Rachel & Dan


You guys. I’m not even sure what to say here, other than RACHEL ROLLED DOWN A HILL IN THE MUD IN THE RAIN IN HER WEDDING DRESS. And then in true Team Practical fashion wrote it up like nothin-doing. Like, “there was the reception, and then it rained, and then I rolled down a muddy hill in my wedding dress, and then I went inside, and what a fun day!” I’m going to go out on a limb and say this probably makes her everyone’s new bridal hero, yes? Because holy h*ll. That is one awesome woman. And. On a more serious note, what Rachel says about needing to feel the support of the generations before her that were sustained by marriage, as she walked down the aisle? That’s how I felt, and part of what so many of you said yesterday. And I don’t hear other women say that often enough, so cheers to you Rachel. You made my heart sing.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

My husband, Dan, is the id to my ego, the method to my madness. When wedding planning was hard (85% of the time), he would coo to me that we’re a team, propping me up when I was beaten down from criticism. I would then return to planning, and when some new variation of the same problem arose, he would tell me again, “we’re a team, and you can send those mean buggers my way if they’re going to keep this up.” And so on and so forth.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

Fast forward to June 5, the wedding day. All those criticisms and difficulties disappeared and revealed some really beautiful DIY/DIT elements, from the pinwheels and homemade guest book to the iTunes playlist and dessert table. The pinwheels, guest book, and playlist I did. Not one, but TWO, sets of people brought speakers for the music, and a very wonderful aunt donated the awesome pastries as a wedding gift.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

The details at our wedding were simultaneously important and dismally minuscule. The stuff I DIY’ed partially stemmed from nervous energy but also helped save money. But the details from other people? WOW! Those really mean something to me! Are there pictures of the dessert table? No. In that way, they’re unimportant. But what those donated details signified was love and well-wishes, and that makes them wonderfully momentous.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

The central parts of my wedding memories, though, are anything but details. The moment my father and I got to the aisle and he bawled so hard he had to stop walking is important. The moment Dan and I joined hands with the pastor to pray to God that He would bless our marriage and supply us with love, patience, and strength for the rest of our lives was important. The moment Dan I were announced as husband and wife, for the very first time, was important.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

Some much less noticeable aspects were also central to the wedding. I wore my Nana’s crown from her wedding to my Pop-Pop 57 years earlier, my deceased Grandma’s wedding ring, Dan’s deceased Gram’s engagement ring, pearls from my father, and carried a hankie embroidered by Dan’s mother.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

In addition, my brother carried my deceased Grandpa’s pocket watch in his tuxedo pocket. Those little pieces, which almost nobody knew of, gave me the strength to walk down that aisle and say those vows. They made me think, “So many people Dan and I have loved and trusted have stood at this altar and stayed together for the duration of their lives, so we can do it, too.” It was also the most personal way Dan and I could honor our lost love ones.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

One of the most important memories stemmed from a one of the most frivolous parts of the wedding. As our indoor/outdoor reception drew to a close, rain began pouring from the sky. I grabbed a few friends and ran outside, relishing this wedding gift from God. As more guests trickled out, some to watch and others to dance right along with us, more mayhem ensued. At some point, people started rolling down the grassy hill next to the courtyard. After my roll down the hill, I fell head over heels with dizziness a few more times.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

Three very good girlfriends picked me up, carried my soaking train, and helped me back up the hill to find my new husband laughing wildly at his crazy wife. It was this unexpected but hugely meaningful thing…to do something most people would find insane and to then have a few good friends hoist me up, brush me off, and send me back to Dan, who was amused but not surprised at my decision.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

There are tons of pictures of all of those moments, and very few of the details. And you know what? That’s wonderful, because the most important thing to come out of my wedding isn’t a homemade pinwheel or playlist, no matter how great they were. The most important result of our wedding is our marriage, complimented by the promise of support from our community. So while some details were positively meaningless (the pinwheels), the time and effort that other people expended for our wedding are phenomenal messages of love and care. And without the support (both the impalpable and the obvious) of the ones we love, I don’t think Dan or I would have arrived at the altar as freely and joyfully as we did.

