Friday, January 25, 2013

Our Big Day Begins

As anxious and excited as I was for our big day, I had no trouble sleeping the night before, and Saturday, August 18th started bright and early!

My hair/make-up artist {Angela Parker of LucieMarie} showed up at my parents' house at 8:45 to work her magic, and my bridesmaids and house party joined me for breakfast as we all got ready. Dad cooked up one of my favorites, biscuits with cinnamon baked apples and whipped cream, and it was such a relaxing morning of preparation. 

Looking back on our wedding weekend, there were so many "God moments" where I could feel His presence and point to His faithfulness. The first one happened on our way to the church that morning. I rode with my friend Meredith and we arrived at the church with no problem, but as I got out of the car, I heard a loud hissing noise. I looked down and could see a huge, jagged gash along the side of Mere's rear right tire! I could even see it deflating before my eyes. It was a little scary to imagine what could have happened, maybe a complete blowout or a car accident, but the Lord is good and kept us safe! {Meredith laughed nervously, thinking of the cargo she was transporting to the wedding - the bride, the maid of honor, and the wedding dress, all in one car. Yikes!} The Lord also blessed us with manly groomsmen friends who didn't hesitate to change the tire before putting on their suits. Thanks boys!

We did hair and make-up touch-ups in the bridal suite, and then it was time for Mom and Sarah to help me get in my dress. This dress had been put on and zipped up time and time again for fittings and photos, but there was a huge sense of peace as I put the dress on for the final time. I was about to see my groom. HE was about to see ME in the dress he knew absolutely nothing about. 

I consider myself a pretty traditional bride, but waiting until the ceremony to see each other just wasn't that important to us. Thomas and I decided to do a "first look" for many reasons:
  1. By seeing each other prior to the wedding, with only our photographer/videographer with us, we were able to share a tender, blissful moment alone without 185+ pairs of eyes on us. Yes, we both still cried as my dad walked me down the aisle that afternoon. No, having a "first look" didn't make that moment any less special. 
  2. We were able to talk and hug and kiss and share in our giddyness before the day completely got away from us. Really, as soon as the ceremony begins, the next thing you know you're running down the stairs with bubbles floating around you, hopping into the getaway car and driving off. Of course I paused to cherish as much as I possibly could on our day, but people aren't lying when they tell you it fliiiiies by! 
  3. Doing a "first look" extended the amount of time that we spent together on our wedding day. After all, the day was all about the two of us, and we didn't want to wait until 2 p.m. that afternoon to finally be in each other's presence. 
  4. We were able to have all of our photos (just the two of us), plus photos with our entire bridal party, taken before the wedding so that our guests weren't waiting too long at the reception for us to arrive. 
  5. Having the majority of our outdoor photos taken before the wedding turned out to be another blessing, like I mentioned before with the flat tire. Our "first look" took place around 11:15, and a huge Texas thunderstorm graced us with its presence around 1:30. Had we waited to do all photos until after the ceremony, we wouldn't have had the opportunity to take photos with the gorgeous green trees and ivy walls surrounding the church. {more to come about that rain!}
Because we did a "first look," I get to cherish this photo for the rest of my life. I mean come on, look at that face. 

See those ominous looking clouds behind us? The rain held off for all of our photos, and thank GOODNESS the impending storm cooled the summer day to a comfortable 80-some degrees.

Photo snapped as I asked my flower girl Bayleigh to sing for everyone. What a hoot! Her favorite song at the time was LMFAO's "Party Rock," and we were all cracking up! 

When it started to rain, we headed into the chapel to take photos with family. Our talented friends who we'd asked to sing in our wedding were rehearsing, and I was listening to the music for the very first time in context. The lyrics of cherished songs filled the cozy church. Family popped in and out of photos for different combinations: Thomas and me with each of our parents, just me with my sister, and so on. I stood motionless on stage as our photographer Taylor directed the photos, and I'll never forget what I felt in that moment. Taylor stopped shooting, came close, and asked if I was okay. Tears of joy were flowing. My heart was racing. I was so completely overcome with emotions.

It's today!

I smiled and nodded. I just needed a second to take it all in. I could not have been any happier in that moment, and I couldn't believe the wedding was about to begin.

One last prayer before the ceremony. 
What wedding is complete without a little bubbly?
My precious Daddy giving the first of the day's toasts.
Thomas' Best Man {Sterling} praying over him. 
Ceremony and reception blog posts, coming soon!

All photos by Taylor Lord Photography.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Last Day as a Molleur

{This post begins my series of wedding recaps! I know, I know, it's about time, right? DISCLAIMER: to my Molleur family, I'm still a Molleur at heart though my last name is different.}

I only worked Monday and Tuesday of our wedding week, and Wednesday and Thursday were full of last-minute wedding errands as I tied up loose ends. That's why Friday was so wonderful - I knew that the real wedding plans were behind me, friends and family were finally in town, and it was time to relax and soak in every moment of the wedding weekend.

