The Ceremony

I imagine there’s not much worse than arriving at your own wedding with a huge chunk of time to kill and not much else to do other than think and be nervous.  Unfortunately that was the case for Jeff, as we had been warned about heavy crowds on sunny fall Sundays and decided to arrive early so we wouldn’t miss our own wedding.

Lucky for Jeff, it was a beautiful day, and he had his brother John, sister-in-law Brett, and two super adorable nephews Ben and Max to help pass the time.  And if there’s anything an almost-four and almost-two year-old are capable of doing, it’s keep you busy for a couple hours.

Alas, the time eventually came for my parents and I to start walking down the path to overlook three.

I’m told that the wait for us felt like forever.  That, I suppose, is an unfortunate side effect of trying not to be seen by the groom on our wedding morning.  My parents and I hid a safe distance from the park entrance and there was no cell phone reception to give a heads-up, so my brother Steven very sweetly volunteered to (literally) run and tell us when everyone was set up and ready.  It seemed like a pleasant, short walk to us, but then again—we weren’t the guy running down the path trying not to miss his sister’s wedding.

We also weren’t the guy waiting at the end of that “short walk,” to whom the wait was, no doubt, seemingly interminable.

(Jeff saw this photo and said: “At that point, I’d been waiting for, like, two hours. I was like, Where is sheeeeeeeeeee?”)

We modified some traditions; both of my parents walked me down the path.

I was really happy and relieved to see Jeff at the end of it.

There was no giving or presenting of anyone.  Jeff and I hugged our parents, thanked them for raising such a good baby, and promised we’d take good care of each other.

And then we got to it.  It felt like we were flying sideways through things; the only thing that kept me in a calm state was holding Jeff’s hands and looking at him.  I otherwise would have been one hot mess.

Our officiant began the ceremony with an opening written mostly by Jeff and me.

John, Jeff’s Best Man, read Kahlil Gibran’s “On Marriage,” a piece that was also read at my parents’ wedding 32 years ago.

Our officiant, also named Jeff, read a few words about committment, friendship, and love.

Diana read “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan.  This is about when I began feeling like I was coming back into my own body—things stopped feeling so surreal.

Then Jeff and I began reading our vows.  We used some traditional vows—I take you, that sort of thing—some modified-traditional, and arranged other vows that fit us.

I remember noticing Max watching from a prime location—right in John’s arms.  It was totally refreshing.  I liked having him up there; it felt very natural.

Then we read the vows we’d written for each other.

We exchanged rings.

And my sister read an Irish Blessing.

We were pronounced husband and wife …

And then we kissed.

It was awesome.

We were so happy, both of us.

Neither of us noticed the magnificent view we had of Great Falls until after the ceremony.

And without exaggeration, it was the happiest moment of my life.


The Morning Of

I awoke the morning of the wedding to realize that it could be the last day I woke up having shared a bed with my sister the previous night.  Kathryn, also my Maid of Honor, was seven when I moved away for college, and we’ve shared a room when we’re both back at our parents’ house ever since.  That’s 23 years of habit, and I realized the morning of the wedding that we might not ever fall asleep talking to each other in the dark again.  It made me feel a little bit sad. 

In many ways, the morning of the wedding was just like any other.  We got up.  There was general indecision about what to eat.  My brother Dylan checked email and facebook.  The bathroom was perpetually occupied.  My brother Steven made coffee that I ended up not finishing.  My Mom was busy in the kitchen and my Dad followed her around like a shadow.  Kathryn made jokes.  I thought about Jeff and ran late.

I did my own hair and makeup (and was very surprised how strongly people feel about that, by the way).  I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do with my hair until I was finished doing it.  Then, with my sister’s help, I tucked a few more pieces back and thought, Well, that looks okay.  She concurred and that was that.

Then I did my makeup.

I got halfway into the dress and then thought, Hmm, maybe I should have done my makeup later so it wouldn’t slide down the inside of my dress.

(Oh, well, too late now.)

Kathryn provided a great deal of assistance with the dress because here’s what I learned: No matter how simple the getup, it’s still pretty tricky to get into it.

We got jeweled up …

No matter what people tell you about a wedding, it’s very nice to not have to rely on the entourage (that you will have) to carry things (that you will forget) so you and everyone else can think about other things (more important things).  Pockets ensured that I had the most crucial things—Jeff’s ring and my vows to him—on me all day.

It turned out we were on time, which never happens.  So we took the first official photo of the day—me with my brothers and sister.  Or, as my mother refers to us, her Magnum Opus.

The Day Before

I felt catatonic after looking through several wedding flower books, and was shocked—shocked!—when I learned what it would cost us for the very simple bouquet I had in mind.  I also felt like the florists I spoke with were being pushy, hoping I would change my mind in favor of a big poufy bouquet.  Being firmly anti-bridezilla, I did what any self-respecting tightwad would do—I decided to make my own.

This was one of the best decisions we made about the wedding.  Not only did it save us several hundred dollars, I got exactly what I wanted, my sister’s bouquet perfectly matched mine, and we eliminated the stress of dealing with a third party.  By making our bouquets, no one bugged me to put filler in, or add roses, which I think are metaphorical to the wedding industry in general: They’re frilly, over-hyped, and they stink.

