Thursday, July 31, 2014

top thirty Thursday: wedding photos.

Well, what do you know. James and I have been married a whole year.

To be perfectly honest, being married isn’t that different from being single. Since we lived together before we were engaged, we were already used to sharing space. (And when I trip over his shoes, I get just as cranky now when he’s my husband as I did when he was my boyfriend.) The only real differences are that I get to call James my husband instead of my boyfriend, we both have fancy rings to wear, and I’m expected to hurry up and have babies already. (Shudder.) Otherwise, it’s business as usual.

But then there are anniversaries! James and I started dating on July 27, 2007, so we celebrated our anniversaries each year. However, your boyfriend/girlfriend anniversary isn’t as recognized as your husband/wife anniversary. Our husband/wife anniversary is July 27, 2013, so we’ve been together for seven years and married for one. Not too shabby.

Now that we’re married, it gives us license (and maybe a responsibility) to celebrate our anniversaries in a bigger way. For this first anniversary, that meant taking my parents’ red Mustang (!!!) to Rapid City for a long weekend. (In case you’re wondering, we didn’t save any cake to eat a year later as per tradition. We chose to eat our fresh, delicious cake then instead of being disappointed by freezer-burned cake a year later.)

Our first anniversary also means (to me) that it’s time for a top ten Tuesday blog in its honor! But this is no top ten Tuesday. Hell, it's not even a Tuesday. This, my friends, is a top THIRTY Thursday. As you know, I love pictures, and in addition to our professional photographer, I had all sorts of people snapping photos all day long. I couldn’t choose a mere ten photos to show you, so I decided to make it twenty… but then I couldn’t choose just twenty. So I tripled it and we’ve got ourselves a top thirty Thursday. I put them in order from the beginning of the day to the end: getting ready, group photos, ceremony, reception. So here we go: here are my top thirty wedding photos!

My friend Ashley was my personal attendant – she and I met as interns at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2010. Ashley was kind enough to take candid pictures of us while we were getting ready (and she took photos while our professional photographer was taking photos, and Ashley’s photos ended up being some of my absolute favorites). So Ashley took this picture of Mom helping me into my wedding dress – it had a bazillion buttons and was almost 70 years old, so I needed all the help I could get.

This picture was taken right before the big reveal – James hadn’t yet seen me in my wedding dress. The photographer was taking some glamour shots (or something) of James, and they told me to sneak up behind him. It was just the two of us (plus the photographer) in the sanctuary, but the rest of the bridal party was watching through the windows. (Note: the actual big reveal was a lot less thrilling than I had imagined – James said something like, “Oh hey Calla! You look nice!” Good try, James!)

Getting married in a church wasn’t at the top of my wedding must-have list… until I remembered Touchdown Jesus. Touchdown Jesus is a Lutheran church in Brookings, and it gained its name due to the gigantic Jesus on its face. Jesus has his arms wide open like a ref announcing a touchdown, hence the nickname. Seriously, EVERYONE in Brookings calls it the Touchdown Jesus church. Double bonus: my parents got married here in 1981!

This is a prime example of one of the candid shots being a favorite of mine. We had just gotten done taking a handful of pictures at the church, and we carpooled to McCrory Gardens. James and I parked in a different lot than the rest of the crew, and this picture was taken as they strolled across to meet us. They look like the Scandinavian Mafia.

Our photographer didn’t spend much time on pictures of me with my bridal party, but this is one of the pictures I really love from that session. We took pictures in McCrory Gardens in Brookings, which is THE most beautiful spot. Even though it was late July, we had a gorgeous 70-ish degree day. Everything was going right, everyone was happy, and our faces tell you exactly that.

This, my friends, is the Prince Face. It’s been an inside joke between Bob, Sarah, and me for years. It came about because we were in the Brookings library one day, and one of us pulled out a music book. It opened to a gigantic picture of Prince, and we all made the same face – this one. When you think about it, Prince always looks super weird in photos (and probably in real life), so this is a totally appropriate face – and we’ve been making it ever since.

