Michelle and Josh’s Day Of Community And Love

When Michelle’s wedding landed in my inbox, there was something about it that I loved. Maybe it was the fact that she and her husband Josh got married in the church that he grew up with, or maybe it was all the grinning faces, I don’t know. But what I do know is while I was putting this post together, I kept feeling warm and wonderful. This is what a wedding should be, this is a couple and a community with enormous hearts and the right priorities. Because weddings should bring us joy, even in the midst of great heartache. And this wedding is nothing but joy.
Our wedding was held at Trinity Baptist Church in North Canton, Ohio. Josh grew up in this church and had several “second families” there, all of whom had adopted me since I had been attending with him.The reception was at the Metropolitan Centre in Canton. It was a little bit of a splurge for us, but we wanted to have a big-city feel to the day because I went to school in Boston and Josh proposed there. Living in a small town, there weren’t too many options for that sort of venue, and this one was just beautiful.Our wedding was creative because we had almost a year and a half to plan it. This gave us a lot of time to come up with projects that I could do ahead of time. Josh and I spent a few months designing our own invitations — He’s not super crafty but he has good taste, so I spent my weekends at school making mock-up ones and mailing them to him for his opinion. We finally settled on a design and I spent a few days making them. Having that project done almost a year before the wedding was awesome. We also made the centerpieces while home for Christmas break and spent spring break making a reception playlist. I printed out pictures and glued them into a notebook for our guest book. We borrowed an antique truck that Josh’s dad won in a raffle to get us from the ceremony to the reception.Someone in Team Practical (we don’t remember who but we love you!) had the idea of serving the cake themselves and we decided to do the same. We knew the day would be rushed and there were a lot of people coming from out of town, so we wanted to make sure that we saw everyone. I wore an apron that my aunt gave me at our bridal shower and everyone loved it.We have been taking pictures of our feet throughout our entire relationship, so we wanted fun shoes to wear. I wore $20 yellow heels from Target that my mom spent an entire year trying to talk me out of, and Josh and his brother wore Converse. (They changed into them right before the wedding, you should’ve seen the look on his mom’s face.)

Our wedding was thrifty because we both had a hard time with the “wedding tax,” so if something seemed too crazy expensive, we either made it ourselves or just didn’t have it. I made the bouquets the night before, following a tutorial that I found online, but let our grocery store florist make the bouts and corsages (not too expensive and I’d be no good at it). My sister was my only bridesmaid and we were planning our weddings simultaneously, so we shared a lot of ideas (and the cake servers, the guest book pen, I could go on). I bought my dress at the Filene’s Basement Running of the Brides — my roommate was engaged at the time and we went to find her a dress, and I happened to find mine the same day. It was crazy cheap and fit perfectly without alterations, and freed up a lot of money for other things that we wanted. Josh wore a suit that we found at H&M.; Laura and I went to Dillards and found her a cute black dress for $80 and wore shoes that she already had. Josh’s grandma made his little sister’s flower girl dress. I bought our invitation envelopes in Times Square when we went on a mini-vacation there last summer.We unfortunately were not lucky enough to have a cast of family and friends with wedding-related talents (aside from my cousin, who did my hair), so we didn’t have a homemade cake or our best friend running the music. Money was tight for both of us and our families, but the beautiful “coming together” moments of our wedding were when people saw that we were cutting things because we couldn’t afford them, and offered to pay. We didn’t hit anyone up for money or give them a sad story about how we were missing out on a fancy cake, but they were excited for us and offered what they could.What made our wedding sane was that we got married. I was really good at having the occasional “let’s just elope” freakout, but thankfully Josh was even better at the “at the end of this, you will be my wife” speech. Getting married at his home church by the pastor that helped raise him helped us both feel grounded and connected to our families and friends. There were people there that had known us both for our whole lives and our whole relationship, so it really felt like everyone was invested in what was happening.There had been a lot of stressful things in our life leading up to the wedding — my dad was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to go through chemo, finishing his treatment the week after we got married. My cousin lost both of his legs in a hit-and-run in June, and he and my aunt and uncle were in Texas, working on his recovery. It was a hard summer in a lot of ways, but we focused on the joy for a day. The only tears shed during the day were by my sister during her awesome speech, who claims that she’s “allergic to microphones” (she did the same at her wedding). No happy tears even, as far as I saw — we were all just laughing, like we were finally relieved.One last thing that helped keep us sane was being engaged for so long. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, it did get a little bit old at times, but it gave us a lot of time to work things out. We had time to go through premarital counseling and talk to friends and family about what to expect. We spent almost the entire time apart, going to school and working in different states, so instead of seeing movies or listening to music or going for drives together, all we did was talk. It was tedious sometimes but we talked through some really hard things together, and I think that gave us a stronger foundation than we would’ve had otherwise.My favorite moments came from people after the fact — a close family friend said that it was the most fun wedding she’d ever been to, because she could feel our joy; his grandma said she felt like it was a glimpse into our lives together. Those were our two main goals, and the fact that the people that came could feel that meant the world to us.

