A Match Made in Heaven

Lee Chapel  -  Oil on Canvas  -  30x40
Although Thane and I are one of my favorite couples (hehe), this isn't the "match" I'm talking about. The real "match made in heaven" is (literally) the marriage between Christ and His church. And since we're on the topic of marriage, let me tell you a little bit about my painting.

If you happened to see our wedding anniversary post, you might recognize this as the chapel where Thane and I were married. Not only did it seem worthy of painting for it's architectural beauty, but more so for the amazing gift it was. And I don't just mean the building, but the whole day, and much more importantly, the relationship that Christ had blessed us with for years.

If you look in the shadowy grass, you might see some hints of Thane and I's presence. If you look in the sky, you'll see a hint of God's. The painting is a tribute to Him, because He was the One that brought us to our wedding day. It was truly an amazing gift. To think of all the time I spent pining away over the difficulty of our long distance relationship and what seemed like a never ending wait to be married! But when the day finally came and all of the details fell into place, I knew without the shadow of a doubt that He'd been planning it all along. What's funny is I'd never even noticed the chapel despite the fact that I'd be driving right by it- for four years!- every time I visited Thane at VMI. But God knew it was there. And as soon as I laid eyes on it, it felt like I was unwrapping a big surprise gift that He'd been saving just for me.

He truly is a wonderful Father. He knows me more personally than anyone, and even goes to lengths to "spoil" me despite how ill-deserving I am. And if I'd just let Him be in control those four years rather than futilely trying to control everything myself, I would have spared myself a lot of grief. But I was determined to learn that lesson the hard way, and only now looking back do I see all of my mistakes. But praise God for His never ending patience with me, and for the sometimes painful discipline that produces perseverance, character, and hope in my life. (Romans 5:3-4) So praise the Lord! He is so faithful and true. And He's the same towards all of His children- just ask any of them and they'll tell you! But enough about me. Now for the really good stuff!

In light of all the wedding thought this past week, I remembered an excellent description of the "heavenly" marriage that I read in Martin Luther's "The Freedom of a Christian" a few months back.

Please take a few moments to read these three paragraphs. Christians- it will bless you! And non-Christians, I pray that it will compel you to receive Christ's gift of repentance and salvation- He is the only One who can set us free from our bondage to sin and restore our relationship with the Father.  I promise you, you won't regret it!

 Our Marriage to Christ- An Excerpt on the Benefits of Faith

...The third incomparable benefit of faith is that it unites the soul with Christ as a bride is united with her bridegroom. By this mystery, as the apostle Paul teaches, Christ and the soul become one flesh (Eph. 5:31-32). And if they are one flesh and there is between them a true marriage- indeed the most perfect of all marriages, since human marriages are but poor examples of this one true marriage- it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil. Accordingly the believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were his own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as His own. Let us compare these and we shall see inestimable benefits. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ's, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul's; for if Christ is a bridegroom, He must take upon Himself the things which are His bride's and bestow upon her the things that are His. If He gives her His body and very self, how shall He not give her all that is His? And if He takes the body of the bride, how shall He not take all that is hers?

Here we have a most pleasing vision not only of communion but of a blessed struggle and victory and salvation and redemption. Christ is God and man in one person. He has neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned, and he cannot sin, die, or be condemned; His righteousness, life, and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent. By the wedding ring of faith He shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are His bride's. As a matter of fact, He makes them His own and acts as if they were His own and as if He himself had sinned; He suffered, died, and descended into hell that He might overcome them all. Now since it was such a one who did all this, and death and hell could not swallow Him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by Him in a mighty duel; for His righteousness is greater than the sins of all men, His life stronger than death, His salvation more invincible than hell. Thus the believing soul by means of the pledge of its faith is free in Christ, it's bridegroom, free from all sins, secure against death and hell, and is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom. So He takes to Himself a glorious bride, "without spot or wrinkle, cleansing her by the washing of water with the Word" (Cf. Eph. 5:26-27) of life, that is, by faith in the Word of life, righteousness, and salvation. In this way he marries her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice, as Hos. 2:19-20 says.