Friday morning began with a bridal luncheon at the home of a long-time church friend. Nancy and her husband were in a Bible study group with my parents when I was growing up, so our families have always been close. Nan and Mom are also part of the same "Bunko Babes" group, playing every single month for 10+ years!

The morning was full of great food, mimosas, adorable cookies personalized to our wedding colors, lots of photos, and one amazingly thoughtful gift from my bridesmaids and house party gals!

Couldn't get enough of these cookies from Paige's Bakehouse!
These girls know how to make a bride cry. This book will be cherished forever! 
Some of my favorite women in the whole world. 
After the luncheon, we made our way to Peace Love Nails for some pampering before the rehearsal. If you're an Austin bride looking for a place for pre-wedding manicures/pedicures, or if you just want to plan a get-together with friends, this is where you want to be. You can bring in your own food for the party {I had Tiff's Treats delivered}, they serve complimentary wine {yeaaaayuh!}, and they close the salon to walk-ins and other appointments, so you've got the whole place to yourself. I also brought the Bridesmaids DVD for some good laughs. It was perfect!

I LOOOOOVE their wallpaper!

All day I was asked if I was nervous, if I could believe the wedding was finally here, or if I had butterflies. I honestly felt like it was another shower, or even round two of my bachelorette party. I knew we were celebrating the upcoming wedding, but I don't think it really hit me until we arrived at the church for the rehearsal... when I saw Thomas for the first time that day. When his eight groomsmen showed up, all smiles. When we started talking stage placement, and the musicians were practicing, and my adorable cousins were being taught how to be a ring bearer and flower girl. When my dad and I took that stroll down the aisle. Enter the butterflies. This is actually happening! 

Our rehearsal dinner took place at The County Line just down the road for some good ol' Texas BBQ.  The decor was beautiful, many thanks to my sister-in-law Clara and friends Laura, Kim, Debbie, and Janet. They asked what I had in mind and my only request was sunflowers. They went above and beyond with gorgeous ones, plus burlap table runners, floating candles, photos of us everywhere, personalized mason jars... it was so darn cute.

The County Line has two locations in Austin - one on the lake and one on the hill - and the outdoor patio of "the hill" location {where we were} provided many a photo opp for everyone. Gotta love the Texas hill country!

Dinner was excellent. I even managed to not get any BBQ sauce on my white dress! The sweet tea was flowing, Thomas was surprised by a family friend with his favorite chocolate sheet cake for dessert, and everyone was having a grand time.

Gifts for the bridal party. I gave my girls a clutch to carry {photos coming soon!}, along with jewelry to wear with their dresses. The boxes with the "tie" ribbon {done by Mr. Thomas Reed himself} contained a mason jar of beer bread mix etched with each guy's initials, along with two Texas beers - one to drink and one to use to make the bread.

We gave our parents nice picture frames for them to use for wedding photos, and as a placeholder for the yet-to-be-taken photo, we wrote heartfelt notes of thanks. Definitely tearjerkers.

Reed/Molleur siblings

The night ended at one of our favorite spots, Kona Grille at The Domain, for a drink with friends, and then Thomas drove me home -- for the last time ever! It was definitely surreal, thinking the next time I saw him would be our wedding day. I still had some packing to finish up for the honeymoon, so my sister and MOH Sarah stayed up late with me, helping to pack as we watched Father of the Bride.

Friday was just the best. AH! Our hearts were so full and happy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tuesday with the Petersiks

Ever since my favorite bloggers announced an Austin stop on their big book tour, I've been antsy for Tuesday, January 8th.

Who are those favorite bloggers, you ask? None other than the adorable and talented husband-and-wife DIY duo, John and Sherry Petersik of Young House Love!

{via YHL}

Their blog is amaaaazing. You'll thank me for introducing you if you aren't already familiar! They're now living in house #2 {after completely beautifying their first fixer-upper} and the projects they take on are just the coolest. They blog 2-3 projects a week, ranging in size, cost and complexity. After spending 15 minutes exploring their blog, you'll be inspired to spruce up every room in your home.

Last night, Thomas and I grabbed dinner at Whole Foods across the street, and then arrived at BookPeople an hour before the event was to begin in order to grab seats. Thomas had no idea who we were going to see or what their blog was about, but he left a Young House Love fan. Our college friend Rachael loves YHL and joined us as well!

It's really them!
John and Sherry are just as cute and hilarious as they are in the blogosphere. I don't think I stopped smiling the whole time they were talking and doing Q&A. They discussed the challenges they faced writing a book and how it compared to blogging, as well as how they balance being coworkers, a married couple and parents. I loved every second of it! 

My dear high school {and blogger!} friend Ruthie was supposed to attend with me, but she's been feeling under the weather since Friday. Because she was the one who first introduced me to Young House Love, I told her I'd send photos of the night. But I don't think she was expecting this little surprise! After John and Sherry signed my book, I asked if they'd mind recording a short little video...

