Long Overdue Wedding Recap

Hello! Blog? Are you out there?? I have not visited this little guy in SO long! 

What are my excuses this time? Wedding planning is obviously over. Why did I leave this corner of my website vacant for months on end? 

Well, to be honest, I pretty much had to catch up on everything that I'd been putting to the side for all of the aforementioned wedding planning. 

What have I been up to since my last blog post?

-Wrote another serial story for the Missouri Press Association--this one featuring Jim the Wonder Dog

-Wrote 120 thank you notes. Seriously. If you were at our wedding and you have not received a thank you note, well, then you are on "Slow and Steady" John the turtle biologist's list and...it's coming soon. (That's right. new husband, meet underside of the bus). 

-Once again struggled to keep up with friends/family who work regular work schedules during the magic of the holiday season. 

-Worked on a new (and exciting!) project with Reedy Press with an entire team of authors--more to come about that one! 

-Started (and almost completed!) training for this year's Boston Marathon. 

Needless to say, not a lot of time was left for blogging. And, honestly, shortly after our wedding a few major shifts happened here in the good ol' USA that sort of made it seem like blogging about a wedding was, well, pretty trivial. Even now, it still seems silly to me. Like the world is burning and here I am still thinking about flowers and cake. (Let's be honest, I'm always kind of thinking about cake, though.) 

But, alas, in honor of our six month wedding anniversary, I've decided to write this blog, if only just for my own record keeping and memories. After all, isn't that what blogging is sometimes about? Escaping from the harsher realities of the world and just focusing on what is light and fun in our lives? Sometimes? Ok, good.

So, without further ado, here is a little recap of our wedding weekend: 

REHEARSAL DINNER

We had our rehearsal dinner on October 6 at the Golf Club in Forest Park. John and I always wanted our wedding to center around Forest Park. We met here, live here, work here and run here every day. And since it is the prettiest city park EVER it only made since for it to be the center of the festivities. 

The weekend really kicked off with this dinner. It was the first time I got that surreal feeling of looking around a room and seeing my family and John's family, and our friends from high school and college and grad school and all walks of life mingling in one room! It was crazy and, also, the very best feeling. Obviously, I got to experience that rush for a few days during the celebrations! 

 

Why hello college/post grad roommates and new sister in laws all together in one photo! 

The dinner was so much fun. John's mom planned a Fall theme, with flowers and autumn-y menu choices. My sisters made us a picture video and we got to visit with all of our friends. 

After dinner we went to Double D's for some karaoke action, which is always a good time. 

 T-minus two days until marriage begins! 

T-minus two days until marriage begins! 

WEDDING MORNING

I woke up a little before 6am on our wedding morning, completely relieved that I'd actually gotten some sleep! The night before my sister Nancy's wedding in May of 2015, I got myself so hyped up and excited that I hardly slept at all and was exhausted the next day. To avoid this, I did everything I could NOT to think about the wedding the night before. It was hard for me not to take stock of this huge life moment, as I'm the type to really think about and consider major change. But I determinedly relaxed with my sisters and read to keep my mind off of it. And it worked! I went to bed around 11 and got up close to 6. A very typical routine for me. 

The wedding morning was a blur, of course. I made a smoothie and tea. The sun came up and the forecast was confirmed--it was a PERFECT day. My friends started arriving, as well as the hairdressers. There was a garage sale happening down the street, which made things a little more interesting as a steady stream of cars kept appearing, even at that early hour. 

We got our hair and makeup done. We laughed, drank coffee and tea and bellinis and laughed some more. Quite suddenly, it seemed, the photographers and videographer arrived and it was time to get dressed! 

My mom helped me into my gown, and my sisters worked on the veil. 

John had given me earrings for my 30th birthday (two weeks before the wedding!) and a beautiful bracelet as a wedding gift, so those, along with my dress, were my "something news."

My "something old" was the toasting cup we used for our champagne. My grandparents used it in 1949, and my parents in 1983. 

My "something borrowed" was my veil. My mom sewed it for my older sister, Kristin's, wedding in 2010, and my sister Nancy wore it as well. 

