Saturday, May 28, 2011

Martina and AJ's Wedding Day and some Tips

What an incredible day, full of fun and pleasant surprises. AJ and I were sealed at the Salt Lake Temple for time and all eternity, with wonderful friends and family as our witnesses.  What a packed sealing room.  That was the single most important part of the day, and it was so, so special.  Months and months of planning will pass in one magical moment, so enjoy it!
I hope to provide some tips that would be important in planning this special day, especially for someone in a wheelchair. First and foremost, it's all in preparation, but please remember that you can plan as much as possible, but it won't all go perfectly so don't freak out. Here are some suggestions I would give to anyone planning a wedding:
  1. Allow time for everything especially if you're in a wheelchair: travel, photography, freshening up, etc. You don't want to rush to everything that day because makes everything seem more stressful and you have less time to just enjoy things as they are happening.
  2. Have a checklist of what you need to plan out and do for the wedding months in advance i.e. booking wedding location, photographer, florist, decorations, etc.  
  3. Manage your schedule by having someone keep track of time for you.
  4. Keep it simple. Don't plan too much. Focus on the things that are most important to you and your spouse. Unless you have a lot of manpower, plenty of time in advance, a knack for keeping everything organized, and can manage all of the details, just keep it simple to save yourself the stress the day of.
  5. Leverage your resources and allocate tasks for your wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen). If you have special items you want to remember for the Church wedding, have someone from the wedding party put it in their list of tasks and bring it. 
  6. Unless you really want to keep to tradition, take some wedding photos of you two ahead of time. Save the family photos on location for the day of. This way you have more time the day of and can use the photos taken prior for the reception. 
  7. Bring make up to freshen up, especially if you're a crier (like me) 

We had a ring ceremony in AJ's grandparent's backyard, which made it so much easier on us because it was intimate and low key. Our grandparents did an amazing job at decorating the whole place with tiki lamps, beautiful landscaping, etc. (If you would like, decorations and music would be a nice little touch, and remember to thank everyone!). We are so thankful for them.  

Here, AJ and I said our vows to each other instead of at the temple because we wanted my parents and friends to be a part of it (only members are permitted in LDS temples).  AJ used a great analogy of our differences in taste in ice cream.  I love fruity ice cream and he loves chocolate ice cream.  The flavors are like us-- pretty different, but still go so great together. We can withstand anything and make it work, together...

Having someone you really respect to offer words of advice on marriage is a great personal touch.  We had my branch president, Paul Gage from back home give a little talk about marriage. He pointed out some important keys regarding constant communication and resolving differences together. He did such a great job. I was so touched and learned that communication and trust are key for a long lasting relationship.  He and his wife are such great examples of true love to me.

Lunch was delicious. We had a light toss chicken salad with nuts and berries. My favorite! AJ's dad made a really cool chocolate and strawberries groom's cake (Be prepared for no one to eat the cakes so don't over spend).

Angelica, Jeff, Aja, Johanna, Ben, Rachel, Peng, AJ, and Me
FYIW: Big dresses do not work well with wheelchairs and definitely don't get a train in the back.  Something form-fitting, thin or short would definitely work better.  But if you've always wanted a big dress, go for it! Also, just plan on your dress getting dirty and dry cleaning it afterwards. The veil was pretty but a little annoying because it kept getting stuck to my chair and coming off (a bird cage is a better option. I used both at separate receptions). I avoided heals because they always fall off and kicks are my style anyway.

For a venue, choose a place that easy to maneuver in a chair. We had lunch in the backyard and I was pretty limited in where to move. Also, keep in mind you'll want to freshen up and use the restroom, so hopefully there is an accessible restroom available. 


Create a list of people you want your photographer to especially take pictures of and make sure to introduce them. Also, let the photographer know at which locations you want photos, and people you want pictures with.  Put your bridesmaids in charge of props, and make sure you have your makeup supply with you! We did a lot of seated and head shots, and groom carrying bride shots.

My best friends: Seybee, Seyla, Molly (my sister), Carlina, and Aja (AJ's sister)

Our evening reception was amazing. Teal and red, Asian-themed, great food, great people--everything to make a perfect Martina and AJ wedding. We arrived late, but just in time to start our reception line with President and Sister Samuelson :) The reception line was endless but it was so worthwhile to get to visit with old friends and ward members.  I sat in a stool with back support which enabled me to be at eye level with guests and receive hugs from them. Having the photographer there for the whole reception is a must if you want pictures of everyone there. Remember to have someone plate up a meal for you and eat!

We had several things going on to entertain guests such a photobooth that served as their souvenir, advice cards married couples can write (or funny stories about the bride and groom), a slideshow of the two playing, and of course a buffet of all sorts of food to enjoy.

Our first dance was to Boys like Girls and Taylor Swift's "Two is better than One."  I couldn't help but cry as AJ carried me to dance while I listened to the lyrics of the song. I was afraid this moment would be awkward because I would be like other able bodied brides, but it was even lovelier than I would have imagined to be held in his arms. He has carried me through everything, and for that, I am eternally grateful.  We complete each other.  Heavenly Father couldn't have blessed me with someone better. 

I'm so glad to share these moments with him, my bestest friend ever. Cake time was so much fun, especially when AJ's face was covered in it. haha!

FYI: One of the best ways to make sure things go smoothly is to plan out the day with those who are helping, hour by hour.  And make a checklist of what you would like to happen, figure out what time to leave, how things should be set up, who needs to do what, and what to bring.  I can see why weddings is primarily a once in a lifetime ordeal.  It takes a lot of work and planning, but it was so worth it in the end. I think it could be done without a wedding planner, but it's a challenge.  Make a nice playlist of songs and make sure to have a mic to announce events.  We skipped the awkward garter and bouquet activities.  

Remember to thank everyone especially those involved in the process. I gave special gifts such as photobooks to my bridesmaids and parents after the wedding photos came in.  Write those thank you cards right away.  Have fun!
If you have questions on certain aspects of wedding planning for someone in a wheelchair, please feel free to contact me here or via Facebook.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tea Time Bridal Shower

For my bridal shower, we had a an elegant backyard tea party in beautiful sunny May. Invites were handmade and sent out by my bridesmaids about two weeks in advance to friends and family. 
Tea bag inspired invitation
Made out of card stock and shape punchers (inside note, flower, and circle) from Stampin' Up.
Many of my friends who were still in town as well as the women in AJ's life were able to make it, for which I was so grateful. The backyard was meticulously prepared for tea time.
Turquoise table clothes, white flower centerpieces, doilies, tea cups and plates.
Paper tea cups with treats inside
We enjoyed delicious sandwiches, salad, pastries, cake, and lemonade.
Amazing women in my life
The girls played a cake decorating game and I got to choose the winner for the best decorated cake. 
We also played a game where I was supposed to guess how AJ would answer ??'s about our dating memories together, likes and dislikes, etc. Then we would watch a video to find out how AJ answered each question. Whenever I missed a question, I had to fill my mouth up with marshmallows as penalty. By the end of the game, I looked like a chipmunk.

There were also paper out for the ladies to put down advice for me.
At the end of the shower, I got to open presents from everyone. There were so many practical gifts that I'm excited to use, but the awkward lingeries were the ones that made things even more interesting.
I feel so grateful to have such wonderful ladies in my life who put on such a perfect bridal shower for me. I  had so much fun visiting with old friends and celebrating this new stage of life together.