The Story Of Us Part III: The Wedding

Today is July 17, 2012. On this very same day one year ago, Greg and I were getting married!

(Happy anniversary also to Janetha and Marshall- who got married two years ago today!)

I started the Story of Us post series back in January with the intention of finishing all four installments within a few weeks. Well, that didn’t happen. And the more I put it off, the more I thought it would be more appropriate to write this post for today! So yeah, I’m not a slacker- I’m a planner!

Click here to see where I left off…

As I said, we started planning the big details of the wedding right away- like when and where to get married, who would cater, etc. We had decided that we wanted to get married the following summer- preferably in July, since my cousin Seth was already getting married in Colorado in June. Greg and I agreed that our ideal location would be something with indoor and outdoor options, and wanted it to be somewhere that had some type of significance to us. We tossed around the idea of having a destination wedding (and even looked at Fenway Park!), but decided that it may be difficult for many people to be able to make it if everyone had to travel. We visited a few different local venues in the weeks that followed our engagement and quickly discovered that getting married is expensive. We both really loved this place, but it didn’t have AC- and the heat and humidity can be killer in the summer here in Maryland. The idea of getting married at a local winery appealed to both of us (and going wine tasting was a common weekend activity for us and our friends) and we started researching the options. Soon after, we decided on Sunset Hills Vineyard, located in northern Virginia (about 30 minutes from our home).

It was one of our favorite wineries and just felt right. We booked Sunday, July 17, 2011 as our wedding date. It was considerably cheaper to get married on a Sunday, and we figured that it wouldn’t be too much different than getting married on a Saturday, since most people are off work.

After our venue was booked, we started working on the other details. We booked a great caterer who was very passionate about using local, sustainable and organic ingredients. She loved working with us because we basically told her to make whatever was in season (for vegetables) and trusted her- everything we tasted that she made was absolutely delicious. After having an incredible tasting that she prepared (one of the best meals of my life!) we settled on roasted pork with an apricot glaze as the main entree, along with a goat-cheese, tomato and basil pasta dish, grilled seasonal veggies, a greens salad, and cornbread.

The cake was the next big step. Greg and I wanted a cake that fit our personalities and had some creative touches. We wanted to somehow incorporate our love of the Red Sox without it looking over the top and tacky. I worked with our amazing cake designer to come up with the perfect wedding cake. We didn’t tell anyone about it, and wanted it to be a surprise!

As you can see, Lance and Jackson also made their way onto our cake. :)

The rest of the details were taken care of over the next few months, and I figured that I’d get to the smaller details at the beginning of the summer. I made a lot of the stuff myself- including the Save the Dates, invitations, all of the “paper” for the wedding (place cards, programs, table #s, etc.). I also made all of the centerpieces and decorations.

Each centerpiece was a wine bottle with a different photo of me and Greg, along with our names and wedding date. I must have made 100 different labels! They were also scattered around the room.

The favors were a mix cd (that had a photo of us printed on it) and a box of hershey kisses that had little tiny photos of different things (printed on to stickers) stuck on the bottom.

Place cards:

We had our guests sign a mat around one of our engagement photos. My friend and personal trainer, Ken (of course) wrote something inappropriate about making us do Prowler pushes and other torturous things (he also gave us a TRX as a wedding gift, which is pretty darn cool).

Since the venue was so pretty on its own, I really didn’t need to do much. The only flowers that were ordered were those that were to be carried/worn by the members of the wedding party. My mom also picked up a bunch of sunflowers to set in vases on the morning of the wedding.

The other big detail I’m forgetting? The dress! Honestly, I wasn’t too jazzed about finding a wedding dress. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to lose a few lbs. before going to look- but eventually I had to get over that. On my first trip out, I spent an entire afternoon at David’s Bridal trying on gown after gown. Nothing seemed right, and I pretty much hated every single dress I tried on. I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted (a long, simple flowy gown that was lightweight and didn’t have any lace or beading or a train)- but didn’t find it. I left that day very discouraged.

