate our birthdays together as a married couple!
On Oct. 10, 2020, Fred and I exchanged our vows in front of two dozen of our closest family and friends. It was a very scaled-down version of the wedding we initially envisioned when we got engaged in January 2020. (Another reason this month is so special!) Like many couples, we had to postpone our big wedding due to COVID-19, and instead, we planned for a small ceremony with just our families. We had a wedding planner, but we’ve deferred her services for our big anniversary party.
So, all the planning landed on our shoulders! I’ve been told that no matter if you have 20 guests or 200 guests, it’s the same amount of stress. You still have to make all the plans, coordinate times, and prepare for the little details, like filling out name cards or selecting appetizers. Regardless of how much our wedding changed from our initial plans or how much work it took, it was still a special day with personal touches that symbolize our lives together.
We woke up that Saturday morning to a light drizzle. We had always planned to have our cocktail hour and reception in our backyard, and Fred worked hard to manicure that lawn to perfection. We didn’t think too much about the rain until early that afternoon when it became evident that we needed to deploy a Plan B. (At that point, it’s fair to say this was plan D or E.)
Our rental company was phenomenal and brought us more tents while my family laid down additional rugs to prevent people from slipping and falling throughout the night. We were also lucky to have the ceremony in our church. Since our ceremony was so small, we were actually the church’s first event since the COVID-19 pandemic. It was special to be part of their reopening in such a meaningful way.
Fred and I also worked very hard on our ceremony to make it one that reflected us. Our grandkids walked us down the aisle, and rather than have a bridal party, we stood up front together, alone with our minister. Promise Law’s very own Tammy Gandolfo sang for our guests, we had poetry and Bible readings, and rather than sit in the front pews during the ceremony, we faced our guests and took in their excitement and expressions. Our ceremony felt very personal, and I’ll always treasure that.
Back at our house, we enjoyed a cocktail hour with our guests, and later we had dinner and speeches. The rain had created a muddy mess, so I went inside, safety-pinned my dress up, and laced up my hiking boots. I even did our first dance that way: in my bridal gown and hiking boots.
We also enjoyed bourbon yellow cake, a nod to our love of bourbon and our honeymoon destination along the Bourbon Trail. An old attorney friend actually made the cake, and another long-time attorney friend made our guests’ favors, chocolate-dipped pretzels.
Perhaps the most touching part of the night was when our loved ones made toasts. We’re a blended family, and this marriage was an extension of our two families coming together. It was meaningful to hear from our children, and I’ll always cherish what they said, especially when Fred’s son said that coming to our house felt like coming home, again.
I believe those small intimate moments, like wearing my hiking boots for our first dance or sharing a moment of reflection with Fred and our family, wouldn’t have been possible without our small gathering. We had the chance to enjoy our guests, catch up with them after such a rough year, and create meaningful memories that we will always hold dear. We can’t wait for our big anniversary celebration, but we will always treasure the videos, photos, and memories of this soaking wet, intimate, beautiful day.
Happy New Year to you and yours!