So. BIG NEWS….WE GOT MARRIED!!!
There are not enough exclamation points or emojis to capture how I feel about our wedding day. Some high-pitched squealing // joyous shrieking sounds might come close though. I will try to keep the all caps words and exclamation point-ing to a minimum, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’m about to fail at that COMPLETELY (← see, already doing it).
On Sunday 7.2.17, Billy and I exchanged our “I do’s” in Yosemite National Park. We were surrounded by seventy of those nearest & dearest to us, in our favorite spot on earth. The sun was shining. The waterfalls were raging. We were standing among tall trees, on green grass, framed by impossibly tall walls of granite. There were tears and laughter, toasting and dancing, and even DONUTS.
Photo Credit: All Photos by Steve Dutcher Photography
I could not stop smiling the whole day.
Even when everyone else went home, the music stopped, and our shoes came off. Even when I was back in pj’s, trying to figure out how the hell to remove those fake lashes (without also removing an eyelid). Even then, the day felt indescribably magical. In that quiet space after the whole event was over, that’s when the happiness hit us the hardest. It was the day when we FINALLY got to marry one another.
As our cake topper will tell you – it was the BEST DAY EVER.
All those months of planning and budgeting and DIY-ing and writing our vows for one another came together into that one unforgettable day. So before diving back into all-things-food here on the blog, I wanted to share all the happy details (and of course alllllllll the pictures) with you!!
It’s why I’ve been a little M.I.A. here on the blog – we’ve just been super wrapped up in enjoying every minute of our newly-married life. We went from the wedding weekend to the honeymoon to resuming everyday life here in our little home together. Amidst the unpacking, the endless amounts of laundry, catching up on work, and the chaos that is trying to change your last name with every government agency in the land (*eye roll*) – somehow the excitement from that day still hasn’t worn off.
All I want is to keep riding on this wave of pure post-wedding bliss a little bit longer. Which includes scrolling through these pictures & reliving every detail from last month until my heart bursts. Care to join?
P.S. – All of these pictures we’re sharing with you today were taken by the amazingly talented Steve Dutcher. To put it simply – Steve is THE best. Hands down. If you’re planning a wedding and in need of a photographer/ videographer, we cannot recommend Steve Dutcher Photography enough. Go watch the highlight videos on his website and just TRY not to cry. We dare you.
Some of the best advice we were given before the wedding came from my sister and her husband. They told us to steal as many little moments away as we could that weekend. Between packing up, the rehearsal, getting ready, the ceremony, and the reception – it can be hard to find time to focus on only each other. So we carved out little pockets here and there for exactly that, and I’m so glad we did.
We woke up early that morning to have coffee together. It wasn’t anything fancy, just coffee in flip flops. But it was just the two of us, the morning of our wedding day, and it felt like the best little date we’d ever been on.
We went downstairs, found an empty corner, and sat on the couch together in comfy clothes. Soaking up a few slow moments before our wedding day schedule started racing forward. I can’t tell you how nice that was, smiling across the top of our cups at each other knowing the day was finally here. None of the other hotel guests around us knew what was about to happen and it felt like we were lurking in disguise there on the mezzanine. Just me and him, sippin’ on a secret.
A little nervous, super excited, yet totally & happily calm. One hundred and fifty percent certain. Wanting it all to hurry up and slow down at the same time. Before we knew it, it was time for everything to start.
Billy had plans for breakfast with family & friends and a groomsmen lunch later on, so he went off to stash his suit & shoes in another room to get ready with the guys later that afternoon. Meanwhile, the bridal party and I started hair & make-up upstairs in our room.
The day went by super quickly with us alternating between stylists, squeezing in time for meals, and making last minute jewelry “this one or that one?” choices. Before I knew it, the photographers and videographers were there and it was time to put my gown on.
I remember having this moment where it all started hitting me that this single event I had been painstakingly planning for the past year was now REALLY happening. Where I looked down and saw that my dress and shoes were on. My hair was up, the make-up was done. The flowers were in hand. It was GO time.
Our friend, Jim, officiated the wedding and wrote us a ceremony that fit us perfectly as a couple. We admire him and his wife Deene immensely. We were so honored to have him preside over such a spiritually significant moment.
We had our ceremony on the wedding lawn of the hotel. From there you can see bits & pieces of the trails we’ve hiked together over the years. Glacier Point & Upper Yosemite Falls. From the little bridge where I entered the ceremony, I could actually look back and see the exact spot on Half Dome where Billy proposed. There it was. All of our history staring right back at me. Held between those granite walls, woven across every meadow and nestled between each treeline.
