Behind the Scenes, I: Details, Details

We have access to all our wedding pictures now, and we’ve enjoyed re-living some of our favorite moments of the evening through them. It’s been equally fun to experience vicariously some of the moments we weren’t privy to at the time: our guests interacting as they waited for the ceremony to begin, my brother escorting my mom down the aisle, some awesome photo bombs during the cake-cutting. As I scrolled through the photos, it occurred to me there were a number of small details that were meaningful to us, objects or choices with stories whose history or deeper significance wasn’t immediately apparent. So, here’s a behind-the-scenes tour of some of those details that helped us put our special stamp on the day.


NJM_9465 lgMy train and the gold-tone brooch pinned at its apex: The train I wore, which attached to my dress at the waist, was made from the train of my mother’s wedding dress, a Watteau-style that fell from her shoulders like a cape. The lovely Terrisa Vaughan of Her Perfect Day refashioned it for me after my mom cut some of the lace to make the ring pillow, which also included fabric from her dress and my grandmother’s wedding dress (read the story of the ring pillow here). The gold brooch at its apex had been worn by my maternal great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother at their weddings. The legacy piece served as my “something old.” I also wore my paternal grandmother’s wedding ring on my right hand.

I wore two bracelets with special significance: the first was a vintage pearl and silver marcasite piece Steve and I bought in a shop on Portobello Road during our trip to England last Christmas. I was drawn to it because my mother also wore a silver and pearl bracelet, a gift from my father, at her wedding. I also had a sterling and aqua chalcedony bracelet made by my friend Janna of A Little Twisted, which represented the love of my girlfriends. Both were also “something new.”

Steve and I wore the gifts we’d given each other: His was a silver cuff engraved with the latitude and longitude of the Rooftop; the inside sports the date and the phrase “here beside you.” He gifted me with a delicate anklet of bright blue butterflies, an homage to the Butterfly Garden that was part of our celebration. It was also “something blue.” My “something borrowed” was a beaded coral bracelet my friend Sarah had brought back from a trip to Nepal, and it was tied around my bouquet. I did in fact have a real “sixpence in my shoe” (taped with washi tape), courtesy of my now-stepson Dusty, who’d procured it during his study-abroad at Oxford.

The men in the wedding party wore bright polka-dot socks mostly because I thought it would be fun (and I love bright colors and polka dots!). We gave my nephew a pair of “Hobbit socks” with toes because Steve kept joking it would be “so cool” to have Ethan dress as Frodo, since he was “The Ringbearer.” In homage to the groom’s family heritage, specifically Steve’s maternal grandmother, his sons each wore the McIntosh plaid, Dusty in the form of a kilt and Tucker in his tie.


NJM_3080 lgThe venue itself has some backstory. My mom gifted us with a cocktail hour held in the Science Museum’s Butterfly Garden because it was as close as she could get to the courtyard wedding we’d dreamed about together when I was a girl. And Steve and I chose the Rooftop because of our own history with it—we danced together the first time at the Center in the Square’s grand-reopening, so it was fitting we share our first dance as husband and wife there, as well.


Some of the decorations also had stories. The vintage-map-paper flowers that were scattered around the tables were crafted in honor of Steve’s love of and longtime work with mapping and GIS software. (Our invitations, which also featured a map theme, focused on Virginia, since that’s where we met and fell in love—and, well, Virginia is for lovers, right?)

Next to our guest book, we placed a painted tin that featured an olive shell on top, which hearkened back to the first time I’d told Steve I loved him (“Olive you”) during a beach trip, as well as the fact he later proposed to me on another beach.

I wrote back in December about wedding favors and noted we had chosen something useful and personally meaningful: jars of wildflower honey bottled by my father, Garry, a beekeeper.

The milk-glass cakestand that displayed our wedding cake I inherited from my grandmother. Instead of a caketopper, I painted two wooden S’s that stood in front of it. Steve’s was green and decorated with a forest of tiny trees (he is a forester), stripes, and a bow-tie made from map-printed fabric. Two miniature books represented his sons, and a clay figure I’d sculpted of his dog Imoh sat in the curve. My S was aqua, for sky and water, and featured polka dots and a tulle bow, along with a small collection of seashells. A miniature journal, open, represented writing, and two cat sculptures, black kitty Lola, and tabby Charlie Kate, completed it. I kept the S’s a surprise for Steve, so he did not see them until just before the ceremony.


The lyrics and history of the songs were important too. I selected Ronan Keating’s version of “I Hope You Dance” for the father-daughter dance, because the lyrics echo the advice my father always gave me. Steve and I danced to John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” for our first dance because the nature imagery touches on all the beautiful places we’ve been together–forest, mountains, ocean–and loved. Our last dance song, to Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me,” hearkened back to a night we turned on an iPod and danced in the woods.

And I still don’t know whether anybody caught it and got the joke or not, but I enjoyed the moment immensely: our recessional song was “I Do” by Colbie Caillat, but it was immediately followed by “Finally” by CeCe Peniston: “Finally! It’s happening to me!”

Finally! Sings the forty-something first-time-bride, with a wink and a grin.

Next week: more behind-the-scenes stories about a few things we didn’t expect….

