husband and wife.

a half hour or so before the ceremony started, i got word that we had a few unexpected guests showing up for the wedding.

and by a few i mean, 50 or 60 people in their swimsuits, setting up camp next to the ceremony to celebrate our love while working on their tan.

and i was less than thrilled.
{ok, that might be the understatement of the year. i believe i actually said the words every bridezilla utters at least once, "but it's myyyyyyyy wedding." wah, wah, wah.}

granted, yes, we did get married on a public beach, so technically they had just as much of a right to be there as we did, but i just assumed (never, never assume) that when they saw a wedding was going on they would pick up and move to a different beach.


most people were kind enough to at least move over from where they were setting up the chairs, but as to be expected there were the extra special ones who insisted on arguing with my family members and requesting to see documentation from the parks department to verify that we even had permission to have the ceremony there.
{special thanks to my stepmom laura and mr. lesley's dad for handling the brunt of the crazy.}
but, alas, the show must go on (extra guests and all).
and nothing says a wedding is about to begin like my stud of a nephew passing out programs.
{with a little help of course.}
again, i'm so thankful for my bridesmaids for helping me keep some semblance of calm, praying for me {thanks christina} on our ride to the beach, and not informing me of the massive storm about to come through, even though they were following its path on their iPhones. 

they continued to reassure me that everything would be fine. 

so there we were.
finally at the beach.
our friend david began planning this song...
the little details were in place...
and everyone made their way down the aisle.
the moment before i walked down was the first time i saw all of our unexpected guests, and i have to admit, it really through me off. 
i wanted something intimate and private, and it was hard to see so many strangers watching from the sidelines.

but my dad assured me that everything was fine and great and wonderful. 
and i chose in that moment to fix my eyes on mr. lesley and no one else. 

well, that worked until my dress got caught in a stick, and i literally couldn't go on any further.
{note to self: wearing a lace wedding gown with a train in sand is a little tricky.}
fortunately, i was set free and could refocus myself on the man i was about to call my husband.
and yes, when i got to the end of the aisle, i might have turned and looked at the incredible assortment of sand, twigs, shells, maybe a cigarette or two that had accumulated on the train and said to our family and friends, "i have the whole beach on my dress." 

good times.
no matter the hiccups along the way, we made it to the end of that aisle...
just as the storm clouds really started to make an appearance. 
but nothing was going to stop us from saying, "i do."
mr. lesley and i decided we wanted to write our own vows, as a way of speaking from our hearts about the promises we were making to each other. 

here's a little snippet of those promises...

nick, you are my best friend, my partner in crime, my most loyal supporter, and the man i have chosen to spend the rest of my life with. today, in front of our family and friends...

-i promise to love you unconditionally even when it's hard and the journey is challenging. i will honor you as my husband and fight for us and the love that we share. 

-i promise to laugh with you, pray for you, be silly with you, cry with you, snuggle with you, and dream with you.

-i promise to let you and winston travel the globe in search of the sasquatch and always welcome you home with a cold beer or a hot cup of coffee.

-i promise to give you all the love in my heart, every day, for the rest of our lives.
the moment i met you, before i knew your name, i knew i loved you. i knew we would one day be married. toady is that day, finally.

-i promise to love you for as long as i draw breath.

-i promise to hold your hand through every form of adversary.

-i promise to let you take pictures of every moment of our lives, no matter how inappropriate. 

-i promise to gladly air every moment of our lives on your blog, no matter how intimate.

-i promise to hold you, provide for you, and protect you for however long God deems me capable.
because our family and friends are so incredibly awesome, 
they all cheered when we each finished our vows.

even though it had started raining by that point...
and the thunder and lightening were getting pretty intense...
and all the boats were racing to the marina...
and our extra guests were packing up and moving out...
they stayed to cheer us on as we exchanged rings...
and officially became mr. and mrs. lesley!
{i can't forget to mention this couple who stayed the whole time, even through the rain.
gotta love that.}
now it was time to get out of there before we got struck by lightening.
we made it to an overhang outside the bathroom, and instead of being excited and happy...

