Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An Honorary Wachter


If you had told me 3 years ago that I would become dear friends with people I met online I probably would have laughed at you. But about 2.5 years ago I started reading Kathleen and Brianna Wachter’s blogs and today they and their family have become so special to me. Last March Brandon and I were able to spend an evening with them when we were in Maryland and have been itching to spend more time with them ever since.

Earlier this summer, I got an email from Kathleen mentioning that they were going to be celebrating Brianna’s graduation in August and would I consider coming out and surprising Brianna. Given that I was planning on spending the month in MN, it didn’t seem like an option – but after a month or so of carefully watching and comparing flights, the perfect opportunity fell into place. Unfortunately, about a week and a half before I was supposed to fly out a certain Wachter (whose name won’t be mentioned but rhymes with Stan…) happened to let the secret out at the dinner table. But that ended up being just fine because I loved sharing the anticipation of the trip with Brianna!

With the graduate!

And so I spent an incredible weekend with the Wachters. The graduation ceremony was beautiful and the party decorations looked like something out of a Martha Stewart magazine. But my favorite part would have to have been the hours spent just talking, playing, and working alongside the Wachters.

When Brandon and I left the Wachter house last March, we both looked at each other and said “I want our family to be like that someday.” The busy household of 11 is truly one of the most joyful, loving, and Christ-centered homes I have ever been welcomed into. The instant I am with them I feel part of the family.

Highlights: Getting to meet Cassie (who was also visiting for the graduation), Coffee by KK – offered morning, noon, and night according to your personal preference (and her iced coffees are much better than Starbucks!), snuggles from Addison, Carmella not running away from me, Ellie’s constant entertainment and cuteness, girl time, food (cheese balls, Italian pizza, lox and bagels, amazing cupcakes, the best muffins ever, meatball subs, fried green tomatos, etc….), after lights-out talking with Gracie, Emma, Nana, and KK all lined up in a row during which we were asked (and failed) to be quiet multiple times, meeting Aunt Dawn, getting to know some of the quieter Wachters, Joey Maria, and playing a rousing game of flashlight tag, during which I confirmed that the electric chicken fence was working just fine!

Sweet Henry

Carmella

Princess Ellie

Gracie, Cassie, and myself

Not long after I got home, I got a text informing me that the kids had taken a vote and I was officially dubbed an “honorary Wachter.” This is probably one of the best titles I’ve ever received – although I made sure to clarify that this wouldn’t interfere too much with my first-dibs on baby holding rights. It was determined that Brandon needs to spend more time with the family before he can officially hold this title as well, so we are heading back out in October.

One of our amazing meals!

I love this family – all 11 of them!


Just be warned, if you ever visit you will be convinced in believing that everything Italian is the best (and anything British comes in 2nd place), potato chips taste best after 10 p.m., and your own childhood (if you grew up with only 2 siblings like me) was extremely boring!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Great Bridesmaid Dress Adventure

If you had asked me at the beginning of wedding planning what I thought the most difficult part of the process would be I would have had a list of suggestions for you - finding a florist that was affordable, being able to find a date where our reception hall and church were available (okay, given that we are getting married in January I wasn't all that worried about that one), finding my dress, etc. But I don't think I would have anticipated what really has become my biggest wedding stressor - bridesmaid dresses.

The bridesmaid dress journey really starts a few years back when I made a vow to myself that I wouldn't be one of those brides who made her bridesmaids pay an extravagent amount for an ugly dress that they would only wear once. I have been a bridesmaid in 5 weddings now and have quite an intersting plethora of dresses - ranging from bubble gum pink to reflector blue, long and short, chiffon and satin. But at least I haven't paid upwards of $350+ for a dress - which is what some of my friends have recently been asked to do. However, this vow was ultimately much easier said than done.

I thought my original requirements were simple: grey, long, chiffon, and preferrably not strapless.

Problem 1: the color. I found out I have an extreme distaste for most grey dresses. In my opinion the wrong grey can look very matronly and unflattering. I also started getting frustrated with working the greys together - do I go light grey for dresses and a dark for table linens? I know, sounds ridiculous, but these little things can drive me nuts.

Solution: Black. Everyone looks good in black and black goes with everything. Grey and purple are still our primary colors but the whole wedding party will be in black. The plan is for color to still come in via the flowers, scarves, and possibly the men's ties.

