I have been waiting for the right time to share pictures and stories from our wedding day. I thought I would be too eager to wait for a substantial day, but here we are already! It's our one-year anniversary. We have been driving down the coast of California the past few days for our anniversary, and it's making me feel all the feels.
I've heard that the first year of marriage is the most difficult. And I'm sure we will encounter our tough ones. But I gotta say... things have been great over here. Maybe it's because not much has changed for us since we have been married. And I think that's a good thing. But it's really been a good one. And I cannot believe how fast it went by.
Remember when I told you how this whole crazy train started? How John tricked me in New Buffalo, MI after I was being a monster human and he still proposed? Well, the crazy didn’t subside with the actual wedding either. (Don't they say, "In like a lion, out like a lamb?" Clearly that's not a universal law.)
I have to preface this post with the truth: this isn't a story of planning tips, vendor choices, color schemes or organized timelines. This one is for the sake of being raw. To tell the actual story of our wedding day. (But don't fret, all the fun details are yet to come!)
The ten days leading up to the wedding were a bit… challenging. I had one to twelve breakdowns. But who’s counting?
Not only was I watching the weather with crippling anxiety (rain, cold, rain, cold…), but on top of that, an air traffic control tower went down in the suburbs which was canceling thousands of flights in and out of both Chicago airports.
After hearing of this news, I laughed at my weather woes. At that point, I just wanted everyone to make it there to be with us. We thought we had dodged a bullet since the airport shenanigans happened the weekend before the wedding. But when your best man (Steve) then sister-in-law (Jen, with her groomsman husband Brian, flower girl, and ring bearer in tow) report that their flights are canceled, you start to panic a bit. A lot.
(Props to Jen and Brian: they didn’t even let us know that this happened until they were at the airport about to board a flight getting them into Chicago even earlier. Shout out to Steve and Nolan: they threw their belongings into suitcase a day earlier than planned, sprinted to the airport at 10pm, and managed to get on the one flight able to get into Chicago before the wedding.)
After that, we thought we were in the clear. All the groomsmen’s flights were in check. The rest of my girls were either in Chicago or traveling by ground. And most of our family’s flights were still on track to get them there. Except one key component: John’s little sister, Maggie.
She went into a diabetic shock the night before the rehearsal dinner. Luckily, my in-laws were able to get a paramedic over to her apartment to help her. Poor Maggie had to go to the hospital and wasn’t able to make it to Chicago until a few hours before the wedding. But she got there. And she was healthy. And that’s all that mattered. (And she looked stunning, to boot.)
Despite all of that, the morning of the wedding turned out to be really calm. At least for me. I actually slept the night before. (I can’t even sleep on a Tuesday night. How the hell did I sleep soundly the night before our wedding?!) I woke up refreshed and ready.
We sat around the condo in robes sipping mimosas and listening to music. I ignored the fact that it was snowing in the suburbs. And I came to terms with the fact that it was raining outside. I just pretended that it wasn’t going to throw a total wrench in our plans.
I put on my dress. The dress I knew was meant for me long before John popped the question. (Long before John even came around, if we're being honest here. Thanks to Leighton Meester.) My mom hooked on my grandma's diamond necklace. And my sister put on the gift John gifted me that morning. Then I got to see my dad.
After that, it came time for the first look. And it was still raining. So we did it on the balcony of the condo at the Guesthouse. And it was awesome. This was the most relieving part of my day. I got to see John. He got to see me. He got to tell me that the radar was clearing and we would be getting married outside as we’d always envisioned.
We used one of the 20 umbrellas my dad scoured Central Illinois for, and hopped in our ‘59 Rolls Royce (courtesy of Ovation) to head to the venue. The weather cleared just in time for bridal party pictures, and we were on a roll.
We had a few minutes to decompress. And then it was go time.
String Theory played The Luckiest by Ben Folds (a song that has always made me cry and think of my life with John) for my processional. I looked at my dad and said, “That’s us!” After those first few notes, I didn’t hear a thing. But the photos show me that my dad was rather emotional in handing off his daughter (such a shocker).
