Georgia · Kentucky · Ohio · USA · Wedding

#DrunkonDavis in Saint Simon’s Island, Georgia

Thanks to this strong and beautiful woman, I got to spend an amazing weekend celebrating the end of her single life and getting #DrunkonDavis in Saint Simon’s Island, Georgia.

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I started the weekend in Cincinnati, which was surprisingly charming. I say surprisingly only because you don’t hear much about Cincinnati tourism. It had a wonderful vibe, though. From Cincy we went to Lexington, Kentucky to spend the night and to kiss my kitty nephews.

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The next stop was Georgia for some beaching!

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Pictured above are only some of her bridesmaids. Arin is one loved bride!

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It was hot and the water was the perfect temperature, so we spent a lot of time in the ocean. It was the first real experience of humidity for this desert girl, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! My skin and hair felt amazing, and it made the breeze feel warm and pleasant.

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Another plus was the sweet hook up we got with one of the bridesmaid’s family who own a condo five minutes from the beach. She planned pretty much the whole thing and got these cute shirts made for us.

We did a lot of relaxing, but being a bachelorette party, we also partied.

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SSI was a perfect place for a girl’s weekend. It was only a little bit touristy with nice beaches and nice people.

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…And at least one cute door.

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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!”

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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 · Wedding

Green Card!

This picture was taken in April 2012, when I went to Portugal for spring break to see Erwann. I was there during my birthday, and he took me to Spain for the afternoon, because he knew that I had never been there, and just “thought I would enjoy it.” I remember the day perfectly. We had been dating for about a month, and we were just starting to find out that we reeeeally liked each other. So, we got to Spain, Erwann parked, and we spent a good 30 minutes just sitting in the car. At that moment, on my birthday, we realized it. Crap. How the hell are we ever going to make this work? I wasn’t yet familiar with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, but I did know that they don’t give out work permits like candy. When I had been homesick in Europe, the remaining months I had left seemed like an eternity. All of the sudden they were slipping away in what felt like the blink of an eye. I know Erwann was worried too, and the thought of moving across the ocean was a little daunting I’m sure. We hashed it over for a long time in the car, but eventually we realized that we were in Spain, it was my birthday, and we should probably stop fretting and go explore something. So we did. It was the best birthday.

That was over three years ago now, and I can’t stop thinking about that day. It doesn’t feel so long ago, and yet here I am. Erwann did move an ocean away from his family and country. We’re married, and his green card is coming in the mail. It took one student visa, two tourist visas, one internship visa, one extension of that visa, and a whole lot of waiting and paperwork to get here, but now Erwann and I will never have to worry about how to live and work in the same country ever again. I have to admit, we are both pretty damn proud. We didn’t rush into this. We spent extra money and time on extra visas and waited until it was really the right time for us to get married. And now we’re ecstatic that USCIS has decided to let us stay in this country together, because that’s what we’ve always wanted to do: stay together.

We had our interview together with the USCIS on Tuesday. We had all the possible paper proof of our relationship with us, and we were still nervous. The officer asked Erwann if he was planning on practicing polygamy, and we both restrained ourselves from cracking a Utah joke. However, Erwann couldn’t resist asking if it was a “red flag” to be a communist. *angry emoji face* The way the immigration officer perked up after that question almost made me pass out. Even so, I was pretty sure it was going to be okay when he found out that we actually met in France, not when Erwann was here on a tourist visa. He asked us a bunch of other questions about how we met and about our families. He looked at all 80 pictures we brought. Then he told us we should be getting the green card in the mail in about two weeks, and sent us on our way. We went to our favorite French bakery for brunch to celebrate.
This definitely isn’t the last big step for us. We still plan on getting my papers in order for when we go back to Europe. But we will cross that bridge when we get to it, and for now we are just soaking it all in: Erwann is here to stay!
About Me · Family · Wedding

Married Life

One of the strange things about, well, living, is that people have this funny habit of asking you the most vague questions imaginable, then expecting interesting responses. I first experienced this right when I got home after a year in France. Everyday, a different person would ask me, “So, how was France?” Everyday I got more and more frustrated. France changed everything for me. How could these people expect me to sum up the experience that defined like, my whole life?! Eventually I took my anger out on some poor friend of my grandma’s by responding, “IT WAS FINE HOW WAS AMERICA.” I was mad that I wasn’t in France anymore, which was not that lady’s fault, and I now regret my sass. Props to my mom for recognizing the symptoms of culture shock/nostalgia-induced anger and promptly sneaking me out the back door so we could go to a movie instead of attending a family party.

Recently the common question I get is: “So, how’s married life?” Thankfully I’m no longer facing that sort of inner turmoil, so the sass level is under control. However, I am still a little befuddled at how to answer. What if I were miserable? What if I’m sickeningly happy? I doubt anyone wants to know either answer, so I guess these questions are no different than the age-old, “How are you?” You’re not supposed to say that you’re having the worst day of your life and that you’re about to cry. You’re supposed to say, “Fine, how are you?” So that’s what I do. But it did get me thinking about how my married life is different than my “single” life.

Firstly, I feel like I’m officially allowed to say “we” instead of “I” all the time without it being weird. Even when we were engaged, it seemed odd to use the plural pronoun. Whereas I now feel somewhat self-centered if I talk about “my apartment,” or “my cats.”

