Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Fountains & Candylicious!

Date night!
Our family  :)

This past week I asked Ben if we could pretty please have a husband and wife date night.  Being the wonderful, loving husband he is, Ben asked if I would do him the honor of accompanying him on a date Friday night.   Ben planned the night's activities and one of our friends here let us borrow his car.

We started off the night eating supper at home and then headed out to the Dubai Mall.  After about 35 minutes driving around to find parking, we finally made it in.  We did a bit of window shopping and stopped in Bloomingdale's for a new dish washer thingamajig.  Both Ben and I love the juice over here, it is all made from fresh fruit, so we made our way over to the Lemon Bar for refreshment.  Ben had a strawberry kiwi smoothie with ice cream and I had the "Good Morning" which included strawberries, banana, oats and frozen yogurt.  The whole purpose of going to the mall was to watch the fountains in front of the Burj Khalifa so we went to find a seat.  At some point I will have to record the fountains so you can get an idea of how gorgeous they are!  Obviously it wouldn't be as great on camera as it is in real life, so maybe you should just come here to watch them. . . ?  The fountains are the largest choreographed fountains in the world.  Truly breathtaking.

Waiting for the fountains to begin!
Sitting in front of the Burj Khalifa.

After the fountains we decided to find Candylicious and look around.  I had heard talk of how awesome it was so I really wanted to check it out!  We walked around for about half and hour drooling over all the delicious treats available and decided to grab a bag of Garrett's popcorn to munch on.  We left the mall, popcorn in hand, and made our way back home. 

Lollipop for me!
Jelly Belly's galore!
Lollipop tree @ Candylicious

Once home, we took Grover for a short walk and curled up in bed to watch The Mummy.  It was much needed sweet night out.  :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

American Girl in an Islamic Land

At the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.  Nasif is in top right, Debbie in bottom left.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a luncheon at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Bur Dubai.  This was truly an amazing and eye opening experience.  In the few hours that we were there, I feel as though I gained a completely different perspective on many aspects of the Islamic culture that we are exposed to as Americans. 

I am told that at these luncheons they often have an Emirati man and woman who volunteer to answer your questions and disprove many myths you may have heard regarding the Islamic faith and culture.  Since I was expecting this, I found it to be a bit of a surprise that the woman leading the discussion was actually an American Muslim woman named Debbie.  What surprised me most about this woman was that she was dressed in the traditional abaya and hijab/shayla.  (Abaya = the long dress; hijab/shayla = head scarf that covers the hair and neck).  It was her choice to wear the black dress and head scarf that we so often perceive as oppressive; her husband did not force her to wear it and she was not just dressed in costume for her job. 

Traditional male clothing. Ghutrah thrown back in modern style.
The topic of dress was the first discussion we embarked upon.  To start with the more simple side of things, I will discuss the men first.  The traditional dress for the men is the dishdasha (the white "dress") and the ghutrah (white head scarf) with the black camel tie.  The dishdasha is solid white and Ben regularly has made fun of me for trying to figure out what the men wear underneath saying that I am checking them out.  Really, I am/was simply curious since it can be a struggle for women everywhere to find the right colored undergarments to go under white or other light colored fabrics.  Lucky for me, Nasif, the Emirati male present, was kind enough to explain to us that they wear a white kilt underneath the dishdasha, although I have been told that on occasion some men just let everything go free.  (I was told this by a woman who dates a man who in fact does do this at times.  I'm hoping his dishdasha is made of a very dense fabric. . . ).  Nasif also answered questions about the different ways in which the ghutrah is worn.  There are three main variations that I have seen: the sides down and flowing, the sides flipped up over their head, and the sides tucked into their camel tie.  Nasif explained that the flipping back of the ghutrah is merely to appear more fashionable.  Men over the age of 60 will not wear theirs that way - this is a more modern style.   For cleaning, since the dishdashas are white, Nasif said that bleach pens come in handy and regular washing.  There are also men who wear a tan colored dishdasha which were often warn in the past to blend into the dessert.  This was helpful for hunting or in times of war. 

