Sunday, December 26, 2010

The final chapter and a new beginning

The wedding has been planned, executed, and recapped. It's a little bittersweet to write this final post and officially close this chapter of my life. In reality though, this chapter ended a while ago, and I'm just a little behind.

I promised a summary of things I was glad we did and those I would recommend other couples do differently.

The best decisions

-Budgeting high for a great photographer. We ended up with nearly 850 images for our uninhibited use. Since then, we've made countless prints, shared them on here and Facebook, and most recently, created an album on Blurb for ourselves and Christmas gifts for the parents. To view it, jump over to Blurb here.
-Budgeting low for a dress. My dress cost less than $700 and came from David's Bridal. I know different people have different priorities on wearing designers, but this is one decision I don't regret one bit.
-Shopping around and negotiating our reception contract. The Crystal City Marriott was fabulous to work with, our meal was delicious, and they gave us perk after perk for hosting our reception there.
-Using a grocery store for our flowers. We got our flowers from Wegman's, an east coast grocer chain. They were half the price of traditional florists, and their work was fabulous.

Things I might tell others to reconsider

-Booking the cheapest option isn't always the best idea. Both our shuttle service and cake were a bit of a let down. However, they were also low on our priority list. Bottom line: you get what you pay for.
-Using an iPod for your reception music. Our playlist ended up out of order, and I had to keep running to it to change the song. However, with only the minimal charge of renting the speakers, and the fact that no one else noticed, it was probably worth it.
-No matter how cute your shoes are, if you wear 4" heels for more than an hour, they will probably hurt. I don't remember a good bit of the ceremony because I was so focused on being hot and my feet being in pain. I wish I would have just worn my reception shoes the entire time. Wedges or flats are your best friends.
-If you're getting married in the heat of the summer, have water available at all times. Lots of water. Everyone will thank you later.

Most of all what I learned was that you should have a wedding that reflects who you are not what others think you should do. Our wedding had lots of elements of our personality. We played 80s rock but had a nice sit-down meal. Luckily, I had a great support system who was behind all of my decisions, so it was never a case of someone trying to insert their own idea of our wedding. Be true to who you are, and everyone will have fun.

When I started this blog, we were newly engaged and I was Christina Marie Lexa. We've now been married for a third of a year, and I'm Christina Lexa McNally. While our wedding was really fun, I have no doubt that our greatest adventures are to come.

If you care to keep up with us as we navigate married life, I'm moving back to my old blog, now retitled: Married with Beagles.

Thank you for your support, encouragement, and love through this journey.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wedding Recap: Reception - Part, The Fourth

This is it. We've come to the end (finally). I absolutely had to post pictures of a couple of dances that the photographer was no longer around to capture, but luckily, my mother always has her camera attached to her hand.

I snuck in "Enter Sandman" for Will, and as such, had to play the Iowa fight song and victory song. We stood and sang, and then we twirled each other around. It was so fun.

The music playlist ended up getting all sorts of out of order. Our original "last song" was going to be "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. However, it got played earlier in the night. We ended up playing "Living on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. Which was just as good.

I have no idea whose idea the conga line was (I've heard conflicting reports), but it was awesome. We literally had a train of almost every guest left going all the way around the room.

Nearing the end of the conga line, we all started high-fiving as the line passed.

By this point, the bustle in my dress was completely torn out from people stepping on it dancing. Whatev. Not like I'm gonna wear it again. I'm pretty sure that's what Kristen and Megan were discussing here.

And after the conga line broke up, a Hora broke out (minus the chairs). I fought it off for a while after they already had Will in the air. But finally, I gave up and let them hoist me up too.

After I got over the initial fear of being dropped the night before we're supposed to go on a ten day European honeymoon, it was seriously fun.

And that's how our night ended. Wedding recap in the books. As a final post to wrap up this wedding blog, I'm going to post on the things I was glad we did and things I would change in retrospect (or would offer advice to other brides to avoid). I wouldn't change our wedding day, but there are things that could definitely go smoother for others knowing what I do now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wedding Recap: Reception - Part, The Third

I know, I have dragged this wedding recap out for nearly a third of the first year of our marriage. Pretty much the only person left reading is now my mother (hi, Mom!). I think part of the reason why am having such a hard time getting through the recaps is that the wedding was so much work, that I was just ready to be done with it all afterwards. But I do love my photos, so I want to share all of those, obviously.

We did a lot of dancing. A lot. of dancing. Thank goodness I switched shoes. Seriously, my yellow espadrilles were the key to being able to stay on my feet for the rest of the night. We began the dancing with an "anniversary dance" where they counted up the number of years of marriage until there was one couple still dancing.

These wonderful people, Ms. Ann and Mr. Joe are old family friends and made the trip all the way to DC for our wedding. The day of our wedding was their 40th anniversary. They almost won the dance.

But it was these two who won. Those are my grandparents, and I don't think I have ever seen them look happier than when Pepaw was swinging Memaw around the dance floor that night. I hope that we look like this in 50-something years.

From there... it was time to boogie. I have hundreds of dancing pictures, and I've only posted my favorites here because, well, they're all good.

My cousin, Nathan, doing the can-can with my college friends.

And then they broke out into "Thriller".

Will's dad had one request for the entire day. That we play "Shout" at the reception. We did, and he got down. Literally.

At one point, I looked around and saw my friend Kishore start to dance with my cousin. Who is 15. I jumped in quickly and saved my aunt's sanity. (Sorry, Aunt Sheri.) And Kishore's head. So he swung me around the dance floor instead.

It's not a real party without the air guitars.

Will let me play one group dance song (in fairness, I vetoed quite a few... he was allowed). We did the Cupid Suffle, and as you can see, it was very popular. And yes, that's our four star general/uncle doing it right up front!