Who then can fully appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace? Here this rich and divine bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot, redeems her from all evil, and adorns her with all his goodness. Her sins cannot now destroy her, since they are laid upon Christ and swallowed up by them.  And she has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast of as her own and which she can confidently display alongside her sins in the face of death and hell and say, "If I have sinned, yet my Christ, in whom I believe, has not sinned, and all his is mine and all mine is his," as the bride in the Song of Solomon (2:16) says, "My beloved is mine and I am his." This is what Paul means when he says in 1 Cor. 15:57, "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," this is, the victory over sin and death, as he also says there, "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law" (1 Cor. 15:56).

From this you once more see that much is ascribed to faith, namely, that it alone can fulfill the law and justify without works.

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Is that amazing, or what?!

Put the "Kick" Back into Your Cloth

Ever suspected your cloth diapers of losing their absorbency? Have they ever seemed to leak a little more than usual? I came across this issue a while back. I wasn't sure what the problem was. Was the baby wetting more than usual? Was I not putting his diapers on tight enough? Were cloth diapers just not going to work for us?

Then I realized that I was using the wrong detergent. I never got around to ordering the good stuff (Country Save, Rockin' Green, etc) from Nicki's Diapers, so a couple of weeks after Asher was born I picked up Seventh Generation's "Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender" scented liquid detergent. Which was not additive free. Duh, what was I thinking? I knew I wasn't supposed to be using the standard chocked-full-of-unnecessary-chemicals-that-linger-in-your-laundry kind of detergent, didn't I? We'll blame it on infant-imposed lack of sleep at two weeks post-partum. I also remember having the silly thought that because lavender is anti-bacterial as an essential oil (an ingredient in my diaper wipes solution), it would likewise fight bacteria as a detergent scent.

NOT additive-free=Cloth Diaper no-no.
So after realizing my big spoof and immediately worrying that I'd "ruined the diapers forever!", I came across Just Simply Baby, a great C.D. site that rates every detergent on the market based on it's suitability for cloth diapers. The less additives, the better. Surprisingly, certain household brands like Arm & Hammer Free & Clear and Woolite get pretty good ratings. (See the full rating list here- it's got everything.) I felt like I didn't have time to order one of the fancy brands online, so back to the store I went. I picked up Arm & Hammer's "Sensitive Skin- Free of all Perfumes and Dyes" liquid detergent, and it was only about $5 for a huge gallon of it.

Free & Clear

I was still curious about the more expensive detergents that are made especially for cloth diapers, and I was still worried that I'd compromised the absorbency of my cloth inserts because of the Seventh Generation I'd been using. (Whether I did or not, I can't be totally sure...but either way it was worth switching to a better detergent). So, I looked into Rockin' Green, which seems to get raving reviews from the C.D. pros, including the owner of Just Simply Baby, a stay at home mom that's developed her own line of diapers.

So when I saw a small sample at Supper Mommy's (a natural parenting store in Elizabethtown, KY) that was meant to clean unwanted additives out of your cloth, I had to try it. The sample size was only about a dollar or two.

I don't have a personal washer and dryer to use for soaking here at Motel K, so I filled up our bathtub with hot water, mixed in the detergent, and let my diapers soak in it for a while before washing. (We have a shared laundry room in the basement of the building). And voila! Leak issue solved! As far as I could tell, at least. And now that it's been a couple of months I'm thinking about giving the ol' cloths another cleansing. Maybe I'll even get the big bag of Rockin' Green since our Arm & Hammer is getting low.

Again, I can't say for sure whether it really was the 7th Gen. that was causing extra leaks, and I can't say for sure that it was the Rockin' G. that fixed it. Maybe it was just the "placebo" affect of giving the dipes a special cleaning. But it might be worth a try if you're experiencing the same problems. After all, a sample of the Green stuff is just a buck or two!

So, fellow C.D. moms, what detergents do you use? Have any special washing tricks to share?

---P.S. Did you notice the three latest additions to our stash of Best Bottom shells? Eeeee I'm thrilled! Just picked up Mint-Chocolate-Chip, Blue Moon, and Orange Sherbet through an auction on Under My Crib. They're second hand, but I saved about $21 bucks that way. And why not re-use instead of buy new all the time? Great site by the way, I've both bought and sold on it now.

---P.S.S. See my favorite C.D. products here!

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The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.
-Psalm 24:1

Any Joe Can Be a Pro; Photo Editing Made Simple

Note: if you're not interested in the back-story concerning our latest encounter with army sillyness, skip to paragraph five. Otherwise, proceed as usual.

