Honestly, the day before the wedding is kind of a blur, but in the best way possible. The morning started off bright and early with my mom, maid of honor/ sister, Madison, and bridesmaid, EmilyAnn, to the nail salon for a little pampering. We chatted and enjoyed a few moments of not worrying about last-minute preparations or what few things still needed to be done. We were even offered complimentary prosecco in celebration of what the next 36 hours would hold. While it was not my first time getting my nails done for a formal event this year, it was beyond surreal to believe that, this time, I was the bride!
After grabbing Chick-Fil-A for lunch (shocking, I know 😉 ) we met another bridesmaid, Olivia, at my parents’ house. Because our reception venue didn’t have a day-of wedding coordinator or in-house decor, we were responsible for getting most of the decor set up the day before. This included all of our linens I purchased, table numbers, seating chart, our details and signs, the sweetheart table — pretty much everything that was stacked in my parents front room for months! Admittedly, I did have mixed feelings about setting up. After 12 months of planning and designing, I was anxious to finally see it in person, but also nervous that my vision wouldn’t come to life, and at that point, there wouldn’t be anything I would be able to do about it. Thankfully, it seemed to come together and I was excited to see the room filled with florals, candles, and people the next day! With the help of bridesmaids and family, we were able to get the reception room all set up in under an hour.
We met the rest of our wedding party, officiant, and ceremony participants at the church exactly 24 hours before the real deal. I was so overwhelmed with joy to finally be standing in the church where I was baptized, and where I spent most Sundays for the first fifteen years of my life, preparing to marry my soul mate. I was a bit nervous when it was my turn to practice walking down the aisle with my dad, especially because our pianist (my middle band teacher and former Praise Team keyboardist!) was able to attend so we were able to practice with music. It made the rehearsal feel more realistic than I anticipated it to, but I also think it helped me hold it together the following day. Our rehearsal was otherwise went seamlessly smooth, and I’m extra thankful for our patient bridesmaids and groomsmen who made it so easy!
A few months prior, my father-in-law so graciously offered to host the rehearsal dinner, but allowed Jody and I pick the location and menu. The dinner was held at Harry’s on the Green, which is a local restaurant just three blocks from the church, that specializes in American cuisine, with a french flair. As Harry’s has such a unique style to begin with, we didn’t even worry about decor and just let the natural aesthetics take over. Since we were already having an intimate wedding of just under 100 people, we made the decision to keep our rehearsal dinner just as intimate with only our immediate family, wedding party, ceremony participant and their dates.
After a rainy morning, we were surprised we were able to still be seated on their patio for dinner. While the humidity was high, there was an occasional breeze off of the river, which only added to our relaxed dinner atmosphere that we were hoping for! Although, my poor groom unfortunately completely sweat through his dress pants and had to run up the street to our new apartment and change right before they served dinner!
After carefully weighing our options earlier in the year for our selective menu, we chose to have baked brie, a fresh spring salad and cream of crab soup as appetizers, a choice of lump Crab Cakes, Bourbon Glazed Pork Tenderloin or Caprese Flatbread for the main entrée and ended the night on a sweet note with Apple Pie, Strawberry Cheesecake or Hot Fudge Ice Cream Puff. The restaurant even had printed out personalized menus for our affair!
During the dinner, we also presented our gifts to our wedding party and family. I have always loved giving presents, but watching these people who have done so much for us open the gifts that we got for them to attempt to express how eternally grateful we are for their friendship, was surprisingly one of my favorite parts of the evening.
The whole evening was so special and joyful. It reminded me of the feeling that you have on Christmas Eve — it is one of the best days, but the anticipation for the day that follows fills you with such happiness; just pure bliss. I will never forget how it felt to kiss Jody for the last time as my fiance. Part of me didn’t want to let him go because 4:30pm seemed like awfully far from that moment, but the other part of me knew how fast the hours ahead would pass and definitely did not want to rush through any of it. After one last kiss goodbye, I watched Jody drive off into the night, as I went home to spend one last night as a Parks. I’m so grateful to have had such a wonderful celebration as our wedding weekend was fully underway!