The fabric the clothing is made of, for both men and women, is imported from Japan.  This came about when the Arabs traded uncultured pearls with the Japanese.  In return for the pearls the Arabs received the material.  The fabric is light and high quality.  The color of the material has shaped the look that we are familiar with when picturing typical Muslims.  They were provided with white and black fabric, so that is what they used.  This tradition has carried throughout the years. 

Abaya and shayla. Debbie's abaya is more fashionable with the silver.
Now for the women.  The traditional dress for the women is the abaya (black dress) and the hijab/shayla (head scarf) which covers the hair and neck, leaving the face exposed.  The more conservative Muslim women will wear the burqa which covers the entire face.  I think the biggest myth about the conservative dress of the women is that it is forced upon them.*  As I mentioned earlier, Debbie, the woman who spoke to us, chose to wear the traditional garb.  To add more to the shock, or it was to me, is that she is AMERICAN and chooses to dress this way.  The women, and men, dress in the same style of clothing to maintain equality and to preserve the faith of those around them.  Nasif gave the example that when going to mosque, the focus of every Muslim man and woman is to surrender everything and pray.  They should not be worried about those around them or distracted by some one's beauty, stunning clothing, etc.  To be a distraction is to hinder someone in their worship.  The clothes also serve as an equalizer - it does not matter how much money you have, you are the same as the person next to you.  The rich travel into the next life just as wealthy as the poor.  While this idea that men and women should be conservative for this purpose may seem extreme, take a look at Christianity - we do the same thing.  I attended a church camp where dresses and shorts had to be a certain length, tank tops had to be three finger widths wide on the shoulder (no strapless) and there was no PDA (this includes hugs - only side hugs were allowed).  I remember them saying that you shouldn't sit on boys laps or be flirty.  They told us all of these things can create impure thoughts in young men, even though that may not have been our intention.  It was not just at this camp that I heard such things, but also in churches and I know some Christian colleges have strict rules regarding the conduct of men and women.  How is this so different from what the Muslims believe and do?

Aside from the women wearing the abaya and shayla for conservative religious purposes, they also wear them because of their convenience. (This goes for the men as well.)  We had to laugh when Debbie told us that she loves the abaya and shayla - especially on mornings when she has a hard time getting out of bed so she doesn't get to shower before taking her boys to school.  "No one knows I'm still wearing my jammies underneath. . . ".  I have heard the same about Muslim men.  I know of a man that does not wear his dishdasha everyday, but if he is feeling particularly lazy he will throw it on to run to the store or grab coffee.

Let us not forget one of the key reasons that the dishdashas and abayas are still around - it's hot.  The Arab people have been living in the desert since before Christ, so they know how to dress for heat.  (Speaking of, what do you think Jesus wore?  Jeans and a t-shirt?  Unlikely.).  The long flowy clothes protect their skin from the hot sun and keep them cooler.  Exposed skin is more uncomfortable and hot than the loosely clothed skin.  (Seriously.  I've tested this theory.)  The shaylas and ghutrahs keep sand out of their mouth, nose and eyes.  While we commonly believe that black attracts heat and traps it in, it actually protects the skin from harmful UV rays.  There may be a slight temperature difference between the white the men wear and the black the women wear, but it is not as significant as we have been led to believe.  Nasif told us that the men did not choose black for the women - they chose it themselves.  We all looked at him questioningly when he mentioned this and he responded, "How many of you are wearing black today?  Isn't it hot out?  So why do you wear it? Because it is attractive and fashionable, right?" What truth he spoke.  Why do we tend to sway towards darker clothing?  Because it is slimming and it goes with practically everything.  Are Arab women any different?  Don't they want to feel slender and fashionable?

Left to right: Donut hole-style dessert, white rice, delicious diarrhea soup stuff, "leftovers"beef, tabbouleh, "leftovers"chicken.

