About Me · California · Family · USA · Utah

We did a 12 hour road trip with our cats

“What are you doing about your cats?!” said about 100 people upon learning of our move.

Obviously we took them. We bought a little kitty tent on Amazon a few weeks ago and made a nice kitty fort in my back seat for them to snuggle up in during the drive from Orange County to Salt Lake City. While the tent was in our house, they loved it.


Obviously our plan didn’t work out in the car. Our cats DO NOT LIKE to be locked up. They cried and scratched incessantly. Hazel broke the zipper of the kitty tent and escaped in less than 20 minutes, although not unscathed. She was so desperate to get out that she tore up her nose on the zipper. Once out of her kitty prison, she howled and roamed all over the car, driving Erwann crazy, as he was trying to keep her from going under my brake and gas pedals.

Poppy was mostly chill from the start, but would also cry occasionally. Erwann had to pin Hazel on his lap the entire drive from Costa Mesa to Las Vegas. She would sometimes be calm, but every time she looked out the window she would start to howl again. She dozed off just in time for our first stop.

Along with the tent, we had also bought some kitty harnesses and leashes. I had tried to get them used to the harnesses to no great avail. However, crunch time had arrived. We stopped for gas just outside of Vegas in 108 F. I put the kitties in their harnesses and on their leashes to be able to give them some water and just get out of the car for a minute. They were not pleased.


Erwann and I were not pleased either, because we let Poppy out of the tent to discover that she had peed all over. We decided to ditch the tent all together and make them a little bed in the back. We blocked the seats so they couldn’t go underneath and gave them free roam. This worked much better. They settled in pretty quickly and spent most of the final hours sleeping on our laps.


We made one more stop in Fillmore with the leashes and harnesses. The girls still weren’t loving it, but it wasn’t as hot as Vegas, so it went more smoothly.


We rolled into Salt Lake around 7:30 pm, set up the kitties with their food, water, and litter box, and cleaned the cat pee out of the car as best we could. They are still on the traumatized spectrum almost a week later, but they’ll be fine. They have been drinking a lot of water because they refused to do so during the voyage and seem happy to have plenty of beds to hide under.

Poor kitties. We sure love them though, so I’d say they’re also very lucky.

California · USA · Utah

Goodbye, California

It’s official. Our bosses know. We had a goodbye party. We are leaving California. We are moving to Utah in three weeks.


I miss my mommy, duh. No but really, I just miss my family way too much. It’s become too difficult to be out here without either my or Erwann’s family. We don’t really plan on living in a one bedroom apartment forever and can’t imagine ever being able to afford anything bigger. We also don’t love that we have to drive two hours and fight through hosts of people every time we want to escape civilization.

Of course, there are things that we will miss.

A handful of really good people, for starters. When we’ve been far away from our families, some awesome friends have always stepped up to help us move and celebrate Christmas and birthdays. We’ve also taken lots of fun trips to places we’ll probably never see again. And, I know we will miss California this winter when we’re scraping the ice off our cars.

Do we have jobs?


Aren’t we scared?

A little? Not too much, though. We’re mostly excited. The job market in Utah is pretty good, and we have an awesome support system if it takes some time to get settled.

Where will we live?

With my grandma and grandpa until we find jobs.

When are we moving?

“Unofficially” on May 24th, we will pack up everything we haven’t sold and drive up to Utah with our kitties. But, the “official” moving date is really later in August, because we’re spending the summer with Erwann’s family and doing this:


Stay tuned…

About Me · France · Italy · Normandy · Rome · USA · Utah · Wedding

How I Found My Tribe

A few days after my wedding, Margaret, Aaron, and I went for a long hike in the mountains by my parents’ house. We were covered in dirt and sweat, but we made it to the beautiful waterfall and were now on our way back down the mountain. Somehow we walked right passed the bridge we were supposed to cross to continue to the trail on the other side of the river. I thought I had been following the trail, but eventually realized that the “trail” was no longer such. We had been hiking all day, and the thought of backtracking up the hill to find the bridge and relocate the real trail was not a bit appealing.