The ceremony was a blur. Even though I did what you are supposed to. I looked around at everyone who was shivering out there for us. I looked at my girls standing next to me (including poor Kaitlyn who had the flu and could barely stand, but still looked stunning). I glanced at little Lucy in a giant suit coat cozying up to my in-laws. I saw my parents and Grandma in tears. And of course, I spent most of those 20 minutes looking at John. But it still whizzed by.
It was 40 degrees and you could have told me it was 80. I had no idea. It might have been sprinkling still. I honestly don’t know. I was just there. Marrying the best thing that ever happened to me. It was incredible. And I held it together, up until the vows. Those got a touch shaky.
We walked back down the aisle to Lisztomania by Phoenix played on live strings, from one of the first albums we ever listened to together. But this time we were walking hand in hand and listening to it as THE Mr. and Mrs. John Puder. We were ecstatic! (Can you tell?)
John and I went right to the bridal suite where our incredible onsite-coordinator, Kristin, had bubbles and all of our hors d'oeuvres awaiting us. Along with ten minutes of quiet and alone time. (This is SO necessary.)
From there, we took pictures just the two of us with our incredible photographer, Kate Ignatowski.
And what would a Bubs post be without chatting on the food?
The dinner was incredible. We had the pleasure of working directly with the chef at Saddle and Cycle to design a menu perfect for us. We had a grilled Caesar salad with prosciutto and Coq au Vin with lemon dill risotto. And Chef surprised me with my very own mini cast iron of perfectly gooey mac and cheese. And I was thinking my meal couldn’t get any better. I still dream of all of it.
The speeches were perfect. Senior (John’s dad) opened the evening and thanked everyone for being there with Lindsey (John’s mom) by his side. My dad made it through about 15 seconds before crying. But through the tears, he delivered an amazing speech. The highlight was how proud he was to marry my mom 35 years ago.
Our Best Man, Steve, opened an age-old debate about fighting cheetahs but closed it with sentimentality about how perfect John and I are for each other. Sprinkled in between was him recalling how John used to look like a terrorist and that I am his woman of choice to bring into a bar fight.
And my sister and Maid of Honor, Kristi, explained that John and I showed her what true love was. (She quickly laughed and defended the statement with, “I mean, good job to my parents as well. 35 years, Matt and Bets.”)
John made his speech without rehearsing a lick. He has a way with words (despite the graphic entry you saw here) and pulled it off. (I only had to give him a slight nudge at the end of his speech to talk about his new wife. But it was cute.) Then we danced to Can't Help Falling in Love by Ingrid Michelson, a song I had cried to for the past year.
I danced with my dad to Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman, a song he had cried to for the past year. While we danced, he told me why each part of the song meant something about him and I. This guy has a heart as big as your head.
John danced with his mom to A Mother's Song by T. Carter. She found it during our engagement and fell and love with it. We listened to it by the fire at the lake and her and I teared up. (Some might say this was a better choice than the alternative, Dear Mama by 2Pac, that John and Senior were pushing for.)
Then the party started. We tore. It. Up. It was the best part of the night. I couldn’t peel myself off the dance floor. I even chose to forego my second (albeit cooler and less restricting) look, as I didn’t want to lose five minutes changing. Now, that’s a good DJ. (If you need said talent, go directly to Noah Casser, AKA Weaponry, at Style Matters. Don’t even bother asking any questions.) We still find Senior asking, “Turn down for what?” And I rest my case.
Screw the weather. Forget about the candle that burned a hole in that expensive linen. It’s ok if you were standing a little off-center at the altar. NONE OF IT MATTERS. All I want to do is hit rewind and go back to that day to live it again.
Thanks to my husband. I am so very grateful that you pursued me. I'm so happy that you have the patience to deal with my antics every day. I can't believe I found the person who let's me be who I truly am and need to be. There isn't a thing about you that I would change. And I know there isn't a thing about me that you would tweak.
You make every day ok. Even if it's a shitty day. I love you more than you will know.
Happy Anniversary, John! I'll see you at the pool in five!