Hive! We did it! The Pandas are now married and it was a beautiful, beautiful day. It was a gorgeous June afternoon and it went by with a blink of an eye.
Was it perfect? Well, no…but it was pretty darn close. I am still glowing from all of the love and excitement. It was an amazing experience and I just love seeing all of the guest pictures rolling in.
I know I’ve been evading discussion about my dress, so I feel like I should make a note of it here. I guess from the very beginning, I had a gut feeling that I would end up wearing this—it’s Wtoo Olivia! After looking at these pictures, I can’t believe I ever doubted my choice! It was absolutely perfect!
After we were done with pictures I decided to hide. Guests started to arrive and I didn’t want to be in sight until the ceremony.
The sun started to set in a beautiful way, giving our guest an awesome view while they waited for the ceremony to start, listening to the sweet notes of the Vitamin String Quartet.
Part of my dad’s side of the family in front of the beautiful sunset / Photo by Niece K
Meanwhile I hid in a small tunnel that goes under the pool’s waterfall, alone with my thoughts. And then I started rambling: I can’t breathe, why can’t I breathe? The dress is too tight, but if anything, it’s looser than it was when we were taking pictures and I was fine then. Am I nervous? Is that why I am hyperventilating? Why am I nervous?
Then I realized BM A had been there for a while, just listening to my rambling, ready to get me out of it: I have the car keys, just say the word and we’re out of here, and hive, she meant it. She knew I wasn’t going anywhere, but I’ve known this girl for 23 years, and it would have been out of character for her not to give me the option.
I woke up around 6:00AM on the morning of our wedding to have a shower and a shave. Usually I do a lot of thinking in the shower but I barely remember taking one that day! I spent the morning lounging around with my girls in our hotel suite, trying to think too far ahead.
NO MAKEUP! HAPPY!
My fabulous hair/makeup artist, Laura, arrived around 7:00AM with two assistants in tow to help with curling and makeup. Laura is a total blast to have around and she’s really good about making everyone feel comfortable while still making the bride feel extra special. As you can see from the pics below, planning to have a specific girls getting ready room was a low-stress and super fun way to get ready.
I don’t think I will ever be able to express how easy and awesome it was to have everyone staying at the hotel where the wedding was taking place! The ladies got to roll out of bed and ride an elevator (if they dared) to our room on level two to begin their day. No coats, no driving, no stress.
OK—before I start writing about the ceremony, press play to get into the mood! Track #1 (Goldfrapp, “A&E”) was playing as people were finished getting seated, and track #2 (Nico, “These Days,” covered by Vitamin String Quartet) was when doors were closing and our families were walking in.
Playlist via 8tracks Radio. Image: our ceremony setup during the day
A few minutes before go time, we took the elevator downstairs and sneaked into the ballroom to line up. EEP! My heart was racing—after having such a relaxing few hours, it just didn’t seem like it was actually going to happen, but here we were.
I’m officially writing my recaps! AHH! I can’t believe time has gone so fast, and I’m thrilled to be able to relive the day a little bit through pictures with you.
After such a crazy wedding week culminating in an awesome but tiring welcome dinner, you would think I would fall asleep immediately. After writing a few thank you notes and making sure I was all organized for the next day, I crawled into bed at my aunt’s house in a room with my two sisters expecting to be out like a light. Instead, I laid awake…and awake some more…and awake some more.
I don’t think I mentioned this, but I had woken up Friday morning with an awful cold. With the help of tons of Sudafed, Advil, and Vitamin C, I made it through the day, but I was definitely congested. That plus stress plus anticipation of the next day led to a tough night of sleep. After I FINALLY fell asleep, I woke up every twenty minutes, anxiously checking my phone to see if I could get up yet…
At 5:30am my alarm went off and I got up and got in the shower. A friend of ours who was doing my hair arrived around 6:30am and my sisters began to stir and get ready themselves. My aunt brought me fruit and orange juice for breakfast and K curled…and curled…and curled my hair.
I have a lot of hair. Generally, when I curl it the effects of the curl wear off after about an hour—less if it’s humid. Spoiler alert though: My hair for the wedding was magical. It was seriously my dream hair. K was a wonder worker!
When my hair was curled and pinned, it was time to head out to the venue. But first…
One of my favorite moments of our whole wedding weekend took place around midnight the night before our wedding. The rehearsal dinner was finished and BM L Dawg and H were trying to sleep in the adjoining room while I was trying to type my last post as a Miss in the living area. Don’t you just love hotel suites?