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I scanned my surroundings and noticed that the trail was just on the other side of the ravine and across the water. We decided it would be faster to go down the muddy slope, cross the river, and climb up the slope on the other side. All too quickly we realized what a stupid decision this had been. It had rained recently, so we were immediately slipping and sliding down the damp slopes. But, it was too late to change our minds, so we laughed at the mud collecting all over our bodies and clothes and just kept on sliding.

At that moment I realized that these kinds of crazy, poorly thought out, and hilarious experiences are those which build the best friendships imaginable. All of the sudden, it felt like I was an international student in France again, part of me wishing I had been smarter, another part laughing hysterically, and another part petrified, all while having no other choice but to carry on. Sometimes during our year in France my American friends and I thought we had made a mistake in going there for a whole year, but all we could do was laugh and stick together until we made it to the other side. Even in the worst of times, we knew that the scary or horrible experiences would be unforgettable moments that would build lifelong friendships.

One particularly horribly unforgettable memory in France was waking up every Friday at 5:30 am to catch a train and be at work to teach English to middle school students at 8 am. Aaron, Margaret, and I all taught in a small rural city called Lisieux. Officially we were language “assistants” but in reality we were untrained English teachers. Lisieux was about a 20 minute train ride away, and we taught from 8 am until 5 pm every Friday. In order to take the train, walk to school, and begin class on time, we had to catch the 7:20 train. In Caen, the city where we were living, Thursdays were the best nights for students to go out to the bars. There were always parties on Thursday. My friends and I never went to these parties because we had to work, but they went on in our dorms without us every week. It was rare that we got enough sleep on a Thursday night due to the noise.

On top of that, we hated teaching. The students were between 12 and 16. They lived in a very small city in the countryside, so they didn’t see the use of English. They knew that we weren’t their real teachers and wanted to use the time in our classes to goof off. What’s more, we didn’t have sufficient training as “language assistants” to give engaging lessons. Dreading the following day, I always spent most Thursday nights lying in bed awake.

The only thing that made these Fridays bearable was my friends. Getting out of bed was made easier with the thought that I would spend the train ride with my friends. Although we were usually silent on the way to the train station, we would normally buy coffee and something sugary once we arrived. After perking up a bit, we would spend the time on the train bouncing ideas off of one another. None of us ever had a solid plan of what we were going to do on Friday; we all relied on each other for classroom activities.

During class, we would always send each other text messages about the happenings of our day. Aaron: “They’re fighting over the $1 prize for the game.” Alisa: “They’re rolling cigarettes.” Margaret: “They told me I have a big nose.” When the long day finally finished, we would meet up at the train station and spend the ride home venting and unwinding from the tiresome day. Aaron and I had been friends right from the start, but it took this uniquely miserable experience to bring me and Margaret together. We had always been cordial, but sharing those train rides was the building block of Margaret and my friendship.

Arin and I on the other hand, were already friends before we went to Rome, but we were bonded together after surviving a truly terrifying experience. There we overheard some American girls staying in the other room talk about whether or not their boyfriends back in the U.S. were cheating on them (they were). We saw the same old men from the restaurant at lunch on the news that same night. We giggled every time we got the opportunity to say, “Prego!”


We left our bed and breakfast to go back to France at about 4 am. Our flight was at 7 am, and we had to catch the shuttle to the airport well in advance. It was pitch black when we left. Upon arriving in Rome, we had walked through the train station to get to our bed and breakfast. At 4 am however, the train station was still closed. We had to walk around the station to get to the other side. Arin and I felt terrifyingly exposed with our red and blonde hair. Numerous homeless men spoke to us in Italian. At one point, a car full of Italian men pulled over and signaled for us to get in their car. We held each other, praying that we wouldn’t get kidnapped and guiltily thinking about what our mother’s would say if they knew what their daughter’s had gotten themselves into.