And, finally, my "something blue" was a blue dragonfly brooch that belonged to my Nana, which I pinned to my bouquet. 

THE CEREMONY

The ceremony was everything I'd hoped it would be. The weather was unbelievable--sunny, about 70 degrees, just a perfect October day--and some good person had opened up all of the doors throughout the round church to let the sunlight in. 

Our musicians did an incredible job. Anyone who knows me well knows how obsessed I can get over music. But from the first moment of hearing the violin while I waited with my dad to walk down the aisle, I knew that we'd chosen some of the best. They sounded amazing.  

Before walking down the aisle, I was not nervous, just focused, like before a race. My dad told me that he loved me, and for a moment I almost choked up, but I held it together. I wasn't really in the mood for crying and destroying all of those hours of getting ready that morning! 

Of course, actually walking down the aisle I was my normal, awkward self. I've walked down quite a few aisles in my time (as flower girl, junior bridesmaid, bridesmaid, maid of honor yada yada yada...) and it's always the same. I never know where to look and how much to show my teeth. Sorry, but those facts were still true on my wedding day, bride or not. 

That being said, of course, it was incredibly surreal and wonderful to see all of the people from all walks of our lives gathered together in my family church. I wanted to soak it all in. 

 

 

 My sweet niece, Isabella, nine months old at the time, of course, made those last few moments before walking down the aisle lighthearted and fun. 

My sweet niece, Isabella, nine months old at the time, of course, made those last few moments before walking down the aisle lighthearted and fun. 

 Here we go! 

Here we go! 

When John and I got to our kneeler (the same kneeler my parents were married on, I might add) at the altar I immediately began thinking "What if we pass out?" Which was dumb of me, but true. I kept telling myself not to lock my knees. I could hear John breathing so I kept asking him if he was OK. Which he was--but me asking was making him nervous! So, we were not exactly "chill" for the first part of the ceremony, if only because it seemed like it would be such a terrible idea to pass out in front of 300 guests. 

Plus, though we'd decided (as if the Catholic Church would allow anything else...) to recite the traditional vows, we'd hoped to memorize them. So, we were both nervous about "forgetting our lines." When the time came to be married, I was so focused on saying the right words I didn't have time to cry or get emotional! As soon as I said them though, all of the nervousness, all of the dreadful thoughts about locking my knees left me, and I felt relaxed and really ready to enjoy our ceremony time together. Once we'd said "I do" our priest, Fr. Drew, turned to us and whispered, "Congratulations, you're married." and it just felt so crazy and wonderful at the same time. 

 The big moment! 

The big moment! 

 Trying to fit the ring over my old, zookeeper knuckle. 

Trying to fit the ring over my old, zookeeper knuckle. 

My favorite part of the ceremony was communion, because we got to see all of our friends and family. The rest of the time, our backs were to the congregation, but during communion we got to watch everyone come forward. I felt so much love. 

 Smiling because we can actually see our friends. 

Smiling because we can actually see our friends. 

After communion, we brought peach roses to Mary and to our grandmothers. On our way back up the altar steps, my long veil got stuck on the railing, which was funny--could have been bad, but ended up OK. 

Finally, it was time for the big intro and first kiss as a married couple! I had insisted that Fr. Drew announce us as Mr. and Mrs. John and Carolyn Kelly. I did NOT want to be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. John Kelly--after all, as I told Fr. Drew, I do not plan on changing my name to John. This was important to me, and I was nervous that it wouldn't happen. I had no need to be nervous. As you can see below, our talented photographers captured the very moment I heard them announce us correctly. Mr. and Mrs. John and Carolyn Kelly! For the very first time. 

 My cousin, Katie, and I are smiling so big because Fr. Drew got it right! My friend, Alex, seems to be waiting in suspense...my bridesmaids knew how important that was to me! 

My cousin, Katie, and I are smiling so big because Fr. Drew got it right! My friend, Alex, seems to be waiting in suspense...my bridesmaids knew how important that was to me! 

Then it was time for the kiss! When we were gathered in the bride's room before the ceremony, I mentioned to Nancy that John and I had not practiced our "church kiss" (tongue or no tongue? that is the question.) Nancy looked at me and said, "You've been practicing for six years! You'll be fine." She was right! We didn't even have to think about it! There was so much joy. 

