wedding day recap

T-2 Days: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9

I turned to Ken, and tried not to move my lips much as I said, "Oh.My.God. Look at those cakes." Ken turned and looked at the cakes. Then turned back and said to me, "Well, huh, how about that. That’s not even close to what we ordered. Another thing the coordinator messed up."

There wasn’t much we could do about it, so we just continued on. We turned on the microphone while up on the stage and once folks started to notice we were there, they all started to applaud. We welcomed them to the wedding. We told them that if they got too chilly, that they could head to the Mess Hall just about 200 feet away and warm up in there and that we had some beer, wine, other beverages, games, and a photobooth in the Mess Hall. We also pointed out the board games that were on the table next to the cakes, and where the kids table was.

The "dinner" music was playing, but dinner wasn’t scheduled to start for another 45 minutes or so. It was time to mingle with our guests!  The photographers went off to take some detail shots of our rings, bouquets, and lego ring bearer box.



I LOVE this photo of our rings on top of s’mores ingredients!






I had read in so many different places online that your wedding day, especially the reception, is a complete blur and that it goes by so fast. I was really cognizant of both these issues, so I had made two decisions. Try to be completely "present" in each moment at the reception. For instance, when interacting with guests, I would completely focus on them. Not wave to people in the distance, not worry about how our first dance would go, not worry about our incorrect cakes.

I also made the decision not to drink any alcohol at the reception.

Here’s the thing about me and alcohol. When I drink, it tends to be for relaxation purposes, not for "fun purposes." I become relaxed when I drink (or when I drink too much, I get sleepy and boring), not fun and animated. Like the previous night when I started drinking before the rehearsal, it was so that I could relax. And earlier in the morning at the hotel when I was getting ready, I drank to relax.

There was no more need for me to relax! It was time to have fun! I did get a glass of wine just so I could carry it around with me as I interacted with guests, but I never actually drank any it. I also realized that by not drinking alcohol, perhaps the wedding would be less of a "blur" like many people describe it as.

So, I would definitely NOT describe our reception as a "blur." But there were a lot of things that happened that I can’t necessarily remember the sequence.

One of the first things, I think, remember happening to me after our little introductions is a little girl coming up to me with the card that had our table "number" description. She was sitting at the Betta Fish table! Our description card had told the story about how Ken and I have a fish tank at home, and we even had a betta fish that lived for more than two years. The little girl, who was probably 8 or 9, proceeded to tell me the story that she had a betta fish that lived for more than THREE years!



This was a really poignant moment for me for some reason. First, the fact that little kids almost always find weddings miserable, and she was just really excited about everything, especially telling me all about her betta fish. Second, the fact that folks were actually reading our table postcards and learning more about us!

I walked around, sometimes with Ken and sometimes without, mingling with all the guests.



I’m not sure what story I’m telling here, but it looks like a good one!



There were already folks making s’mores in the fireplace.


Before I knew it, dinner was ready to be served and folks started lining up for our BBQ buffet. Then my mom came up to me (I think it was my mom) and said, “isn’t the pastor going to do a blessing?” Oh, right. Yep, that was on our wedding timeline! That our COORDINATOR had in her possession. But, oh well. I saw the pastor and asked if he would go up to the microphone and give a quick blessing. So he did.


Everything was just so amazing. Sure, the weather was chillier than we had hoped, and it was especially annoying because that was the only day below 60 that entire week, but folks didn’t seem to mind that much. They had all dressed accordingly and looked stylish with their jackets. And the kids were running around like crazy, so that was keeping them warm.

Before we knew it, dinner was over! Ken and I hadn’t even eaten anything! It’s okay though, with all the excitement, I don’t think I could’ve eaten anything if I had wanted to!  Plus, interacting with our guests was much more important to us than eating.


Wedding Day Recap, Part 6 [Wedding Recap Wednesday]

by Melissa on February 22, 2012

T-2 Days: Part 1;   Part 2Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5

The precious few minutes before we headed to the ceremony site were spent looking for mints.

