This is what the Chapel looked like when we pulled up. What a gorgeous, gorgeous sky! I think we arrived around 4pm for our 4:30 ceremony, and there were already guests outside – yikes! I would have liked to arrive a few minutes earlier (per our schedule!), but we were able to sneak in through a side door, so it was okay.
While we waited downstairs (everyone together), guests were treated to a few surprises upstairs. Ladies were invited to take a bell to ring at the end of the ceremony…
…and gents, a boutonniere to pin on for extra festiveness. I made all of the boutonnieres out of velvet ribbon and hand wrote the tags – DIY instructions coming soon!
I designed our two-sided, single sheet ceremony programs in Illustrator and had them printed through UPrinting.
We had five helpers at the front of the Chapel — my brother in law, John’s brother in law, our friend, and two of my cousins — and between them, they handed out programs, facilitated the bells and bows, and helped guests to their seats.
Soon enough it was time for us to line up. When I was standing next to my Dad in the narthex, I felt the first flip in my stomach. I got another one when the string trio began to play the first song of the processional (more about our music here).
After the last bridesmaid had begun her walk down the aisle, the doors to the sanctuary closed, and my Dad and I moved into position.
I had specifically asked that the doors not be opened until about fifteen seconds into my song, so that we would hit the top of the aisle at the right point in the music. My emotions started to build, and I couldn’t help smiling, while we waited behind the closed doors. When the doors finally opened, I could hear an audible intake of breath from our guests. (That sounds horribly vain, but it’s true!) I think it was in part because I was wearing a blusher veil, which is so unexpected these days but so me, and my Dad looked stunningly handsome in his dress whites (military uniform).
I had my eyes locked on John’s the entire time we walked down the aisle, but when we reached our guests, I had to start taking deep breaths in and out to try and control the impending flood. Once we got a little closer, I could hear the entire row of bridesmaids and entire row of groomsmen sniffling, and that finally opened the flood gates for me. We all had tears rolling down our faces throughout the beginning of our ceremony, so much so that our pastor had to remind everyone to take deep breaths before he began.
After Carl’s welcome, our readers took the stage. You can read more about the selections we chose here. They all did a wonderful job!
Besides my grandmothers, and John’s relatives who came from as far away as Taipei and Shanghai, our most special guest was our pastor, Carl. He’s the pastor of our church, and has had such a huge impact on our lives and our life together since we met him two years ago. We were so excited and grateful when he agreed to fly north to lead our ceremony. We were equally as devastated when we found out two months before our wedding that he had been diagnosed with cancer. He had surgery about a month before, and happily, was recovered in time to still make the trip. His presence was one of the most special parts of our entire day – our wedding would have felt entirely different (at least to John and me) had he not been a part of it. His address was perfect.
The next part of our ceremony was our congregational hymn — “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” It was one of my favorite parts! John and I both like to SING hymns, and apparently it made quite the impression on our guests! :)
Next were our vows. We chose to recite personal vows as well as the classic vows — you can read more about our decision here! You can also hear a bit of our vows in our highlights film. For our ring exchange, we used these words: John, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you in the name of God.
The final component of our ceremony was communion. There’s more about our decision to serve it here, but let me say again how glad we were that we did; many guests told us that it was their favorite part of the day. We served our parents first, and then my grandmothers at their seats.
All that was left at that point was the kiss! Went off without a hitch, and then we were up the aisle as Mr. & Mrs.
And out onto the steps, where our guests were waiting with ringing silver bells in hand!
And finally into our oh so elegant chariot for the day. It would have been nice to rent a vintage Rolls Royce, but my beloved SUV did just fine when the budget came up short :)
With cheers and clapping, we were off to the reception!
P.S. I adored the pom poms, courtesy of our bridal party!
Photographer: Tanja Lippert / Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films / Day-of-Coordinator: Diana Chouinard of Jubilee Events / Ceremony Venue: The United States Coast Guard Memorial Chapel / Ceremony Officiant: Rev. Dr. R. Carl Frazier from First United Methodist Church, Cary / Silver Bells: Factory Direct Craft / Velvet Ribbon and Bouquet Trim: M&J Trimming / Flowers: Blush Floral Design / Hair and Makeup Artist: Tia Reagan / Bride’s Gown: “Brisa” by Christos / Bride’s Earrings: “Toulouse” by Nina / Bride’s Necklace: Blue Nile / Bride’s Veil: Chaviano Couture / Bridesmaid Dresses: “2834” by Dessy / Groom’s Attire: Tuxedo by Tommy Hilfiger from Macy’s / Groom and Groomsmen Bow Ties: Bows N’ Ties / Groom’s Suspenders: J. Crew / Groomsmen Suspenders: The Grunion Run