We lined up and the music started. One by one, the bridal party went down the aisle until it was just my dad and me waiting to be cued to walk out. I couldn’t see Billy yet from where I was, and he couldn’t see me. Once I heard piano chords start up for my processional song and we started moving, I had a really tough time keeping it together. I was trying to take deep breaths, look up at the sky, at the deer grazing nearby, at the waterfall, at ANYTHING I could to blink the tears back inside.
But as soon as I saw Billy’s face at the end of the aisle, any shred of composure I had was gone. There he was, standing there looking as handsome as ever in his dark grey suit. My best friend. My rock. My guy. For…you know…EVER. All I had to do was walk to him. And in that moment, I lost it completely. Before a word was even said, I felt all the tears streaking down my face.
We exchanged vows that we wrote for one another and tried not to shake our papers too much as we read them out loud. We were surrounded by people but it felt like Billy and I were in our own little bubble talking to only each other. That was my favorite moment.
Then came the wedding bands. The final blessing. Finally, the smooch that seals the deal. And just like that, we were officially…MR. & MRS.!!!
FAMILY + WEDDING PARTY PORTRAITS
After the ceremony, our guests headed to the reception space for hors d’oeuvres and drinks. We broke away to squeeze in some pictures with our families, the wedding party, and our first pictures together as a married couple. We felt so giddy right after the ceremony, it couldn’t have been easier to grin and giggle our way through all the pictures.
Then it was time for D-I-N-N-E-R. We did a formal seated dinner with our guests and loved every delicious bite of that meal. We kept things pretty simple in terms of décor at the wedding and used the free linens, tables, and chairs that came with the venue. Our guests were at round tables spread throughout the solarium and we were seated together at a small sweetheart table in the center of it all.
The flowers from the ceremony were repurposed into the reception space and they really helped liven everything up. We were OBSESSED with the flower arrangements that Chanel at Mums N’ Roses created for our wedding. They were bold, wild, colorful, exceptionally unique, and fit the mountain vibe perfectly.
We had spent a lot of time working on DIY details and we were so excited to finally see them all together in the reception space. Billy had cut, sanded, assembled, and stained the wood table numbers and I painted the numbers onto them. Basically, he made all my Pinterest dreams come true. While he worked on those, I made small hand-lettered signs, the watercolor placecards, and our card box. We ordered a poster print from Cloud 9 Keepsakes for our “guest book” and a custom wooden sign from Oaky Designs so we could have some things to hang up in our home right after the wedding.
Lots of glass clinking and good food and heart-warming toasts went down before it was time to cut the cake. Billy had been joking for MONTHS that he couldn’t wait to smash that cake right into my face. Apparently, it was all a joke to get me riled up and he had zero plans to do anything of the sort.
Let’s file this under…things I know NOW, but did not know THEN.
And that, my friends, is why I launched a preemptive strike against what I thought was certain dessert-to-the-face doom. In other words…I started it. WHOOPS.
In true Billy & Lauren form, the ceremonial cake cutting became a small scale cake brawl. About 30 seconds of palming cake onto each other’s’ faces, and we were both covered in it. Couldn’t think of a more fun or authentically “us” way to kick off married life than that. Grinning through smears of frosting on our cheeks and bits of smashed cake stuck in our noses.
Oh, and accidentally scaring the holy buh-gee-zus out of people in the hotel lobby when we went to clean up. Apparently RED velvet cake looks a lot like zombie apocalypse level carnage to unsuspecting strangers with zero context for what just happened. Things you don’t realize until you see your horror film face in the bathroom mirror.
Traditions // conventions // expectations // gender roles be damned. Our cake. Our wedding. Our rules.
The number one thing I learned about weddings by planning our wedding was that there are no rules. If you are a bride and one of your closest friends is man, then have bridesMaids and bridesMen. NBD. If you don’t want to wear a veil, you don’t have to wear a veil. You do you. If you don’t want to stand on traditional sides of the aisle, then switch it up. The bottom line is, it’s YOUR DAY!
Besides…that cake was delicious. If I’m going to have a cake on my face, that would be THE cake.
MUSIC & DANCING
Our DJ, Rick from FreshTracks Entertainment, brought so much energy and personality to our wedding that night! He knew just how to set the tone for all those special moments throughout the day – from the ceremony to the reception, he nailed it on exactly how we wanted our day to feel.
Another one of our favorite moments was our first dance together as “man & wife” (or as “woman & husband”, cause it’s 2017 and I’m gonna try to make that a thing). It was another one of those in-our-own-love-bubble kind of feelings, where your brain knows that other people are around but all you can see is each other. Everything outside of that little space just blurs together and gets tuned out for a few glorious minutes.