Not wanting to cause her more grey hairs than was necessary, I didn’t tell my mom the full story about my trip to Rome until three years later. During those days leading up to my wedding, Aaron, Margaret, Arin, and I finally recounted all the silly and sometimes downright stupid things we had done while studying abroad in France. When I first met them back in 2011, Aaron was a guy from Pennsylvania, Arin was the redhead who lived on the third floor, and Margaret was the girl with the cute boots. As a normal girl from Utah, I never expected to form such a strong bond with other seemingly normal Americans. But, through surviving a year away from our country and our families, near kidnapping, and sliding down muddy mountain slopes, I found my tribe.

About Me · Family · USA · Utah

Thoughts on Mormonism from an Ex-Mormon

First, let me clarify the title. Technically I’m still a Mormon. I haven’t touched any of my records with the LDS church, nor do I ever plan to, for several reasons. I’m pretty sure my parents would be very upset if I were to do that, and to me, that’s not worth it. Also, my records are actually in France, so I don’t get the Relief Society knocking on my door with cookies trying to bribe me to go to church with them on Sunday (although I’d happily take the cookies). And finally, maybe I’m a terrible person for saying this, but I’m glad that I still have the LDS church to fall back on if I’m ever in trouble. I know that if “the big one” ever hits California, I’m grabbing my husband and my cats, and heading straight to a Mormon church, because there will be lots of nice people there with their 72 hour kits. Is that bad? I don’t know, but it’s still the plan.

Second, let me clarify what this post is going to be. This is not going to be a Mormon bashing post, so if that’s what you’re looking for, read no further. I don’t like to bash anybody, especially something so close to my heart. Yes, I left the Mormon church. I had what I feel are very good reasons. I don’t ever plan on going back. I’m not going to go into detail about that, but I’m happy to share privately with anyone who is interested.

Whenever I tell someone that I’m from Utah, I always get the same reaction. First, the person hesitates, then they work up the courage and ask shyly, “I’m sorry, if you don’t mind me asking… Are you a Mormon?” For a long time, I always responded, “I was raised Mormon, but I’m not anymore.” Recently I stopped saying this, because I couldn’t handle all the unwanted pity! I used to get bombarded with questions like, “You can do that? Is that allowed? Are you okay? Do you still talk to your family?” Even after explaining that yes, it’s okay, I’m okay, and me and my family are all okay, I could always still see a little twinkle of something in everyone’s eye. I’m not sure if it was leftover pity, judgement, or whatever, but I didn’t like it. So now, I just respond with a simple, “No, I’m not.” It’s a lot easier.

That being said, shocking thought it may be, I had an extremely happy childhood. I was raised with good morals. I was taught to be nice to people. To help people out when they need it. To love my family. To put myself in others’ shoes. To be thankful. To not do drugs. To work hard. It got a lot tougher as a teenager, but I still wouldn’t change my upbringing in the Mormon church. I’m pretty happy with the person it helped shape me into, and I still love what happiness I know it brings to so many members of my family.

Do I have my problems? Sure, but most of them have more to do with the church culture, not the church itself. There are parts of the doctrine that I flat disagree with, but most of the “weird” stuff about Mormons has nothing to do with anything in the Book of Mormon. Nowhere does it say not to drink coffee or caffeine. It says no “hot drinks,” and no one seems really sure what that actually means. Nowhere does it say that girls aren’t allowed to show their shoulders. I guess that was one of the general authorities, and they recently admitted to making mistakes in the past! Nowhere does it say that girls aren’t worth anything until they’re married in the temple, and yet so many girls are still taught that today. That really makes me sad. Some people in Utah have gotten very carried away, and those things have become part of the culture of the church. When I decided to leave the church, and when I think about it today, I think it’s really important to keep the actual church and the culture of the church separate in my mind.

As I said, there are still things about the actual church that really bother me. How do I know that they bother me? Because I did my homework! I went to church every week for eighteen years. I read the entire Book of Mormon. That’s why the Mormon church has kind of become my kid brother. I have my issues, and I often vent and talk crap on it. However, if I hear YOU doing that… YOU who hasn’t read the Book of Mormon, YOU who doesn’t have Mormon family, YOU who has met one Mormon in your entire life and driven through Salt Lake City once, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO SAY ANYTHING. It absolutely baffles me that so many people have the gall to tell me how weird and messed up the cult of Mormonism is. Just because I’ve chosen a different path, does not mean I want to sit here and listen to YOU say how awful all Mormons are. Because when I hear people talk negatively about Mormons, what I’m hearing is insults towards my mom, my mom’s neighbors who made all the cupcakes for my wedding, and some of my dear friends.

