I honestly don't even know where to begin, our wedding day was literally so perfect. I'm still over here crying while looking at photos and watching videos because they all make me SO freakin happy. I'm sure you've all heard SO many people tell you the same exact thing, but it's an absolute miracle when something you've been planning for and stressing about for a year and a half turns out so incredible. This day would not have been possible without our wonderful parents, bridal party, friends, family, and vendors. There are no words to fully express how thankful we are for each and every one of you and for everything you did to make our big day so special.
June 1, 2018
My best friend, Rima and my cousin, Catrina stayed at our house the night before to keep me company while Justin stayed at his parents house. We ended up going to bed WAY later than we intended the night before, so getting out of bed at 7 AM was a little rough. Looking back, I don't regret it for a second. That's part of what life is all about, the nights you stay up late laughing with your best friends. Anyway, we got up and got Bax and Rosie out before running to the grocery store to get food for while we were all getting ready. Then we drove over to Karen and Jim's house to meet the rest of the bridesmaids and get ready for the day. Karen and Jim are dear friends who live just a couple minutes away. They are two of the most kind, loving and thoughtful people we know. We couldn't believe that they opened up their home for all of us to get ready the day of our wedding. That meant 10 women, myself included, along with our amazing hair and make up artists from Boston Ever After, our photographer - Lauren Dobish and our videographers - Josh and Caleb fro StopGoLove.
All of my bridesmaids along with our lovely hair and make up artists arrived right at 9 AM to get things rolling. The morning was off to an awesome start and I was so excited. We all took turns putting together our breakfast which included bagels, cream cheese and fresh fruit. We also made sure to hydrate ourselves because we knew it would be a long day. Everyone in my bridal party kept asking me if I was nervous and to be honest, I wasn't. I was definitely antsy though. Anxious about everything going as planned and to see my soon-to-be husband! Colleen, Angelina and their team worked efficiently to make sure we stuck to the schedule for the day. They worked magic on all of us! I was impressed with how quickly they did each of my bridesmaid's hair and make up. I was also super thankful that they were able to cover up the monster zit on my chin.
While we were all taking turns getting our hair and make up done, our amazing florist, Julie, of Bittersweet Gardens, stopped by to drop off the bouquets. And OH MY GOD were they beautiful. Not only were the colors absolutely stunning, but the flowers smelled out of this world. I seriously could not get over them. Julie had created exactly what I envisioned for our big day and I was over the moon. We were half way through the morning and everything was still going well, I couldn't believe it. Shortly after our hair and make up was done, Lauren, our photographer arrived. I was so excited because I adore Lauren and her bubbly, sweet personality. I knew from the second we talked on the phone that we were going to be friends. I was anxious for all of my bridesmaids to meet her. Shortly after she arrived, we gathered in the living room so I could give my girls their gifts and cards and so we could take some group photos now that we were all ready.
I want to mention the gifts that each one of my bridesmaids received. One gift in particular that I think is extra special. Jim is a jack of all trades. He is a motivational speaker, author and also agreed to be the officiant for our wedding. He wrote a book called "My Father's Writings", which he gifted to my bridal party. I read his book earlier this year and couldn't put it down. It made my heart so happy that he wanted to share his words with my closest friends and family. The other part of their gift was from one of my favorite jewelry designers - Leila Jewelry. I purchased one of their monogrammed initial necklaces last year and literally wear it everyday. Almost all of my bridesmaids had commented on it at one point or another, so I figured it would be nice to give them one of their own!