The Escape was packed. Four brand new tires were on. Travel snacks were bought. The fridge was cleaned out. Bottles were prepped. My hotel key card was turned in. Excitement was building. We were almost ready to wave goodbye to Hotel K (Knieram, Knox, our last name...whatever you'd like to call it) for a few days and take off for Georgia. I couldn't wait to spend a little time in the White Elephant and catch up with neighbors, friends, and the church family. And to enjoy some co-habitation with our very own dishwasher and laundry room. As in, a laundry room that's right across from Asher's nursery, not down a flight of stairs, outside, down a sidewalk, down another flight of stairs, and in a basement. Ah, the luxury!

We miss our White Elephant...
It wasn't just a vacation. Thane and the other commanders were tasked to participate in a big change-of-command ceremony at Fort Benning. (See Thane's ceremony here!) I had plans to stay for a few weeks, and was even in the middle of trying to coordinate a special visit from my mom. So you can imagine the surprise we felt upon learning that the trip had been canceled through a casual, chance conversation with another commander less than 24 hours before we planned to leave. Except nobody was going to tell us. Were it not for God's providence through that chance conversation, we would have driven eighteen hours (round-trip) for nothing. We're just a tad "chagrined", as Andrea (my beloved M.I.L) would put it. This was after weeks of debating and worrying over the usual complex strategizing that's necessary to navigate this army lifestyle.

To put it in a nutshell, there were lots of items that needed to be moved back to Georgia, with limited space in the vehicles, plus the baby and his need for some form of normalcy/as few long car rides as possible, and a wedding in NY the same weekend we were to be checking out of Hotel K. Anyway, long story short, I was planning on staying in Georgia for the next three weeks, until Thane drove down again to move the rest of our things and bring Asher and I back to Kentucky (to finish out one more week here) and then drive straight to New York (shew!) Complicated, right? And we spent weeks weighing the pros and cons of the various ways we could make it all work, and finally, painstakingly came to a decision. 

But praise God. As disappointing as it is to have missed out on our trip, plus all the wasted energy put into prepping for it, I'm thankful that the three of us will be together this next month. And it's a real life example of how we need to be more obedient to Mathew 6:24- "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." As well as Proverbs 27:1- "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." Obviously planning is important, and very necessary. But perhaps I tend to overdo it and need to wait for Christ's guidance a little more. Thank goodness for His patience with me.

Okay, I'm almost to the point of this post- promise! So, the decision to stay in Georgia for those three weeks without Thane was not only hard because of the fact that we'd be separated, but also because I'd be without my good buddy Photoshop. She and I go back. To college, that is, via my design classes. And we've developed quite the working relationship since then. Could I survive for three whole weeks not only without Thane, but also without photo editing abilities? (My laptop is on it's last leg chip, and the desktop was going to be staying in Kentucky). Well, I'd have to, for the sake of Asher's sanity/one less long car ride and life disruption for him. And that got me thinking- ah, the point, finally! Could I do my usual editing without Photoshop? Hmmmm. It's experiment time.

In comes Picnik. Ever used it? I have, from time to time, it's quite simple and user friendly. Not to mention totally free, and you don't even have to create an account! So I wondered, could I photo-edit-to-my-hearts-desire using nothing but Picnik, and still get the same results I get with Photoshop? In other words, can the average person with no background in design or photography "be their own pro" when it comes to this kind of thing? I won't keep you in suspense. Nor will I call for a drum roll. The answer is YES! And I'll prove it:

This is a photo of ours that I first edited in Photoshop (so that you have a basis for comparison).

Edited in Photoshop

So here we go...
1. Go to http://www.picnik.com/

2. Click "Get started now!" and upload a photo. The example I'm using is a very simple one.

Molokai, Hawaii- Taken from the little 6-seat puddle jumper we flew on.

3. Since my original photo is a little washed out, (not enough shadow, too much light), I clicked on the "Exposure" tab and made some adjustments. Since it's going to be black and white, we want a good amount of contrast so that the photo really pops. I decreased the Exposure by 10, and increased the Contrast by 10. But there's no formula, just play around with little sliders and just see what looks good! Notice that there's an "Auto-fix" you can use as well.

Exposure -10 / Contrast +10

4. Once you're done with the Exposure, click on the "Colors" tab. This first one was just for fun...

Just for fun- I clicked on the "Neutral Picker" and used the dropper to get neat color affects. Also increased the "Temperature".

To get the black and white look that I wanted, I simply decreased the "Saturation" slider to -100. And it's done!

