From Joni: Tammy is on staff and I’m a volunteer chaplain at the church where we first met four years ago. That meant that our wedding had to happen (conveniently, I might add!) at our church. Our minister asked us when we sat down with him to use three words to describe how we’d like our ceremony to feel. We answered with sacred, communal and lighthearted. We were certainly blessed to have experienced an infinite amount of each of those on our big day.
Despite Tammy being an introvert we opted for a large wedding, especially since our relatives alone added up to over fifty guests. Our guest list wound up hovering at around 125, and at one point went to 150. We had our four closest friends stand with us and opted to call all of them “friends of honor.” (Feel free to steal the phrase instead of using the traditional titles, if you like.) We also left them to choose their own attire, as long as it was fitting for the wedding theme. None of them shopped together, yet all of them looked perfect! The night before the wedding we gave them all a necklace with a silver bar engraved with “Soulpod” on the front and our wedding date on the back.
Our ceremony was performed by our minister and his wife, who is a dear friend of Tammy’s. We knew that they’d be reading from our recent book. (Tammy is a poet and I am photographer and we’d recently published a book of our work.) However, we didn’t review the ceremony prior to our wedding. We had no idea what poems would be read or what our vows were going to be, as we’d left them up to Steve, our minister. He told a beautiful story that included a mention of a white squirrel that had been seen on the grounds several times over the weeks leading up to the wedding, and our vows were beautiful, uncomplicated, and perfect for us.
There was so much support and love in the room with us. We chose to escort each other down the aisle, and a spontaneous round of applause erupted when we made our entrance. That was a surprise. Everyone was so supportive and full of joy.
Over and over, the response we got from guests was the attention to detail they noticed during the ceremony and reception. We like to think it was a byproduct of the love we put into every detail. And there were lots of details. We lovingly picked out just about everything a guest would touch or see. We shopped for and bought mismatched dishes, silverware, napkins, water glasses and mason jars for every guest. The vases for the flowers, the table décor, the serving dishes, the decorations. Tammy has a background in design so she did the invitations, programs and the menu, along with our guest gift, a book full of our favorite love quotes. I’m a former theatre director, so I enlisted the help of my theatre friends to do the decorating, which among other things, involved hoisting a bunch of bunting to the top of a very high pavilion the morning of the wedding.
Both Tammy and I wanted a vintage feel and I was adamant that the experience be as close to having a picnic in your great grandmother’s back yard as possible. For me this meant family style dining using real dishes and playing yard games. The dishes happened. The family style dinner happened: fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and not just cake but a pie bar. The yard games, though, got rained out. In fact, the Monday before our wedding, the weather called for not just rain, but possible hail and tornadoes. Even the covered pavilion couldn’t withstand that. On Wednesday we met and crafted a plan for moving the whole event inside. Luckily, the weather held off and didn’t get too turbulent until the day after our wedding. It did rain on our big day, but it always seemed to stop just when we needed it to. Oh, and the white squirrel paid us a visit, right as everyone sat down to dinner.
There were a gazillion beautiful moments. Every moment was beautiful is more like it. As the sanctuary doors closed before we entered and the two of us had a private moment to talk to each other I asked Tammy if she was nervous. She said no. And neither was I. It’s a remarkably beautiful experience to feel so clear and comfortable and at ease about love and commitment. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Full of ease and grace and joy.
Photos courtesy of Brenda Ladd Photography.
Remember Joni & Tammy’s clever DIY shoot last fall? It’s always fun to look back at engagement photos!