Yep, on Aug 29th, 2015, I got married to Jenna Anderson. We had been engaged for about a year and a half prior to taking the plunge. We planned so many details, this little thing, that little thing, it was incredible. Then came the help and assistance from the Aunts (all of Jenna’s Aunts), they are an army of decorators that really have the concept of teamwork down to an art form. Most importantly, Jenna’s parents, without them, our wedding would not have been made possible.
The Thursday prior to the wedding, we had our rehearsal at the McNamara Alumni Center. This space is so incredible; gorgeous, modern and spacious. We had most of the wedding party in attendance as well our some family and our officiant (more on him later). Despite all of our planning and detail assurances, when we got up onto the dais, we felt like we had NO IDEA what we were doing. Unfortunately in most weddings, the officiant will take the lead on what to do, however our officiant was also experiencing his first time doing this. Thankfully the venue staffer was able to provide the guidance we so desperately needed. It all ended up going fine.
The Friday prior to the wedding, “Wedding Eve” so to speak, was the rehearsal dinner. That all turned out just fine as well, we got to present the gifts to the wedding party, they loved the super hero pint glasses we got them. We also gave presents to Jenna’s parents, as well as the flower girl (my daughter, Lydia), the Junior Bridesmaid (my daughter, Haylyn) and the Junior Groomsmen (Jenna’s nephew Drew Thomas). This was a great opportunity to see family before the big day, have some casual time and just hang out. After cleaning up and everyone had left, I ended up taking Jenna and a few of the bridesmaids to the hotel, that meant I got to be home all alone the night before!!!
So the morning of has arrived. I spent the morning customizing the music list intended for the seating, ceremony, and cocktail hour. Then I loaded the car with last minute decorations and various stuff and headed over to the venue. I got everything unloaded, greeted my groomsmen, our ushers, our officiant and so many other people. Then, I realized that I forgot the curtains for the dais backdrop and my tux! Yep, I forgot my tux.
After rushing back home and getting all that I had forgotten, made it back, got into a fight with the ramp parking attendant, got inside and got dressed, then eventually was instructed to head out for first looks. Whew. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a tendency to need a scope of control; however I had the utmost of confidence in the Army of Aunt’s.
After being directed outside by our photographer, Rousey Johnson III, it was time to wait patiently for my bride. I could hear her approach me from behind. Her slow steps in the gravel increased anticipation more and more the closer she drew. I could see Rousey getting into position to get the first look shots and I kept my head pointed forward steadfast, I didn’t want to get even as much as a glimpse until it was the appropriate time. Then she put her hand onto my shoulder and the anticipation kind of punched me in the stomach, nothing I couldn’t handle, but it was tough. Then I turned and there she was, my beautiful bride-to-be and her stunning allurement nearly took my breath away. All I could do was look at her; I had no idea who else was standing where; I had no idea what time it was; and I had no idea about anything other than the divine source of my affection standing in front of me. I knew we were ready to take on the rest of this day, and we’d do it together. After the first looks, we went in and did all of our formal family and wedding party photos.
Guests had started to arrive, and it was very difficult not to just socialize with every guest, but we had a ceremony to do. With everyone seated, it was time to begin. Nik, our officiant, is the reason Jenna and I met and we were absolutely honored to have him be the source of our union. After walking up with Shari, I stood before all of our friends and family. After the wedding party had fully walked up, the ushers had unrolled the aisle runner it had come unstuck at the first step of the dais and my immediate reaction was to simply take a step down to hold it in place, needless to say this got a bit of a chuckle out of our coterie. Then Jenna got escorted to me by her father, Joe. As they walked slowly down the aisle, I could feel emotions building up in me and all I could think to myself was “oh stop it!!!!”
The ceremony began and it all went very well. We decided to write our own vows, and Jenna read hers just fine, but later admitted to skipping a line for fear that she wouldn’t be able to read it without crying. Then Nik handed me my vows, and again, I repeatedly said to myself “you got this” over and over again. I read allowed “Jenna…” and that’s where my ability to read without being choked up ended. I managed to make it through every word I had written, but there was a great deal of struggle getting through several of the things I had written. I also knew that if I looked out at anyone else, especially a handful select few, and saw them crying, that I wouldn’t be able to finish. So naturally I never took my eyes off of my vows until they were completely read. My Best Man, Matt, handed the rings to Nik, we exchanged them onto each of our fingers, we kissed, and that was it, we were now Mr and Mrs Warner.