 Happiness! 

Happiness! 

POST-CEREMONY

This was by far one of the most hectic parts of the day! Did I mention we had just over 300 wedding guests? People were just pouring out of the church! Pictures were taken, congratulations were yelled our way...chaos! In a good way, but still. John and I pretty much stood there as various people came forward and took pictures with us. There were a few people we missed out on getting pictures with during this portion of the day, just due to the sheer craziness of it. 

But, as always, the sunshine could not have been more PERFECT! 

 Our darling group of flower girls/ring bearers. They were troopers for sure! 

Our darling group of flower girls/ring bearers. They were troopers for sure! 

 The big Mueller family! My family has been going to Little Flower Church for three generations, and many of the people in this photo were married here. 

The big Mueller family! My family has been going to Little Flower Church for three generations, and many of the people in this photo were married here. 

 The Church looked so beautiful that day! 

The Church looked so beautiful that day! 

 Enthusiasm! Ready to head to Forest Park! I just love how John's navy suit turned out. He tried on so many different versions, and this was the perfect one. 

Enthusiasm! Ready to head to Forest Park! I just love how John's navy suit turned out. He tried on so many different versions, and this was the perfect one. 

THE FALL

I can't move forward with our story without mentioning that I fell on our wedding day. Yep. It's true.

It's only about a mile from Little Flower to Forest Park, so once we left the church, we were there in no time. All of our friends left the bus and headed to Kennedy Forest, our first location for pictures. 

I'd purchased a pair of lacy, white Toms shoes to wear in the park, so before I left the bus I took off my heels and put on the Toms. I assumed these would be my comfy, "don't have to worry about walking in these babies" type shoes for the day. Spoiler Alert--I was wrong. I had not worn the shoes at all before that day. I mean, come on, they were white Toms. I did NOT want to get them all dirty. So the bottoms were rather smooth. 

Literally the moment I stood up and took a step forward to walk off of the bus I slipped on the soles of the fresh, new Toms and completely bit it on the bus. I mean total wipe out. The only one who saw it was the bus driver, who, I think, was thoroughly freaked out. (Had he ever seen a bride fall before? If this had been caught on camera somehow it would have made my '90s child dreams of being on America's Funniest Home Videos Wedding Edition come true!). 

I assured him that I was fine, left the bus and then told everyone that I fell! Of course, the bridal party swarmed around me asking if I was OK. I said that I was, and shortly after, the photographer's assistant pointed out that my elbow was bleeding. Sure enough, there was blood gushing out. Lucky for me, I had a medical doctor, a veterinarian and a PhD in our wedding party. All three of them rushed to my aid. 

Suddenly, I began to feel a bit light headed. And that's when I almost passed out. Yep, me, the sister who never passes out, almost did so on my wedding day. Classic. I told Nancy that I needed to sit down and we went back to the bus, where, with some chocolate, Sprite and strategic fanning, I quickly recovered. 

I think that the fall gave me a quick shot of adrenaline on a day when my nerves and energy were already amped to the max. This little head rush was enough to make me a bit light headed, and my blood sugar dropped. I recovered quickly, though, and was back in the game. And, honestly, those few quiet moments on the bus with our matrons of honor, best man, my new husband and my mom, were kind of nice. We laughed about the fall and had a few moments to compose ourselves before the next chunk of the day. 

Am I happy that I fell? Of course not. But it is kind of funny. And it was fine. And even though I had bandaids on my elbow during all of our reception pictures, I do have a pretty nice scar. Not many people can say that they have a scar from their wedding day! And that's kind of cool, right? 

And don't worry, I still love my Toms. 

 The fall. This whole ordeal was made that much more attractive by the fact that I had a huge chunk of Gus' pretzel stuffed in my mouth while it happened. Sorry, John, you're stuck with me now! 

The fall. This whole ordeal was made that much more attractive by the fact that I had a huge chunk of Gus' pretzel stuffed in my mouth while it happened. Sorry, John, you're stuck with me now! 

PICTURES IN FOREST PARK

After I eventually recovered from falling, taking pictures in Forest Park was one of my favorite parts of the day.