See, here’s the thing. Ken gets this weird gagging cough thing any time he is either A) Really Excited, B) Really Nervous, C) Really grossed out, or D) in really cold weather. Only one thing helps soothe his weird gagging cough. Those little round starlight mints. Since A and B were definite possibilities for the ceremony, he wanted to make sure he ate a mint before the wedding. He even specifically brought an entire bag of mints with him to the wedding venue when we arrived on Wednesday. They had been sitting on the same table in the Mess Hall for the last two days. But in those minutes before the ceremony, we couldn’t find the mints. We looked everywhere in the Mess Hall, but no one found them or remembered moving them.

Although I didn’t articulate it, I was kind of concerned. I realize this sounds very selfish, but I did not want Ken cough-gagging during the entire ceremony. This had been a worry, albeit minor one, for quite some time. Because once he starts to do it, the cough just gets progressively worse and frequent unless he has a mint. But, there was nothing we could do. The mints were nowhere to be found. Ken’s mom offered him a Hall’s cough drop from her purse. He took it in the hopes that it could have the same soothing effect on his cough as a starlight mint. He walked to the ceremony site with the Halls in his mouth. The next time I would see him was when I would be walking down the aisle!

Everyone except me, my dad, and my sister started walking to the ceremony site.  I walked to the restroom with my clutch purse to freshen my lipstick and lipgloss. Actually, the single restroom in the Mess Hall was occupied, so I had to walk to actual restrooms "building" adjacent to the Mess Hall. I put on my lipstick, but somehow it was a different color than the one I had put on at the hotel. As of today (the time I’m drafting), I still have no idea what happened to that lipstick. Once again, oh well. I put on the different color and walked back to the Mess Hall to meet up with my dad.

We started the approximately 400 foot walk to the ceremony site (the council circle, not the pavilion). My sister was taking pictures with my camera as we walked. She also had Ken’s camera on her other shoulder. We had told her to make sure she held both our cameras during the ceremony. We emphasized it as a very important point.



For like the millionth time that day, I couldn’t believe that the day was actually here. I was about to get married. The day had been unfolding beautifully. 

As we walked, my dad started to get really choked up. I just squeezed his arm and said, "It’s a happy day, not a sad one!" He said, "I know. It is a happy day."

I couldn’t believe how non-crying-emotional I had been all day. Considering that I was practically a blubbering mess simply reciting our vows at our rehearsal the night before, I had not shed even a single tear since Ken and I’s joint cry in the hotel very early that morning. The only emotions I had felt for the last 8 hours or so had been excitement with a few jitters mixed in!)

We reached the top of the gentle slope "aisle" that would lead us to the ceremony. There were several folks standing there. My mom, my brother-in-law (who would be escorting my mom down the aisle), Ken’s mom and Ken’s stepdad (Ken’s stepdad would escort Ken’s mom down the aisle), Ken’s grandmother and Ken’s Uncle (Ken’s uncle, i.e., his grandmother’s son/mom’s brother, was escorting his grandmother down the aisle), and my nephew (the ring bearer), and Ken’s niece (the flower girl). The wedding coordinator’s assistant was also standing there. She had on a black headset, a walkie talkie, that she was using to communicate with the coordinator who was standing at the actual ceremony site just 100 feet away.

I started to wonder if the ceremony musician, a classical guitarist, was there. Because at the top of the "aisle," I couldn’t hear any music. In one of my more recent "wedding disaster" dreams, I dreamt that the ceremony musician didn’t arrive until hours after the ceremony. So I asked the coordinator’s assistant. She said that yep, he was there. Funny, I thought the music would be louder. He said he was bringing an amp with him. This might be a good thing. Anytime I would listen to my processional song, Pachebel’s Canon in D, I would cry. So if I couldn’t hear the processional song well, maybe I wouldn’t cry as I walked down the aisle, something I had been afraid of.


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Wedding Day Recap, Part 5 [Wedding Recap Wednesday]

by Melissa on February 15, 2012

T-2 Days: Part 1;   Part 2Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

All photographs in this post are from our amazing wedding photog, Debi Parker

We had arrived at the venue! We parked in the small parking area next to the Mess Hall. I walked inside the mess hall and there were a bunch of people in there enjoying some snacks that our family friend had made. The fireplace was roaring. And there was Ken. Still in his jeans and t-shirt! Quite a few of the folks made playful comments about the bride and groom not seeing each other before the ceremony! Of course, that was silly, we had seen each other all morning and were about to have our pictures taken together.

