our wedding day: part one

Two years ago I awoke to a day for which I’d waited my entire life. After so many years of singleness and heartache, God delivered to me a man after His own heart. I am beyond humbled and full of pride to call him, Clay, my husband on this day — our second anniversary.

The past two years have been full — full of the most abounding joy my heart has ever known, and full of some of the deepest darkness my soul has ever seen.

I have battled a journey of chronic pain for 14 years, and am elated to say that God is doing a great work of healing in me. That being said, my new husband walked with me through some serious trenches and valleys before the Lord has brought me up the slope of this mountaintop to which I am now climbing.

Clay has been a source of light, hope, and Truth to me. He has been God’s voice of reason when I couldn’t hear the sound of my Savior’s whispers through my broken sobs. He has been my rock {which is what I call him — he’s my “Rock” and I’m his “Rib”} which reflects the rock that is Jesus Christ — the true Rock on which we stand.

As I sit here on the morning of the second anniversary of our wedding day, I reflect on God’s goodness, His grand design, and His incredible gift of marriage — which starts with the fairy-tale-esque wedding, this “happily ever after” beginning for which our hearts so long.

Our wedding was nothing short of a fairy tale for me. It was full of magic and wonder, beauty and dancing — lots of dancing! And feasting! And yet it was not without its imperfections. My train-length veil ripped somehow before I had even put it on. The videographer’s drone crashed into the leg of a guest during cocktail hour. And there were plenty of others.

And yet despite its imperfections, it was perfect. “Perfectly imperfect” as I like to say.

You see, this side of heaven nothing is perfect. Nothing will be perfect. No matter how much we plan or how much we prepare. But that’s not the point.

Scripture tells us that “there is no one righteous; not even one” {Romans 3:10}. Our wedding day wasn’t perfect. My husband isn’t perfect. I’m sure not perfect. And our marriage isn’t either. But the point of our wedding day was to point every guest in attendance to God, through that which He had done in Clay’s and my life — both individually and then together as a couple.

God brought Clay and me through our own separate journeys of singleness, dating, and lots and lots of waiting. And then He delivered us to each other — at which time we experience more and more waiting! And then finally, on this day, 4.23, April 23, 2016, He brought us together as husband and wife.

The true fairy tale for which we long is that which we will experience in heaven, revealed through the pages of Revelation — the “ending” of God’s Story that is really just another beginning. And it will be perfect. It will be the fulfillment of our every deepest desire of our hearts and every ache of longing of our souls.

In the meantime, though, He has given us the gift of marriage — and weddings! — to reflect His very relationship with us — Christ as Bridegroom, us as bride. What a beautiful metaphor and symbol and way for us to see how this great God, who created all of these photos you are about to see, loves us!

And so with that, I can now present to you my favorite photos and memories from…

our wedding day

april 23, 2016
triunfo creek vineyards
agora hills, california

We got married at a gorgeous vineyard in Agora Hills, California called Triunfo Creek Vineyards. It’s a very secluded and private venue with stunning vineyard views, a grand oak tree, an adorable white farmhouse and breathtaking roses flourishing in the Spring.

Our wedding day, April 23 {4.23}, was one that was special to me. God had revealed that date to me, as He had previously done with the date on which Clay would propose — October 23. It’s a symbol of God’s promises fulfilled, just as 10.23 is. {You can read about that craziness here!}

Also, it is the birthday of one of my dearest friends from high school who passed away from cancer just weeks after turning 18. Her life was such a gift and blessing from the Lord. And so I celebrate this day as not only Clay’s and my anniversary — the birth of a new season of our lives, but also the birthday of my sweet friend, Krissi.

And my groom surprised me with the date embroidered on the inside of his jacket. My heart about melted.

My mom found this white Bible for my nephews, our ring bearers, to carry down the aisle and had our names engraved on it. When Clay proposed he read a passage from Colossians 3, explaining that the words were what he wanted for our lives. We met at our church and have built on relationship on the foundation of God’s Word.

The “ever after” book was one my mom bought for our engagement party. She wrote the words of Hebrews 10:23 on the front cover and had all the guests signed the beginning pages. On our wedding day, each guest got to continue to fill out the pages. It is such a unique and precious gift that sits on some shelves in our living room today.

Surprisingly, for someone who labors over decision-making, we bought the first dress I tried on! I knew nothing of wedding dress designers, but for those of you who are curious it’s a Paloma Blanca design.

And these shoes were my other big splurge — a pair of Jimmy Choo wedges. When my sister got married she wore a pair of gorgeous gold Jimmy Choos and here I was nine years later getting to wear a pair of my own. {Y’all, I never spend money like this! But hey, you only get married once, right?!}

Since all of my {seven} bridesmaids were already married, I though it would be special to get each of their wedding dates engraved onto hangers for their dresses. There’s something so powerful on looking back at God’s faithfulness in our lives and I wanted each of them to remember their own wedding day as they helped Clay and me celebrate ours. {I ordered them on Etsy here!}

Paige from Hue Creative created all of our gorgeous custom signs. And a sweet friend from church helped me to create all our paper goods: save-the-dates, invitations, advice + wishes cards, ceremony programs, table numbers, bar signs and menus!

Our guests sipped blueberry lavender lemonade {custom made by our caterer, L.A. Roots}, played corn hole {custom ordered as a wedding gift by one of my bridesmaids, Jecca}, and enjoyed their 4.23 sunglasses wedding favors under that Cali sun!

Clay and I love music. And I wanted to have lots of personal details in and around our wedding that would make it uniquely “us.” So I gathered our favorite photos from our relationship — from our first date to picking up our marriage license — and hand-picked a song lyrics for each.

