Elayna’s Wedding Story

Our wedding day was the most special day of my life. It is the day that I became Matt’s wife in front of all our family and friends, but it represents so much more. We got married on a beautiful (rather warm for the time of year) May day. May 18 will be a day we celebrate from now till the Good Lord calls us home.

What do I remember about our wedding day? The tears I shared with my mom an hour before the wedding, the quiet seconds I stole with my dad before the church doors swung open, the moment I locked eyes with Matt as I walked down the isle to become his wife, grasping his hands as we said our vows, and the moment that will never escape my memory for as long as I live…the moment Matt swept me off my feet as he lifted me up to share our first kiss as man and wife. These are moments I define as magic.

These are the moments I store in the deepest place in my heart. Months later, when I close my eyes, I can feel Matt’s hands around the lace of my wedding dress. I can feel my hands reach up and latch around his neck. And I can feel the sensation of becoming weightless in his arms as he lifted me up.

But how did we get there? How did we get to the altar that was beautifully decorated with arrangements of white florals and greenery? A day I had planned with my mom for months had finally arrived.

When Matt and I got engaged in NYC on July 21, 2018 (another monumental day I will share later) we knew we wanted a year-long engagement. We set our wedding day for May 18, 2019. I knew I wanted to get married in my hometown of Huntington, West Virginia, the place that raised me to be the woman Matt fell in love with. By the middle of August, my mom and I had reserved our venue, photographer, and florist. Matt made the comment to me that I was getting a lot of the wedding planning done rather quickly, but I explained to him that in order to set the date, we had to make sure we had a location to get married at, a venue for the reception, and the main vendors reserved to make it happen! To be honest, once the main reservations were made, I relaxed for the rest of the year. It wasn’t until February that things started to speed up again.

I realize this post is supposed to provide a whimsical picture of our wedding day, but to me, my wedding day is personal—I bring back the moments when I close my eyes, when I’m in time of prayer, when I look at Matt.

But what I will allow myself to share are moments that I hope other brides take a moment to appreciate as well.

Our “West Virginia Wedding Weekend” consisted of a Bridal Brunch hosted by our closest friends, a generous Welcome Party thrown by Matt’s parents, a Wedding Day and Reception graciously hosted by my mom and dad, and a Newlywed Brunch the following day at my childhood home.

Every aspect of our wedding weekend was more than I could have dreamed up. Beautiful black bridesmaid dresses, tuxedos, a Motown band, hundreds of white orchids and greenery in the prettiest arrangements I have ever seen. No aspect of the wedding was dreamed up by anyone but myself and my mom. I think it is extremely important to be true to your style and design your wedding around things you truly love. Don’t pick what’s on trend. Go with what is unique to you. I wanted a black and white wedding, a timeless affair, a gathering of friends and family that we will talk about for years to come. I stuck with my ideas until they became a reality. I did not lose my decisiveness while I thumbed through wedding magazines. I knew my vision represented me, Matt, and our families.

I am grateful to my mom and dad for bringing my dreams to life. I am grateful to Matt for his support, for his shared excitement in my vision, and for trusting me in my decisions. I am grateful for Matt’s parents and their support in helping to host a weekend that united our families.

Every vendor from our wedding was local to West Virginia. It was important to me that the weekend felt like “home.” The only aspect of the wedding that was not local to my home state was my wedding dress. I decided to shop for my wedding gown in Charlotte, North Carolina. At the time, my mom and I felt like the area would give us the best shops all within a close radius to one another.

The first weekend we went to Charlotte, I loaded up my mom and nana and headed down south to find my dress. We went to three shops and found my dress at the third shop. Ladies of Lineage in Charlotte was the place I found “the one.”

Finding the dress that felt “right” was pretty easy. My gown was by Romona Keveza and was fitted, etched in lace with subtle beading. It is described as “ethereal” and Matt’s mom told him on our wedding day, before he saw me, that I looked angelic.  

In an effort to express more than a “materialistic” view of our wedding, I will attempt to put in words what it ended up meaning to find my dress in Charlotte. Loading up the car with my mom and nana on that first trip felt like an exciting adventure. My mom and I would return for a handful of trips—when my dress came in, when my accessories came in and my first fitting, and then my final fitting a month before the big day.

We made our first trip in September and our last trip in April. My mom and I had five hours each way in the car to connect, talk, plan. Considering we live two hours apart now, this time was crucial and precious. In January, my mom was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. I remember being scared when she told me. I didn’t tell anyone but Matt. It took me weeks to open up about it. The thought crossed my mind—what if my mom is really sick on our wedding day? I guess that’s why its so special to me how much of a celebration our wedding felt like. I am happy my mom had her hand in so much of the décor and design of our wedding—because I was happy to have her hand. I am thankful to report that she is now doing well.

Photos will help depict our wedding, illustrate a timeless day, and provide a thousand words for what I sometimes feel at loss for. But if I can pass on something the photos don’t depict, my advice to you is to capture moments in your mind and store them in your heart. The car rides with my mom to Charlotte, the car ride just my dad and I took together to the rehearsal, the car ride Matt took with his dad to bring down the more than 200 glass beaded chargers I had rented for the wedding, the car ride I took with Matt’s mom as I drove her and my closest friends to my bridal brunch. “Car ride” seems to keep coming up. Maybe its because these are moments that a camera doesn’t catch. Prepare yourself for these moments. Every wedding has food, flowers, and music. Ask yourself how you will enjoy your wedding day beyond those things.

I read this post to Matt, my husband, after writing this. He came up with so many more priceless moments for me to share. He closed his eyes and said “those five minutes we had together after the ceremony was over and we walked out the church where all our guests were lined up on the church steps.” He went on to say everything moves fast and slow(he said the half hour before the ceremony started felt like hours) on the day of the wedding. The five minutes before the ceremony started and the five minutes when it was over—use these moments to focus and slow down and be in the moment.

I am grateful for the memory card stored within me that can replay these moments. Cheers to a wonderful time in our lives, filled with family and friends, that started us on our marriage journey. May you find the same “priceless” moments in your wedding day that I did in mine.

  1. Be unique to you—your vendors make a difference. Stay local.
  2. Find ways to make memories you didn’t expect—think “car rides.”
  3. Take 5 minutes together after the ceremony.
  4. Realize this day is about starting your marriage, not just “a wedding day.”
  5. Appreciate your family and friends that made it all possible.