I said, "Ken! Go get dressed!” He got up right away and went to the cabin where he had put his suit so that he could change. He was back within like 3 minutes. The joys of being a guy. He sat down at the computer we had set up for the photobooth. He said that it kept crashing. The same photobooth that had been working for 2 days straight wouldn’t work, and he didn’t have time to troubleshoot it.

Oh well. We had lots of technology projects, and we came to an agreement long ago that if one of them malfunctioned, we wouldn’t freak. It wasn’t the end of the world. Anyway, it was still partially working. Instead of it automatically taking pictures when someone walked in front of it, people now just had to press a button to get it to take the photos.

Then came the comedic process of 1) Finding someone that knew how to tie a tie, because Ken doesn’t know how, and 2) figuring out how to put on boutonnieres and corsages. Ken must’ve walked to about three male family members before his stepdad managed to tie his tie correctly.





I buttoned the cuffs of Ken’s shirt.



And my dad’s cousin was doing a pretty good job of getting the corsages and boutonnieres on everyone.



I explained to my nephew what a boutonniere is.




We were having a bit of a hard time getting my nephew’s boutonniere on properly, and the photographer even offered to help. The photographer got it pinned on him.

About 60 seconds later, my nephew was tugging at my dress and pointing to his boutonniere. "Melissa, I don’t like this. Can you take it off please?" It was such a cute way he asked. It was like he knew not to make a scene or start yelling that he didn’t want to wear it (although he’s typically not like that in general anyway, he’s a well behaved little boy). I figured there was no need to force him to wear it if he didn’t want it. I took it off of him and set it on a table in the mess hall. 

My sister remembered that I had not yet put the sixpence coin in my shoe. The sixpence is a family heirloom that generations of women in my family had worn on their wedding day. She said she would go track down a piece of tape to tape it to the inside of my shoe. Wanting to get started with the pre-ceremony photographs, I said, "No, just put it in my shoe, it will stay in there just fine."

Ken and I set out with the photographers to have our "first look" photos taken. Although I guess by that point "pre-ceremony" photos probably would’ve been more appropriate, because Ken and I had already had our "first look." The photographer directed us to a good place to have some photos taken.

As we were taking photos, we could see our guests walking down the pathway from the parking lot. We would wave to them, and I wondered if they had ever heard of a bride and groom having their photos taken before the ceremony, because from what I understand, it is a more recent trend (or at least has become more common recently). I couldn’t stop smiling. We actually did a "fake" first look, where Ken stood facing one direction and I walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder and we feigned extra super excitement. We must look like doofuses in that picture (as of the time I’m drafting this section, it’s 18 days post-wedding, and we haven’t gotten back our pro photos yet, so I can’t say definitively that we look like doofuses. Update! We have our wedding photos since I first drafted this, and yup, we look like doofuses)





I could see the pavilion, where our reception was going to take place, but the plastic walls, although they were clear, made it difficult to see the setup and the details. I was so anxious to see the inside! But, there was no time.  It was funny, we had allotted about 40 minutes for first look photos. I would just like to say that that time FLEW by. We wanted to walk to a nearby lake at the venue, probably no more than a four minute walk, but it was about 2:40 at that time, and the ceremony was starting at 3PM. I was determined to have the ceremony start on time. Ken and I had gone to an outdoor wedding on a HOT day back in June that started more than 30 minutes late. We took a few more photos. As we were walking through a grassy area, a bunch of leaves got stuck in my shoe, so I took my foot out of my shoe and shook out the leaves. Here are a few of my favorite first look photos:












At some point, and I’m not sure when, and it might have even been before the first look photos I mentioned the fact that we were going to have the ceremony in the pavilion to protect the guests from the wind (I’m now 21 days past the wedding as I’m drafting this. Happy 3 week anniversary to me). I’m not even sure who I said it to, but I think it was the coordinator’s assistant. No one seemed to know what I was talking about. I wasn’t too worried.

It was amazing. After all the worry and panic earlier that morning, in fact, just like 8 hours earlier, the little things were just rolling right off my back. Photobooth not working properly? Oh well. Ceremony site still not decided? Well, we’ll figure it out.

Nothing else mattered. We were getting married that day regardless of where it took place at the campground and regardless of whether the photobooth was working. 