Aside from the clothing we went through what a typical meal would be like in the home of an Emirati.  We were served Arab coffee (flavored with saffron and cardamom) in the little cups you get when you drink tea in a Chinese restaurant.  They were filled only part of the way - this is done so you do not burn your fingers (no handle).  We were served by a silent servant and when he came around for seconds if you did not wish more you would rock your cup back and forth a couple of times between your fingers.  After the coffee we munched on some dates.  Dates are very, very common here.  And delicious.  The food was arranged in the center of our seating area and we served ourselves.  You are not offered as many plates and utensils as in the States because if you dirty more dishes you use more water which wasn't always plentiful in the desert prior to the urbanization of this land.  For lunch we were fed traditional Arabic dishes.  There were two dishes that are called "leftovers" (I cannot remember the Arabic name) and it is a typical dish made on Thursday evenings.  Friday is the beginning of the week in the Islamic calendar, so Thursday the women would clean out the fridge and make what they could.  The dish consisted of seasoned rice and chicken.  There was also an option of the same thing with beef.  We also enjoyed tabbouleh which is a mixture of parsley, tomato, onion and oil.  I'm not too fond of this by itself, but if you pair it with naan it is quite tasty.  There was also white rice with a veggie soupy thingy to go over top.  It looked like diarrhea but was crazy good.  For dessert we had donut hole type things with date syrup.  Everything was delicious!  To close the meal we had tea.

Going back to the coffee - when you visit an Arab home, it is very typical for you to receive coffee or hot tea as a refreshment instead of ice water or iced tea.  Can you guess why?  It is because drinking the hot liquid will make you feel more comfortable in the heat than the iced drink would.  The hot temperature warms your body and makes the heat more tolerable while the cool drink does the opposite.  I completely understand this logic but it is so hard for me to grasp since in the heat of the summer I only crave freezing cold water.   O, and their flavored coffee = AWESOME.

Another topic that peaked interest in the group was education.  Maybe because the other women in attendance were all teachers? Hmm? When Emirati children reach grade five, boys and girls are separated and go to separate schools.  Nasif gave the explanation that girls distract boys, at no fault of their own, and therefore the boys distract the class.  By separating the young boys from the young girls you allow the girls the chance to succeed and excel without disruption.  They want their women to succeed and do well in life.  According to Nasif it doesn't matter one way or another for the boys if they are separated - they will be distracted by something, anything, no matter what.  (Chuckle. . . ).  Nasif told us that despite what many people think, women are held in high esteem in the Islamic faith.  "Behind every good man is a good woman." If the women are well mannered, respectful and educated, their children will be as well.**

Nasif addressed the topic of arranged marriages and multiple wives with us briefly.  Yes, arranged marriages do occur but are not forced like they once were.  Couples meet prior to marriage and can say yes or no to their parents.  Having multiple wives is not as common as one might believe.  In order to have multiple wives it is required that the wives receive the same of everything.  Their homes should be of equal value, they should receive equal gifts and equal amounts of clothing, jewelry, etc.  The husband is required to spend an equal amount of time with each wife.  I'm sure you can imagine how costly that would be.  One wife is expensive enough for a man.

Entrance to mosque.

After our discussions in the Cultural Centre, we walked over the mosque.  We had to bring shaylas to cover our hair and neck and we took off our shoes before entering.  It is important to be clean/pure when entering the mosque, hence the removal of shoes.  Plus, you are going to be on the floor and praying - the less dirt the better.  Inside the mosque was beautiful.  There was a large chandelier in the center of the room and the carpet was plush and soft.  I was under the impression that unless you were Muslim you were not allowed in the mosque.  This is not the case.  Debbie said that it is likely that you would not be bothered so long as you were covered and did not cut in front of anyone.  You might have someone ask if they can help you, do you want to become a Muslim, do you want/need a Quran, that sort of thing.  I was/am excited to hear this because I would very much like to attend a service at a mosque.  I think it would be a very enlightening and really give me a taste of the culture I am living in.  Men and women generally do not pray in the same area.  Most of the time there is a separate room for women and separate room for men.  If men and women do pray in the same room, the men are in front and the women in back.  This is so the men can focus and not give their attention to the women but to Allah.  I really wouldn't mind that arrangement.  Men tend to smell worse than women so not being surrounded by them would be a plus.