I went to a small bridal boutique downtown a few weeks later and tried on some more dresses. Again, I couldn’t find anything that I liked. I also had a hard time getting over the fact that most dresses were at least $1,000- the things I could do with that money! Right as I was about to call it quits, I noticed a wedding dress on display that was shorter in length. It was also strapless. Short and strapless were definitely two things that I never considered- but I tried it on anyway. I liked it- but it still wasn’t the one. The woman helping me out suggested that I look at the bridesmaid dresses, because there were a lot of really cute styles- and that I could just order it in white. Brilliant! Almost immediately, I found a dress that I loved. And the price- $180. MUCH more reasonable than the $1,000 I thought I was going to have to cough up! I felt sexy and sassy in this dress- and knew it was the right one.

Choosing bridesmaid dresses was a lot easier. I picked a color that was pretty nuetral and tried to choose a dress that could actually be worn again (haha). I also wanted something that was relatively inexpensive, because I have been in weddings where I spent hundreds of dollars on what I wore (including shoes and hair), and didn’t want my bridesmaids to do that. I found a dress that was under $100 and would be comfortable in the heat- and was also super cute!

Moving on to the wedding…

We did things in sort of a non-traditional way. Neither Greg nor I are religious, so it didn’t really make sense for us to be married in a church or by a person of faith. Instead, we asked our good friend Rob to officiate our ceremony. He very happily agreed and took the steps towards getting ordained. Unfortunately, the state of Virginia has very strict laws about getting ordained (you have to be a member of a church in the state), so Rob’s certification was only valid in Maryland. We were getting married in Virginia. He brought up the idea of officially marrying us in a private ceremony (he even joked about just doing it in his basement bar) before the wedding. He would still officiate our actual wedding- but the legal binding of the marriage would be done in Maryland. We decided to get married on the overlook of one of our favorite hiking trails- as it had special significance to us.

On the morning of our wedding, Greg and I got up bright and early and put on our hiking clothes. We got the dogs together, put ‘em in the back of my Subaru, and drove 10 minutes over to our favorite hiking trail. We hiked the 2 miles up to the overlook and met Rob, our parents, and our step-parents there. Greg and I didn’t have anything planned- we just decided to say whatever came to mind (and spoke from the heart), and Rob read the vows that we had put together.

Yup- I got married while wearing a fanny pack.

And just like that- we were married!

We told very few of the guests about how we “officially” got married that morning, so everyone just assumed that our actual ceremony was it. Our ceremony was at 6 pm, on the lawn of the vineyard.

It was warm out, but not too hot (thank goodness). A couple of our friends spoke selected readings (two poems and a Navajo wedding blessing) and Rob read the vows that we had put together. I loved our vows. I adapted them from traditional Buddhist vows and added some personal touches. They were basically about loving each other, ourselves, and respecting nature and the beauty that surrounds us. :)

After our short ceremony (it was maybe 15 minutes long?) we were ready to PARTY.

We had most of our pictures taken beforehand, so that the bridal party and family members could be off to enjoy the cocktail hour, while Greg and I got a few shots of the two of us.

The bridal party (before the ceremony):

It worked out really well! Our caterer even brought us out some appetizers to munch on.

After more posing and smiling, we made our grand entrance into the reception.

After this- it’s all a blur. I know that everyone told me that it would be like this- but it went by SO FAST. I ate, drank (not much), danced, talked to a million people- and then all of the sudden, it was the end of the night! But I do remember a few details that happened in those four hours. The food was fantastic. It’s probably #1 on my list of best wedding reception food I’ve ever had- and my caterer was a Godsend. She was pretty much my counselor during the last month leading up to the wedding- reassuring me that everything would be okay and not being annoyed by my thousands of emails of “last-minute questions.”

After dinner, it was time for dancing! We had put together an awesome playlist- and to my delight- people tore up the dance floor!

When it came time for our special dances, Greg and I got to finally show off our awesome moves. We had practiced dancing every single night before the few months leading up to the wedding. We’d dance to any random slow song on our patio after dinner- and made sure to practice with our actual wedding song (which was “There’s Water Over You,”  by Colin Hay) and threw some impressive turns and dips in there.

I danced with my dad to “Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon and to “In My Life” by the Beatles with my stepdad. Greg and his mom danced to “100 Years” by Five for Fighting. The big hit of the night was Nelly’s “Hot in Here,” which got everyone on the dance floor.