I mentioned to Ken about having the ceremony in the pavilion. He said no, that he never told anyone that we were having it in the pavilion. I asked him about our phone conversation earlier when he said we should have it in there because it was so windy outside. You know, that conversation when I was barely paying attention to what he was saying? He said that that was never a final decision. I felt kind of silly for a moment because I had even posted to our wedding Facebook group that our ceremony would be in a different location. Oh well!

We wrapped up our first look photos and the photographers headed to the pavilion to take some detail shots. Ken and I headed back to the mess hall to round up everybody. It was TIME.


T-2 Days: Part 1;   Part 2Part 3

T-1 Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Wedding Day: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3

There was a lot of things happening simultaneously. I slipped on my shoes and grabbed my clutch and my bouquet. My dad loaded up the bellhop cart, the same cart that we kept in our hotel room overnight so that I could keep my wedding dress hanging from up high, with things like my reception dress, my "important" bin, my "accessories" bin and my "makeup" bin. I think there were also a few other things on there, including the shopping bag that the florist brought that had the boxes with each corsage and boutonniere. My dad asked the photographer if she wanted to load her gear onto the cart. She said, "No thanks, my camera bag has wheels."

I opened up my laptop one more time. I went to Facebook and did two things. One, I posted an update to our Facebook wedding group that we were now going to hold the ceremony in the pavilion with the covered sides, so as to protect our guests from the windy weather (that was a decision I thought was made on my phone call with Ken. The one where I was barely listening to him).  Two, I went to my Facebook news feed and typed in the status message "about to leave for the wedding" and asked the photographer to capture it while I had my mouse hovered over the word "Post." Then I had her take another photo of it right after I posted it. (Sorry, I wanted to post that photo, but there are just too many last names in the photo to pixelate out. It was awesome though!) Here’s a picture of me at my computer though.


We took the elevator down to the lobby. By the way, the hotel we stayed at was a lovely one, but fuck if their elevators had no temperature control! Seriously, it was like riding an elevator outside. Freezing cold. Of course, I was hating the fact that it was so cold on our wedding day, especially since it was THE ONLY DAY OF THE 10 DAY FORECAST that was cold. But whatever, there was nothing we could do.

We got off the elevator and waited for my sister to pull around the car. I was with my mom, my dad, my five year old nephew, and my dad’s cousin. I was SO excited. It was TIME TO LEAVE FOR MY WEDDING. Jitters were gone, no more rumbly tumbly in my tummy. I was set.

My sister pulled up with her SUV. As I walked out the automatic doors of the hotel, I heard my mom say, "Oh, wait a second, let me see the back of your dress."

Cue panicked feeling.

My cousin said, "oh yeah, look at that." I was picturing a rip. Picturing some sort of giant gash of a tear in the back of my dress. My mom and cousin walked up behind me and touched the middle of my back. In my calmest voice possible, I said, "oh no, is it a tear?" I tried to be rational, and I reminded myself that I had an entire other dress to wear. For a moment, I kicked myself for not making an emergency sewing kit. They tugged at it. Nope, it wasn’t a tear. It just bunched somehow. They straightened it and I was good to do.

My heart started beating again.

My dad was driving, I sat in the passenger seat, and my mom, nephew, and cousin all sat in the backseat. My sister took a few photos as we all climbed into the car. I don’t remember what was discussed during the car ride. I guess I could ask my family. I could tell that my nephew was excited.

We got on I-95 for two exits. I had learned of a side road way to get to the venue, but I forgot to tell my parents about it. Traffic was heavy for just those two exits. That was exactly why I had decided to stay at a hotel closer to the venue instead of staying at home, 20 miles north on I-95.

We got off the exit and drove down the main road to get to the venue. About a mile before we would enter the cellphone "dead zone," I called the landline in the Mess Hall from my cell phone. A family friend answered, the same family friend that had been staying at the campground and helped cook our rehearsal dinner. I asked for Ken. She said he was in the pavilion. I told her where I was and that we’d be there in a few minutes.  She said she’d relay the message to Ken.

We’re driving. And driving. AND HOLY SHIT WE JUST MISSED THE TURN TO THE VENUE. The same turn I had been using for days on end now. The same turn where MY A-FRAME CHALKBOARD SIGN SAT INDICATING THAT IT WAS MELISSA AND KEN’S WEDDING.