I gained a new respect for Ramadan from this educational experience.  During Ramadan you are not allowed to eat, drink, gossip or have relations with your spouse from dawn 'til dusk.  (Roughly 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.).  I thought of this much like a Christian fast where you use the time that you would normally do these things to spend in prayer.  While this may be part of what Ramadan is, it is also for you to gain an appreciation of the things you have.  Nasif's example was that if you are not allowed to have relations with your spouse, this will arouse desire and desire will help you to see how precious a thing you have.  Ramadan is also a time for charity and to share your wealth and good fortune with others.  It is required in Islam to be charitable and share your blessings.  I found it interesting that if you make a mistake during Ramadan and have a drink of water or smoke a cigarette because you just can't wait, you have to give enough food and clothing for a certain amount of people (I cannot remember the exact number but I'm thinking 30? Or as many as you can if you cannot afford that much.).  You also have to increase the length of your fast.  If you break the fast because you know you have the resources to fulfill the charity, you are to fast for 60 days and your required charitable giving increases.

I feel so incredibly blessed that I am able to live in Dubai and gain a better understanding of the Islamic people.  The media and even our own churches have painted such a negative veil over my eyes, and the eyes of many, many Americans, that it has been wonderful to see another side to it all.  What many people do not realize is that Islam is just like Christianity in that there are the peaceful followers and the extremists.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas that goes around to soldiers funerals and protests and has an extreme hate for homosexuals.  There are "Christians"who have killed people and claimed that God told them to do it.  We may not have a violent religious warfare going on in the name of Christ, (which by the way - has happened in the past. . . ) , but I think the hate that many people carry for Muslims is crippling to both sides. 

I find it important to point out that Muslims have a skewed view of Americans as well.  They, too, have heard the negative media and do not know the good in Americans.  Nasif is passionate about outreach and educating Westerners of the Islamic faith and culture and told us that he also has to reach out to Muslims and educate them about Westerners.

This was a truly enriching experience and I am SO glad that I went.  The Cultural Centre has other things to offer and I am ready to go back and learn more.  I think it is necessary for me to learn as much as I can about the culture here so that I leave with a better understanding of the people I lived with for a year or two.  I feel as though I left much out of this, even though it is a bit of a novel.  I cannot wait to learn more!

*  The Islamic faith is just like any other religion in that there are many interpretations of what the Quran says to do.  There are regions in which the women are forced to cover themselves and it is very oppressive.  What I am discussing in this post is what I learned from one group of believers.  I do know that in Saudi Arabia the women are required to wear the abaya and burqa, covering themselves completely.  If you are interested in learning more about other beliefs than just what I have discussed, I highly recommend reading the Princess Trilogy by Jean Sasson.

**  I would like to believe that Nasif is right and that women are held in high esteem by the men in this culture.  We did not discuss the roles of women as much and as in depth as I would have liked.  There is still much more that I would like to learn.  I think I still need convincing to believe that women are treasured as much as he led us to believe.  If you read the Princess Trilogy listed above, you will see where my doubt comes from on this subject.  There are men throughout the series (the books are nonfiction) that think of women as objects, only here for sexual pleasures and children.  House maids are brutally raped; girls are married at very young ages to men many years their senior; women are bought from poor families and kept as property and sex slaves.  I do realize that this is likely a minority and that it is hard for me to grasp that women are valued in this culture after the years of negative media that I have been exposed to.  I look forward to more time spent in this Islamic world to gain my own knowledge and personal experience to form my own opinion.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Our Wedding - July 14, 2012

After 6 months of planning it was finally our wedding day!