I don’t remember ever drinking an entire drink the whole night. I remember that I kept having someone bring me a glass of wine, of which I’d take a sip of and set down to talk to someone else, and then never saw it again. I also don’t think I went to the bathroom once the entire evening. (Betcha needed to know that, right?)

The reception ended around 10:30, and we slowly made our way home. We had chosen to stay at our house afterward, because it was where we wanted to be! It didn’t really make sense to check into a hotel (and there weren’t any nearby) only to check out the next morning.

The next morning, when we woke up, both of us felt like we had been hit by a truck. Neither of us were hungover, mind you- we were just exhausted. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that tired in my entire life! But it was totally worth it- the wedding and reception were definitely one of the best days I’ve ever had.

Though the day was perfect, looking back on everything- if I had to do it again, I’d just elope and then have a BBQ for family and friends afterwards. All of the silly things that I worried about didn’t matter on the actual day. Having a wedding is also super expensive (even when you cut corners everywhere and make a bunch of stuff yourself!), and I learned that the only thing that really matters is that you love the one that you’re committing to- and we did that unshowered, in gym clothes and a baseball cap (and a fanny pack!), at the top of a mountain.

One year later, I can look at Greg and honestly say that I love him even more than I did on the day that we got married. I’m one lucky girl to have found such a cool, funny and genuine partner for life.

Coming soon… the honeymoon re-cap! Stay tuned. :)

Are you married (or engaged)? Tell me about your wedding!


  1. Happy Anniversary!!! I love the wedding story! What a beautiful wedding! I love the sunflowers and the red sox cake :)

  2. Love your story!

    My boyfriend and I have been talking wedding/engagement lately. He’s perfectly ok with eloping and having a party when we get back. I like the idea as well (I definitely don’t want to spend a small fortune on a wedding!), but I’m worried that I’m going to feel like I missed out on on having all the details that come with a wedding. I guess I’ll worry about it when the time comes :P

  3. hi Lauren, it’s my first comment, but i’m reading yr blog for a while now
    i had to come out of closet and say that i loved yr wedding story, and i kinda hate weddings
    it made me realize that when you do it exactly the way you want, for yourself, it can be great
    you looked so beautiful, i totally love that dress and that cake! seriously love it!
    Have a wonderful anniversary!

  4. Oh what a beautiful, beautiful bride you were! :) Happy anniversary!

    I love hearing non-traditional wedding stories because we have one, too. Because of immigration laws, we only had a few weeks to plan a wedding after Craig immigrated here, so we got hitched in city hall in March (with just my parents there) and then planned a big ceremony and party for September. And, just like you, if I had to do it again, we’d just elope and then have a much more low-key backyard barbecue later. Weddings are fun, but they are so just a teeny tiny part of the marriage. I thought for sure I’d feel like I missed out on having a wedding if we skipped it, but almost six years later, I can tell you that I would much rather have that small fortune to put toward finishing my basement! We even had a small, DIY, backyard ceremony and still dropped a pretty penny. A wedding is just a day, a finished basement lasts a lifetime! :P

  5. Happy Anniversary! Love the pictures! I bet you are not surprised to hear that we also had a Golden Retriever take topper. I’m shocked you and I don’t have the same anniversary actually.

    And yes, to the feeling like I got hit by a truck the next day thing. I think I actually was hungover, but it was the worst I’ve ever felt. And I tried to go to work that Monday (after flying from DC the previous evening). I lasted two hours before going home. My entire office was like, “Why are you here?!”

  6. Happy anniversary you two!!! Mucho love!

  7. I loveloveLOVED reading this. You looked so beautiful (obvs) and I love all the nontraditional ways you went about planning things. You really do prove that you don’t have to spend thousands on things like your wedding dress to look just as beautiful and glowing as any other bride (although, let’s be honest, I probably still will, hahaha).

    Happy Anniversary my love! We REALLY need to rearrange that get-together that I failed on last time. Pretty pretty please? I miss your face!

  8. Happy 1 year to you and Greg! I loved all of the personal details you included at your wedding, and I think you made an excellent choice in terms of the dress! Your legs looked awesome!!