5. Then I simply clicked on the "Save & Share" tab to save the file to my computer. The one catch to this great site (which I just realized) is that although you can save your edited photo to your computer, if you try to upload it or open it an another program, you'll lose the edits you made. So, to get around that for the sake of this blog, I just screen-printed the photo. (Ctrl+PrtScr, then Paste into Paint or another application.) But to get the real, quality photo, you'd have to order prints. Which I do plan on doing.

 So let's compare the original photo to the "before" and "afters" using Photoshop and Picnik...




Pretty good, right?! The Picnik version even looks a little better with the extra contrast. So there you go, you don't have to have Photoshop in order to do great photo-editing! But just in case you're thinking this black and white edit was too easy of an example, here's one with color:

Original Photo

1. Once again, I clicked on the "Exposure" tab and made some adjustments. The original was too dark, so I increased the Exposure by 10 and the Contrast by 20.

 2. It was still a little dingy, so I went over to the Color tab. I increased the Saturation by 10, and decreased the Temperature by 10.

So let's compare the original with the final result:


Another success, if you ask me! So, I will no longer fear being without my pal Photoshop. She's great and all, but not totally necessary for the kind of basic editing I like to do. So, if you haven't given the Picnik treatment to any of your photos, here's proof that it's a great tool.

I'll say it again- any Joe can be a Pro!

And I'm certainly no pro (just a dabbler with a little design background), but if you guys are having any trouble, maybe I could help! Really, don't hesitate to ask. I'd be thrilled to lend some tips or even do a little Photo-shopping for ya. For instance, here's little Atticus and his weekly photo project that I help with. Isn't he precious?!

Or maybe you can lend me some tips! Know of any other great sites like Picnik? Or of any good books on photography and editing for beginners? I've been wanting to take a class or get a good "how-to" book for years. I've barely scratched the surface on how to use our camera to its best potential. Same with Photoshop. I'm a jack of many trades, master of none.

Have a great week everyone!

And the Winner Is....

Photo 3: "Get in my belly!"

Thank you so much to everyone who voted! You chose option three, which showcases what Asher likes to do most: eat! Ha, could you tell? (To see his latest weight and height stats, jump over to All About Asher.)

The Totals
1. Cheeks- 7 Votes (31%)
2. Karate Kick- 4 Votes (18%)
3. Get in my belly!- 11 Votes (50%)

This was so much fun for us, we might have to do this again!

See his 18 Week photo along with the rest of the Sweet Pea Weekly photo collection here.

P.S. It's sort of an inside joke, but this photo was originally dubbed "Nom nom nom", out of affectionate memory of good laughs with our Alaska buddies. Hehe you know who you are!

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Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them...
-Psalm 127:4

Vote on Asher's 18 Week Photo!

1. "Cheeks"

2. "Karate Kick'"

3. "Get in my belly!"

Howdy friends! We're in need of some help this week. Most of you have probably seen Asher's weekly photo collection-"Sweet Pea Weekly". Check it out if you haven't!

Since I take about 100+ shots each session, sometimes it's really hard to pick our favorite- the one that gets added to the "official" collection. (I know, I know, I'm one of those crazy moms who takes way too many pictures of her baby). And that's probably why it's so hard to choose only one each week. So how about I take the burden off of Thane and I this time and let you guys do it? I've narrowed it down to our three favorites...but the final pick is up to you. Thanks in advance!

See the poll on the right side of the page, at the top of the column? Just take a peak at our three favorites here, and then vote!We'll post the winning photo when the voting's complete! To see all of Asher's weekly photos to date, go here.

Thanks again! We can't wait to see what you guys choose!

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Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3 NKJV

Our Not-So-Big (But Wonderful!) Wedding

Lee Chapel- June 23rd, 2007

Who loves My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Meee! It's been years since I've seen it, maybe I'll add it to the Netflix queue when Thane's not looking. Conan can wait.

Anyway, guess what today is? June 23rd- our wedding anniversary! We're celebrating four years of wonderful wedded bliss, praise God. He's been the rock of our relationship since the very beginning, and we go back almost nine years now! So what better way to celebrate the day than to take a little stroll down memory lane. Here are some photo highlights from our big day as well as a few I mean lots of money-saving tips. You know me, I'm frugal to the core and our wedding was no exception, ha. Which is not to say we went dirt cheap on everything, but it was by no means over the top- partly because we were working with a limited budget (who isn't?), and partly because I was planning it all-by-me-onsie in less than four months while working two jobs (60+ hours a week). And since I didn't have time to fool with planning every little detail (like party favors), I cut a lot of the non-necessities and saved time and money. So, maybe this can be of help to some of you yet-to-be-wedded!