What I really don’t want for all my Mormon family and friends to take away from this is not that the world is against them. I’m proof! I lived with you “weirdos” (I say that lovingly and ironically) for 20 years, and I’m not going anywhere. Sadly there are stupid and mean people in every race, religion, and tax bracket, but most people are just ill informed. However, I think the one thing that truly bothers people not just about Mormons, but about every religion, is that they think they’re right. Even the kindest religious person, deep down, pities me. They think I’m not going to heaven with them, and that’s what gets under people’s skin.

I guess what I’m getting at here is what my Grandma Sally has been telling me my whole life: Live and let live, guys. Nobody is perfect, and all I really ask is that you think before you say anything about my family, Utah, or my sixth sibling, the LDS church.

Family · USA · Utah · Wedding

Wedding Details

The more I think about our wedding and the more I look at all the pictures from that perfect day, the more I notice all the small things, all the little efforts from everyone that helped pull the whole shindig together.

For example:

Part of my Grandpa’s musical set up.

All the girls’ bouquets, which were made with flowers grown from my mom’s garden. Everyone made their own bouquet the day before the wedding. It was so fun, and everyone had a bouquet that they loved.

My grandpa Dan, who was finally able to bond with some of his French fans.


The beautiful Arin and her ET face. Classic.

Miranda and Olivia envying my slice of wedding cake, and rightly so. It was so delicious.

The decoration team did a top notch job.

My friend Annie who flew all the way from California to bartend! She even brought a friend to help! She is such a sweetheart.

The EXACT wedding cake I wanted, and millions of made-from-scratch cupcakes, courtesy of my mom’s neighbors. They don’t even know me! I’m blown away by the kindness of strangers.

A few weeks before the wedding, Janaea texted me something along the lines of, “Hey, Morgan is really good at braids, should I ask her to come help with our hair?” to which I responded something like, “Yeah sure! That would be great!” Little did I know how much help she would actually be. In my head, I had thought that doing my own hair and make-up would not be that big of a deal. I did not realize how stressful and nervous the whole day would be. Morgan was so sweet, so helpful, and my hair turned out beautifully!

Poor Aaron. He not only officiated the wedding, but during the whole getting ready process he was running back and forth between the bride and groom, running errands, and trying to get this whole wedding show on the road.

My dress was pretty simple. Even so, wedding dresses are not simple things. I couldn’t have put it on alone.

Same goes for the veil. Placement is key.

This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole day. I couldn’t believe how nervous I was. I couldn’t even tell if I was happy with the way I looked, I had to rely completely on my friends’ opinions. Everything was happening so quickly, and it was all so stressful. For me, this picture captures the nerves, the excitement, the stress, and the beauty of my best friend helping me through the whole thing. Here she is pinning fresh flowers (which she had to go find herself) into my hair.

The purple flowers are what I considered for my “something blue.” Close enough. We couldn’t find blue flowers.

Right before we were about to start the ceremony, someone (I think Aaron) realized that we had forgotten the aisle runner! Thank goodness Aunt Kathy came to the rescue.

To be honest, we were a little nervous about Olivia being too nervous to be a flower girl, but she did great! Look at those perfectly spaced petals.

I said I didn’t want cheesy ring pictures. But I’m glad I have at least one. I love my rings.

I have so many sweet pictures of Janaea and Olivia! I love it, because I always refer to Janaea as my “honorary sister,” and in the pictures she does look just like family.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to make my own wedding bouquet. I’m so glad my mom made that happen for me. Even though I only had one Cosmo and no Columbines, it was still a dream come true. It was perfect.

Erwann and I both don’t like posing for pictures, so I’m happy that so many candid photos turned out.

Erwann’s mom Valerie couldn’t stop crying pretty much the whole day. It was so sweet and funny.