The other big difference I’ve noticed is that when we bicker or fight, I always think, “Oh man, this is MY LIFE?!” Likewise, when I am marvelously giddy and happy, I always think, “Oh my goodness, this is my LIFE 😀 😀 :D!”

Last Friday was the two month anniversary of our wedding. I sent Erwann a message when we were both at work, somewhat jokingly, to remind him. He was really enthusiastic and suggested that we celebrate. That made me happy. And it gets better. He came home from work that night with a bouquet of flowers in hand. We walked to Nick’s Pizza just next door, shared a bottle of wine, and ate a lot of pasta. Over dinner we talked about how we were both dying to do a road trip in France and Italy. We talked about what we want our life to look like, and our vision was the same. After dinner, we lamented at how we were too full to order dessert too. We spent the rest of the night complaining about how we’d overeaten.

I don’t remember much of Saturday or Sunday. Looking back, it seems like we spent most of the time snuggling on the couch watching The Big Bang Theory. This isn’t much different than what we do every weekend, but for whatever reason, I was kind of sickeningly happy. The whole weekend I kept thinking how happy I was that this, me and Erwann together, is and will be my life.

…:D

About Me · Family · Wedding

I Get By

When we first got engaged, I was really excited about the concept of bridesmaids. I thought it was really sweet that the most important women in my life would be standing next to me on the most important day of my life. Plus I just knew how cute they would look in their burgundy dresses. Okay, I have to take a little detour first to talk about the burgundy dresses. I had blondes, a brunette, and a redhead, all with different complexions, and they all looked BEAUTIFUL in burgundy. Don’t even think for one second that it was an accident. I am so proud of my color choice. Not only was everyone gorgeous, but the contrast with the deep green of all the pine trees was just on point. High five for me.

Anyway, in my head, being a bridesmaid was more of a cute honorary term for my best friends. I didn’t really think there would be much else involved. HAHA. The wedding week began with my bridal shower. I was so showered with love and gifts from all my family and friends. I was so happy. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that there were a LOT of people at my mom’s house for ME. I suddenly felt like I needed to be very much “on,” and that I couldn’t express my gratitude well enough. It was around then when Arin told me, “You’re doing great.” With her words, I realized that my anxiety was probably normal. Arin, after all, was the only other person involved in “Hickels Get Hitched” who has actually been through a wedding before. So, with a little help from my friend Arin, I was able to continue thanking all my generous and loving guests, and enjoy my beautiful bridal shower.

The beautiful shower was the doing of my oldest friend, Janaea. Not only did she do that, but she also planned my bachelorette party on the same day. She actually missed most of the bridal shower to go set up the hotel room for the bachelorette. It was complete with glitter, some sort of pink cocktail, as well as other pink *unmentionables*. AND she gave me an adorable emergency kit, which I mentioned before we used almost everything in it. With a little help from my friend Janaea, I enjoyed one of the craziest, busiest, most fun weeks of my life.

The day after the bachelorette we had the rehearsal dinner. In short, it was a stressful evening. I hadn’t slept, and there were a lot of grumpy people and moving parts. I was just about the last person to arrive to my own rehearsal dinner. Upon my arrival, I immediately called a bride tribe pow wow because, well, I was freaking out. Janaea, Aaron, Margaret, and Arin all gathered around me and let me have a little stress cry. Margaret was more than ready to go tear somebody a new one, had I asked her to do so. I bawled for about thirty seconds, got some pizza, and with a little help from the whole tribe, I was able to carry on with the rehearsal.

Now, one very important thing to know about me is that I’m not a big fan of hugging. Unless you’re my mom. However, the stress release that comes with human contact is real, and the only relaxing moment I can think of from August 8th is laying in Margaret’s lap, while she stroked my hair. She was so in tune to my stress level and my needs the whole week, she would just appear with perfect timing and ask, “Do you need a squeeze?” YES, ALL THE YES. With every squeeze, I felt my head clear just a bit. So with a little help from my friend Margaret, I was a little less of a basket case.

I was and still am so sad that the whole thing is over, but mostly I’m beyond happy and thankful for my lasting friendships. And now, after having gone through all that stress and craziness, I feel closer to them than ever. I text Margaret literally everyday, and we facetime once a week. Arin and I are helping each other survive the hell that is working through grad school. Janaea has and always will be my third sister, and we still send each other random pictures all the time because we know that no one else will think it’s funny.

Right now I’m teaching about 25 hours a week, and I’m a full time student. On Tuesdays I wake up around 7:00, work from 9:00-1:00, eat lunch, do homework, drive 30 minutes to Fullerton, go to class from 3:00-10:00, drive 30 minutes back home, and try to fall asleep (usually to no avail) before midnight. Then on Wednesdays I normally teach a class at 8:00 the next morning, so it feels like there is no gap between Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuednesday. It’s a lot. Sometimes the only good part about Tuesday is texting in between classes. Even on less hectic days, I’m always happy to get a cute picture of my dog niece Pheebs, hilarious commentary on teaching an undergraduate history class, a boyfriend story, and most importantly a reminder: You’ve got this! They helped me get over many wedding hurdles, and I think with a little help from my friends, I’m gonna make it through this too.

BRIDE TRIBE.
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.