Our wedding was simple, traditional, and low-cost. We only had about 100 guests in attendance (hence the "not-so-big" reference). But I'm sure that some of the same cost-saving principles can be applied no matter how you're planning your own nuptials- big or small, traditional or non.

Getting ready
The bridesmaids dresses: Notice the girls are all wearing black satin but in different styles. Rather than choose a specific dress for each of them to purchase, I just had them wear whatever black dress they'd prefer. That way they got to decide how much or little they spend and got to wear what they wanted. Since not everyone has the same budget or body shape, it was a way to give them flexibility.

My dream dress...it was love at first sight.

My dress: Ahhh, I'm still in love with it! It's a Rena Koh (not that I expect anyone else to know who that is). But anyway, remember me mentioning working two jobs? Well I worked full time as a graphic designer and part time as a bridal consultant. Long story short, I interviewed for both, but got hired at the bridal boutique right before getting hired at the design firm. So, without intending on it I ended up with two jobs and didn't want to quit either of them. As soon as I saw this dress, I knew it was the one. Even though it was pink. (I ordered it in ivory, obviously. Although I did consider the pink version for about a milli-sec).

Anyway, having the part time bridal gig worked to my advantage. Not only did I have a blast getting paid to help women try on gorgeous gowns, but I had instant access to all kinds of great deals and discounts. So, money saving tip #2- work hard and be resourceful! I could have quit the boutique job, but hanging in there yielded big savings opportunities despite the really grueling work schedule. Back to the dress- I saved $1000 with my employee discount. I borrowed the veil, so that was free. The seamstress did my alterations for free, and I got a discount on the invitations as well. That being said, I realize that most women aren't going to have the advantage of working in bridal shop while planning their wedding. But there's always other ways to get similar discounts, like buying a dress off of the rack. That'll save you big time. As well as asking what the store can do for you if you just can't afford the dress of your dreams. Independently owned boutiques are often flexible on pricing- they'd rather make the sale at, say, a 10% discount, than no sale at all.

My bouquet
The Flowers: I wanted white peonies. But they were out of season, and they would have cost somewhere around $15-20 a stem to be shipped down from New England (where they were in season). So I opted for white roses and hydrangeas, the next best option. I still got the full, fluffy look, but at a fraction of the cost. I also supplied the toffee colored ribbon that I found at Michaels. I'm assuming that saved us a little bit as well.

On the way to the chapel!
Notice the bridesmaids have single roses rather than bouquets. I liked the idea of this simple, romantic look (sometimes less is more!), and it saved a lot of mula.

The Venues: Use your connections to your best advantage. We used Thane's as well as his parent's alumni status for our venues. I originally looked all over Northern Virginia (our home town) for a church and reception hall. My own church was too big and impersonal, I wanted something more romantic...same story with the reception halls. Plus, they were all booked out for June Saturdays (I only had three months and 28 days to plan).

So Thane suggested Lee Chapel, on the campus of Washington & Lee where his parents met. It was funny, I had never even noticed it despite the fact that it's right next to VMI (Virginia Military Institute) where Thane went to school. I guess I was always too busy googly-eyeing him to notice the other surroundings. But there it was, and it was perfect! And it was all possible thanks to alumni status- same with VMI's reception hall which was only a short walk from the chapel. Both were not only more beautiful and unique, but also more affordable than the options in Northern Virginia. So we ended up with a "mini-destination" wedding in Lexington, Virginia, about two and half hours from home. And I can't imagine having found a more perfect place.

Decorations: Choose venues that are beautiful "as is" and therefore don't need a lot of extra decoration. And pull on your own creativity and resourcefulness. The inside of Lee Chapel was stunning all by itself. It was all white with ornate windows and detailed wainscoting-style trim, sconces lining the walls, and espresso colored woodwork on everything that wasn't white. So we got away with just a couple of flower arrangements on the stage.

Look at that dreamy groom...
For the aisles, some of my family members got to together and made ivory ribbon and tulle bows.