We had an awesome cookout style dinner, again thanks to my mom’s neighbors, and my mom’s aunt Cindy and her daughter Amelia. Unfortunately my nerves were so wacky the entire day all I could manage was a little bit of potato salad and some watermelon, but I heard that the burgers were yummy!

Here you can see the pretty lights my decorators set up, and some of the beautiful flower arrangements courtesy of many different helpers.

A casual cookout style dinner was really a fabulous idea.

Here is a picture of who I think are some more strangers who helped cook all the burgers, as well as the cute little lodge.

We bought all the booze in California, and it was kind of a hassle to get it to Utah. Thankfully Janaea’s boyfriend Ryan swooped in and saved the day! I’m even told that some of the beer was pretty good!

Again, the cake turned out exactly how I wanted it. And the flowers were perfect too, thanks to (I think) my mom, Arin, and Valerie.

My mom spent weeks gathering pictures of Erwann and me to display. I only wish I had taken a little more time to walk around and really soak it all in.

Finally, here are a few more of my favorite shots. All pictures from this post were taken by Kristi Alyse Photography!

One day, maybe, I’ll finally stop swooning and social media spamming about our wedding day, but that day is not today. I love my husband so much. I love our family and friends so much. And I loved every second of August 9, 2015.
Family · USA · Utah · Wedding

8/9/2015: Perfection

Perfect. Our wedding was absolutely, undoubtedly, marvelously, perfect. I need to write that down right now just in case, heaven forbid, I ever forget it, because it truly was. I’ve said this a million times, and I’ll say it a million more, because I’m still blown away by it: I went upstairs at about 2:00 to get ready the afternoon of the wedding. When I left, the tables were still being set up, and there weren’t even tablecloths out. I didn’t come downstairs again until right before the ceremony, and what I saw as I walked down the stairs immediately brought me to tears. I had left a nearly empty room, and I came back to the wedding of my dreams. Real talk, the lodge was adorable, the lights were darling, there were beautiful wildflowers and candles on all the tables, Franco-American decorations everywhere, photos of Erwann and me, a guestbook, the cake just how I wanted it, EVERYTHING. I couldn’t believe that I had told all these people what I wanted our wedding to be, and they did it! My mom, my aunts, my friends, my friends’ parents, my siblings, Erwann’s friends, everyone worked so hard all day, while I spent three hours putting on make-up and getting my hair done. I am so grateful and humbled by everyone’s love for me and Erwann. I will remember that forever.

August 8, 2015 was one of the longest days of my life. Friday, August 7 was my bachelorette. We slept for four hours. Margaret yelled at the Taco Bell guy. We watched a basketball game. We prepared flowers while the boys went hiking. We got our nails done. We had a rehearsal dinner. I cried a little, I won’t lie. I was really tired and stressed. Finally, Margaret, Aaron, and I went to my mom’s neighbor’s house to get some long awaited sleep. Margaret was sick, I was really worked up, and I’m not really sure how Aaron slept. I woke up at 7:00 am to find a text that my mom had sent at 2:30 am (she is crazy), telling me to let my dad choose the father daughter dance song. As soon as I was awake it was go time. I woke up Margaret and Aaron, and we literally ran down the street back to my mom’s house yelling, “IT’S WEDDING TIME!!!”

And then, after months and months and months of discussing how we needed to get up early and get working right away, we sat around and ate pancakes. No one was stressed, and there was zero sense of urgency. My mom knew that everyone needed a big breakfast to get through the rest of the day, so she made pancakes from scratch for more than 20 people, and I sat on the porch drinking coffee until about 10:30. It was right around then that the thought popped into someone’s head, “Oh yeah, we should probably get going.” Then the madness broke loose. No one really knew what to do. Everyone wanted to help but most of us stood around waiting to be directed. Eventually we got one car packed with my dress, the bouquets, and some booze. Margaret, Arin, John, and I left as soon as that car was ready.

When we arrived at the venue, a few of my aunts and the Gensel clan were already there, but again no one really knew what to do. I figured we should walk outside to where the ceremony was going to be and get that set up first. When I came around the corner, I was absolutely delighted to see a gorgeous wooden altar. I had been planning on just getting married in the trees, but I was touched because I thought that someone had surprised me with this beautiful creation! I found the caretaker of the lodge and actually found out that it had just been left behind from a previous wedding! I can’t believe our luck. It was a very magical detail for me.