I had previously said goodnight to Mr. Sword in the lobby as we split up—him to the bar to have one last drink, and me to the girls’ getting ready room where I was staying for the night.
But as I sat there typing away at my laptop, trying to shove all of my emotions into concise but eloquent thoughts, I decided I wanted to see him one last time. I mean, he was so close, I could hear laughing coming from the hotel bar, voices of people who were here for our wedding. In that moment, I wanted one more goodnight kiss. One more embrace.
So I texted him, “Where are u?”
The Camels are officially home from the honeymoon and it was a romantic and spectacular time that we will not soon forget. Right now I am overwhelmed with all the photos I took over those two weeks, and I’m still debating how much or how little detail I’d like to include in my recaps, but I will be sure to get back with you guys soon with our experiences on Malta, Gozo, and then in the city of Paris.
Until then, I feel that I need to backtrack a little and talk about our rehearsal dinner. What is usually a rather uneventful wedding tradition was made complicated by the first meeting of my mother and stepmother in addition to some sour post-divorce emotions on Mr. Camel’s side of the family. You can read more about my concerns and pre-wedding emotions in the post “Healing the Past: Family Drama and the Wedding.”
In this case, I think a picture will speak a thousand words, and so I present to you the first photograph of me (as an adult) with my mom and dad who divorced in 1997:
I want to say we wrapped up the rehearsal right around 9:00 PM, but I can’t be too sure because I was hardly looking at my phone all day and I don’t wear watches.
BEST IDEA EVER: Having the rehearsal dinner location literally across the street. After everyone was “dismissed,” people started exiting in groups to head over to our location of
choice necessity, the loud but fun western bar, Cowboy Jack’s.
They might not have been our first choice in a pub, but their service was impeccable and their staff was amazing. Immediately upon entering the private room, they were asking our guests for their drink order and attempting to give out tickets based on what burger each person had selected in advance (on our wedding website). I had no idea how they were going to figure out who had ordered what—we had so many options: beef, BBQ, turkey, veggie, cheese or no cheese—but their little labeled cards did the trick! Our reserved space was essentially two rooms with the sliding door between them fully open. It was the perfect size and everyone was able to sit wherever they wanted.
My only complaint was that it was hard to address everyone during the toasts because the bar was so loud (party bar for sure) and because there was no good place to stand and be heard in both rooms. You really had to keep turning you head from side to side in order to be heard. The noise level was a bit frustrating to be honest (especially after the screaming teenagers from earlier), but we went ahead as planned.
First up was FIL Sword and his touching and sweet toast to Mr. Sword and myself. Here is a snippet from his speech:
When Mr. Sword told us he was going out with Mrs. Sword we were quite nervous about the thought of meeting her…after all, Mrs. Sword was the first girl Mr. Sword had brought home to meet us so we thought that this relationship must be quite serious! Especially when they had to travel all the way to Scotland for the introductions!
Anyway, as soon as we picked them up at the airport and were introduced to Mrs. Sword, any concerns we had disappeared as we found Mrs. Sword to be a very friendly, warm, and genuine person and our liking for her just grew over the time that they spent with us.
So we were absolutely thrilled that their relationship blossomed and that they are now only a few hours away from being married.
Next up, I spoke, because in case you can’t tell from my lengthy blog posts, I love words and talking and writing. While I wanted to thank everyone in the room (and the world!), I had to limit myself and chose to thank the three women who occupy the space of a motherly role in my life, all in different and special ways. I won’t include it here, but in my speech I thanked Boss Lady, Mum Sword, and of course my amazing mother, Mom Sword!
There were TWO surprises at our rehearsal dinner. The first was Sister/MOH Big Eyes and FBIL singing a song medley that chronicled our relationship over the years. SO cool. They chose a short verse or chorus from each part of the song to represent each moment written on cards (written in bold below) held by our Usher/Cousin Dancer.
The song selections were:
The rehearsal time we were given by Embassy Suites was 8:00 PM (it was either that or 4:00 PM), and I think we started pretty close to on time, which was shocking considering the amount of interviews we were trying to cram into the hour of seven to eight o’clock. At first no one was sure what to do and the atrium looked like this:
Once I did quick head count to make sure everywhere was there, it was time for Pastor P to take over and begin the rehearsal.
Family shots were, although brief, a bit stressful. Even though only our immediate families were involved, we were running out of sunlight and everyone was all over the place.
Since I know most hive members skip through family portraits, I’ll be brief.
Here’s Mr. Toadstool’s family.