We made our way out and haphazardly organized the receiving line, where we happily got to greet and briefly talk to each of our guests. Needless to say, the line had started to shift in such a way that after people had talked to me, they kind of wandered off rather than saying hello to Joe and Shari, I didn’t realize this till the line was nearly over and I felt awful. We immediately went outside to have some fun wedding party photos which didn’t seem like they were every going to end. We wrapped it up and made our way inside and our DJ was Joe F and we decided not to do a grand march, but rather just have him introduce us. Soon as he saw us, he hopped onto the mic and said “…Mr and Mrs Anderson!” to which we paused, looked at each other, looked at the room and everyone else went from confused to laughing uncontrollably. Jenna and I literally stepped backwards back out of the room to give the introduction a reset, which it did, and we made our way to the center table. We pretty much sat down and then instantly got right back up so we could go eat.
Oh the food!!! It was all so amazing and D’Amico did a tremendous job! We ate, we drank, we kissed when glasses were clinked, and we socialized. We did our first dance, our Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances, then just had a great evening. When it was time for the toast, we heard from our Maid of Honor Laura and my childhood friend Mike, then we got surprised with a video presentation of photos from our respective childhoods and photos of us as a couple for the past several years. The remainder of the evening simply consisted of chatting with friends, drinking, socializing, dancing and generally hanging out. By the end of the night, after most of the guests had departed, it was time to clean up and break down. We managed to get it all taken down, cleaned up and hauled back to the hotel. We got married… Mr and Mrs…
McNamara Alumni Center
Our lead event coordinator was Sara Cedar, our rehearsal coach was Hannah and our day of coordinators were Hannah, Brittney and Rachel. The team at McNamara were incredibly attentive every single step of the way, from the initial consultation and tour, to the open house, to answering our myriad of questions, to helping make our big day go swimmingly.
D’Amico is the in-house catering at McNamara, so there wasn’t really a whole lot of options. They are very expensive, however the food was amazing, I mean, amazing!!! We had worked with Dani and Amy for coordination, and the day of coordinator was Greg and I have to say that his attentiveness and customer service was nothing short of prodigious. From the table servers to the food servers to the bartenders, it all ended up just simply fantastic.
The Wedding Collective
We ended up going through the Wedding Collective for our DJ, Joe F. Planning with the Collective was seemless and professional and the day of when I went to introduce myself to Joe, he was really pleasant to chat with and was all smiles. We had two songs that we wanted for the dances and I had provided these via a USB drive and he was able to accommodate them with no trouble. He followed every one of our suggestions (not that we had many) and was cordial every step of the way. Despite the “Anderson” goof, we later laughed about it together and it was all good.
I really had very little to do with the flowers except picking them up the day of. The shop is clean, nicely organized and the staff was very polite and informative.
I really like Men’s Warehouse, I think that overall, they are a really great place to shop for men’s clothing and attire. Everyone we had spoken with was great, attentive, informative and provided incredible customer service. Most especially, there was one lady in particular (her name escapes me) who really went out of her way to make modifications to some of the vests so they would fit appropriately. There are not enough thank you’s to be given for making that work out.
Jenna’s stunning dress came from The Wedding Connection in Maplewood. Again, I had virtually nothing to do with this selection or anything, but they clearly did a helluva job!
Our photographer was Rousey Johnson III of RJ3 Photography. As a former wedding photographer myself, I am incredibly critical about the photographer but I knew that I wouldn’t have selected anyone other than Rousey. Once upon a time, I had hired him as an assistant photographer and even back then when he was still fairly new to it, his accuracy, professionalism and integrity stood out. I firmly believe and will always believe, that the photographer for your wedding is without a doubt one of the most vital and pivotal elements of your wedding. More of his work will be coming soon…
Nik Lensing, Chaplain
In the beginning I had mentioned that Nik was our officiant and there would be more about him later, this is that later. Nik is indisputably the reason Jenna and I met, and subsequently became a couple and ultimately got married. He and I have been friends since High School, and have stayed in contact one way or another since. He is also an incredible tattoo artist and it is our love of body art that brought us together. Jenna was a client of Nik’s, I was doing a tattoo photo day for the shop he was at, she came in for photos, we hit it off and the rest is history. Nik went out of his way to get ordained so he could be our officiant, he’s a terrific artist, officiant and friend.