The Inn

Ben and I awoke fairly early.  I had to start getting ready for our big day since my hair appointment was at 9:30 a.m. and he was going to Jamie's for breakfast and to spend time with his family.  I showered, threw together all of our things and then it was time to go.  I kissed Ben goodbye and went to meet my mom to go to get my hair done!  Since we were running about 10 minutes behind, I didn't get a chance to stop for coffee - unfortunate.  We had to make a u-turn, but we made it to see  Bri at Euphoria Salon who was referred to me by Jamie.  Bri did an AMAZING job!!  Earlier in the week we had done a practice run for my hair and when I showed up I had changed my mind completely on what I wanted.  She was surprised, I think, by my decision and go-with-the-flow attitude.  I'm guessing she has had other brides who were a bit more high strung?  It took about two and a half hours to get everything done. My makeup was beautiful and exactly what I wanted.  My hair was even more gorgeous than I could have hoped for!  Everything was perfect!

Getting ready!
Rewriting vows
Arriving at the Inn!

After my hair and makeup was done, Ma and I went back to the hotel to pick up Clif and my brother and head down to the Aurora Staples Inn where the ceremony was to be held.  I wanted to stop at Target on the way down so that I could grab a Starbucks and a few last minute small things (i.e. Tide-To-Go Stick).  This turned into a scavenger hunt for a Target on the way to Stillwater which was ridiculous to me because I think every time I turned around in Minnesota there was a Target.... 

We got to the Inn about 45 minutes late and I was feeling a bit stressed, but still calm.  I waited in the car for a few minutes while Ben finished his "getting ready" photo shoot with the photographer so that I could get into the room.  We had reserved the carriage house for the wedding, and for a few nights after, and it was absolutely gorgeous!  Very spacious and homey.  When I was able to get into the room, Ma went to work on helping me with final touches and getting me into my dress.  As soon as I finished putting on my lipstick, it was time to go see Ben for our first look at one another! 

This was my favorite part of the day by far.  Ben was waiting on the porch of the main house and I circled my way around the house.  The photographer wanted me to wait on the side of the house in case Ben wasn't ready but I crept along behind her because I didn't want to wait another minute.  We had our photographers set up to capture the moment and as I walked up the steps my heart was racing.  This is the moment I had been waiting for my whole life and it was even better than I could have ever imagined!  When I reached Ben, I grabbed his hand and then slipped in front of him.  Neither of us could stop smiling.  The time had finally arrived when Ben was allowed to see my dress and I finally got to see him in his suit.  I couldn't wait to walk down the aisle and marry this man!  It was a beautiful moment and the happiest I have ever been.  Seeing Ben's joy and love for me was just amazing. . .

First look. . .

While we were having our "first look", the rest of our guests had been seated and were doing a ring warming ceremony.  We had tied our wedding bands together and they were passed around to each guest for their blessings, prayers and well wishes. 

After our "first look", it was time for the ceremony to begin.  I walked down the aisle (or sprinted as Ben jokes) to Love you 'til the End by The Pogues.  (Ben's brother Jon was are awesome DJ!) I thought I was walking at a slow enough pace to make it part of the way through the song, but I didn't even get past the instrumental intro.  Oops.  The whole time I had my eyes set on Ben with a huge smile on my face.  Ben and I chose our brothers to stand up for us at the wedding - his brother Andy and my brother Shane.  Keith, Ben's brother-in-law, agreed to officiate our wedding.  The ceremony was short - about 15-20 minutes, but was perfect.  Both of our mothers did readings and surprisingly made it through them tear free.  Ben and I each wrote our own vows and finished with the same paragraph which we wrote together.  When we exchanged rings, I kept trying to grab my ring to put on him even though both Keith and Ben kept saying no.   Both Ben and I made it through the ceremony without shedding a tear.  I was rather surprised with myself! 
First kiss as HUSBAND & WIFE!!

Man of Honor, Officiant & Best Man
Following the ceremony we went up the hill and had a champagne toast.  The Inn provided beautiful champagne flutes and had the champagne chilled and ready for us.  We also had sparkling grape juice avaiable to the children present and anyone who did not want to consume alcohol.  After the toast we did family photos as fast as we could because it was pretty warm outside.  It took about 45 minutes for the pictures to be done and we sent our family off towards the reception while we went with our photographer to take pictures around Stillwater.

We are truly blessed with an amazing family!