My Grandmother even found a huge bolt of the same toffee colored ribbon I used on the flowers on clearance. So that, along with the same tulle, went on the front doors of the church and the railing leading into the entrance of the reception hall. Unfortunately I don't have any close-ups, but you can get a little glimpse of them here...

Thane & Rhys, brother and best man.
Ceremony Music: We had a live trumpeter and pianist for our ceremony music. For free. The trumpeter was a VMI teacher that Thane knew who only charged $50 but never actually cashed our check. And the pianist was the wife of Thane's pastor in Lexington, who married us. We have been so blessed to know so many wonderful people. A big thanks to them!

The photography: I didn't try to skimp on this one. One great thing we did do though was to request digital copies of all of the photos. Even though our photographer used film, she was able to transfer it all onto CDs and gave us total rights for only $50 extra. So now we can print our wedding photos anytime, anywhere. I've framed and hung a lot, but I have yet to make our album. One of these days...maybe for our five year anniversary.

Look at my mom's face, on the right- cracks me up every time!


The reception: Held in Moody Hall- VMI's reception hall- which included indoor and outdoor space. The cost was only $1000; much less than the $4000+ price tags on the generic country club halls in Northern VA.

Let the outdoors do the decorating for you! Veranda seating offered a beautiful view of VMI's parade field and barracks. Praise God for perfect weather that day! Here's the view...

The table centerpieces: To rent the most basic table decorations from the florist (just a small vase with a single hydrangea in it), was going to cost $35 a table. I wanted something a little more unique and not nearly as costly. So, with the help of the family, we made our own table decor. We used a mix and match assortment of champagne glasses, small white candles, and round mirror bases that were lent to us by the baker for free. As you can see, we placed the candles inside of two of the glasses, then set the third glass upside down and placed a candle on the stem. All of the glasses were either pre-owned by family or bought for very little at thrift shops. The hydrangeas were a complete surprise to me- they came from my aunt Joan's garden, how perfect was that?! So, our table centerpieces weren't the three foot tall drop-dead gorgeous floral masterpieces that I would have loved (like our buddies Lindsay & Steve had, I wish you could see them!). But they were soft and romantic and wallet-friendly.

Table centerpieces
The food: Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, but we had various buffets set up around the reception hall inside and out, including a pasta station. I really have no clue what it looked like, or even how the food tasted, since Thane and I didn't eat any. I never thought we'd be like all the other couples who didn't get to try their own wedding food, but yep. We were. Oh- I know most people won't go for this, haha- but we didn't serve alcohol. Nada. Not for money's sake, but it did save us a lot!

Our Cake
The cake: French vanilla cake with a chocolate mousse filling, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting. It sounds better than it was, I'm a chocolate fan. We should have gone for an all chocolate cake, who says you have to do everything traditional? But it was the classic, elegant look that I wanted, and we saved about $50 by opting for buttercream over fondant.

Party favors: There were none! That was one of those pesky details that I just simply didn't have the time nor desire to plan out. So, we didn't have any of the little champagne bottles or rice (we weren't allowed to throw rice anyway, since the reception hall was a historic building and didn't allow it). And that definitely saved a little cash. Although, another surprise to me, my Grandmother brought a ton of little "wedding bells" and set them on each table. So we were entreated to many kisses throughout the night, as the bell ringing tradition requires.

Rhys tries out his bell... Yep, it works!
The music: My dad has a great sound system (he's a drummer), so he brought it and hooked it up. Thane and I made our own play list and recruited my cousin Justin to do the announcing for us (he has radio experience and loves that kind of thing). He did a great job and of course made it super special and personal. So, since we didn't have to hire a DJ we saved $1000.

The Sweetheart Table :)

Transportation: In lue of a limo, we used the valiant Yukon. Not super classy, but practical. And looking back, it's very special. After all, it was what Thane picked me up in for our first date! And many many more over the years.

That's a lot of dress.

Here's another thank you to all of the wonderful friends and family that shared our big day with us, and for all of your love and support! Now that I'm looking back, I'm realizing how big of a role everyone played in this event. So when I say that we couldn't have made it happen without you all, I mean it! Thanks again, and we love you!

Ok, just one more picture!

Thane wasn't crazy about this little photoshoot, but the photographer insisted.

So what about you guys? Did you come up with any creative ways to make your day special without breaking the bank? Any funny memories or outtakes during your wedding? Any disasters that you laugh about now? Who designed your dress? Haha, I can talk weddings all day long!

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And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
-Genesis 2:18-24
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