By the time we finished taking photos, it was almost 1:30 and it was time to get into our dresses. All of my bridesmaids got dressed first and then it was my turn to put on my dress. Rima, who has been my friend since the first day of kindergarten helped successfully put it on without messing up my hair and make up. Now let me tell you guys, I am seriously OBSESSED with my wedding dress. When I began looking for wedding dresses, I fell in love with a couple Australian brands. The only issue was that I couldn't try a dress on before purchasing it. This made me way too nervous so I began looking for other options. One day while scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled upon an ad for Your Dream Bridal Boutique. I clicked on their page and guess what they had in store?! One of the Australian brands I had fallen in love with - Made with Love Bridal! Their dresses were only in the store for two weeks so I made an appointment immediately. I tried on seven dresses total and started crying as soon as I put this dress on. I worked with my seamstress to make a couple changes on my dress to make it my dream dress. I still can't get over how perfect it turned out, I seriously want to wear it every day.
After I was zipped up into my dress and had my Toms on, it was time to read my letter from Justin and open the gift he left for me. Initially, Justin and I had discussed reading our letters out loud but we both changed our minds in the moment. I knew I couldn't make it through his letter without crying, let alone attempting to read it out loud in front of people. It was the sweetest, heartfelt letter from my love and I will cherish it forever. He got me two gifts, a bar necklace with his very own handwriting on it. The phrase, "Forever Ever" is engraved on the inside of his wedding band. My band is too thin to engrave so he came up with this idea instead. He also got me a sterling silver band with our initials and the date of our wedding day stamped on it. Both of these pieces are handmade by another one of my favorites - GLDN (also known as Layered and Long). These two pieces are so perfect and special to me. I'm thankful that my husband-to-be remembered how much I love their jewelry!
My next task was walking down the stairs to see my bridal party without completely losing it. One of my favorite moments of the day was when Jim stopped by before I went downstairs and told me I looked beautiful. Karen was also right outside but told she didn't want to make me cry more by coming in to see me. I was crying before I even walked out of the room. We are so lucky to have them in our lives. All of my girls were waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs with their eyes closed. Luckily, I was able to make it down to them without ugly crying. Again, I just felt so lucky to have all of my closest friends and family there with me.
After the big dress reveal, we had to get moving. Justin and I decided to do our first look at a Francis William Bird Park in Walpole, which isn't too far from our venue. We had somehow managed to stick to the schedule and were all ready to go shortly after the limo arrived. While we were on our way to the park, it started to rain and we got stuck in traffic. I had been nervous about the weather since it had been raining on and off and muggy all morning. Our venue had even called me while we were getting ready to ask if I wanted to move the ceremony inside. I told them to hold off because it was only raining lightly. So I was worried we wouldn't be able to take our first look pictures or have our ceremony outside. BUT as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at Bird Park, the rain stopped. It was a miracle and I couldn't believe how lucky we got! The sun was even trying to come out a bit. It was hot, but I didn't care - as long as it wasn't down pouring on us!
Walking over to Justin was the first time that I felt butterflies all day. I was so excited and anxious to see him in his suit and kiss him. The guys had arrived about a half an hour before us so they decided to take groomsmen pictures. Once we got to the park, all of the groomsmen made sure Justin was where he was supposed to be and all of my bridesmaids made sure no one saw me as I walked over to him. Then I saw him; standing with his back to me. My heart started beating so fast as I walked up behind him. I was already trying not to cry and I hadn't even seen his face yet. I tapped him on his right shoulder and before I knew it he had his arms wrapped around me telling me how beautiful I looked. It's a crazy feeling and it's a moment I will remember forever. Seeing, holding and kissing my husband-to-be right before we walked down the aisle.
After smooching, crying happy tears, laughing and taking photos with my soon-to-be husband, it was time to take some pictures with our bridal party. Each one of these men and women have been there for Justin and I whenever we needed them over this past year (and in many years prior). They planned our bachelor and bachelorette parties, my bridal shower and were there to help de-stress us or make us laugh. They are the BEST people we know and we are beyond grateful for every single one of them. If writing about them doesn't give you enough of an idea, you can tell by the pictures how awesome they are and how much they make us laugh.
