Well, hive, you may have noticed in my last post about gifts that everybody was already dressed…Oops! I might have skipped a post or two about getting dressed in there somewhere, so here’s the first!
While the girls were getting pretty allllll morning, the guys were hanging out at the Otter apartment, watching TV, and playing video games. They had pizza delivered for lunch and then came to the hotel. From there, it took them a good 10 minutes to get themselves ready for the day. TEN MINUTES! Compared to the ladies, they had it so easy! No hair, no makeup, and they could totally destroy their room because the purpose of keeping it nice was for them.
(As a funny note, though: notice the Aldo box in the shoe closet? Yeah, BM Blondesquared really wanted that and it got left behind. Oops!)
All photos by Stacy Able Photography.
PREZZIE TIME! Hive, I love prezzies. I also participate in Chrismukkah, because, as Seth Cohen explains, it is “eight days of presents, followed by one day of many presents.” But that’s a story for another time.
After the guys got ready and I officially became a bride, the guys were kicked out of the room so Mr. O could open his gift in private.
(All photos by Stacy Able Photography.)
Our ceremony was quick and traditional. We met with our rabbi (if you’re looking for a rabbi in PA to do an interfaith wedding, or any wedding, really, I highly recommend Rabbi Bleefeld.) a few times before the wedding so he could get to know us and personalize the ceremony a bit. He gave us one crucial piece of advice for the ceremony that we both took to heart. He advised that as soon as the ceremony started, we look at each other, and no one else, the entire time. He told us some stories about brides who were more concerned about where the photographer/videographer were throughout the ceremony, and didn’t pay attention to the real reason why they were there. He advised us that there’s nothing like being able to recall the way your beloved looked the moment you were married, and we didn’t need to look at him, or our guests, or anyone besides each other. I am so very glad we took his advice, because there is nothing that I remember more vividly about our ceremony besides what Mr. Ly looked like in those moments where we were married. I did not see guests come in late, my photographer lying on the floor to get some of his shots, or my MOH run out in the middle of our ceremony (surprise: she’s pregnant too!), all I saw was the face of my love as we promised each other to love, honor and cherish each other for the rest of our lives.
So all of our photos are us, looking at each other. And I love that. If you can take this advice and look at no one other than your partner for your entire ceremony—do it. You’ll never regret not looking anywhere else.
All photos by Mike Landis Photographer
(Also, sorry to jam all these photos into one post. I didn’t want to do more than one ceremony post, but I love ALL these pictures. I couldn’t choose. So very pic heavy post ahead.)
The rabbi started the ceremony by welcoming our guests, mentioning those in remembrance who have passed, and offering up a bit of his rabbinical advice about marriage.
Now that you’ve seen what dress I chose (and I’ve gotten so many lovely comments about it!), I wanted to take a brief pause in the recaps to sort of finish up the wedding dress narrative. If you recall, I was close to renting a gown from Rent the Runway, but ultimately decided not to and chose a dress from a designer I found on Etsy.
There were a few reasons:
Mr. Genie and I quickly ate and then went from table to table to greet everyone and take a few pictures. Pictures were not in the plan, but who could resist? I’ll spare you, since you don’t know any of those people, but it was nice to wander a little bit and make sure everyone was having a good time. I recommend building in a little bit of time if you can, and expect to take pictures. They may be the only ones you get with those groups of people. Mr. Genie was such a chatterbox and social butterfly that we almost didn’t get to every table before we were called up to cut cake.
Before we cut the cake, Mr. Genie said a few words to thank everyone. He said such nice things about being welcomed into a big family and thanking everyone for coming. His kind words made me really proud of him, but also elicited an emotional reaction from my bridesmaids.
Up until this point in our big day, I only had the minor urge to cry once (while reading Mr. A’s love letter to me.). However, I was resolved to hold back the waterworks for as long as possible because I just really hate crying in front of people and didn’t want any of those ugly cry pictures (I’m not a pretty crier) in our wedding album. The song I had chosen for my entrance, however, was one that I knew would get people emotional, especially my family—whose little girl had grown up and was now transforming into being a woman and wife. No one except for Mama Dillo, our pianist, and Mr. A knew what I was walking down the aisle to until this exact moment, and the feeling I expected to have as the doors flung open and I made my descent with Papa Dillo in tow was not even close to the exhilaration, emotion, happiness and something that could only be described as utter bliss that I actually felt. In that moment, I was in Heaven.