Rachel & Dan | A Practical Wedding

Photos By: Lovely friends and family, specifically Rachel’s good friend Erika Koop, who is a budding professional photographer.

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  • Caitlin

    Definitely my new bridal hero!

    I love how Rachel focuses on the love and connection to family and to each other as the really important things. Because in the end, those are the things you remember. And those are the pictures you care about, and the things you’ll make sure to tell any children about in the future. The love you felt that day.

  • http://pianobi.wordpress.com pianoB

    Oh, I so needed this today. I’m getting married on Saturday, yesterday it was pouring rain all day long and I freaked out thinking at how our mostly-outdoor-on-grass-reception will be a disaster if we have that kind of weather.
    I’ve tried (and almost managed) to stay sane during all the wedding planning, but yesterday I felt really nauseated by everything wedding-related and wondered whether all the efforts were really worth if it was going to end on a rainy and cold day with pictures filled by umbrellas, guests freezing and going home early and all the disastrous scenery I imagined in my mind.
    But today the sun is shining and reading this post has helped to come to terms with the idea of a rainy wedding day. Of course I still hope and cross my fingers it won’t rain a single drop, but if it does then i swear I’ll go out singing and dancing in the rain and taking funny shots with umbrellas! :)

    • http://made-of-sun.tumblr.com/ Trisha

      I’ll be sending rain-free thoughts your way. it rained for a bit during the reception on our (outdoor) wedding day. And you know what? Everyone scooted under cover, and kept laughing, and talking and enjoying themselves and everything was still wonderful and perfect. Did I still have a wedding morning freak-out that was partially caused by rain fears? Hell yes. But when it happened, nobody cared, even me. It was a good thing. Plus, the cloudy skies actually made for great pictures. No weird shadows and no squinty eyes.

  • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

    I wore my grandfather’s wedding ring around my right thumb at my wedding. I was just going to keep it on for the ceremony, but it just felt RIGHT to keep it on all night long. :)

  • Rachel

    I have been a faithful reader of this amazing blog for awhile now and have never posted but this was just one of the greatest stories ever that I thought I must chime in! I love love love how they were able to keep their loved ones close to them for their ceremony in such special (very private) ways. I know what it is like to have people you love no longer here and it is so great that they were able to harness that into something special on their day. Also the pic of Rachel on the wet ground in her beautiful dress is just priceless. What an excellent post and beautiful wedding. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  • ddayporter

    whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat. that is definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Rachel, that picture of you flying down the hill…….! I think might be my all-time favorite photo from someone else’s wedding. did you happen to shout “aaas youuuu WISHH” ..? haha. also I’m having what-to-wear-on-your-head-when-you-wed envy – that crown, aaaahh, and the fact that it’s your grandmother’s just gets me.

    • ElfPuddle

      I thought the same thing. Aw, wuv. twu wuv.

    • Alyssa

      Right there?

      When you referenced Princess Bride?

      I fell in love with you a little bit.

      • ddayporter

        :) <3 :)

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    Oh man, I’m totally teared up! This was sooo beautiful. I’m definitely having a wee bit of venue drool–the teeny stone building and paving stones!–and your dress! But mostly the lovely, lovely spirit. Keeping your loved ones all around you, the joy and the love and the madness (the good kind).

    I’m all aflutter!

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

    mmk, you need to throw lots of parties and invite all of us.

    • Alyssa

      And invite that adorable lady in the blue dress who is gettin’ down with her bad self.

      I bet she hates that pictures, but I consider that fridge-worthy.

      • Caitlin

        heck yes! that picture rocks.

      • http://www.betterinrealife.com Lauren

        I know, right? I want to party with HER. And be Rachel’s new best friend.

      • Rachel

        She’s actually the one who introduced me to APW. Another reason she’s totally awesome!

  • http://standbywedding.tumblr.com/ Marley

    This post is causing me to smile really big! What a beautiful wedding to share with everyone! Thank you.

  • MinnaBrynn

    Aw, I just love this. I love how you describe the relationship between yourself and your husband. And I love that you had friends there who helped pick you up. And I love all the details and the ways you included family members’ pieces. And. Well, pretty much everything. No, scratch that. Absolutely everything.

