our love story: a New Year's Eve to remember

This past New Year's Eve, we celebrated our five-year anniversary. Those five years have been harder and better than we could have imagined. And with this big milestone on our minds, I thought it would be fun to share our story. (You can read previous installments here.)


When Ian and I got engaged, I was a new graduate with an awesome job at our church, and Ian was still in school. Which translated into a lot of guests we wanted to invite, and a very modest budget. Challenge accepted.

We decided on a New Year's Eve wedding in our college town. Who doesn't want to have exciting plans for New Year's Eve complete with fireworks and official countdown mirrored ball apple drop?


To stick to our budget, we kept things simple. Glitzy isn't really a word that describes us anyway. And we looked for deals. We got our reception venue half off because it was a weekday and not technically a holiday. Our venue allowed outside vendors (unlike hotels) so we catered some of the food, and family made the rest. We opted for a 7 p.m. wedding with a fancy dessert bar in lieu of dinner. We designed our own stationary. Instead of ordering a dress in my size, I looked at last season's samples off the rack and got the dress for half off.


Our six months of wedding planning were busy thanks to school and work, but everything went as smoothly as can be expected. I had five wonderful bridesmaids along with other friends to help out, and Mom pitched in as much as she could from across the state while undergoing chemo (yes, she's a supermom). A few days before the wedding, she came to help finalize everything. I woke up one morning to find her in the living room, surrounded by tulle circles and ribbon, putting finishing touches on our favors (mint chocolate kisses).

By the time the holidays rolled around, we were ready.


Sunday after church, we started decorating the sanctuary for the ceremony and the ballroom for the reception. Our entire wedding party and families all pitched in to transform the spaces. After the wedding rehearsal, Ian's family served us hot soups and the best cornbread ever. Ian and I stayed up late finalizing the playlist for the reception (unsolicited wedding advice: if you don't hire a DJ, don't wait until the night before your wedding to compile a playlist).


The next morning, I was up bright and early to finish with decorations and setup (while Ian ran around doing errands like picking up the rented sound system), then headed to the church to get ready. It was so much fun hanging out with my lovely ladies, getting pampered while watching wedding-themed movies.


Our photographer arrived mid-afternoon to take photos. It was cold with a blanket of snow, but Gina loves taking photos outdoors, and some of our most memorable moments, like my bridesmaids warming up my arms and the groomsmen shoveling a space to take photos, are thanks to the slightly uncomfortable environment.

Ian and I did decide to see each other before the wedding, and I don't regret it. Especially with a DIY wedding, it was so nice to have a few moments just the two of us to savor the day.


We took a small break after photos for some dinner, then headed to our respective posts to await the magic hour. At seven sharp, the ceremony started. The waiting room slowly emptied until it was just me and my dad. I confessed that I was nervous to be the focus of attention with so many people, and he reassured me saying I looked beautiful. He took my arm and we headed down the stairs to the sanctuary.


Our ceremony was amazing, and so perfectly us. Our friend Ben arranged our music for a strings quartet (composed of friends), and I walked down the aisle to songs from Pride and Prejudice. Our college minister performed the ceremony. The message was so personal, full of amazing advice. Good friends, whose wedding was almost a year prior, sang our favorite Bebo Norman song and also led "Be Thou My Vision." We walked out to "You've Got a Friend in Me," which solidified our joint obsession with Pixar.


After the receiving line, Ian and I detoured with our photographer for some additional photos before joining the party at the reception hall. All the strangers we ran into downtown congratulated us (and some joked we should get out while we can, but we told them it was too late and flashed our rings).


We had so much fun, and have a renewed sense of appreciation for our family and friends. So many people pitched in to help make our wedding day a success, and so many people joined us to celebrate. After five years of being married to my most favorite person in the world, I can no longer say our wedding was the best day of our lives. But it's up there, and we are still so thankful to everyone that made it amazing.


All photos by Gina Dreher Photography.

makeup + hair: my lovely mother-in-law + my friend Kerra
ceremony venue: University Christian Church
reception venue: Houston Street Ballroom
catering: Edesia's (bake and brew in peace) + my mom and grandma
wedding gown: Ginza Collection, Private Label by G from Livingston's Bridal
alterations: Bonnie Payne (she took in a size 12 for me and you couldn't tell)
bridal jewelry: earrings from Livingston's Bridal + Grandma's wedding pearls
bridesmaid jewelry: ribbon and pearl necklaces made by me
shoes: wish they had been TOMS
bridesmaid dresses: Alfred Angelo in grape from Livingston's Bridal
suits: Joseph Abboud from Borck Brothers
ushers: barong-tagalogs from Josie's Jusi & PiƱa (in Manila)
stationary: designed by us, printed by Copy Kats
rings: Danenburg Jewelers
ceremony music: string quartet of friends, music arranged by Ben Worcester
DJ/band: playlist compiled by us, additional DJ-ing by our friend Geoff
flowers: Maryjo at Errington's in Burlington, Colorado
photography: Gina Dreher Photography
videography: Micah Kafka
ceremony officiant: Chris Herrington