Cue middle-of-the-road U-turn.

Good for a laugh. Please no other cars come and t-bone us. #ThisIsTheDefinitionOfDistractedDriving

We turned down the gravel road that would take us to the campground. There were all sorts of cars there and parked already. Guests were arriving for our wedding. OUR WEDDING. The day was HERE. I started literally shaking with excitement.


T-2 Days, Part 1;    T-2 Days, Part 2;     T-2 Days, Part 3

After our amazing day on Wednesday, we were ready to get started on another productive day on Thursday. Our original plan was to depart for the hotel early in the morning, attempt an early check-in, and if we couldn’t check in, at least drop off our wedding items, like my dresses and Ken’s suit, in my family’s hotel room since they had already checked in.  Then I would head to the venue in time for some vendor deliveries that would start at 10AM, including tent wall siding for the pavilion and hay bales used as decor and extra ceremony seating.

However, our plans changed a bit. 1) I didn’t want to rush departing for the hotel early in the morning and I still had to gather up all my makeup and other wedding day supplies. 2) My cousin’s flight (which I had lamented in a previous post) was delayed. Therefore, my sister and her husband wouldn’t be picking her up at the original time. They were going to pick up the beer kegs on the way back from the airport, but since my cousin’s flight was delayed indefinitely, we had no idea what time my sister would be heading our direction (our beer kegs weren’t ready for pickup on Wednesday as originally planned). So, I decided to pick up the beer kegs myself, but the store wouldn’t open until 10AM.

Ken gathered up some last minute items and headed down to the venue at around 8:00 in the morning. I stayed behind to get some last minute things organized and to pick up the beer kegs.

It took me a little while to load up the car with things like my two wedding dresses, Ken’s suit, Ken’s dad’s suit, and suitcases filled with other items, like toiletries, makeup, accessories, and manicure supplies.

But finally, I was ready to leave the house. It was a strange moment. I realized that the next time I would be at the house, I’d be a married woman!

I started my car. Then, SHIT. I didn’t bring anything to wear for tonight’s rehearsal!! I had my wedding dress, my wedding shoes, and my pajamas for the night. Other than that, I had no other clothes except the ones I was wearing. Jeans, a t-shirt, and flip flops. I got out of the car, ran back into the house, and grabbed a dress and shoes from my closet. The same dress I was wearing the day we got engaged.

Do over! I got back in the car and headed to the Beer and Wine store, just a few miles away, to pick up the beer kegs. I had placed an order for them, but for a few moments, the employee couldn’t find the two half-kegs of Yuengling I had ordered. I didn’t want to panic. “Worst case scenario, I just buy tons of cases of beer,” I kept saying to myself. No biggie.

While he was looking for them, my mom called me on my cell. She asked if I could bring a thermometer from our house. My grandmother wasn’t feeling well and was shaking uncontrollably. My mom had called my grandmother’s doctor, who speculated that she might have a fever. I told her that I had already left my house, but that I could stop there again because I’d have to drive back that direction to get on the interstate anyway.

While I was on the phone with my mom, the employee finally found my beer kegs. Whew!! The employee helped me load them into the back of my SUV and I was back on the road, and heading back to the house. Again. As I was driving, I couldn’t help but chuckle. In my car, I had two suits, two wedding dresses, and two beer kegs. What a classy combination!

I went into the house and grabbed the thermometer and also a pair of warm socks. I have this strange thing about stiff hotel room sheets on my bare feet. I hate the feeling of it  and realized I’d need a pair of socks as a barrier between my feet and the sheets. There you have it, a weird factoid about Melissa. I think I also grabbed something else too, but I can’t remember what (even though, as of the time I’m drafting this post, it’s only four days past my wedding).

Do over once again.

Now I’m heading to the hotel about 20 miles away. For real this time. As I’m driving,  I realize that I don’t want the kegs to get even the least bit warm. So, I decided to drop off the beer kegs quickly at the venue and then head to the hotel, about 6 miles away from the venue. I knew I would make it a quick trip at the venue because my wedding dresses were in the back of the car and I didn’t want them to get too wrinkled.

When I told my mom about the change of plans, she said she would just meet me at the venue.