  • http://suburbaliciousliving.blogspot.com/ Lauren

    The picture of you dancing with your dad is one of the most beautiful wedding shots I’ve ever seen. Thanks for sharing such a great day!

    • Rachel

      Funny story about that picture. My family… we’re all saps. When my family consisted of children no older than 16, we went to a family friend’s wedding. My dad offered to videotape, so he was across the church. Midway through the ceremony, I noticed him gazing woefully at us kids, and I knew he was thinking about the day he would marry us off.

      But here’s the other side of that sappiness: we all kind of hate it. Who wants to cry openly in front of 90 people? Halfway through our daddy-daughter dance, we just started quoting “Arrested Development.” The last thing I said to my father before our dance ended?

      “I can’t. I just blue myself.”

      P.S. If anybody else gets that reference, THANK YOU!

      • Alyssa

        I TOTALLY GET IT. My family is the same way. We are all mushy on the inside but diffuse everything with humor when it gets too big to handle.

        The conversation my dad and I had before we walked down the aisle was about whether or not he should get the car cause I wasn’t really feelin’ it. Then we were like, crap, the music started…guess I gotta get married after all….

        Also? Arrested Development quotes make you and your dad my hero. “There’s gotta be a better way to say that…”

        • http://suburbaliciousliving.blogspot.com/ Lauren

          Has anyone in this family even SEEN a chicken?

  • Carolyn

    So I always love the graduate posts (um, and all the others…) and always have at least one “Exactly!” moment. But for some reason, this wedding just hit me so hard (like crying, at work, like a doofus). Rachel’s unabashed and unapologetic love of her family was totally inspiring.

    Rachel is my new bride hero. Here’s to family instead of pinwheels!

  • http://bunniesnbeagles.blogspot.com Ms. Bunny

    Rolling down a hill in the rain in your wedding dress is bad ass!

  • http://www.amandamayart.com Amanda May

    This is beautiful! Everyone looks so incredibly joyful!

    “So while some details were positively meaningless (the pinwheels), the time and effort that other people expended for our wedding are phenomenal messages of love and care.”

    That. That is what I want. Absolutely lovely.

  • Marina

    OMG yessssssssssssssss.

  • Allison

    I’m giving this post a big fat EXACTLY. Everything that you wrote was wonderful, just wonderful!!!

  • http://beautifulorpractical.blogspot.com/ Louba

    Love this post! It looks like such a love and fun filled day. It’s nice to be reminded that despite all the madness, people remember the day as a whole and they are more likely to remember have great fun and laughing with all their friends than a perfect cake or whether both dad’s are wearing the same thing…….!

  • Alyssa

    Rachel, the mementos you carried are REALLY touching. I love that you honored your family in that way.

    And THEN rolled down the hill! I don’t know if you’ll be a mom, an aunt or just the crazy lady down the street, but you SO need to share that spirit with kids! (Big Brothers Big Sisters? Maybe?)

  • KristieB

    That picture on the hill is priceless! I have a very similar photo of me running into the ocean laughing my face off to play with the waves – that sits on my husband’s desk (he says it is the only photo of the wedding that shows me truly being and looking like me). Hooray to realizing your dress is just a dress and having that memory and fun on your wedding day is way more important! Hooray to having a husband who expects the unexpected and the playful! Mine watched me in the ocean shaking his head and mumbling something about 2 thousand dollars – then rolled up his pants to join me (again – one of my favorite memories).

    • Rachel

      Ooooh I love this! Dan later told me he knew that I would roll down the hill rain or shine before the wedding had even begun. It’s always funny to me that I find myself unpredictable, but he can see what I’m going to do from a mile away.

      I want to see your picture now! Have you done a graduate post so we can share your memory?

  • Carreg

    Glorious. When I get married I shall have to find a wet hill to roll down.

  • http://koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate

    I can’t decide what I like better . . . you rolling down the hill in your wedding dress (priceless) or the family mementos carried down the aisle (so priceless!). Thank you so much for sharing!