They were strung between the trees with twine and clothespins. The wind may have tried to blow them away, but my wedding coordinator, Kari, rescued them and ended up having to tape them down!

A note on the wind: As a writer I have studied screenwriting, and it is known that when there are strong winds in a film they are called “winds of change.” And this day — our wedding day — was most certainly God bringing about some big change!

And as I mentioned, my veil ripped. Bigtime. It was quite the ordeal trying to salvage it {picture bridesmaids on hands and knees with eyelash glue…} And yet, because it was so windy, no one even noticed the torn veil. God’s blessing in disguise!

My mom found these adorable silk robes for getting ready — seven for the “Bridesmaids” and one for “The Bride!” I loved getting ready in this gorgeous rustic farmhouse surrounded by these amazing women.

When my veil ripped it majorly complicated our photo-taking schedule {We were supposed to have taken all our bridesmaids photos outside before the guys showed up; once I was finally ready, the guys had already arrived from their hotel. We had to squeeze in both the groomsmen photos and the bridesmaid photos in all the while attempting to keep Clay and me from seeing each other.}

Needless to say, I was a bit stressed. But that’s when my bridesmaids stepped in, paused to pray over me, laying hands on me, and completely helped to calm my spirit and turn my heart and soul to receive peace from the Lord.

These are some of my favorite photos — completely unplanned, completely unposed. Raw, real and honest.

Nothing like a big whiff of my bouquet offered from a sweet bridesmaid and a big hug from daddy to return to joy before stepping outside to celebrate with some photos with my girls.

In the meantime, my soon-to-be groom was cool as a cucumber {not surprising!!}

How handsome is he?!

Handsome and silly. I love that the guys got custom-made suits, each with their own individual fabric lining… and each with their own patterned socks! {Clay gave those as one of his gifts to them.}

These girls… They made this day so special. That have walked alongside me and Clay in our relationship and continue to provide such wise counsel and fun community for us. I am grateful for the gift that is their friendship.

And they’re pretty gorgeous, too, if I do say so myself!

Clay and I wanted to pray together before the ceremony began, to have a moment alone amidst all the busyness of the day, but we wanted to do so without seeing each other. So we stood back to back by the tree that held those photos of our journey thus far and we prayed over the day and our journey to come.

And then it was time for the ceremony to begin…

Doesn’t my momma look like a princess?

The family was seated. The groomsmen entered. And the bridesmaids walked down the aisle. Aren’t my sweet nephews adorable? And while there isn’t a great one of our sweet flower girl as she walked down the aisle, my heart swells at this one…

And then it was time for me to slip my arm in my dad’s and have him walk me down the aisle toward my groom awaiting. Dream. Come. True.

We both did our very best not to cry. {And I may have tripped my way down the aisle as my wedges sank into the grass and my dress was quite full!}

Our friend Eric sang “It Is Well With My Soul” — a song Clay and I listened to, with iPod splitter, walking up the Santa Monica pier on our very first date. He had just held my hand for the first time and as I listened to those words I couldn’t help but think they’d never sounded more true than at that very moment. We also danced to that song just before Clay proposed to me.

This is one of my absolute favorite photos — my dad looking at his bride, my mom {front right, dark curly hair} as he walks me down the aisle. They are such cuties.

And then my dad passed me off to my groom to stand under that grand oak tree in front of all our family and beloved friends.

And that’s when Drew had a “surprise” verse for us.

As our pastor began reading the words from Isaiah 61 — the very words God had awoken me with in the middle of the night, the very night Clay and I got engaged — my eyes went wide. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me…”

There is no doubt in my mind the Holy Spirit laid that verse on Drew’s heart to share with us. When God had spoken those words to me, I was led to Luke 4 where Jesus speaks these words at the start of His ministry. He ends with the words, “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Of course in getting engaged, I could see that this would most certainly be the year of the Lord’s favor! What I didn’t realize at the time was that Jesus is quoting the prophet Isaiah’s words — the very words Drew was now reading at our wedding, his words ending with verse 3 — “and they shall be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

Friends, God was so present on this day. I felt those rushing winds of the Holy Spirit bringing about change. It seemed as if God’s Spirit was rushing through that place. Ever present.

This day was for the glory of God. Clay and I getting married was simply a conduit for His name to be known.

Clay sang a song for me that day. “Love Never Fails” by Brandon Heath. The song is about the love of God that never fails, that when known and experienced by us allows us to then love others in a way that is more similar to the way that God loves us.

It reminds me of the very verse that sat at the beginning of the aisle — “But when we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made perfect in us” {1 John 4:12}. His love is made perfect in us who are imperfect. And therefore I know that though Clay and I are both so incredibly imperfect, that God’s love will be made perfect in us as we continue to choose each other until death do we part… which is exactly what we added to the end of our vows — the words —

I choose you.

Then it was time for rings and kissing and then we were married, y’all! Just like that! Hubby and wife! Forever!

Fun fact: I had my fingerprint engraved on the inside of Clay’s ring as my own surprise to him on this day!

I truly cannot express the joy I felt in that moment, walking back down that aisle. The joy could simply not be contained within the span of my cheeks.

We all know the best part of weddings comes after the ceremony, but for now you will just have to wait!

There are so many photos and so many great moments that I want to remember and have documented, I couldn’t quite possibly include them all in one post. So thus concludes part one of our wedding day!

In the meantime if you’d like to watch our wedding video highlight reel you may do so here!

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all photos: Cameron Leung Photography

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