I got to the venue and some family friends unloaded the VERY heavy beer kegs and put them in the industrial walk-in fridge in the Mess Hall. I started working on some projects and then my mom, dad, and grandmother arrived shortly thereafter.

Next week I’ll detail how this day became one of the craziest days of my life.


T-2 Days, Part 1

T-2 Days, Part 2

We left off in the previous post with our family and some family friends hard at work at our helper stations!

Once we had too many people at the Mess Hall, it was difficult to have that same focus Ken and I had earlier that day. Too many people asking too many questions. If I could have added one thing to the helper stations, it would have been a notepad and pen. I would have requested that they wrote down any questions they had in the notepad, and that Ken and I would check in with them about once every 45 minutes and we could answer all their questions at once. I also wish I would’ve worn noise cancelling headphones to improve my focus and ignore their questions (at least until a time it was more convenient for me to answer them).

My five-year-old nephew was also really excited about everything and was trying to “help.” He also spotted the marshmallows that I had purchased to make s’mores at the wedding and kept asking if he could have them. I finally relented and let him roast some marshmallows in the fireplace in the Mess Hall.

As things got completed over at the “helper station” side, I would move it over to the “Ready for Coordinator” side of the room and put a post-it note on it with instructions. Unfortunately I never took a photo of things that I set aside for the coordinator, but, for instance, after all the galvanized buckets for the s’mores supplies had been washed, I moved the buckets, chocolate bars, graham crackers, and marshmallows over to a table on that side of the room, and write a post it note that said “put marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers into labeled buckets and put on table next to fireplace in pavilion.”  (We had purchased little vinyl decals to label each of the buckets.)  Or, after I labeled our chalkboard A-frames, I put a post it sign on one that said “put at intersection to entrance of park,” and on another I put a post it note that said, “put near entrance to parking lot.”

Although there were definitely additional distractions after family and friends arrived, they definitely helped get a lot of things done, like filling more than 100 white paper bags with sand for luminaries.

2011_11_09 23_42_21 Wedding Moving Day_thumb

Yep, those are 100 paper bags filled with a little bit of sand on the bottom

My mom was pretty worried about my grandmother being by herself in the hotel room, (she hadn’t wanted to call to check in, in case my grandmother had fallen asleep), so my family left after a few hours.

Ken and I agreed that we would leave by 11PM to go back home. Once we got to a good stopping point, we were ready to go home.

This is what the Mess Hall looked like when we left it that evening:

2011_11_09 23_42_29 Wedding Moving Day_thumb

Middle row of tables. The table in the foreground was home to Ken’s DIY photobooth setup!


2011_11_09 23_42_10 Wedding Moving Day_thumb

The right side, a.k.a, the “ready for coordinator” side of the Mess Hall. Those pumpkins in the little carts were going to be for the tables in the mess hall!

2011_11_09 23_42_03 Wedding Moving Day_thumb

The middle side again, and the left side in the background, a.k.a, the “helper station” side.

It had been a long, but very, very successful day. We determined that hiring the movers was an excellent decision and had really set the tone for a great day. We weren’t tired by the time we arrived at the venue, so we were able to really focus our efforts on the important stuff.

Since we had driven separate cars to the venue earlier that afternoon, that meant we had to drive separate cars back home for the nearly 20 mile drive. Typically not a big deal, but we had been doing our own thing all day, it would’ve been nice to catch up with Ken during the car ride home.

Unfortunately, we hit a ton of traffic on our way home. Since it was late at night, there was a lot of road construction and lane closures. It took probably close to an hour to get home.

When we finally arrived at home we just kept talking about how absolutely perfect of a day it had been. All our planning and organization had paid off. The only two hiccups of the day had been forgetting the frozen pizza at home, and not being able to get as much done when we had friends and family at the venue. But I still think that was a net gain considering how much work they managed to get done while they were there.

We fell asleep pretty fast after going to bed, although, (I’m having a hard time recalling at this moment, now 13 days post-wedding day as of the time that I’m drafting this section – even though it won’t be published until later) I woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time falling back asleep.

There will be several posts recapping the next day, (the day before the wedding), Thursday November 10. That day, if you recall from my wedding-day morning post, was filled with absolute craziness.


T-2 Days, Part 1

We left off in our previous post when the movers had finished unloading all our items at our campground wedding venue!