And mine, complete with my teenage bro who’s going through that awkward “I hate everything and I don’t care about photographs so I won’t smile” phase.
Many a bee has talked about the issue of getting photos from guests. And I feel their pain. Even Mr. Whale, who usually hates pictures, gets excited every time someone posts a new photo from the wedding. We just want to relive everything, in any way we can.
Thankfully, we can. Purely by luck, it just so happens that the Wedding Party app (an app where guests can upload pictures they take at your wedding) is partnered with mywedding.com, so when we started our website, we already had a section in the site for pictures from the app. Back when we got engaged, I was still stuck in caveman era with no smart phone, so I originally thought, “Huh, that might be cool. But I don’t really understand apps, so I’ll think about it later.” Fast forward to February when I became the proud owner of a real live smart phone. I went to our wedding website again, and I was all like, “What!! This is a great idea! We’re totally doing this!”
So how does it work? Here’s exactly what our guests received from us (both at our welcome BBQ and at the wedding reception):
I printed them out and cut them into a size a little bigger than business cards and then just handed them to people. (Pro tip: Definitely hand some out at the rehearsal dinner so you can get the word out there. Also, start handing them out a little later in the event, when people have already taken a few pictures and when they’re not as focused on seeing everyone and saying hi to everyone.)
Because of the app, we ended up getting a LOT more pictures of our BBQ than we would have had otherwise. I mean, there’s no pro photographer, and I definitely brought my camera but never took it out of my bag, because I was too busy hanging out with people. Read more…
First thing: I have known this was going to be my first official post as a Mrs. since I became a bee, because of this scene:
Now that that’s out of the way—HI, HIVE! I’M A MRS.!!!
I am writing from the other side of both a perfect wedding and a perfect honeymoon. I am so grateful to be able to say that. Mr. Palm Tree and I awakened the morning after our wedding and sighed with contentment, only to squeal and kick the covers as we realized we could now look forward to our honeymoon with no barriers. This is only my opinion and I obviously realize everyone is different, but guys, seriously, if you can manage to have a honeymoon immediately (or almost immediately; we married on a Saturday and left early Wednesday morning) after the wedding, DO IT. I’ll go more into detail in my recaps, but I just wanted to let you all know that not waiting or skimping on the honeymoon was one of the best decisions we could have made. Spoiler alert: I’ll say that a lot during our honeymoon and wedding recaps—we apparently made a lot of baller decisions.
Before we get to the elevators, let me back up a bit…
Immediately following the luncheon, the bridal party and I left to get our nails done at Livvy Nails and Spa in Lakeville, MN. I had picked this salon on a previous planning trip and they were ready for us when we arrived (although there was some miscommunication on when exactly that time would be). Some of us got regular manis, some got gel manis, and some of us went for both a gel mani AND a pedi (like me!).
I was happy as any nail snob could be and since I asked you all for an opinion on my polish colors, it’s only fair that I tell you what I picked! I went with Essie’s dark purple “damsel in a dress” on my toes and bridal white in gel on my hands! I also brought Essie’s lavender ”go ginza” as option for the girls’ and most of them did choose either the dark purple or the lavender to compliment their dresses.
Personal photos/Collage by Mrs. Sword
We ended up leaving the nail salon in shifts as people were finishing up because it was time to check into the hotel rooms and get organized for the rehearsal. I was in the last car load, being that my appointment was one of the longer ones, and I was starting to get a bit anxious on the drive to Embassy Suites.
Once my dress was mended, our wedding party headed outside for some photos in Dupont Circle. It was a beautiful, crisp winter day cold. Those little fur shrugs really didn’t do much, so most of these photos are an exercise in not looking freezing.
First, the handsome men:
Once our bridal party had made their way in, Mr. Ly and I were ready to make our entrance and have our first dance as husband and wife. When I last blogged about our song choice for our first dance, we had picked “Colors” by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. As much as we love that song, we loved another one a lot more, and while we weren’t sure the rhythm was right for our first dance, we decided to go with the song we liked the best—rhythm be damned. Our first dance was to Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” But before we could dance, we had to enter.
As you may recall from our introduction post nearly a year ago, Mr. Ly has a t-shirt with a well known lyric from a popular Kanye West & Jay-Z song. After our YouTube viral video bridal party entrance, we really shouldn’t have been so concerned about offending people even more with our own entrance song. But we chose a part of the song that had the least offensive lyrics that we could find. Yes, we entered to N****s in Paris. (Warning—the lyrics are NSFW!) We entered at about 1:40 seconds into the song—with Mr. Ly’s favorite lyrics…