Our pianist started to play the faint, yet immediately recognizable tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star” in the effortless and emotional arrangement heard here (seriously, you’re gonna want to play this one):
I’ll admit, when the doors first opened, my eyes fell upon Pastor Mark, probably because he was front and center. I quickly found Mr. A, though, and his soft and highly emotional smile put the hugest grin on my face.
After my (mostly) restful evening, the alarm started going off, signaling that finally, the day was here! We all got up and dressed in our best worst (some of us didn’t even have shoes to wear that weren’t heels…oops!), and we went downstairs to enjoy the complimentary breakfast. MOH Cubs and I ate the lightest, only going to eat bacon. This was the calm before the storm, y’all. We had that hour or so to just chat, talk about strange things (as per usual with us), and prepare for everyone to arrive. And once they did, things got crazy!
(All photos by Stacy Able Photography unless otherwise noted.)
The first on the scene were our hairstylists—my aunt and her coworker, as well as my cousin to lend a helping hand. Originally, it was going to be just my aunt doing all of our hair. Thankfully, she is much smarter than me and brought extra help!
Just a few minutes after, Jillian (who will forever be my makeup artist!) and her assistant arrived to do our makeup. I can’t say enough great things about Eyemax Cosmetics, so if you’re an Indy bride, make sure to check them out!
I come back with a sheepish grin, as you all are probably wondering why I was horrible and fell off the face of the Earth. Some you may not even know who I am. I am Mrs. Genie, and I really want to finish my recaps. We’re almost done with wedding one, and as our first anniversary approaches, I feel like it would be best to finish up right away. So onto the merriment of the evening after our simple entrance.
Once my uncle said the blessing, we dove into our salads. I actually do remember eating that. Mr. Genie and I had a moment to ourselves to relax and eat. Of course, we had plenty of well-wishers come by, but it was nice to have little pocket conversations with people instead of having ALL the attention on us. Our entrees arrived. And there are no photos because everyone gobbled up their food immediately, except for me. I picked at my delicious halibut, but couldn’t really eat. Mr. Genie loved his steak. And I’m told that the food was some of the best wedding food some of our guests had had. Thanks, Cheesecake Factory!
And now came the speeches. Best Man B, Mr. Genie’s brother, spoke first. And now, while I have memories of the lovely sentiment and snippets of words here and there, I don’t have an exact transcript of what he said, but I have these great pictures that show that we loved it.
Mr. Genie was really moved by Best Man B’s words. Best Man B spoke of how hard it was to lose his “Lego buddy” when school became a big task for Mr. G. But then, Best Man B got just as involved with school and gained a new appreciation for his brother. He also talked about how he and I started off a little rocky but love each other very much now. And of course, he couldn’t give a speech without a shout-out to their little brother Groomsman A. He spoke well, made us laugh and smile and cry, and impressed the whole room.
MOH Wino gave us these words:
After my bridal party had made it down the long aisle, there was a brief pause in the music, the curtains closed, and I was prepped for the most meaningful walk I’ll ever take. I think I walked in to Canon in D. How terrible that I have no memory of that! But honestly, I couldn’t think about anything except how excited I was to finally be marrying Mr. Ly, and all that stood between that was this one last walk with my parents by side. And then it hit me.
The moment before you walk down the aisle, those few seconds you have to yourself with your parents, or whomever is walking you down, maybe just by yourself, are so surreal. I hadn’t been alone with my thoughts since I woke up that morning, and here I was, standing with my parents, in the calm, quiet space right before all eyes were about to be on me. Cue: Panic. I felt like a bride SO many times that day, but right before I entered that ceremony, it really hit me. This is what I had been looking forward to my entire life. Fifteen months of planning, all the years spent dreaming of my someday-wedding, and here it was. This.Is.It. At the end of this ceremony, I was still going to be me, but I was going to be someone’s wife. That didn’t scare me, but it did flood me with emotions. I don’t like people staring at me when I’m feeling vulnerable or emotional, but I didn’t really have a choice. Pair that with fears of tripping, slipping, stumbling, whatever and it makes for very tense body language—which I didn’t want to portray. I mentally prepped myself to look straight ahead, and just focus on the end of the very long aisle where my husband was waiting.
I tried to zone in on Mr. Ly, but as I walked, my anxiety just disappeared as soon as I saw so many familiar, loving, friendly faces. I just beamed as I walked down the aisle toward the love of my life.
All photos by Mike Landis Photographer
And it was the best day of our lives!