You’ll notice that most of my favorite wedding pictures are those that aren’t very posed – or not posed at all. This is one of those – perfect facial expressions captured on film! Mom had just given me a kiss on the cheek, and since I am apparently still a child, I made that face. Who knew my face could contort like that?

While our professional photographer was taking pictures, my wonderful friend and personal attendant Ashley had my camera and was taking pictures of her own. She captured this photo of me with my mom and dad, and I just love our faces. We’re not too posed, but we still look great – and we’re obviously enjoying our day and each other. That, my friends, is exactly what I wanted to see in my wedding pictures and how I wanted to remember the day – and this is perfect.

This is our friend Nate. James and Nate went to high school together, and we all went to college together. Nate was James’s roommate for two years and mine for one. Nate is a great guy and one of the most loyal friends you could ever hope for. When posing for pictures, Nate is usually pretty serious, but the photographer caught him with a great big smile.

This is James’s brother Jesse, and he is one happy-go-lucky guy. I love this picture because it perfectly captures Jesse’s personality. James is one of five boys, and when we got married, Jesse said to me, “I’ve never had a sister, and you’re more like another brother anyway. So I’m going to call you my brother!” So Jesse and I are brothers now! I love this picture because it perfectly captures Jesse’s personality as well as James and Jesse’s relationship.

Ashley took this picture, and I think it’s hilarious. Our photographer spent infinitely more time taking pictures of James’s family and his groomsmen than she did with me and my family/bridal party, so we spent a good deal of time just standing around. Like this. I can almost FEEL the attitude. Plus, Dad and Mitch's expressions just bring it all together into one great photo.

This picture was also taken while the photographer was preoccupied with James and Company. The pictures the photographer took of my bridal party and me are really stiff and awkward, so I was overjoyed to have this picture. My mom snapped it in the gardens, and I think it’s perfect. Here we have me with five of the most important people in my life, and everyone looks like they couldn’t be happier. I can’t answer for everyone else, but I can tell you that indeed – I couldn’t have been happier.

I almost didn’t get a picture with my new in-laws, but I requested this one right before we started with the bridal party group photos. Mark and Maria are so much fun, and I think that’s pretty evident in this picture. They posed themselves for this picture, and I love that it’s not your typical bride-with-the-new-in-laws picture. As a matter of fact, very few of my favorite pictures are what you might call “typical.” And that was the goal.

It’s basically a requirement that every wedding party photo session includes a cheesy jumping picture. However, I wanted something a little less standard – I wanted the guys to leap OVER us while we looked terrified. (This idea came from a photo I’d found on the internet, and it was HILARIOUS.) Our photographer decided that was a disaster waiting to happen, so we compromised and ended up with this. She had us take some where we looked scared and some where we looked annoyed, but this is my favorite. Just look at the guys’ faces and tell me this doesn’t kick ass.

This picture is very nearly perfect – everyone looks like a model except for me because I’m too busy getting my face squished by James. This is one of my two favorite group shots, and this one (along with the umbrella picture that you’ll see shortly) is at my desk at work. Nothing like a stunning picture of your wonderful family and friends to brighten up your work day.

Remember how I said that McCrory Gardens is beautiful? Here’s a prime example. Look at the lush trees and the perfect greenness of it all. I think this picture looks like something out of a dream. (Never mind that we had to take about a bazillion of these pictures because my dress was too slippery for James to hang onto.)
Seriously, McCrory Gardens is the BEST backdrop for pictures, and we were one of at least two bridal parties taking pictures there that day. Everything about the garden is picturesque, especially the little nooks and crannies like this one. It was made of lattices overgrown with flowering plants, and it was gorgeous. The sunlight shining through gave it this ethereal quality, and our faces tell you what a great day we're having. (I also really like this picture because I know I'm saying something sassy to James - our photographer had recently told me to channel my inner Kate Middleton, and I believe my delicate whispered phrasing to James was "Kate Middleton? Are you f-ing kidding me?" I've been called a lot of things in my life, but genteel is not one of them.)

