Matt & Julia Are Engaged!!

On August 20th, the weather was fair - it had been raining off and on for most of the day, and it was the first Saturday that I had found myself praying for no rain! We had planned, prepared, thought out, shopped around, decorated, placed, and prayed over this day. 
Matt was going to propose to Julia. 

David and I were told to be "in place" at 5:40 SHARP, and so we scurried to get the set up in place. Everything was going as planned - Daddy had called Matt and asked if he would mind picking up his fishing stuff at the barn on their way to "an engagement party" for "a friend" down the road at Burnt Oak Lodge. 
Nannie had made a cute invitation in advance, had a coworker address it, and sent it to Matt in the mail - but really, there was another surprise in store!

At around 5:55, Matt proposed to Julia on the pier that protrudes out over a pond that Matt and I grew up fishing on. A pond that my PawPaw's voice still echoes over in my mind - it reminds us all of him. He built it, and he loved it. A pond that watched Matt & Dad, Matt & PawPaw, and Matt and I walk down its banks. A pond that has accepted TK into its waters and allowed him to emerge with pride at what he retrieved. A pond that's given Matt some of the biggest bass of his life - a pond that watched he and Julia fall in love, that gave Julia an opportunity to experience her love for fishing with Matt. 

Now, it's a pond that holds one of the most precious memories that Matt and Julia will ever have - and one that David and I will cherish forever and be so grateful for being a part of it "with" them.
It hosted one of the biggest days of their lives. It reflected the action of commitment that Matt offered to Julia, and it rippled at the giddiness of her acceptance to commit herself to him.
It was beautiful.

Quite possibly the most beautiful thing that I've ever witnessed. The happiness that seeped from their being was all that my soul could take. Julia has felt like my sister for a long time - from probably the second time that I was around her. She is kind, compassionate, all about family, but most of all - she loves Matt well, and she makes Matt happier than I have ever seen him.

His smile is different when she's around. It's a smile I've known was inside him, but that I'm so happy to finally see. I will always love Julia for bringing out that smile in him, but moreso than that - she just "fits" into our family - the last missing piece has been filled in. 
Who knew it was in Vernon, AL all this time? 
I really love watching God's plan unfold.

 Matt & Julia spent time hugging and talking all the
 "did you know?"
"I can't believe this!"
"I love you!"
"I'm so excited"
while David and I sat - discretely - in the "blind" that Daddy had prepared especially for this day, and tried to hold it together!

...until Matt called us out of hiding to see them at the pier!

but I couldn't help but stop along the way to capture a few moments.

I am so incredibly happy for them. 

This day would not have been the same if TK hadn't been there to witness it, and of course he had his own part of the day to plan - planning what his sign for pictures would say!

And I think he came up with a really good sign for them, myself. 

A few more pictures before Matt and Julia "had to go to the engagement party"...

but first, Julia wanted to call some people!

Julia wasn't fired up about going to someone else's engagement party after just getting engaged herself, but Matt promised they'd just make an appearance and then be on their way to see her family and friends!

What Julia didn't know at the time was...

The engagement party was really being thrown in their honor!
Matt had planned and orchestrated the entire thing. 
Her family was there - even her Aunt from Texas flew in to be part of this for Julia. 
He thought of everything!

Julia's sweet niece, Hartley, greeted Julia at the door, and the rest - as they say - was history! Family flooded Matt and Julia with hugs and congratulations. 
I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for both of them! 

And Matt sat back and enjoyed Julia's excitement all night! Of course, his excitement was oozing from his being, too!

So many hugs and ooh's and aaah's over Julia's ring, and so many smiles and laughs over the whole story and trying to keep everything secret!

Not long after everyone had greeted Matt and Julia, Matt had something special planned for Hartley. Even though she seems timid in this photo, she loves Matt and is so excited about Matt and Julia's wedding. 
"She just can't wait to see Matt and Julia all dressed up!"

Matt asked Hartley if she would be his niece, and she glady accepted!

It was a very sweet moment - one that I hope Hartley is able to remember forever. 

She even got her own ring out of the deal! So, now Julia isn't the only one with the bling!