 We drove downtown and walked around and found some really great places for pictures.  Some of the places were literally in an alley behind a restaurant - our photographer, Rachel of De La Vue Photography, was absolutely amazing.  She was easy to work with, dealt with different family dynamics very well, and is just incredibly talented.  We had a lot of fun going around Stillwater and taking pictures.  We even went up to an old fashioned popcorn stand and had some pretty neat pictures there!  The guy in front of us left a few bucks to go towards our purchase which was very nice of him, and the owner of the cart let us have the rest for free!!  He even stepped out of the cart so we could take pictures inside!!  We had ordered a rootbeer float and we sucked it down real fast - it was hot and we were thirsty!!  We also had a few random people come up and congratulate us.  I personally enjoyed hearing everyone say, "O my gosh....look at her dress!  It is gorgeous!" as we walked by.  Vain?  Yes....but it was my wedding day so I don't care. 

When we finished in Stillwater, we headed to Minneapolis for the reception.  It is roughly a 35 minute drive and it was nice to have that time to spend alone with my new husband!  We listened to music and sang Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension at the top of our lungs.  It became our unofficial wedding day song.  We arrived at Jax Cafe and took a few pictures before joining our guests.  Jax has this absolutely stunning back patio that is beautifully landscaped - a couple of my favorite pictures of the day are from there. 

When pictures were done we joined our guests in our reserved room.  We had these crazy good mixed nuts and fresh fruit for everyone while they were waiting as well as a champagne punch.  We signed the marriage license, cut the cake and Ben gave a toast.  Andy, Ben's brother, also gave a toast.  We then sat down to supper.  Guests had a choice of steak, a breadcrumb crusted walleye or mushroom ravioli.  Ben got the steak and I went with the walleye.  We had an excellent waitstaff - they were on top of everything and made sure that we were taken care of.  Jax was even great enough to cut our cake into servable pieces.  There was a choice of chocolate cake with a strawberry mousse filling or white cake with a raspberry mousse filling.  We had a custom made cake server with our names and wedding date on it.  We also had forks that said "Mr"and "Mrs". 

Ben being polite.
Me being polite.

Cutting the cake.

When everyone was stuffed, we enjoyed conversation for a bit and then everyone went their separate ways.  Our moms helped us pick up the rented room a bit and then Ben and I drove back to the Inn in Stillwater.  When we arrived back at the Inn, we had our first dance to Have I Told You Lately by Van Morrison. 

A toast. . .

The day was truly perfect.  Ben looked incredibly handsome in his suit and he was so very sweet throughout the day (neither of these things are shocking - he is always handsome and sweet :) ).  We both agreed that we absolutely loved our wedding and everything about it.  We were able to enjoy our guests as well as one another.  We look forward to having a reception with our extended family and friends present in the future.  We both feel truly blessed to have such amazing people in our lives.  Thank you to those who attended our wedding.  Your precense made our day incredibly special.  Thank yo uto those who were not in attendance, but have sent your offerings of joy and love. 

Little tid bits from the day:
  • Old
    Something old: vintage hankie; Something new: dress, shoes; Something borrowed: diamond earrings from Ma; Something blue: date of wedding stitched into lining of wedding gown.
  • Wedding colors turned out to be white, light pink and purple.  This was completely unintentional.  I just picked things that I liked instead of going with a real color scheme in mind and that is how it turned out!
  • I gave my mom and Ben's mom vintage hankies prior to the wedding in case they were to shed a few tears.
  • As a wedding gift I gave Ben a 50th wedding anniversary present.  Ben gave me an Angry Birds coloring book, an appetizer cookbook and castle chess piece wine corks.  His reasoning behind getting the castles instead of a king and queen is that in chess he always tries to protect his castle piece.  Aww....
  • When Ben and I got to see each other for the first time I went in for a hug and he pushed me back to see my dress - I pouted.  I wish the photographer could have captured his face when he first saw me - it was priceless.  You could see how much he loves me and how happy he was.  It was wonderful.
  • On the way to the front to do her reading, my Ma's shoe got stuck in the ground and came off half way.  There always seems to be something that happens to her!
Ma reading
Laughing over my oops.
A frequent scene throughout the day.