  • rosie

    since most of the other awesome parts of this post have already been mentioned (heirlooms, hill-rolling, and the like), i also wanted to note that i was particularly touched by the experience that you two had while planning – my fiance has had to repeat the “we’re a team” mantra to me many times in our wedding planning chaos already, and i just love that metaphor for marriage.

    also, your not-quite-yet-professional-photographer friend has got some mad skillz! get that girl hooked up with some team practical brides, because that photo of you and your father dancing is soso beautiful.

  • AlsoMeg

    Rachel, I loved reading your post and I don’t mean to diminish what you wrote in any way, shape, or form but I kept getting distracted by the pictures because HOW MUCH FUN IS IT TO FIND AN APW POST OF A ROCKIN CHICK GETTING MARRIED AT YOUR FUTURE VENUE?????????????? I am so excited!!! Thanks for giving me a window in your awesome day and letting me envision mine in a “real” way. :)

    • Rachel

      OMGeeeee! Are you going to Lauxmont, too? Can I be a creeper? haha. Just kidding. Sooooort of.

      But beyond that, this means you’re somewhere in PA, right? Because that means there’s somebody else normal in this state and I’ve been having trouble finding women I can see eye-to-eye with and I really need someone who can challenge me. Are you that person?

      More importantly, how much did that last paragraph sound like a personals ad?

      • AlsoMeg

        Yes… Lauxmont, next September. You can totally crash. We’re actually having our ceremony up on that big hill across the street at Highpoint park. Still haven’t figured out how to do the logistics on that one… but have this vague sense that it’ll work out. I’m from PA (grew up on the river) but live in NC right now, will be TN by the time we get married (y’know, nothing stressful between now & then besides selling the house, starting a new job, and moving to another state). We come back fairly often though- would love to chat more, and maybe steal some of your married-lady insights to the central PA wedding process. :) My email is mgraybill at gmail.

  • http://www.icookwithwine.com Melinda

    YES!!! Rachel rocks.

  • http://www.twitter.com/kahlia kahlia

    Yes. This post makes me very happy. I, too, have an awesome family who pitched in, and it totally made the party as incredible as it was. It’s wonderful that you recognized that even as it was happening.
    And I love that your partner was amused, yet unsurprised! That’s a great illustration of the type of relationship you have. :)

  • K

    Moments, not Details…
    Love it.

  • http://sarahsurgeon.blogspot.com sarah

    love the emphasis on “good times” rather than “good things”.

    i had many moments of “oh my goodness we didn’t get any pictures of the tables, the napkins my mom made, the food,” and now (1 year later) its the laughter, smiles and dancing that i remember and want to remember more than the silly napkins.

    love it.

  • Joselle

    Congratulations! Your post is beautiful and wise, Rachel, and one I will hold in my head and heart in this last week or so before I marry.

    • Rachel

      Best of luck or grace or whatever will carry you through it. And do take time to treat yourself like a bride. I got just the second mani-pedi of my life and it was the first time I felt like the bride instead of the planner, and it really set the tone for me focusing on the feeling of things.

      You’ve got tons of support via the APW community. Need a good cry and complain? Come on over!

  • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com Basketcase

    I think my personal favourite bit is about your friends dusting you off and sending you back to your bemused husbands.
    May we all have such friends in our lives. :)
    I’m still smiling from the reading of this. Fantastic!

  • Allison

    Can I just say that it is posts like this that completely put things in perspective. It is so easy to get sucked into the “its all about the detail” rhetoric. I am grateful for this post because it brings things back to reality. Thank goodness for this blog.

    Congrats to the happy couple too!

  • Alexandra

    SO awesome! Congrats! Totally righteous. ;D

  • Kathy

    Just as an additon, Rachel failed to mention (I think) that her Paternal Grandmother designed and made the table runners for the reception, they were reversible and were ‘flipped’ on every other table, another beautiful touch to the room. each table also had small pots covered in kraft paper with hydrangeas (the wedding flower choice, which was chosen because it was the flower of Rachels memory in her Maternal grandparents gardens) on them. These table runners are in the process of being passed along to the sisters of the bride, mother of the bride & groom, sisters of the brides mother, the grandmother who made them, the bride & groom and 2 other aunts.