    I always thought I would have a big wedding, but when Aaron and I decided to get married last year, we both decided that a big production wasn’t for us. We had just moved back from CA (and spent A LOT of money on 2 cross-country moves) and since his family is super religious and we’re not, we wanted to avoid any drama. So, we eloped! We got married at town hall in Brookline (where we live now and where I had missed so much when I was in SF) and surprised everyone, including my parents who we’re very close with. We celebrated with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants with immediate family. No stress, no drama, and no expensive bills. It was totally not what I envisioned for myself, but it ended up being perfect. I would, however, like to go on a honeymoon at some point. :)

  9. I love all that stone as the backdrop! And the fanny pack, haha. I wish someone would just plan me a wedding and then I could just show up! Although I will say, having had 3+ years to think on it (!), Ive realized alot of things that I initially thought I wanted were really “tradition” speaking, and not me. Like you said about your dress–sometimes what you really want takes you by surprise!

  10. What a great post – you two are so cute!!! Love the dip pic of you two dancing! Hope you are having the best 1st Anniversary!

  11. Love this one! And I LOVE your dress, great decision! And happy anniversary!

  12. HAPPY Anniversary!! YAY!

    Love the flowers in your wedding :)

    I loved my wedding. We used lots of colors–and I loved it!

  13. Love this story and love your wedding. Everything about it says “you”.

  14. Happy anniversary! I loooooove your dress. So perfect. And I love the khaki suit. AND the flowers. Oh, and you! :) Hope you’re having fun in CO!


  16. Melissa Ensminger says:

    Happy anniversary Lauren & Greg! I love your pictures. It looks like you had a perfect day :)

  17. Happy Anniversary! I love your wedding pics – they look very “you.” Especially with those beers. ;)

  18. Happy Anniversary!! What a beautiful wedding and story! :) You are gorgeous girl!

  19. Happy Anniversary! :)
    Love the flowers for the wedding. Absolutely love them!

    We had a tiny wedding up in Summit County, CO at the Silverthorne Pavilion – no one is required to marry us, we could actually just go to the court house and sign papers. So my brother did the officiating and then we pranced around in the snow for some great photos. After our lunch {morning wedding} Chris and I head up to Sapphire Point on our own for more photos – it was beautiful in the afternoon/evening! And if you go up there while you are this time you should know there were a LOT more trees 3 years ago! They were mostly dead, but they were standing!

  20. Happy Anniversary! It’s so fun to look back on wedding photos. Sometimes I wish I could do it all over again since it just seemed to FLY by and it was easily my favorite day ever. I love your idea to do the real ceremony in private with just your close family members. I’m sure that was so special!

  21. For some reason I thought you guys had been married a long time!! I was so surprised when I saw it was your first anniversary!! Lol. I love your dress. What a fun wedding! And the food sounds amazing. We had a pretty simple outdoor wedding, picnic, and like old-fashioned kind of dance. It was really fun!! I know what you mean about being tired the next day!!! Love the dogs on the cake!!!

  22. Beautiful wedding pics! I am engaged and getting married next summer in Jackson Hole, WY.

    Were your bridesmaind dressed Alfred Angelo? I love the style.

  23. PS – I’m a local reader down in Rockville. :-)

  24. I LOVE that you went hiking on your wedding day morning to do the official “I Do’s” before heading to VA for the ceremony. So fitting! And so glad you posted those pics :) You two are TOO CUTE!

  25. I’m so in love with this post, I just want to read it over and over again!! I don’t even know where to begin…..

    *oh yeah wait, Lance and Jackson on your cake!!!???!!! <3
    *So much beer
    *Even more sunflowers
    *Your dress is gorgeous, so simple and I love the hairstyle you did with it
    *I love even more than you got married in a fannypack, work it!!!
    *WINERY!!!!! Nuff said
    *Everything else, this post just left me smiling from ear to ear but then I instantly get a frown on my face because you're leaving for back home tomorrow, come back!!!

  26. I’m just popping over from your post today. I hadn’t read this until now! I absolutely love how you were legally married that morning. How perfect and beautiful! <3


  1. [...] The view from the overlook where we got married: [...]

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  3. […] Actually… we were technically married on a hiking trail in Maryland earlier that morning. (If you want all the details, feel free to check out this post.) […]

  4. […] Greg and I got married, we thought it would be a really cool tradition to summit a 14er each year on our anniversary. We […]

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