We went to Kennedy Forest, one of the prettiest sections of the running trail. It was just so beautiful. Did I mention the weather yet? A few times? Maybe? I know everyone hopes for lovely weather at their wedding, but I was especially obsessed with it. I don't know if it's because I work outside, or because I'm a runner, but I'm pretty much always obsessed with the weather. So, needless to say I was very, very happy about the weather on October 8. 

Taking pictures in Forest Park was the perfect time to enjoy it too. Usually, this can be kind of a tiring, tedious part of the day for the wedding party. But even they seemed to like just relaxing in the sun with a cold beverage or two. 

Shortly after we began the photo session, there was a car fire on Skinker right by our location. A little weird, but it actually added a bit of a smoky, ethereal quality to some of the photos! Never a dull moment in the Lou, that's for sure. 

You know how everyone says to take a few moments during the wedding day to just spend some quiet time with your new spouse? Well, I definitely felt like we had plenty of time for this in Forest Park. It was nice to spend a few moments with John to reflect and enjoy being  newly minted husband and wife. Here are some of my favorite shots from this photo session. 

 The ladies! 

The ladies! 

 And the gentlemen...trying to hold it together. Fail. 

And the gentlemen...trying to hold it together. Fail. 

 Kelly family 

Kelly family 

 Mueller family 

Mueller family 

 Kelly Kraft Jurotich and The Crimson Petal did a phenomenal job with the flowers! 

Kelly Kraft Jurotich and The Crimson Petal did a phenomenal job with the flowers! 

 My handsome groom! 

My handsome groom! 

 So many people we love! 

So many people we love! 

 Ok, this could go on all day...I seriously need to stop. Done. Our photographers, The Oldanis, are WONDERFUL! Highly recommend! 

Ok, this could go on all day...I seriously need to stop. Done. Our photographers, The Oldanis, are WONDERFUL! Highly recommend! 

THE RECEPTION

People told me the day would go by in a flash, and I believed them, but still, I was shocked when I realized it was time to head to the Zoo for our reception. IT FLEW BY! Duh, I know. But it did! 

I loved the bus ride to the reception. It was short, but we had champagne and my Ipod, and really, what more do you need? 

When we arrived at the Zoo my sisters and I commandeered the lactation room to freshen up. Then John and I went to take pictures with Kali the polar bear that I get to take care of. This was another favorite moment for me. It was a perfect evening, the sun setting, crickets chirping, a crisp, autumn dusk settling around us. We could hear Ingozi the lion roaring in the distance. We found Kali sleeping and completely covered in dirt, but he obliged us for a few photos. 

On our way back to the reception, John had to go to the restroom, so I "joined the party" solo. I remember walking up the ramp to the deck of The Living World and thinking, "Ok, get ready. This is going to be crazy." And it was! As soon as I got up there it was just rapid fire, talking to as many people as possible. I loved it, of course, but wish I'd had MUCH more time with each person. 

When we walked into the reception, we entered down a staircase. I thought this was a great idea before I fell in the park--but in actuality I was just super focused on NOT falling again, so my face basically just looks focused and relieved in all of the pictures. 

 Happy to have stayed on my feet...

Happy to have stayed on my feet...

I LOVED how our reception turned out. The Zoo and our florist, Kelly from The Crimson Petal, did an incredible job bringing it all together. We were going for sort of a vintage safari theme, without being too over the top. Here are a few of the details: 

The speeches were one of the best parts of the reception for me. My dad, of course, did a wonderful job, including a classic "Dad Joke" about our friends Annie and James from Australia. And my sisters REALLY outdid themselves by rewriting the song "Sisters" from White Christmas and performing an entire song and dance routine on top of an actual speech! Greg, the best man, was excellent and all in all my face hurt from smiling so much the entire time. 

 This picture so perfectly captures our relationship. I'm all like "Yes! Cake! Let's do this!" and John's like "Ok, careful, easy does it..." 

This picture so perfectly captures our relationship. I'm all like "Yes! Cake! Let's do this!" and John's like "Ok, careful, easy does it..." 

 This was one of my favorite moments ever. 