After I pointed out where all the chairs needed to go, everyone started asking me how I wanted everything else set up, and the only thing I could think of to say was, “I don’t know, where is my mom?” At that point, I got a call from our bartender saying she was lost, so I took a little hike to go find her. I came back about 20 minutes later, to a few grumpy faces telling me that as the bride, I was no longer allowed to run off down the mountain. A few more people asked me a few more things to which I’m pretty sure I answered vaguely, and then I realized that it was time to get ready. I started shaking. I became very nervous, everyone was running around like crazy trying to get this wedding going, I hadn’t even showered that day, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do my hair.

I immediately found Margaret and my mom, and I asked my mom if I could steal Margaret. Mom’s eyes said no but her mouth said yes, and I’m so thankful. We were only alone for a few minutes upstairs, and I don’t really remember what we said, but I’m just so glad I had that time to recuperate with her. So, I sat down to start putting make-up on, and my hand would not stop shaking. Have you ever tried to put on liquid eyeliner even with a steady hand? Very difficult. While the girls were trying to get ready, guests kept trying to enter the lodge from upstairs. The first time I saw my cousin Jamey that day, I screamed, “THIS IS NOT THE ENTRANCE!!!” I’m sorry Jamey. That was rude.

Through the entire getting ready process, Janaea’s little sister Morgan was doing everyone’s hair. She not only did that, but also random little favors like yelling at boys trying to come upstairs, and being an absolute angel to me. Plus my hair turned out beautiful. As for Janaea herself, my oldest friend/honorary sister, gave me a bridal emergency kit. I’ll admit I thought it was very cute, but I didn’t anticipate using it all that much. AU CONTRAIRE. We used: the protein bar, the sewing kit, the wet wipes, the scissors, the chalk, and several other things which I can’t remember. It was a lifesaver. Great job, Janaea.

Once we were ready, we remembered we had to cut the stems of our bouquets. Then we found out that the boys were still not ready. At one point, I found out that some French had been poorly translated on one of our signs and I totally lost my cool for a second. Then suddenly we were all ready, but I still had to wait for what seemed like forever for Erwann to leave so I could come downstairs. I was shaking so badly. I was so nervous for everyone to be looking at me. I was already feeling emotional. Finally, I came downstairs, saw the beautiful set up, and walked outside for the ceremony. My darling dad walked me down the aisle to “Je l’aime à mourir,” by Francis Cabrel.

In all the pictures of me walking down the aisle, I look very happy. I’m glad the nerves didn’t show. During the ceremony, I didn’t pay attention to anything but Erwann. I hadn’t seen much of him the previous week. I had missed him. I was just happy to finally be with him. My dear friend Aaron officiated, and I was so proud of him. He was perfect. Erwann said his vows to me in English, and I stumbled through mine in French. That part was a real hit. Then we were married. We kissed, and walked back up the aisle to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” by Queen.

We came around the corner, and the first people we saw were the bartenders, and they immediately handed us drinks. I didn’t get one sip of mine. I set it down on the porch, and Margaret sent me a picture of the full glass the next morning. I rounded up our wedding party, and we left our guests to the bar while we took some pictures with the photographer. I hope we got enough photos. Erwann wasn’t having it for very long, and I don’t blame him. Our party was waiting!

Finally I came back to the lodge, tried to eat, but was still so jittery I couldn’t manage very much. I talked to my Grandma Linda and to my friend Luke. I found Margaret and Arin and was pleased to find out that while I was taking photos, they had become best friends. They helped me with my bustle, and I sat down at our table. Somehow I ended up with four glasses of white wine and champagne in front of me.