As you guys may (or may not) know, Justin and I have two rescue pups at home - Baxter and Rosie. They are a huge part of our lives and we HAD to have them be a part of our big day. We hired an extremely kind and caring woman to help us with the pups for the day. She brought them to Bird Park ahead of time and walked them a bit to get some of their energy out. She also helped get their attention so we could take some family photos with them! They were both super excited to see us and Baxie was being a bit of a nut case. It wasn't exactly easy to get them to sit still, but luckily we Lauren as our photographer who works with dogs and managed to get some adorable shots. I also love the not-so-perfect photos because they capture our little family perfectly.
After we finished taking photos with everyone, it was already 5:30 and time for us to head to the venue to say our vows in front of everyone we love and care about. I was shocked that we were able to stick with our schedule, literally amazed. We made it to the venue right around 6:00. Our ceremony started at 6:30 so we had some time to touch up our makeup and have a toast. There was one more thing I wanted to do before walking down the aisle - have a moment with my Dad. It makes me cry writing about it even now. I asked everyone to leave the bridal suite so my Dad could come in and see me in my dress. As soon as he walked in, I lost it. Just absolutely started to sob. My Dad may look like a serious guy on the outside, but he has a heart of gold and I love him for it. He hugged me right away, told me he couldn't believe his little girl was getting married and gave me his handkerchief. He's just the absolute best Dad in the world and I'm so damn lucky to be his daughter.
Before I knew it, it was time to walk down the aisle with my Dad; we had gotten ourselves together after losing it for a minute in the bridal suite. We then made our way outside where our family and bridal party were standing ahead of us. I remember my Dad saying, "We'll do this together Liv, just breathe. Don't cry, if you cry, I'll cry." See why I love him so much? Little did he know, the song I chose to walk down the aisle to was his wedding song - Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran. And no, I didn't do it to make him cry. I heard an instrumental version of it, fell in love with it and then played it for Justin, who also loved it. We made it to the end of the aisle and we were both already tearing up. We both took some deep breaths and started walking. I saw Justin in front of me with the biggest smile on his face. My sweet, handsome fiance waiting for me.
I somehow made it down the aisle without ugly crying the whole way. I think it was because I was so excited. I also knew I had to get through our vows without crying too much so people could understand me. We wrote our own so I knew it was going to be difficult. Justin went first and I of course cried. His words were so sweet and perfect and just made me love him even more. After his, I had to compose myself before reading mine. I tried to make mine a bit funny so I wouldn't cry too much. I had to stop and take a couple breaths, but I made it through them. After our vows, all I wanted to do was smooch Justin's face off. We still had to say our "I wills" before it was official. Yes, traditionally people say "I do", but Jim had written a beautiful piece for us and we absolutely love the idea of our ceremony being different. We both committed to forever (even though we had a long time ago) and we officially became husband and wife!
We did it! We were officially Mr. and Mrs. Justin Friel and we were both over the freakin moon about it. A year and a half of planning and stressing was so worth it for that feeling. We couldn't wait to eat, drink and celebrate with our friends and family.
After our ceremony, it was cocktail hour. We took family photos, some just us two and some of myself and my bridesmaids. Some photos that were very special to us are the ones we got to take with our grandmothers and the photos I got to take with my best friend, Rima. We are lucky enough to have four of them in our lives and they were all there on our wedding day. For those of you who don't know, Rima has Cystic Fibrosis and underwent a double lung transplant last May. The fact that she was able to be at our wedding was such a gift.
The rest of our night was spent eating, drinking, laughing and dancing with the people who mean most to us. We had our first dance as husband and wife and listened to three incredibly heart felt and hilarious speeches - from the best man, maid of honor and two of my best friends from college. They all had us laughing and crying at the same time. Rima even surprised me with a rap to a Nicki Minaj song, it was epic. We also had our dances with our parents, which again made me cry.
Our day wouldn't have been possible without our family, freakin amazing bridal party and friends, and of course, our vendors. You all worked so hard to make sure we were happy and that everything went the way it was supposed to. For that, we are eternally grateful. A very special thank you to our parents, Karen and Jim and each one of our vendors who went above and beyond for us.