i started crying.
yep, i admit it.
i had a meltdown right after my wedding.

i think with the combination of people watching that i didn't expect and the fact that we had to cut the ceremony short because of the storm (we weren't able to do communion or have a couple songs played that we picked), i was a little bit of a mess.

and as much as i wanted to be that go with the flow bride, in that moment, i just wasn't. 

but there was mr. lesley, just like always, assuring me that everything was wonderful and accepting me for the teary mess i was. 
our amazing photographer ran through the pouring rain to get the car 
and we jumped in back.

as the streets of south haven started flooding, and we realized we weren't going to be able to do any more pictures outside like we had planned, again, i felt disappointed.

but even in my disappointment, mr. lesley was there.
amazing, supportive, and accepting.
the man i love. 
the man who had just become my husband.
reminding me yet again why he is so absolutely perfect for me.
now, it's hard to admit that i wasn't a perfect bride.

it's hard to admit to whoever may read this blog that i wasn't calm, cool, and collected the entire time.
that i responded to the unexpected with tears instead of laughter.

but in the weeks since, i have thought a lot about the pressures of a wedding, and how often the word "perfect" is used to describe such a big day. 

and how often brides compare their wedding to everyone else's and in the secret places of their hearts, feel jealous or disappointed that their experiences weren't as "perfect" as the ones they see on facebook, or on blogs, or in bridal magazines. 

and i just feel like we've done a disservice to each other by placing the burden of perfection on a day that should never hold such pressure.

so when i think back on our ceremony and all the things that were unexpected, 
i wouldn't change a single thing.
that's right. 
ladies in their bikinis, lightening and thunder, a dress caught on sticks, a post wedding meltdown.

not. one. single. thing.

because june 16, 2012, was not about any of those things.

it was about mr. lesley and me...
surrounded by an incredible group of family and friends...
promising the rest of our lives to each other...
making a sacred vow before God, each other, and our family and friends, that no one matter where the road takes us, that we commit to loving and serving each other faithfully.

and through the whole process i have learned the power of grace.
grace for life when things are different than you expect.

and, most importantly,

grace for myself, when i'm laughing, or crying, or happy, or sad, or disappointed.
there is always more than enough grace.

and i really couldn't have asked for anything more "perfect" than that.


  1. ah, such a beautiful post. and i have to say, those storms created some amazing photos!

  2. so many beautiful shots in this post!
    i agree with kendra.
    even though the storms were a pain, the pictures are AMAZING.

  3. And, I'm crying.
    This is "perfectly" put. (What is it about that word??)
    I love you so much and I am so grateful for all that you are.

  4. Hands down fav. photo is Gerry-atrics so delicately, passionately and strongly holding you and your hand as you walk down the aisle together. I remember it so vividly in person, it made my heart sigh. I love that it was so perfectly captured. One of the best weddings I've ever had the honor of attending Hanbone. Perfectly imperfect. The best.


  5. it sounds perfect in every sense. life is not easy-ever-but wow-the storm clouds just make for even more stunning photos! wow!

  6. I'm crying. Again. Only this time I'm on the bus. Really?

  7. you said it perfectly: "and i just feel like we've done a disservice to each other by placing the burden of perfection on a day that should never hold such pressure." i needed to hear that :) you are a beautiful bride and wife!

  8. I agree with Chels. Perfectly imperfect IS the best. From far away it looked pretty perfect, regardless. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Wow, you weren't joking about how close those people were.

    I'm glad your blog made an appearance in the vows.

    Your photographer was on the ball, even in the midst of chaos. He's good. He's real good.

    And, wow, all those groomsmen look fantastic, but not as fantastic as Nick. Just sayin.

  10. Beautiful post! The weather made for some gorgeous pictures. Can't wait to read more.


  11. Such a cute post, I am about to cry :) Be blessed xxx

  12. Girl, you've got me tearing up over here! I love how your wedding was perfect in it's own way just for you and your man! So so sweet.

    And WOW to that photo of the storm approaching. Absolutely breathtaking!

  13. I love your heart and the way you embrace the craziness of life with grace and humility.