The song we picked is from one of our favorite bands and the first concert we ever went to together. We go on a big trip together each year and for the past 3 years it’s been some sort of road trip around the states. The song brings us right back to that feeling we get when we’re way out there.
That night we spent as much time on the dance floor as we could with our family & friends. Celebrating by showing off our best (and worst) moves. Taking every opportunity to sing-shout the words and soak up all the love happening around us that day.
We ended the night with one of our favorite songs “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. We each love it for totally different reasons. Billy – because it’s always played at the San Francisco Giants’ games. Me – because it’s how we used to end our sorority events back at UCLA, belting it out at the top of our lungs.
Our wedding favors were little old-fashioned glazed donuts shaped like…wait for it…BEARS. I’m already uncannily obsessed with donuts but ones shaped like cute little critters are my kryptonite. The first thing we did last summer after touring and booking the venue was pop into the Sweet Shop at the hotel to buy ourselves some wedding treats. We each chose a bear donut to “cheers” on the lawn outside once the paperwork was done. So when we found out we could have those at the wedding, it was a done deal.
After all the decorations were boxed up and safely tucked back into our room, we said goodbye to our families and got back in our pajamas. Before we went to sleep we read every single card from our card box and just steeped ourselves in every last bit of gratitude for this day, our lives, and all the people in it.
And full disclosure, we also ate all the leftover bear donuts that our guests left behind. I even took some in a Ziploc bag on the plane to Calgary two days later.
I still can’t believe that I get to call this guy, Billy DeKom, mine-all-mine until the end of time. He is everything I never even dared to dream I could find in a partner. I feel beyond lucky to be able to go through life with him and have someone who truly knows me, in the way that only he does. This is a person who knows EXACTLY how weird I am and then willingly married me anyway…? It remains a complete mystery to me how I conned this hunky gentleman into letting me steal his last name as my own, but I’ve decided not to question it. Just revel in it every single day.
I also can’t believe our wedding came and went as quickly as it did. Everyone told us it would (this is not an exaggeration, literally every couple we talked to told us this). But I still secretly hoped it wouldn’t happen that way. I’ve been in a perpetual state of denial about the fact that our wedding day has indeed come and gone.
So I’ve been doing things like thumbing through our wedding album and watching our wedding video on repeat. Like a lot. Like an embarrassing amount of time spent doing this each day. Wasting all the tissues and crying all the happy tears. Just reliving that perfect day in July over & over & OVER again. Wearing my wedding dress while watching “Parks & Rec” re-runs & eating tubs of ice cream on the couch is VERY LIKELY in my not-so-distant future.
To be honest, I can’t even deal with all the feelings. And most of the time I don’t. I just go about my day until out of nowhere my body gets commandeered by wedding-related emotions and then the next thing I know…here I am, crying at my keyboard on a Wednesday (again).
But that is how over-the-top HAPPY that day was for us. The joy knows no bounds. It doesn’t arrive at opportune times or happen when I decide it’s allowed to happen. In some form or another, it is ever-present and threatening to burst out of me at any moment. What more can I say. Love is good.
A thousand thank-you’s go out from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who made our dream wedding come to life that day. Our vendors, family, and friends busted their butts to make this all a reality for us. We are sending so much love and gratitude to everyone that came out to the valley that weekend to help us celebrate. Having you all there made the day so special.
Photography & Videography: Steve Dutcher Photography
Venue & Catering: The Majestic Yosemite Hotel • Yosemite, California
Formerly known as (and to us, FOREVER known as) The Ahwahnee
Floral Design: Mums N’ Roses • Chanel Gagnier
DJ / Music: FreshTracks Entertainment • Rick Kunkel
Dress Designer: Katie May • Monaco Gown
Dress Boutique: …And Something Blue San Francisco, CA
Bridesmaid Dresses: Show Me Your Mumu • color: steel blue • styles: Jen, Caitlin, Amanda, Hacienda
Groom’s Suit: Jos. A. Bank Custom
Suit Rentals: Jos. A. Bank
Make-up: Keira Rowland
Hair: Carla Malia
Wedding Party Processional Song: “Begin Again” – The Piano Guys
Bride Processional Song: “Your Song” – Ellie Goulding
Recessional: “Something Just Like This” – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
First Dance: “Free” – Zac Brown Band
Mother-Son Dance: “Humble and Kind” – Tim McGraw
Father-Daughter Dance: “S.O.B.” – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Bouquet Toss: “Clumsy” – Fergie / “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor
Garter: “Pony” – Ginuwine