As we celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary, I started reflecting on what my favorite memories were from our own wedding day that I still appreciate years later.
Adoration before our wedding rehearsal
We asked our parish priest to host Eucharist Adoration and confession for the thirty minutes prior to our actual wedding rehearsal beginning. Our immediate families, wedding party, readers, servers, and celebrant were all invited to join us in that time of prayer to kick off the whole wedding weekend and to keep Christ at the center of it all.
Praying a Novena Leading up to our wedding
We received a novena booklet for St. Josemaria Escriva’s novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage that we prayed in the days leading up to our wedding day. This was such a nice way to help get us in the mindset for marriage. There are sections specifically for engaged couples and a separate section for married couples so I love that it is a novena we can continue to do each anniversary.
Drink with friends after the rehearsal dinner
There were a lot of our close college friends that were coming into town for the wedding and we were craving quality time with them. Knowing how busy the wedding day would be, we decided to invite our friends out to W.A. Frost in Saint Paul for drinks after our rehearsal dinner. The smaller, intimate setting with friends was exactly what my heart needed and took the pressure off of the wedding day itself.
Doing a private first look together
Since we had a 5pm Friday evening wedding, it made sense to do a first look so that the majority of our pictures could be completed beforehand. We wanted our guests to be able to head straight over to the reception after mass for cocktail hour and to get dinner started asap. The first look moment was really special to have that quality time to talk to each other and share our feelings of excitement that the day was finally here. We had been around each other a lot during the week leading up to the wedding but that wasn’t quality time. This gave us a chance to connect and it relieved a lot of the nerves we were feeling.
A first look with my dad
A wedding day isn’t just a big deal for the couple, it is often a significant moment for the family too. I knew that my dad was going to be sentimental over the fact that his only little girl was all grown up and that this was the day he was officially giving her away to someone else’s care. We saved a few minutes in our timeline before the rest of family pictures started for him to see me in my dress and veil. There were lots of sweet tears and it was truly one of my favorite memories of the whole day, besides getting married of course 😉
Getting ready at the same location
We decided to rent out two of the largest suites at one of the hotels near our church. I love that all of the photos we have from the getting ready portion of the day have the same decor and lighting which makes these images feel cohesive in our wedding album. Logistically it was a breeze to be just across the hall. Whether it was getting the flowers delivered and distributed, having lunch catered, or borrowing siblings for specific pictures.
Hiring professional musicians for our wedding mass
Music is something that is really important to both of us. We hired a professional cantor and organist through our parish. In the eleventh hour we also decided to hire a trumpet to play too. It made it 100% worth it once O God Beyond All Praising started as the entrance hymn to hear the voice of an angel and the power of the trumpet echo gloriously through the church.
Spending 10 minutes alone in our church’s adoration chapel after mass
In lieu of a receiving line, we snuck off into the adoration chapel at our parish for a few minutes. We got to admire each other’s rings, spend a few minutes praying in thanksgiving for the sacrament that just took place, and just be together alone.
Going straight to the reception after mass
Since all of our photos were done before mass, we were able to move right into the reception. This helped my mindset a lot during the wedding day! There were distinct parts to our day: the getting ready time, the photo time, the mass time, and the reception party time. As an extrovert, I know that I would have had a terrible time trying to do any pictures after the ceremony because once I started seeing all our friends and family I would have longed to just be with our guests.
A kings table for the reception
We wanted to be able to have conversations with more of our wedding party during the reception dinner so a kings table was the perfect option for us. We had both been at weddings where the bridal party was seated in one long table, which is practical, but if you didn’t know the other bridesmaids or groomsmen next to you it was difficult to enjoy. We wanted all of our wedding party to enjoy their time during dinner and a kings table made it possible for us to also add a few extra chairs so that their spouses and babies could join them too.
Hiring the right DJ
As photographers we have seen a LOT of DJ’s and still over all the years Josh McClure who runs Harmony DJ Entertainment is still hands down our favorite! One of the things we appreciate about him is that he has a great mix of emcee skills along with being a solid DJ. He made the reception feel welcoming and fun for all of our guests. There were specific songs we wanted playing during the dinner like my grandparents’ and parents’ anniversary songs. When the music came on, he went over to them to make sure they knew that the song was specifically requested for them and to make sure that they could hear it from their seats. Knowing that we were catholic, he prayed with us at each of our meetings together and that meant the absolute world to me.
A Whiskey Box Toss instead of the garter
There was a tradition we saw at a wedding in Arequipa, Peru where instead of retrieving the garter and tossing it out to the single guys, the groom would instead throw an empty whiskey box out to all of the guys there. Whoever catches the empty whiskey box, got to take home the prize of the full bottle of whiskey that it went with. A pretty great prize if you ask me. We did this at our own wedding and it was a big hit! Even though only our peruvian friend in attendance had heard of this before, it wasn’t hard to get guys onto the dancefloor with the promise of, “catch the box, win the whiskey.”
Sunset pictures at the reception venue
You quickly realize how much of a wedding day is given to other people. Throughout most of the day you’re spending time with your wedding party, family, or guests. It was important to us that we carve out some time for the two of us to be alone together on our day and going out for sunset pictures was the perfect solution at the end of the day. The dress is bustled and we’d had a few glasses of wine so these images of us feel more playful and relaxed. I really cherish that time together and the photos we have from it are a big bonus too.
The reception send off
We forgot to make a plan for how we wanted to leave the reception. We checked in with each other around 10:30pm and decided we should “try to leave soon.” But if you’re from the midwest you’re familiar with the “Midwest goodbye” which adds at least thirty minutes to every attempt to say goodbye because you end up in conversations on your way out the door. Once 11:20pm struck, we decided to skip trying to leave and instead just close out our reception. Our DJ was quick on his feet and when the final dance rolled around, he played an upbeat song to make the most of the final minutes, we then gathered together in a circle with our closest friends and family praying over us, and then they lined up for an arm tunnel to send us officially on our way. It was the best spontaneous plan we could have asked for and will always be a favorite memory.
Waiting a few days before leaving for our honeymoon
I didn’t expect my feet to hurt as bad as they did from all the dancing at the reception or that I would feel so exhausted the next day. We filled the rest of the weekend with family brunches, gift openings, moving into our newlywed apartment, and putting away the gifts we received. Then on Tuesday we hopped on a jet across the ocean to spend a week in Rome. I know in hindsight that we would have been too tired and too sore to fully appreciate going to the sites on cobblestone roads. Waiting a few extra days to go somewhere international was absolutely the right call for us. I enjoyed the few bonus days we had to pack for the honeymoon, doing that the week of the wedding would have been too overwhelming for me. I also liked the extra time we had together between events to just soak up being newlyweds before our adventure.
Writing down your favorite memories right after the wedding
It is amazing how quickly you forget the small details, even a few months later because the day was just an incredible blur. Write down all your favorite stories and memories while they’re fresh in your head so that you can look back on them for each anniversary. We always re-read these, go through the notes of our guestbook, and rewatch our wedding video and it reminds us how good that day was and all of the blessings that have come from it since.
What was one of your favorite decisions from your own wedding day?