All photos by Noah Magnifico

Music to My Ears

Much of mine and Steve’s courtship has had a musical soundtrack. We went to a Suzanne Vega concert on our second date and heard John Gorka play not long after that. We’ve held hands at indie house concerts, kicked up our heels to 80s-cover bands, slow-danced in the woods to Norah Jones on an iPod, and slogged through mud to sway under the stars at FloydFest.

Dancing to the beat of our own drummer...

Dancing to the beat of our own drummer…

Music matters. One night a few months ago, we started talking about wedding tunes. Sitting side by side at my dinner table with laptop and iPad, we each took turns calling up songs we loved on YouTube, exploring possibilities for our playlist, ceremony music, and the first-dance song.

My first nomination was “Amazed” by Lonestar. I’m not a fan of country music, but I clearly remember when I first heard the song, on an early morning when I was in grad school in Ohio. Lying in bed listening to the radio alarm I’d tuned to a top-forty/pop station, I absorbed the lyrics: “I’ve never been this close to anyone or anything…I wanna spent the whole night in your eyes…Every little thing that you do, baby, I’m amazed by you.” In that moment, I thought, I’d like to dance to that song at my wedding. I’d like to feel that way about someone, have someone feel that way about me.

Strangely, on mine and Steve’s second date, as we said goodnight in the parking lot, he looked at me with those intense blue eyes and said, “You amaze me.” I don’t know what look passed over my face—I must have looked spooked, because he stepped back and started reassuring me that he was just so thrilled at how much we had in common. I was spooked: had I actually met someone who genuinely was amazed by me, whom I could be amazed by in return? It was big stuff for a few weeks in.

I still love the song, but it’s a bit twangy for us, so—maybe.

Steve played The Eurythmics’ “When Tomorrow Comes.” I’d never gotten into Annie Lennox for some reason, but as I listened to the lyrics, I understood why Steve loved the song: “And you know I’m going to be the one who’ll be there when you need someone to depend upon…I wanna be with you when tomorrow comes.” It celebrated commitment, being there through the tough times. It was up-tempo, though, and even with lessons, I wasn’t sure we could be coordinated enough to want everyone watching us dance to it. As if he’d read my mind, Steve said, “I know it wouldn’t work for a first dance, too fast. I always loved the song, but couldn’t find anyone for so long I felt that way about.”

My heart beat a little faster, and the song went on the playlist.

I shared my second nomination, John Denver’s “Annie’s Song.” I’ve long thought it one of the most romantic songs I’ve ever heard. “You fill up my senses….” I’d forgotten that the first line referenced a forest. Then rain, mountains, the ocean—all places we’d been together and shared and loved (FloydFest mud included). We both sat perfectly still for a long moment at the end.

“I’d forgotten how beautiful the lyrics were,” Steve said. Another yes.

Dancing with Steve

May I have this dance?

Steve searched for Billy Joel’s “The Longest Time.” I’d loved the entire Innocent Man album (and yes, I had it on vinyl) when it first came out. “That’s another one that’s probably too fast for a first dance song,” he said, “But I love the lyrics.” Our love has felt like the “greatest miracle of all,” so: yes.

Then we started thinking about ceremony music. I’d read somewhere about a bride walking in to an instrumental version of Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly,” which sounded like a cool idea. I loved the guitar on that song, and we thought it might be something a friend of ours could strum for us. The first version we listened to sounded like an over-processed karaoke score. It took a few tries to find a guy playing a live cover instrumental on a guitar. It sounded nice, but looked complicated.

“There’s always ‘Here Comes the Bride,'” I said, glancing at Steve, who wore the same “ick” expression I suspected was on my face. On the same page there.

“Or there’s Pachelbel’s Canon,” I said. “I kind of always thought I might like to walk in to that.”

We called up a version titled “the ultimate best version” of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” I don’t know who decided that particular version was the best, but it was stunning. Steve started air-conducting along with the music, which I’d never seen him do. Then he began naming instruments as each joined in. I hadn’t known he had classical music knowledge. Turns out he’d played the violin and guitar during his school days.

When the music reached the first dramatic crescendo, we looked at each other with the same thought and said simultaneously, “That’s when the bride should enter!”

We listened through to the end, trying to figure out if the piece was too long to use all of it for entering. We played it again. At each shift in the music, we identified who would “go” at that moment: “First bridesmaid…second…maid-of-honor…ring bearer…bride!”

I felt myself getting choked up, but I tried to ignore the emotion rising in my chest at the picture in my head. I attempted talking myself past it. “Then, you’d have the parents getting a kiss, sitting down, maybe lighting a candle or something…”

Suddenly, Steve sat back in his chair, let out a big breath, and swiped at his eyes.

I started to laugh and cry at the same time. “I’m glad I’m not the only one!” I brushed my own tears away. “This is why we have to do this now.”

“That’s what I’m going to do then if you walk in like that,” he said, taking another swipe and glancing at me sheepishly. I leaned in to share a tender kiss.

What a lucky, lucky woman I am.

And—maybe we should consider trading that pretty pocket square for a couple of extra-large hankies.

Happy tears--Love wins!

Happy tears: Love wins!

Marriage equality–now that’s music to my ears!

Thrilled by the Supreme Court’s decision today:

cue “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang!

Photos by Noah Magnifico, Wedding Photographer