We had several hours before family and friends would start to arrive that evening. Since the campground had several heated cabins that Ken and I were offering free-of-charge, a handful of adventurous folks would be staying there.  We had initially asked family and friends (and our day-of coordinator) to arrive early on Wednesday to help us unpack and get other things done, but about two weeks before the wedding, we realized we would get a lot more done uninterrupted and with no one else around.

We were expecting some handymen to arrive at 3:15 to help us with a few manual tasks so we had just a short amount time to get other things set up until they arrived. Ken set up the deejay equipment in the Mess Hall (we purchased two sets of deejay equipment, one for the pavilion and one for the Mess Hall) and it started without a hitch. I started unboxing things and setting up our helper stations. Ken seriously got the deejay equipment set up within like five minutes, so he started playing music when the movers were still unloading stuff. The first song to play was “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas. And that song got us (and the movers) really pumped! We had music play for the entire rest of the evening.

On one side of the mess hall, I set up the helper stations.

2011_11_09 21_45_27 Wedding Moving Day 2011_11_09 21_46_08 Wedding Moving Day

On tables on the other side of the Mess Hall, I started stations labeled as “ready for coordinator” to indicate things that would be ready to be set up on the actual wedding day by our day-of-coordinator (somehow I never took any photos of the “ready for coordinator” tables).

The handymen arrived right on schedule at 3:15PM. We needed them to rearrange twenty 400 lb tables in the pavilion, our reception site. We also needed them to hang string lights from the pavilion ceiling, not a a task that Ken or I wanted to tackle and risk falling from a ladder a few days before the wedding. Ken and I took turns supervising the handymen in the pavilion and getting other things set up and organized in the Mess Hall.

We were getting things set up very quickly and everything was working great!

The handymen took a while longer than we expected, but it was fairly complicated to string the lights from the pavilion rafters. Also, the bulbs on the string lights were SO fragile, that several of the bulbs broke. Luckily we had extra bulbs though. One of the string light sets broke and it took some troubleshooting to figure out what was wrong with it. Initially we thought it might have been the extension cord or the outlet, but we finally discovered that the entire string was just completely broken. It wasn’t a big deal though, we had plenty of other strings. Funny enough, I had purchased those string lights from another couple who had gotten married at the same venue (our caterer also catered their wedding, and gave me their contact information). And that couple had purchased the lights used from ANOTHER couple who had gotten married at the venue.

(Useless fact: I purchased the lights from the couple – well, just the husband, on the day of the DC earthquake. He told me where he worked, which was just two metro stops from my office, so I went to his office to buy the lights. After buying them from him, I grabbed some lunch and went back to my office. Literally just as I sat down to eat my lunch, the earthquake hit.)

There was zero cell service at the wedding venue. Zero. We tried both AT&T and Verizon phones and there was no luck. But, we discovered that we could send a text message if we stood in one particular place near the pavilion, but you had to send it like five times before it would finally go through. So, Ken and I both texted our families with the phone number to the landline in the Mess Hall (since the landline wouldn’t allow long distance calls, texting was the only way to let them know the phone number).

A few hours later, my parents called to say that they had arrived at the hotel, but they probably were just going to stay there for the night and not come to the venue. I’m not sure what time that was, but it was probably about 7:30. I was kind of pissed. They said that my grandmother didn’t want to come to the venue. But, Ken and I said that we were hungry and asked if they would pick us up some food. Our original plan was to bring a frozen pizza with us and cook it in the industrial kitchen at the Mess Hall. But we had forgotten the pizza at home. So, my parents ordered a Domino’s pizza and finally came to the venue and left my grandmother at the hotel.


The industrial kitchen in the Mess Hall

Family friends (a woman and her adult son) also arrived very shortly after my parents arrived with the pizza. The family friend was going to help make the rehearsal dinner on Thursday night. Both she and her son were staying at the campground. Luckily they both also have a wood burning fireplace in their house, so they were able to get the fireplace roaring in the Mess Hall very quickly, which was a good thing because it was getting chilly in there. About two hours later, my sister, her husband, and her five year old son arrived. By that time, my parents and our family friends were already hard at work at our helper stations:

2011_11_09 22_07_19 Wedding Moving Day

There will be one more post detailing the T-2 Days until the wedding. Look for it next Wednesday!