I knew up front cake was not a big deal. Therefore, we didn't pay a whole lot for it. And it's true what they say, you get what you pay for. We paid way less than $500 for our cake, and that was evident when I saw it. The yellow and blue weren't the right colors and worse, they had bled together and smudged on the buttercream to turn part of the cake green. Oh well. From the one bite I had, I remembered thinking it was tasty. I suppose we'll see in another 8 months...

Yum, cake. Yum, marriage.

The last formal event we had was my bouquet toss. And boy, was it eventful.

The single ladies gather (to Single Ladies, obvi). I size up the group.I remember thinking to myself, don't throw it too high.

I don't self-coach well.

Bouquet hits the light fixture. Bouquet falls to the floor. Everyone stands around like bouquet has rabies.

I hang my head in shame.

Thankfully, my friend Mary comes to the rescue. Barefoot and wine-in-hand, she retosses the bouquet.

It lands right in Maggie's hands! And there was great rejoicing...

This concludes the professional photo portion of the wedding recap. I have to do one more post to cover the last song of the night and conclude the blog. Plus, by now, you're sick of reading about the wedding anyway. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wedding Recap: Reception - Part, The Second

After we'd been toasted, we continued trying to make our rounds through the tables. It was a lot more difficult to move quickly than I thought it would be. I figured with only 112 guests, we'd be fine to say hi to all our tables. We made it to about half.

During dinner, we also did our father/daughter and mother/son dances. I mentioned before, choosing the song for this dance was really easy. I've known for a long time that I wanted to dance to "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart (noticing a trend in music selections?). I was afraid I'd cry through the song. Instead, Mitch made me laugh through it. Will and his mom danced to "My Wish" by Rascall Flatts.

Then it was time for my big surprise. I knew I wanted to sing a song to Will during our wedding since before we were engaged. The ceremony didn't seem the right place to burst into song, so I decided that while everyone was still sitting during dinner would be perfect. Only my mom and one bridesmaid knew about it. Not only was it a surprise to Will, but it was a surprise to most of the guests.

Unfortunately, I'd been battling bronchitis during the week leading up to our wedding (perfect timing, right?). Being critical of my own performance, I know I could have sounded better... but oh well. It was a fun tribute to my new husband.

I sang "Love You I Do" from the Dreamgirls soundtrack.

Up next, let the dancing begin!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wedding Recap: Reception - Part, The First

Once we were released from the holding cell, it was time for the grand entrance. We both really liked the Hall and Oates song, "You Make My Dreams Come True" (of 500 Days of Summer fame) and decided it would be a great entrance song. After our bridal party was announced, it was our turn...

...which went right into our first dance. I hadn't thought far enough in advance to realize that once I walked in with my bouquet, I would probably want to put it down before we started our dance. Thanks, Anna,  for guarding it on short notice. :)

As recounted here, we danced to Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are." I loved it. It was perfect. I can't wait to hear this song randomly come on some time and think back to our first dance.

You'll note, I decided to ditch the veil after the ceremony. Not that I had the foresight to know this, but a veil gets your head yanked back just about every time someone hugs you. I was really glad I found this alternative. I found it at a bridal store on clearance. I believe it was probably meant to be sewn onto a dress or sash, but I hot glued a pin on the back of it and made it a hair accessory instead.

The paparazzi.

Lu leading the glass clinking.

Mitch giving the blessing before dinner.

Best Man Colin giving the toast. He worked our babies into the speech. It was sweet and funny and perfect.

Maid of Honor Erin giving her speech. When we were in high school, we watched the movie "My Best Friend's Wedding" with Julia Roberts maybe 25 times. We loved it. We knew all the words from it. And in her speech, she quoted it. It was so awesome.

Here begins the constant eat a few bites, get up and chat, eat a few bites, get up and chat routine that we continued through the rest of dinner. We weren't able to make it around to all the tables during dinner (I don't know how people with big weddings talk to half of their guests), but I feel like I danced with most of the rest of the room I didn't talk to during dinner.

Next up: more reception including father/daughter and mother/son dances.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wedding Recap: Let's Get It Started

Immediately following our wedding ceremony was a cocktail hour at the hotel. It was held in the lobby outside of the main ballroom where the reception would follow. We had a few pictures done afterwards, and after my bustle was done, shoes were changed, and veil switched to a fake flower, I didn't really see much of it. We gathered with the wedding party well before 6PM to arrange everyone for the grand entrance, but here are some shots of our lovely guests enjoying the set-up.

When I was little, my grandparents would hug me like this and called it a "Christi sandwich." They really wanted to do it again on our wedding day.

Will being greeted by family.

Mackenna with her Grandma Deanie. Isn't she a doll?

My lovely parents!

Best Man Colin, Maggie and friends.

Dempsey siblings mingling during cocktail hour.

Bridesmaid Kate and her husband Brett mingling with other guests.

Bridesmaids Amanda and Jordan hanging out with Mary.

Kayla and Uncle Shane. I think his tie was crooked.

My pretty Aunt Sheri.

Most things during our wedding day went according to plan. I've already mentioned the fainting bridesmaid, but the other good story (other than of course our lifelong profession of dedication to each other, I suppose) from our wedding day happened at cocktail hour.

As we were walking back to the "holding room" where the bridal party gathered prior to the big introductions, Will says to me, "Don't get upset, because it's already been taken care of..." (good set-up, right?) Turns out, we had a wedding crasher. An invited guest had brought an uninvited person to our reception. Will had asked a friend to kindly ask that person to leave. Ended up not being a big deal, but just funny to say we had a wedding crasher.