It has been a week since our wedding and it still feels surreal to me. I am still wandering about in this haze where my heart is about to burst out of my chest. Our wedding was so much better than I could have ever hoped. It wasn’t just the ceremony or the gorgeous reception, but it was all the little details that make my heart flutter just reminiscing. The moment I saw my bridesmaids lined up in their mismatched dresses for the first time, watching Mr. Squirrel’s friends boogie down with my cousins, listening to my grandfather encourage shots of Patron during his dinner blessing… I loved catching Mr. Squirrel’s eyes across the dance floor and dancing our way back to each other, the awe I felt on the water taxi as I got the first peek at our venue, the moment at dinner when I looked around the table and felt completely surrounded by love, laughter, and many drunken fools…
When we left off, the girls and I had finally settled in for bedtime. Anxiously awaiting the next day, I took my usual sleeping medication plus a little extra (that makes three doses of sleeping medication…) to help ensure I stayed knocked out until my alarm went off the next morning.
HA! What a joke. Instead of sleeping through the night as planned, I woke up around 4:00AM. So now what? I mean, I’m in a room with two of my best friends, the TV is already off, and I’m awake. And not just awake like I-took-my-meds-but-I-woke-up awake, but wide awake.
(Personal photo, clearly taken after the wedding. More on this soon!)
So, I resorted to exactly what any normal anxious bride would do: tweeting, browsing Instagram, and texting my very, very soon to be husband that my stomach hurt. Because those are the very important details that I needed Mr. O to know at four in the morning the night before our wedding. (???)
While the Ketubah was being signed, the guests at the Lyre wedding were being contained in the front entrance of the Curtis Center. Don’t worry, they were fully taken care of, being ushered in with a red carpet, and served chilled champagne with raspberries upon arrival.
The work of art you see behind our guests is actually a famous mosaic called the “Dream Garden.” It’s made up of over a hundred thousand pieces of glass, based on a painting by Maxfield Parrish. It’s a stunning work of art, and a beautiful site to welcome our guests.
After getting dressed, we had a few minutes for bridal pictures before the first look. One of the features I loved about the Whittemore House is this little vanity room next to the bridal suite. I mentioned to my photographer when we first met that I was excited about some bridal portraits in there, and she knew exactly what I meant.
My mom happened to have that pink makeup case with her, and I pretended to put on some makeup. I’m being really careful not to actually touch my face and mess anything up, but if someone actually thinks I did that makeup job myself—great.
When we left off, there were road closures. LOTS of road closures. To the point where I was concerned that we wouldn’t make it to the venue. One of the two paths that Daddy Otter and FIL Otter had found was closed, but the other was thankfully open. MOH Cubs and I tried every other option first (ahem, because the local police hadn’t updated their website in six hours…), so we ended up driving around for a good hour trying to get to the venue.
Finally, with much apprehension, we arrived at the venue. Hooray! We started setting up and slowly but surely, our family and wedding party started to arrive. I was most proud to see Best Man Batman and GM Billygoat arrive FIRST! For arriving early, they were rewarded with alcoholic beverages. (Please note: I am not above bribes.)
(My mini! I raised this baby girl until just a couple of years ago, and now she isn’t a baby anymore!)
After we rehearsed, Mr. Ly and I, along with our parents, and two of our closest friends, gathered in the bridal suite with our rabbi for our Ketubah signing. Instead of asking the people in our bridal party to be our witnesses for the Ketubah signing, we decided to ask some friends that were not included in the bridal party, but were still friends that we wanted to include significantly in our day. I chose to ask one of my best friends from Brooklyn. We taught together for only a year, but formed a friendship that has sustained seven years—six of those years in different states. Mr. Ly chose to ask his best man’s wife, who has played an important part in his friendship with his best friend over their entire friendship.
For those who haven’t been to a Jewish wedding, or are unfamiliar with the customs, the Ketubah is the Jewish marriage contract. The signing takes place before the ceremony and is when, according to Jewish law, our marriage is officially recognized. The Ketubah is the first piece of artwork you should hang in your home as husband and wife, and Mr. Ly and I took a lot of time finding something we both really loved. We sought out a company that would provide us with an interfaith text, approved by our rabbi, and represented our union. We ended up going with the company MP Artworks. Our rabbi recommended them to us, and he has a long standing relationship with them. We liked a lot of their options and decided on the “Woven Tree of Life—Winter Edition” for our design. We chose the interfaith text number six, in both Hebrew and English.
All photos by Mike Landis Photographer
Before we signed the Ketubah, we had to go over the logistics for our Pennsylvania marriage license.