  • My lipstick transfered to Ben many times and we carried babywipes with us to clean off his lips.  I will now tell any bride ever that unscented babywipes are a MUST for your big day.
  • While reading my vows my hands and voice were shaking.  It was very hard not to cry.
  • After reading our vows and exchanging rings, Keith presented Ben and me to everyone as a married couple.  I didn't think to grab my boquet back from Shane so he got to walk up the aisle with my flowers.  We joked right after the ceremony that him and Andy should have linked arms.
  • We had two photographers and one trainee covering our day.  I am now a big believer in having multiple photographers to capture every part of your day. 
  • While driving to downtown Stillwater to take pictures, our photographer asked questions about our history as a couple.  We had briefly discussed it through emails and our previous meeting, but we went more in depth in this conversation.  She found our story to be incredibly romantic and said that we have the love story that every high school girl dreams of - marrying your best friend in high school after growing up together and apart.  We do have a beautiful love story.  :)
  • When I picked out my flowers (Michaels - half off!), I grabbed a few extra to have a special boquet made for Kara.  She wasn't our official flower girl, but I wanted her to feel special.
Kara & her flowers
  • The wedding programs told the stories of how Ben and I met - his version and mine.
  • Jax Cafe prepared special printed menus for our big day and had special match books for everyone that said "Ben & Lyndsey - A perfect match".  Presh.
Jax personalized menu
A Perfect Match

  • It had rained the night before so all of our heels kept sinking into the ground - it made walking down the aisle a little tricky.
  • My hair piece was custom made by a woman in London.  LOVE it.
  • I stepped on the back of my dress semi-often post ceremony, but my dress really didn't get THAT dirty.  Part of that reason is due to the fact that we didn't have a dance floor with beer spilled all over it that I was walking/dancing on.
  • Both Ben and I were very calm throughout the entire day and days leading up to it.  I think we baffled people with how laid back we were - I don't think we would have been able to feel as relaxed for our big day had we had a larger wedding.  The small, intimate wedding we had was very stress free and comfortable.  It was perfect for us.
  • At the reception there was a person playing piano and you could request songs.  My mom went and requested Somewhere Over the Rainbow as a surprise for me.  :)
  • I finally got my coffee after supper!!  When we were finished eating we had the option for coffee and both Ben and I jumped on that wagon!
  • At the reception we presented Keith with an 18 year old bottle of scotch as a thank you for officiating.  He chuckled and made the comment, "I feel judged. . . " and we all had to laugh.  As a thank you to our "minister" we gave him booze...
  • Our reception ended around 9-9:30 p.m. and Ben and I were both exhausted.  I don't know how much longer we could have gone!
  • When we were packing up at Jax, our head waitress came in and said that her and all the other staff had been talking about my dress and how gorgeous it was.  They said that that dress was made for me to wear it.  I thought this was very sweet of her to say - she absolutely didn't have to say anything yet she chose too.  She also commented that they always judge the different wedding gowns they see.  I'm glad I received a positive review!
  • My shoes rubbed some pretty awesome blisters on my feet even though I had worn them around the house to break them in a bit.  Luckily our photographer carried bandaids with her - weird of me to forget....that is normally a staple in my purse.
  • On our way back to the Inn after the days festivities, Ben and I turned on Bon Iver and discussed our day and our love.
  • We stopped at a gas station to grab a couple of waters on our way to the Inn and two kids were in awe of our fancy clothes and some hillbilly guy kept saying that it's all over - no one must have warned us before the wedding!  Thanks, dude.
  • The Inn was awesome and put a bottle of our leftover champagne in our room, chilled, with flutes, for when we arrived that night.  They also had diet/regular coke in the fridge, two waters, two robes (we didn't use them because that is weird, but it's nice they were offered!), and there was candy in a dish on one of the tables.  AWESOME.
Signing the marriage license!
Signing the marriage license!



Ben's witness
My witness