Over the next several weeks, heck, probably the next several months, I will recap our wedding wedding week through a series of posts I will publish on Wednesdays.  Here’s your first full recap, starting Wednesday November 9! Check out all our wedding recaps here.

Wednesday November 9 – The Story of Our Movers

On Wednesday November 9, we were able to check into our venue, Cabin Camp #5 at Prince William Forest Park. We had rented the venue for three nights so that we would have plenty of time to get things set up and organized for our Friday afternoon wedding.

One of our fairly last minute decisions was to hire movers. We had about 75 boxes of stuff that needed moved, as well as other odd shaped items, like chalkboard sign A-frames and wooden stake signs.  We already knew that we needed to rent a U-Haul truck to move everything all in one trip. The truck itself was going to cost us about $20 plus $0.99 per mile. Since our house to the venue was 48 miles roundtrip, we were looking at about a $70 expense. We figured it might be a worthy expense to pay a bit more and have someone actually move the stuff for us, that way we weren’t exhausted by the time we actually arrived at the venue.

guest bedroom wedding stuff

Wedding stuff in our guest bedroom. We actually had to disassemble the bed months ago to fit it all in there

Wedding Stuff by Front Door

Electronics equipment for the wedding ready to be moved by the front door (this is only a small fraction of the electronics equipment we used at our wedding). The helmets stay.


Even more wedding stuff in our breakfast nook in our kitchen

After researching a few moving companies, I called College Hunks Moving Junk, and they ended up being GREAT. Seriously. I called them less than a week before we needed moving services and they were able to accommodate everything. They charged $124/hour plus a $124 flat fee that included things like the truck and packaging materials.

Our campground check-in time was 3PM, so we asked the movers to arrive between noon-1pm (they required a 1 hour window).  I used Wednesday morning to run some last minute errands.

Wednesday Begins! T-2 Days till the Wedding!

Wednesday morning, we woke up at 6:10AM, our normal wake-up time on a work day. I had mentioned a few days earlier that I had a last minute idea to decorate the mess hall at the campground, using this as the inspiration. So first, I went to the fabric store and purchased about 40 yards of muslin and about 30 yards of tulle.

After the fabric store, I went to Target to buy some gladware containers, some apple cider that we were going to serve at the wedding, and a few cleaning supplies for the campground, like lysol wipes. Actually, “some” apple cider may be an understatement. I bought about 12 gallons of it. Then, I went to Home Depot to buy a push broom, anticipating that there might be a lot of leaves in the pavilion that we’d need to clear out.

While I was at Home Depot, the movers called to say that they were about 30 minutes away. That was at 10:50AM. While I appreciate that they were running early, it was problematic for us. 1) Ken was still getting things packed for them, and 2) Since our check-in time wasn’t until 3PM, we had to be careful. We didn’t want to arrive at the venue at like 1:30 and then have the venue groundskeeper tell us we couldn’t start unloading for another 1.5 hours, especially paying movers at $124/hour. So, I just told them flat out that that was way too early for us. They were understanding and said they would wait to arrive until later.

I wrapped up at Home Depot and headed home. I had to do a few last minute seating chart rearrangements, and while I was working on that, the movers arrived right at noon. It was GLORIOUS. Ken just showed them the guest bedroom that housed most of our wedding stuff and they started moving it. I continued to work on my seating chart while they did all the work! Already the movers were a great investment.




They finished loading the truck at around 1:45, and we headed to our campground venue. I drove ahead of them so I could check in with the campground host, and Ken followed the movers in a separate car to make sure they didn’t take off with all of our wedding stuff.

We arrived at the venue around 2:20PM. I was a little worried because we were early, but luckily we were able to check in with no problem! As I signed all the check-in paperwork, the movers started unloading all our stuff into the Mess Hall.  The movers were done by 3PM.

Let’s recap this. Truck loaded, transported, and unloaded by three professionals in 3 hours. It probably would’ve taken Ken and I at least twice the amount of time to do that. Plus, we weren’t exhausted by the time we got to the venue. In fact, we were quite relaxed! That was a great investment of $496!


That’s me, starting to arrange things after the movers left!

Next recap post will be a continuation of Wednesday November 9, T-2 days!