Photos: Christopher Blues Photography

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  • I love these posts so much.

  • when she served the cake herself, did it take a long time?

  • sam


  • Meg

    @very married
    People who have done it before (and it's such a lovely thing to do) have said *yes* it takes a while. But most people have done it as a way of welcoming, and also being of service. So it's your reciving line and then some. Worth the wait.

  • I want to see a picture of those yellow heels from target!!!

    Such a beautiful, sweet wedding.

  • I love the idea of serving the cake yourself–a surefire way to see everyone! Plus, great excuse to wear that ridiculously cute apron.

  • Hi verymarried! Michelle here. We enlisted a little bit of help with our cake — the staff at the Metropolitan Centre cut it for us (I was too nervous that I'd destroy it!) and then people came up to the table where we were handing it out. It probably took about 25 minutes total, with 100ish guests.
    The only small hitch was that the tiers were different flavors, so a few people had to wait for their favorite. (The photo of all the little girls was taken as the chocolate was fiiiinally being served)
    I'm so happy that I get to share all of this with you! Isn't Meg great?

  • "They changed into them right before the wedding, you should've seen the look on his mom's face."

    This is great. I might have to use this tactic for a few things myself with our more conservative family members.

    Serving cake to your guests is pretty awesome too. Such a great variation on the receiving line.

  • I LOVE the cake receiving line idea! I was dreading a receiving line because of the number of guests we're having. But I was also worried about having the time to do the table visits… Sooo… I think the cake receiving line will be perfect for us to do! Also, because I'm making my own cake and not having caterers… I was wondering who I would get to cut it. I used to work for a caterer… so I already have wedding cake cutting experience! Perfect!! Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  • Brandy

    Oh my goodness, so sweet and inspiring. I definitely had a "why on earth are we having a WEDDING?!" moment last night. My betrothed held his arms open for me to crawl in his lap, kissed me on the top of the head, and said "it will be worth it and I love you." Oh, right. *ahhhhh*

  • Tree

    This is what I want. :) Thank you for the awesome post.

  • Thanks for posting this. Its so great to see such joy in those photos after all they have been through. And a good reminder of what is really important and a great example that no matter what happens in the lead up when you are surrounded by love one and marrying your chosen partner it will be an amazing day, and really I needed to be of that reminded today. and I love the cake idea, if I was having a cake I would be doing that.

  • July

    This was so interesting and good to read. Thank you so much.

  • SO GOOD. Love that they served the cake. And that apron – killer cute! I had to steal a quote for my blog – put a link back here though!

  • Um, ok. Kind of want to serve cake {just} so I can wear an amazing apron. Really, really might be worth it. :)

  • Anonymous

    "I was really good at having the occasional "let's just elope" freakout, but thankfully Josh was even better at the "at the end of this, you will be my wife" speech."

    oh.my.god. this is the most true thing i've ever read. DIYing everything, due dates, family drama… i'd like to say that i cried less than i did, but just the mere thought of having to go back to joann fabric makes my heart race! if my husband hadn't been there in the same way hers was, i'd be toast! being engaged is exciting but stressful. being married is AMAZING!

  • "I was really good at having the occasional 'let's just elope' freakout, but thankfully Josh was even better at the 'at the end of this, you will be my wife' speech." Ahhhhh, yes – this is our life at the moment and I sincerely hope that I feel the way she does when I write my reflections on our wedding day in a few weeks!