Plus, it’s wicked easy to do.

The day before the wedding, I sat down with my sister and best friend—you know, for moral support—and made the bouquets.

Final product:

I got just what I wanted, eggplant Calla Lilies by themselves.

Jeff was at the cabin when I was doing this, but he was busy doing other important things (by that I mean that the Buckeyes were playing).  But before he left that night to stay with his brother and family, we got one last photo of the two of us as singles.


Jeff and I had so much fun getting married!  We love that our families got to spend time together and getting to know everyone else, we had an absolutely gorgeous (and warm!) autumn Virginia day, and we can’t think of anything we would have done differently.  Our wedding was absolutely perfect for us.

There are a lot of things weddings are, two of them being intense and overwhelming.  The only regret we have is that the day flew by so quickly, right from the beginning.  One minute, I’m doing my hair; the next minute, I’m waiting for the cue to walk down to the overlook with my parents.  One minute, Jeff and I have just seen each other and are so excited and anxious and happy we can hardly stand it; the next minute, we’re officially married.  The day absolutely flew by.

I wish we had a remote to rewind the day (Want to give us a gift?  Figure that one out!), but now we’re just trying to relive it in our minds.  And, of course, we’re enjoying wedded bliss.

Our wedding pictures are posted on my flickr page now.  I’ll be back later on with an update.

Jeff and I are getting married in Great Falls National Park in Virginia.  We chose this place because it was gorgeous, but honestly, just as much because it was available and affordable.  Another very important reason that factored into our decision is that both of us have relatives who have difficulty with mobility, and we wanted them to attend the wedding ceremony rather than wait for us in the parking lot (All national parks are required by federal law to be at least partially handicap-accessible).

However, after looking into and visiting Great Falls, we realized it is exactly what we would have chosen if we had all the resources in the world, including time and money.  Jeff and I love that we’ll be married in a national park.  If we’re very lucky, the foliage will have started to turn, giving us a beautiful red, orange, yellow, brown, and green background, courtesy of Mother Nature, who does beauty better than anything we’ve come up with so far:

(And if we’re very, very lucky, it won’t rain—our backup plan is the NPS on-site canteen, which isn’t so much a backup as it is a potential act of desperation.)

Our officiant (among others) has told us that we will have uninvited onlookers during the ceremony.  We’re unsurprised by this, and my attitude toward that fact was originally somewhere on the continuum of blasé to annoyed, depending on my mood and what else was on my mind at any given moment.

But then again … we will be walking around an open, public wilderness in what are essentially formal costumes.  We will be members of a large, hodgepodge, solemn group, and some of us will cry in what is typically a happy place.  I would stare, too.

And most weddings aren’t actually private—you say your vows in front of a couple hundred people.  In that sense, the twenty or so extras don’t faze me, at least if they don’t throw anything at us.  These strangers will become a part of our wedding day, which complements the communal philosophy of national parks very nicely, so in the end it’s sort of appropriate.

We believe in the importance of conserving the natural world, and appreciate the anonymity and unpretentiousness that comes with having a wedding ceremony in a park (NPS is more concerned with our not blocking the path than anything else).  We’re glad that someday, years from now, we can come back to Overlook Three to enjoy the same view with people who have no idea how special the place is to us.  We’re not the first to be married there and we won’t be the last; lots of people will come and have fun, memorable, significant times there other than weddings, and we in some way are being folded into that.  It’s a real-life embodiment of the motto: reduce, reuse, and recycle.

(Incidentally, Yosemite National Park was founded on this day, 120 years ago.)


If you have found your way to this site, then you’ve heard our good news—we’re getting married!  “We” are Jeff and Leanne, and we established this site because our very small, family-only wedding precludes many of the people we care about from sharing our wedding ceremony with us.  So we’re trying to bring that to you as much as we are able!

We got engaged September 4 and quickly set the date to October 10, 2010.  Yup, five short weeks later.  No, this isn’t a shotgun wedding, it’s just that neither of us has ever wanted the big, showy wedding.

It is very important to us that our wedding is as intimate as possible.  Both of us see our wedding as the first day of our marriage, when we will make promises to each other that are the most meaningful, personal vows we will ever make.  We will say things during our ceremony, out loud, in front of other people, that we would normally never dream of saying in front of anyone beyond the two of us.

And when we make those vows and promise each other our lifetimes together, we’ll also be joining our two families, so we wanted them there to witness.  Some people think of a wedding as a great opportunity to throw a party, and that’s one way to do it—and we’ve loved all of those parties.  But it’s not us.  (There is a possibility that we’ll throw a party to celebrate, later.)

All we want to do is to stand with our families and promise to love each other forever, or at least until we die.  We want to remember that day just the way it is, including whatever “goes wrong”—because something inevitably will—so then we can all laugh and go on with the ceremony. We will be getting exactly what we want—each other—which is precisely perfect for both of us.  We want our guests to have fun but not think about decorations or dresses; instead think, If anyone can make it, they can.

But since we are getting married outside, it would be nice if we could have great weather.