This is my favorite picture of James and me from our wedding day. Sadly, we got almost NO good pictures of the two of us, but we do have this one, which almost makes up for the lack of other pictures. We had done some serious internet digging before the wedding and presented our photographer with examples of wedding pictures that we wanted. Not a lot of those wedding pictures actually materialized, but this one did. It’s just goofy – there we are in our fancy clothes, and James is flying away Mary Poppins-style with his umbrella. Awesome.

This picture was taken mere minutes before I walked down the aisle – the ceremony had already begun, and I was hiding in the church basement like the wedding coordinators had instructed. I had just put my veil on, and the photographer saw an opportunity for a picture. I like to call this my Glamour Shot – you know, like those photo studios that were really popular in the 90s where you got your picture taken with big hair and lots of makeup? Except my hair wasn’t that big, and my makeup wasn’t quite glittery enough for a true Glamour Shot. But I like it – with my birdcage veil and my 1940s dress, I look pleasantly vintage. (Side note: the photographer had me put my hand under my chin for another one of these pictures, which is totally 90s and is much more like a true Glamour Shot. That one gets to stay hidden.)

It was during the couple of months before the wedding that I came up with a brilliant/hilarious idea: I should walk down the aisle to the Imperial March: you know, Darth Vader’s theme. The bridal party was walking down the aisle to the very traditional Canon in D, so how funny would it be to play the entrance music best known for announcing the presence of one of the greatest movie villains of all time? I cleared it with James and Dad (whose brass quintet was providing the wedding music) before bringing it up to Pastor Loren – who not only enthusiastically agreed, but offered to be the one to tell the brass that they’re playing the wrong song. We kept all this a secret from the Touchdown Jesus wedding coordinators, as they were strict with the music. (I believe the phrase is “it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.” Besides, what were they going to do? Unmarry us?) This picture was taken just as the brass began playing the Imperial March and right before Pastor Loren told the brass that they had the wrong music and shouldn’t they be playing Canon in D? It was executed perfectly, and Dad and I laughed all the way down the aisle.

Our friend Rachel offered to be our wedding slave, and she did a great job – from decorations to paparazzi photography, she was on it. She took this picture of James and me at the altar – we were holding hands, and I couldn’t stop smiling. (Part of the reason we were holding hands was because my feet really hurt and I needed James to hold me upright, but you can’t tell that from the picture.)

Touchdown Jesus really is a nice church – not just by virtue of the giant Touchdown Jesus on the side, but it’s pretty good looking on the inside, too. This picture was taken from up in the balcony, and it’s a great bird’s eye view of what’s going on. Plus, it’s kind of fun to look at the backs of people’s heads and try to figure out who’s who.

James and I were married by my childhood pastor. Pastor Loren came to our church in Arlington when I was not even a year old, so he has known me just a few months shy of my entire life. I was thrilled that he agreed to marry us. Pastor Loren has a great sense of humor, and he supported everything we wanted to do – from having one non-Biblical reading to being in on the Imperial March, Pastor Loren was all for our wedding being exactly what we wanted. During his sermon, in which he called us weird and talked about Nick burgers. (Best wedding sermon I’ve ever heard!) This picture was taken right after we were pronounced husband and wife, and naturally, we high-fived. Pastor Loren and James's brother Jesse look like they're about to do-si-do, and I love it.

Funny story about my flowers – HyVee forgot about them. I had spoken with the HyVee floral department about a bazillion times, and my mom’s cousin was going to pick up my bouquet and James’s boutonniere that morning. However, when she got there, it turned out that HyVee had totally forgotten about them. They quick threw some flowers together and called it a day. (Luckily, it was a small order – James’s boutonniere and my bouquet were the only things we needed.) The ribbons binding my flowers were monumentally sloppy, so the flowers were run to James, who worked his crafty magic and fixed the ribbons. I loved my flowers, and sadly, this was the only picture our photographer took of them. But on the bright side, it is a neat picture, as you can see James and me greeting our guests in the background.

