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I had almost my entire wedding party in my mind months before my fiance got down on one knee and popped the big question … Granted, we were non-traditional in the sense that we went shopping for my engagement ring together in January 2013. And I anxiously waited for him to finally pop the question. We had spent some time looking at rings and came across a ring on Kay‘s website that wasn’t in stores and was at a very reasonable price. I had told my fiance a hundred times that he could put a single band with no stones on my hand and I would be happy – I didn’t need a big elaborate ring. My first marriage I had a 3.6 carat ring … It was huge and it compensated for everything that was missing in that marriage. To me, the ring was just a symbol of a promise. I wanted something simple. Something that, when I looked at it, knew that it was a representation of “us”.  And unconventional (though apparently becoming more and more popular), we found a gorgeous blue diamond ring for under $2,000. (I am not getting a wedding band at this time due to budget constraints – we plan to add a wedding band to my ring down the road for an anniversary). 

My Engagement Ring - Blue Diamond from Kay Jewelers Source: Me - www.sweetorchidphotography.com
My Engagement Ring – Blue Diamond from Kay Jewelers
Source: Me – www.sweetorchidphotography.com

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Our proposal and engagement was much anticipated by both of our families. So one Monday when I got home from work to see a chalkboard from my studio at the back door telling me that our Himalayan cat was upstairs wearing a “special outfit”, I was a little skeptical. As I walked up the stairs and came across a second chalkboard reiterating that Jackson (the Himalayan) was looking really “spiffy”, I promptly declared, “You didn’t shave the cat, did you?” (If you have a Himalayan, you know that this is an annual if not every 6 month requirement for some Himalayans). 

I walked into our bedroom to see my fiance, John, holding Jackson in his arms. Jackson, who was wearing a custom tie (which I found out my fiance scored off from Etsy), had my engagement ring tied to it. He popped the question, then as we cried and laughed, realized that he’d tied the ring on rather tight and needed cut off to put it on my finger … five minutes later (and one irritated Himalayan released and out of the tie) he got down on one knee, put the ring on my finger and asked me to be his wife. It was the happiest moment of my life to date. 

My fiance, John, and our Himalayan, Jackson Photo Credit: Me - www.sweetorchidphotography.com
My fiance, John, and our Himalayan, Jackson
Photo Credit: Me – www.sweetorchidphotography.com

After the celebrating, it was my turn. It was my turn to ask the big question to the ladies who would be there for me from now until our “I do’s” and beyond. 

Another dilemma of being a second-time bride – choosing your bridal party: Round Two. It’s hard. Really, REALLY hard. We change, we grow and people who were part of that marriage before, well, I lost custody of those friends in the divorce. My life is different now and my life with John is a new life – so I had to wipe the old slate clean and recognize that I wasn’t reinventing a wedding I already had. I was starting fresh. 

My Matron of Honor was a no-brainer for me. My cousin, Rachel, is more like me than any other person on this planet. She understands how I think, she gets my emotional ups and downs, she does an intervention even before a crisis arises and she knows what I like and how I like it. She’s assertive, organized and creative. For my bridesmaids, my sister, my sister-in-law, and three of my very good friends from the post-college years. Women who have all been active in my life for the past year and who have been a big part of me and my life with my fiance. (A seventh “honorary” bridesmaid, my BEST FRIEND who lives over 2,000 miles away in North Carolina is unable to make the wedding … this is not a problem because Skype exists for a reason and my brother, one of my ushers, is in charge of my iPhone for the day and keeping Michele, my best friend, an active part of our wedding). 

The next decision I had to make: Who will give me away? My brother gave both my sister and I away before. For fear of “upsetting” family and causing drama with our step-dad giving us away with our biological father sitting among the guests. Here’s what has happened since round one for me : I stopped caring about what other people think. My step-dad IS my dad. He always has been. And at 30 years old, it’s time to stop being “nice” and stop sugar coating things. My wedding. My money. My decision. My step-dad … my DAD, will be giving me away. 

I wanted something unique to ask my Matron of Honour the big question. Especially since she had no idea it was coming. After doing some research and browsing Pintrest, I found an idea that was perfect. However, printing was starting to stress me out and I realized that a handwritten note was just as good, and more personal. I fashioned the flowers from a DIY tutorial off from pinterest and viola – my card to my Matron of Honour asking her the big question. 

Popping the Big Question - Will You Be My Matron of Honor? Photo Credit: Me - www.sweetorchidphotography.com
Popping the Big Question – Will You Be My Matron of Honor?
Photo Credit: Me – www.sweetorchidphotography.com

Next up, was a much more emotional question. I knew that my step-dad was not expecting this. In the same fashion, a handwritten note was made up and I gave it to him … I watched as he read it. And I watched as his eyes teared up a little. I watched him do what he does, pushing those tears back, as he gave me a big hug, told me he loved me, and excused himself from the room. I knew, in that moment, that it meant just as much to him as it did to me. To stand up on my big day and have him, as my dad and the man who raised me, give me away. 

Letter to my stepdad asking him to give me away Photo Credit: Me  www.sweetorchidphotography.com
Letter to my stepdad asking him to give me away
Photo Credit: Me www.sweetorchidphotography.com

The total cost to make these cards – less than $5. I went to a local card shop that custom makes invitations and has racks upon racks of single blank pieces to purchase for $0.75 each with envelopes. I also picked up a yard of yellow and a yard of purple fabric to make the flowers for the Matron of Honor card. I wanted to have extra so that I could use the color to carry with me as I shopped for wedding decor down the road since the colors I found in their store were the EXACT shades that I wanted for our wedding (light pale yellow with a vibrant deep purple accent). They were hand delivered and quite possibly one of the most personal ways to set the wedding in motion.

Once the wedding party was chosen and all the bridesmaid’s, groomsmen, ring bearer and flower girls were chosen, the rest of the wedding all was set into motion. If you notice that the date on the above cards was for 10/11/14 … that WAS the date we had initially decided on. And after a week to think about waiting 18 months to marry this man, and all the stress of 18 months of planning, we decided that we wanted to do this now, and get our “happily ever after” started!

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About Jennifer

Jennifer is a 30-year old Professional Photographer & Federal Employee living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Aside from planning a wedding, she spends time with her fiance racing autocross and running her own business and traveling. Jennifer is engaged to John, the "boy from church youth group" who, after 13 years apart, found one another again and are now planning their intimate and budget savvy wedding for 8/31/13 at her mother's log home in the woods.

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  • Amber

    Thank you for posting this, I had a lot of the same issues with this being my second wedding and having lost my “friends” in the divorce too!!
    Its nice to know I’m not the only one!