John and Sherry, y'all are the BEST. Ruthie was over the moon to receive your "get well" wishes, and it was a dream come true for me to meet you in real life!

I mean really, just look at her. I imagine we'd be besties if Austin, TX and Richmond, VA were closer. 

{Go follow Young House Love and purchase their book while you're at it! You'll get plenty of tips by reading their blog, but the book is good collection of project ideas to have handy.}

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Life Well Lived

One week ago, I was writing this blog post. One week ago, I was looking back on all the amazing things that happened in 2012, smiling as I thought of all the joy we'd experienced. One week ago, Thomas and I were cuddled up on the couch watching a movie at home before going to ring in the new year with friends. And in an instant with one phone call, my world was turned upside down.

One week ago, my beautiful sorority sister Jennifer Stanford was in a car accident in Austin and the Lord called her home. 

Monday morning started out like any other, except that since it was New Year's Eve, our office was closing at noon. I was trying to speed through my to-do list in order to get home, but that morning, I texted Jennifer to see how she was feeling. You see, Jenn found out in November that she had thyroid cancer and had her thyroid removed in early December. The doctors were sure she'd be fine, but that weekend they'd administered one round of radiation to be sure she was completely cancer-free.

"Hey girl! Just wanted to see how you were feeling," I said in my text message. "Good! Going in for a follow up with my doctor this morning," she responded. But Jennifer didn't make it to the doctor's office Monday morning. She was involved in a five-car accident on her way. My heart breaks just thinking that Jenn had BEAT the cancer, and yet in a tragic turn of events, she was gone.

Receiving the call from Jenn's mom that evening was devastating. Making more phone calls to inform friends and sorority sisters was probably one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. I was numb, in shock, struggling to process the reality of the situation, and the next few days were really, really hard.

Jennifer was so loved. She had a way of making anyone feel welcomed and appreciated. She was the life of the party, always initiating get-togethers and inviting you to join in on the fun she was having. Jenn's friends quickly became your friends. She was crazy about music and had a promising career in the Austin music scene as a Tour Marketing Coordinator with Ambiance Artists. She loved Jesus, had such a servant's heart, and was altogether an incredible girl.

On Saturday, we gathered in Jennifer's hometown of Magnolia to celebrate her life, a life that was short but so well lived. It was comforting to be surrounded by sorority sisters, and we know that one day we'll be reunited with Jenn. Through tears and hugs, we praised God for Jenn's life and reminded each other of the strength of our sisterhood. We don't understand the Lord's purpose for this tragedy, but we know He's still a good, loving God who promises He'll walk with us through the storm.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted..." Psalm 34:18 

At the graveside service, all ADPi's were asked to take home a rose from one of the many arrangements received by the family. This photo was taken after circling up, singing an ADPi song that's close to our hearts, and praying for one another and the Stanford family. Man, am I thankful for these amazing gals.

{via Instagram; we wore our pins with blue ribbons to Saturday's services.}
 "We've all said it before... 'I've never been more proud to be an ADPi' or 'I've never loved my sorority more than I do right now.' After recruiting a stellar pledge class and celebrating on Bid Day, after our Pigskin invitation, with intramural wins or campus achievements. But honestly, today I can say I've never been more thankful for my sisters and for what ADPi means. As we said goodbye to a sister today, we wore our pins in honor of Jennifer and the incredible strength of our sisterhood. My love for you girls was intensified this weekend through tears and hugs, through prayers and memories. So blessed to wear this beautiful pin."

I debated whether or not to publish this blog post, but writing about it seems to help my grief. For those of you who knew Jennifer, I hope these words bring you comfort in your sorrow as we reflect on Jenn's well-lived life. And for those of you who didn't know our sweet Jenn, I hope you see her amazing heart and lasting impact in these words. Jenn, you'll NEVER be forgotten. We love you and will miss you until we one day see you again.

{so grateful that Jenn jumped in next to me in this photo from my wedding. I'll cherish this photo forever!}

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thank you, 2012.

2012 was quite possibly the best year of my life. It was a year of planning, excitement and anticipation. 2012 was certainly a year of firsts. My first SXSW conference and ACL Festival to attend, running my first 5K {Bearathon}, visiting Nashville for the first time, and celebrating my first birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas as a married person.

Wedding planning, dress fittings, apartment hunting, bridal showers and one heck of a bachelorette party. Attending other friends' weddings, joining a church as a couple, Thomas moving to Austin {ending our long-distance relationship forever!}, and celebrating Thomas' graduation from grad school.

2012 is the year I became a wife. The year my last name changed and I moved in with a boy. The year we honeymooned for a week in Cancun and then started our forever-life together.

Thank you, 2012, for all the joy you've brought. Life is so good, and even when it isn't, we know that the Lord has us right in the center of His will.

To our amazing family and friends - thank you for walking with us every step of the way. So many things this year would not have been possible without your love, prayers and encouragement.

Happy New Year, everyone. Here's to 2013. Be blessed!