October 30…Danny and I became man and wife. It’s now one month later, and as I look back at our wedding, I can’t believe how perfect it was. The unseasonable 80-degree weather in the middle of autumn, the gorgeous bouquets provided by Virginia Beach’s The Flower Lady, my dress that made me feel more lovely than I’ve ever felt, being surrounded by the love of family and friends—it all came together. After four months of planning, unbelievable joy, frustrations and anticipation, it all paid off. To say it was everything I dreamed it would be is an understatement—it was so much more!
Bright and early that Sunday morning, all our friends and family gathered at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens to set up. I walked around expecting to do a lot myself, but everyone set to work. My loved ones allowed me to watch the beautiful decorations come together with no stress, and then my bridesmaids whisked me away to get ready.
Late that afternoon, I returned to the Hermitage feeling like a princess. My friend Kearsten made sure my makeup was flawless. Another friend, professional hairstylist Karlie Dare, styled my hair perfectly in 30 minutes because I was running short on time. Although there are many highlights to my wedding, my favorite moment was mine and Danny’s first look. I hid in the Hermitage’s Rose Garden. When I saw him enter, I walked down the path to meet him. His face was beaming and both of us laughed and cried. He told me I looked more beautiful than he could have imagined. We sat on a bench in the Rose Garden and signed our Ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract, designed by my friend and her mother.
The ceremony took place at sunset. The golden light cast a magical glow over the whole service transporting us to another world. Every few minutes I would look around with awe and think, “I can’t believe this is my wedding.” During the ceremony, my sister and her husband sang a song in Hebrew, Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li, I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. This statement from the Bible’s Song of Songs perfectly expresses what the day was about. Danny became mine, and I became his.
Did everything go perfect? No. I almost fell off my chair during the traditional chair dance. Danny pushed cake up my nose when he was feeding me. I didn’t get to dance nearly as much as I thought I would. But none of that really mattered. Our day was filled with joy, excitement and more love than I’ve ever felt. When Danny and I ran past our friends as we left for our honeymoon, I looked into the faces of our guests and I knew that we were blessed beyond measure.
If I was going to sum up my “Quickly Becoming Conley” advice blog, it would be this—people are key. You cannot and should not plan a wedding without the people you love. To help, support, plan, but most of all, to be there with you on your day of love and celebration.
Pictures by Shannah Phillips Photography, Leor Photography by Erica Carlson and other wedding guests.