Next was probably my most favorite part of the whole night: the toasts. Erwann’s friends Alexis and Paul spoke, as well as his stepbrother, Renaud. Most of them cried, which made me bawl. And they had such nice things to say. Alexis spoke about how he knew me before he met me because Erwann couldn’t stop talking about me from the start. Paul talked about how he and Erwann met online and how we met at his house. Renaud talked about what a pleasure it was to grow up with Erwann. My parents both said how they felt that our friends were their children. Margaret shared how she watched me and Erwann fall in love pretty much from the beginning. It was all so beautiful. I am so overwhelmed by how wonderful our friends are. I love them all so much.

I can’t remember if it was before or after the toasts, but my Grandpa Dan sang two songs. The first one Erwann and I chose a few months ago, but we had kind of forgotten about it. The lyrics go something like, “If I had to live with out you, then living is not a thing I’d like to do,” and it made us bawl some more. For his second song, Grandpa sang “I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore,” to really get the party started. That song was a surprise and it was hilarious.

Next we cut our cake. It was delicious, and I told Erwann not to smash it on my face, to which he responded, “People actually do that?!” He is so classy. After that we danced to “For me, Formidable,” by Charles Aznavour. We chose it because it’s in French and English, and it’s not too cheesy. We hadn’t practiced at all. Erwann was a few drinks ahead of me, and I was really nervous every time he tried to spin or dip me. We were both relieved when it was over.

After my first dance with my husband, I danced with my dad. I ended up letting him choose the song, “Lullaby,” by Billy Joel. It was a special moment for my dad and me. I remember dancing with him at a wedding when I was thirteen, and he said to me, “We better not be dancing at your wedding for a very long time.” It seems like one year ago, not ten.

And then came the real party. We kicked it off with “Shut up and Dance,” by Walk The Moon. I found Margaret as quickly as I could and we danced like crazies, just like we said we would. The music played all night, and eventually someone busted out the American and French flags. My friends and Erwann’s friends got along so well. It was the most fun I’ve ever had.

Towards the end of the night, I found myself outside with Alexis. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I know we shared a tender little moment. :v It made me really happy.

Other random memories: My Grandpa Dee dancing, dancing with my mom and sisters to ABBA, everyone taking turns attempting to rap into the microphone, all my friends saying what a good dancer Max was, my mom dancing in her pink PJ’s, and just general euphoria.

All in all, 10/10 would recommend getting married.

Family · USA · Utah · Wedding

Zion & Salt Lake City

After I finished finals for my first semester of grad school, we took off to Zion National Park, and were yet again blown away by its beauty. Every time I go there it’s a little different. Each visit leaves me speechless and overwhelmed. It really is the most gorgeous place on Earth. And we got to do my FAVORITE THING: camp! Building a fire, making dinner and smores over the fire, and sitting by the fire get me on a high like nothing else can. At one point during my evening by the flames, Erwann asked me something along the lines of, “So… Are we going to do anything else?” NOPE! I could spend my life in front of a campfire.

After our magical day and a half in Zion, we drove up to Salt Lake to spend a few days with my family, and also to check out our wedding venue! It was beautiful! We booked it without actually seeing it because we knew we wanted something in the mountains, and we loved that people could spend the night up there. Brighton still has a few feet of snow, but we got to see the lodge, and it was just adorable! Erwann and I both are in full blown wedding planning mode now. My bridesmaids get several frantic messages daily. There is always a new crisis, but it’s all very fun and exciting as well.

Last time we were in Salt Lake for Christmas, it was, well, Christmas and thus pretty hectic. This time it was nice that there wasn’t much going on, so we could just sort of hang around and enjoy everyone’s company. Unfortunately it rained the ENTIRE week we were there, so Erwann spent most of his time playing video games with my dad, and I spent most of my time eating microwaved mug brownies (courtesy of Audrey, who gets an A+ in sucking up to her big sister), and looking at wedding stuff with my mom. We just wish we could have had one day to go hiking, but we had an amazing time nonetheless.

We are both absolutely dying to move back to Utah. I think I have had my fill of California. It’s so much less crowded in Utah, and we could cut our rent in half in Salt Lake. We would be closer to my family, and to all the outdoorsy stuff we really love. It’s a huge bummer that the University of Utah doesn’t have the graduate program I need, or we would probably be there this winter. Ah well, until I’m done with school we will just have to enjoy 80 and sunny year-round while we can!