To commemorate the evening for Matt, David and I gave him a custom made Houndstooth Game Call that his buddy, Lyle, had a big hand in making happen for me. After all, he is the brains of the operation. I hope Matt and Julia can pass this down for generations to come to remind their future family of this special day!

And now, to wrap this up - I am so excited for the memories ahead with this girls! They already feel like family to me. We were all in agreement that lying to Julia (even if it was for her benefit in the end) was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do! But -- so worth it in the end!

To Matt & Julia - may this season of life be one that you cherish forever! It is fun, but it is fleeting! It goes by so fast. David and I cannot wait to experience all of this with you, and we can't wait to see where God leads you both. The best is yet to come! 


(And PS - it never rained. The sun shined down on the pier as Matt dropped to one knee. It continued to shine until it fell beneath the trees. It was perfect.) 


Our Ceremony

For every different time in our lives together, David and I have tried to remember Ecc. 3:1, 
"For everything there is a season, a time and a purpose." 
While we were dating and long distance, we would remind each other that "this is just a season".
When we didn't like our job or school, we would say, "this is just a season". 

So, when the season finally came for the Lord to allow us to follow through with marriage, we embraced the season, and I give Him all the glory for that. The engagement season was so much fun and so memorable, but nothing has beat this season of marriage. 

I wanted to share our ceremony with the blog - for my own safe keepings. 

It was hot. 
It was cloudy - with a chance of rain.
It was early when I woke up and snuck away from bed to try not to wake Lauren, my matron of honor who had stayed up all night with me while I was too restless to sleep.
It was overwhelming to think that I had dreamed of this day through every heartbreak before David, every good time I had ever had with David, and especially since January 30th when he proposed to me, the day was finally here.

It was June 27, 2015.
It was {finally} our wedding day.

The ceremony was to start at 2:00. The day FLEW by! Since David and I decided to do a first look, we were able to do most of the posed photos with the wedding party and family beforehand. That would allow us to go straight to the reception afterwards, and we wanted to do that in order to get on the road to our honeymoon!

Inside, the church was decorated with a custom build arch (if you will), from my daddy. He cut the trees from our property, and we had fresh greenery adorning it. Tapering away from the arch on either side was an assortment of different sized and colored lanterns with candles lit inside of them. Some lanterns were given height by cut tree stumps that we also gathered from our property where we recently cut timber.

I wanted our decorations to be meaningful and sentimental. Almost all of the wood used throughout our wedding was from the property that my dad grew up on. It kind of felt like bringing a piece of his childhood and his family into the ceremony with us. I will post more on the sentimental aspects of our wedding soon!

The time came for everyone to trickle into the church. The prelude included a mixed CD of songs that were a soundtrack of David & I's dating (and engaged) life. They were songs that we consider "ours". I will put a list at the end of the post! 
So, as our friends and family were coming in to find a seat, our songs played softly in the background. 

Next, it was time to seat the family. My cousin, and our pianist at church, Gina Cotton, played the paino as the mothers & grandmothers (and aunt!) were seated to Great is Thy Faithfulness. We chose this because the lyrics ring true in our lives. They rang true especially during that season of life. 

"Great is Thy Faithfulness - morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy Faithfulness!"

The bridesmaids and groomsmen (and TK - the 'best dog') walked down the isle to "Clair De Lune", which is a classic favorite of mine. I have always though it was lovely - since taking a music education class in middle school. 

Next, it was time for my daddy to walk me down the aisle, and we went with the traditional "Wagner's Bridal Chorus". To be honest, I remember the first notes of it, but the rest is a total blur! I remember looking at my bridesmaids about halfway down the aisle, and I remember finally seeing David's face once I almost reached the front, but in my mind - there was no music. 
Complete silence. 

All I could think about was, "is this really happening?" 
I was living out a dream I had had for so long.

Next came the vows... We spent a period of time before we got married going through marriage counseling with our pastor, Bro. Bill Ross. David and I learned a lot about each other during that time, and Bro. Bill taught us a lot, as well. We have tucked so much of his advice away, and we use it as armor in our marriage now - we use it as a shield to guard and protect our marriage. So, when we began discussing vows, we wanted to use some that were personal to our lives and meaningful to look back on in the future. We wanted simple, but powerful. 