I love a good generational picture, so here we are: three generations. But what makes this picture even better is that I’m the third generation to wear this wedding dress. My grandma Lorraine wore this wedding dress in 1944, Mom wore it in 1981, and I wore it in 2013. It’s not every day that a wedding dress makes it through three generations.

Rachel took this picture as James and I arrived at our reception venue – the Old Sanctuary. We pulled up in the red Mustang and were met by a cheering crowd. James wanted to arrive with flair, so this is how we did it. And no, he didn’t drop me.

If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know that the devil is in the details. I spent months sweating over the tiny details of our wedding, and I’m glad I did – the details all came together and really made the wedding perfect. One of my favorite little details has to be our shoes. James and I wore regular fancy shoes for the ceremony, but for the reception, we changed into our All-Stars. They are in our wedding colors, and our wedding date is embroidered on the back. This was just a quick snapshot of us changing into our shoes before our grand entrance into the reception, and I just love it. And I love the shoes – I wear mine all the time.

James and I swing danced in college: we were in the swing dancing club, and we never missed an opportunity to swing dance at one of the jazz dances. So it was only fitting that our first dance would be a swing dance. And we did swing dance – to “Ring of Fire.” It was not your typical first dance song, but it was absolutely perfect. The crowd loved it, and we had a blast – we even did flips. Go ahead, be impressed. (The DJ even said, “That… was… AMAZING.”)

James’s and my wedding mixed tradition with our personalities, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Tradition: father/daughter dance. Personalities: jitterbugging to “The Way You Look Tonight.” These smiles say it all.

Our wedding dance was, hands down, the best wedding dance I’ve ever been to. (I might be biased, but that’s my honest opinion.) We had the best DJ, and I wanted to dance to every single song. The thing that made our wedding dance different from so many others is that we spent most of our time dancing in one gigantic group. Anyone and everyone could join in our big circle, and that’s exactly what happened – especially as the evening wore on. This picture was taken during our bridal party dance, which was – appropriately – “Friends in Low Places.”
James’s and my wedding was so much more than just these pictures, and there’s no way to fully capture the (forgive me for being trite) magic of the day. No picture can truly encapsulate how side-splittingly funny it was when Nate and Sara stood up to recite “Amazed” by Lonestar – a song they both knew I hated! 
Although this one comes close.
No photo can quite bring back the feeling of total happiness as James I walked down the aisle to the Olympic Fanfare. No snapshot can echo our epic entrance into the Old Sanctuary, running in slow motion to "Chariots of Fire." Though I will never be able to reproduce the day (not that I’d want to – it couldn’t have gone over better), these pictures will show me the great moments for the rest of my life.

There are so many other wonderful wedding moments that weren’t captured on film – putting James’s brother Jesse front and center to dance to “Jessie’s Girl,” hugging our parents in the reception line, us with our completely awesome dinosaur-topped cake… but pictures or not, those are memories that I’ll carry forever.

However, nothing is as good of a reminder as a picture. I have the best memories from our wedding day, and these pictures just help solidify those memories. Looking at these wedding photos just makes me smile. They conjure up all the great stories behind each picture, and I think of my wonderful family and friends and how much fun we all had that day. It was the best wedding ever, and these pictures let me relive it. One year down, forever to go!


  1. Beautiful Calla! I talk about your wedding ALL. THE. TIME! Definitely the most fun, sassy, lovely and meaningful wedding I've had the pleasure to attend. Thanks for walking me down memory lane. <3

    1. Thank you so much, Susan! We had such a great time, and it couldn't have been possible without such fantastic people in our lives! While we're both definitely glad we never have to do it again... :) .... it's a lot of fun to relive!