This was one of my favorite moments ever. 

For our first dance we chose a Dave Matthews Band song called "Steady As We Go." We had a hard time choosing a song, basically because we loved too many of them. We ended up picking this one because we liked the lyrics, I liked the melody at the end, and John is a huge DMB fan. It's just a beautiful love song, and The Galaxy Band played it perfectly. My dad and I danced to "Born Free" which is the theme song of a movie about a lion named Elsa made in the 1960s. Random, I know. But we had this movie on VHS when I was a kid and it was by far my favorite, and probably played in a role in me becoming a zookeeper. I watched it over and over again. My dad and I thought it would be perfect for a zoo wedding, and sure enough, we got a nice chuckle and round of applause from the crowd when the music began. At least the 50+ club in attendance recognized the significance! John and his mom danced to another classic--Louie Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World." 

 "Steady As We Go" 

"Steady As We Go" 

After the first dances, more craziness ensued. John and I tried to talk to as many people as possible, before we finally decided to give up and just meet people out on the dance floor! We danced, we hugged, we ate pizza, and just enjoyed the very reason we wanted to have a big wedding in the first place--having so many of the people we love right there in one room. 

I know a lot of our guests ventured out onto Zoo grounds that evening. There were four weddings happening on the Zoo campus that night, and apparently there were quite a few explorers. C'est la vie. I think they had a good time out there!  

One of the best parts of having our reception at the Zoo was that we had the space until 12:30 am. After the band ended, they let us play my ipod, so we were out on the dance floor until about 12:15, when we had to wrap things up. It was perfect, and so much fun. 

As we were leaving at the end of the night, John and I took a moment and just stood together on the balcony overlooking The Living World and the remnants of our party. "This is our wedding reception," I told him. I couldn't believe it had already come and gone. We lingered for one more moment before heading off to the The Seven Gables Inn for the night. 

 

POST SCRIPT

At the end of the day, our wedding wasn't perfect. We had a few organizational issues and timing issues and, of course, there was the whole falling thing too. But, honestly, I still just really loved it. Afterward, all I could do was thank our parents, families, friends and vendors for giving us these wonderful memories that we'll look back on throughout our marriage. We had perfect weather and everyone was healthy. What more could we ask for? 

At our friends Petey and Tasha's wedding just two weeks before ours, I remember Petey saying in their vows that in reality they'd committed to Tasha long before the ceremony and that the wedding was just reaffirming an already established truth. That's how I felt on our wedding day too. It was certainly a momentous occasion for us, but John and I had committed ourselves to each other years earlier, and nothing about that changed before or after we said "I do." 

Nowadays, we get asked quite often "How's married life?" I'm not really sure what people are looking for when they ask that question, perhaps it's just another form of "How are you?" but if I'm being quit candid (which I usually am, I guess...) I'd say married life is very, very good. I love that John is the first person I see every morning and the last person I see each night. It's not easy--we still don't have regular days off together and we're both running around like a couple of chickens with our heads cut off most of the time--but I love that we're on this journey together as a little family. That's corny, I know, but like a good professor once told me, without a little corn there's never going to be enough heart. 

 

So, there you have it. That's our wedding weekend in a nutshell. Stay tuned, because now that I got this beast out of the way i have lots more blog posts in the pipeline. 

Of course, I want to give a special shout out to the vendors who helped us along the way. Our wedding day roster is below: 

Photographer: Oldani Photography | Videographer: Tower Studios| Florist: The Crimson Petal | Venue and Caterer: The Saint Louis Zoo| Cake Baker: Lubeley's Bakery| Lighting:  | Lighting: The Saint Louis Zoo Band: Galaxy Band| Paper Products : Flan de Vida Design and Illustration | Bride’s Gown: Wedding Creations |  Hair and Makeup: Platinum Hair Salon and Emily Miller |  Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Vow to Be Chic | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank | Ceremony Musicians: Lauren Kistner and David Radley| Watercolor Guest Book Print: Simply Jessica Marie

HIGHLIGHT VIDEO LINK: https://www.dropbox.com/s/5sllc25m5us91q2/John%20%2B%20Carolyn%20-%20Highlights.mov?dl=0