I, David, take you, Julianna to my wife,
my partner in life, and my one true love. 
I will cherish our friendship and love you today, tomorrow, and forever.
I will trust you and honor you.
I will love you faithfully through the best and the worst, 
through the difficult and the easy.
Whatever may come, I will always be there. 
As I have given you my hand to hold, 
so I give you my life to keep - 
as long as we both shall live.

I, Julianna, take you, David to my husband,
my partner in life, and my one true love. 
I will cherish our friendship and love you today, tomorrow, and forever.
I will trust you and honor you.
I will love you faithfully through the best and the worst, 
through the difficult and the easy.
Whatever may come, I will always be there. 
As I have given you my hand to hold, 
so I give you my life to keep - 
as long as we both shall live.

After our vows were said, we took part in the unity portion of our ceremony. 
It took us awhile to decide on something that we wanted to display for unity during our ceremony. We have seen so many different ideas for this portion of a wedding, and we wanted ours to be unique. So, we chose to plant a tree - but not just any tree - and we didn't want to plant it just anywhere. 

Here is the excerpt taken from our program: 

"In many wedding ceremonies, you often see the happy couple lighting a unity candle. Today, Julianna and David have instead elected to use a tree for this portion of their ceremony. The tree they have chosen is an American Bald Cypress. The Cypress Tree can live up to a thousand years. It can grow up to a hundred and twenty feet tall, and over fourteen feet across at the base. 
The cypress tree is mentioned in records throughout history, and it has many different meanings in many different cultures, but the meaning that applies here today is: 'The Cypress Tree represents the role of sacrifice in life'. As we all know, sacrifice is an important part of any successful marriage. 
Today, David and Julianna each bring a portion of dirt from their respective homes and each will place their dirt into the container with the tree, signifying their sacrifice and their pledge of unity in this marriage. This tree will then be planted on family property and will serve as a living reminder throughout the years of their love and sacrifice to each other." 
(thanks to daddy for always knowing exactly how to portray my thoughts - and for writing this up for us.) 

* I will add that the tree was planted by the end of the weekend by my brother, Matt, on our family land in Crawford, MS. I can say that, almost a year later, it is healthy & happy... and growing! 

We exchanged rings, and Bro. Bill added a special portion to the end of our ceremony. 
A week or so before the wedding, before all of the craziness with last minute prep began, Bro. Bill asked us to meet him at the church one night. So, David and I agreed. He met with us in order for us to make a pledge to him - but more so to our marriage. He read aloud our commitment as a symbol of confirmation to the congregation and to God as our witnesses, and this was (is) our commitment:

(The following words are a paraphrase of words recorded from the Book of Ruth)

"We promise to not leave each other, or to return from following after each other.
We promise that for where one goes, the other will go - and where one stays the other will stay,
your people will be my people, 
and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die, 
and where you're buried, I will be buried.
These things we promise to each other - for as long as we both shall live."

After that, Bro. Bill prayed over us, over our marriage, and over the people who would witness our marriage after we left the ceremony that day.

He then announced us as husband & wife....
and David kissed his bride!

(Song List) 
• that's how I know you love me 
- Justin Moore 
• enchanted 
- Taylor Swift 
• Feels Like Home 
- Chantel Kreviazuk 
• I just love you 
- Five for Fighting 
• kiss me 
- Ed Sheeran
• parachute 
- train 
• faithfully 
- Journey 
• make you feel my love 
- Adele 
• gravity 
- Dean Brody 
• i have and i always will 
- Dave Barnes 
• love will be enough for us 
- Dave Barnes 
• mine to love
- Dave Barnes 
• thinking out loud 
- Dylan Scott 
• kiss me 
- Jason Walker 
• I feel like that 
- Jason Walker 
• marry me 
- Train 
• never stop 
- Safety Suit
• shotgun 
- Nashville Cast 
• when I say I do 
- Matthew West 

**all photo credit goes to Twice The Focus Photography