Problem 2: the length. Not only is the selection of long dresses not great, I realized in talking to my bridesmaids that the majority of them would prefer something shorter. This ended up not really being a problem, more of just a change in plans. However, since I am not a fan of tea-length (does anyone else think it's awkward?) it was somewhat challenging to find something knee length. Not only do I have several tall bridesmaids but apparently bridesmaid dresses are starting to creep up to an uncomfortably short length.

Solution: Go shorter...but not too short.

Problem 3: When I found my wedding dress, the 2 consultants working with me immediately suggested that I look for bridesmaid dresses in chiffon. These bridal-savy women commented that chiffon would be the most complimentary material to my dress and would not take away from my dress in pictures. I of course agreed - after all, what do I know about fabrics and fashion?! The problem came when I started trying on bridesmaid dresses with 2 of my girls. While I do have girls in a variety of sizes, none of them is over a 14. However, we found that chiffon immediately made a size 12 look like a size 18+ (I think this is mostly because of the combination of the flowy chiffon material and the empire waist style that many chiffon dresses currently have). While chiffon seemed like the best way to go for several of my recently pregnant bridesmaids....it actually excentuated their hip/stomach area rather than hide it.

Solution: Ditch the chiffon and look for a fabric with more structure and support....but one that isn't too shiny.

Problem 4: I really didn't want strapless bridesmaid dresses. From a modesty standpoint Brandon had requested from the beginning that our final choice be very careful in avoiding any clevage or accentuating the chest. In addition, I don't typically wear anything strapless nor do I think it's comfortable! But when we starting looking I found (a) there are very few non-strapless fancier dresses out there, (b) the ones that aren't strapless are often very low cut and end up being less modest than strapless would be, and (c) it is a lot harder to find dresses with straps that work for multiple body types - strapless really seems to be more flattering. I spent a lot of time online or trying to come up with an alternative cover-up option, but I just couldn't seem to find something that was fancy enough or that would work with all my girls.

Solution: There was no solution to this problem. We ended up avoiding it, but I really thought for awhile that I was going to end up with strapless bridesmaid dresses - which bugged me.

And so my original requirements were thrown by the wayside. After 3 months of looking, my new requirements became - find anything that remotely works.

Why didn't I just have each girl pick out their own black dress?

There were a couple of reasons. First, I preferred to have all the girls in the same dress. Second, while I trust my bridesmaids, I knew that by picking out the dress myself it would have the length, lack of clevage, formality, etc. requirements Brandon and I wanted. Third, I talked to several girls who had been given this option by brides in the past. The main comments I recieved was that it was annoying and often more work trying to find a dress within the brides requiremnets, and that they still ended up spending just as much money for a dress they still only wore once.

I did attempt to deviate from traditional bridesmaid stores/lines and we had a couple of dresses ordered from different department stores, but I actually found that to find the formality I was looking for in a mainstream department store would often cost more than it would through a bridal store.

BUT - we found dresses :)

I met my sister-in-law at a nearby store to try on a dress I had found online. While trying it on (it looked awful on us both by the way) my mom grabbed a dress of the rack and handed it back to us. I hated it on the hanger, but once it was put on it worked! I made the executive decision that this was it and our journey was over. I gave a quick call to my matron of honor for her seal of approval and the decision was made.


Ultimate statistics:

Color: Black
Material: Satin - doesn't seem to be too shiny, but at this point I don't really care
Length: We had some of the girls order extra length so the dresses will ultimately hit right at the middle of the knee.
Neck: The dress has a scoop neck with straps that can go either off the shoulder or off to the side - the girls will have the latter.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reputation

This past weekend my future mother-in-law threw Brandon and I a beautiful wedding shower. Not only were we blessed to have a special time to celebrate with our Minnesota family and friends (many of who will not be able to travel to Michigan for the wedding) but my parents were also able to drive out for several days! This was especially exciting because Brandon and I have spent so much time talking about the places and people in MN that we know and love and we were finally able to introduce my parents to some of it.

But one of my favorite parts of the weekend was actually after our shower was over, when 6 friends stayed behind (the shower was a couples shower) along with both sets of our parents. All of the friends that remained are part of our wedding party, and 4 of them have been some of Brandon's closest guy friends for the past 10-20 years.

Towards the end of our evening Brandon and I pulled out some bios we had written up about our friends for our wedding website. Mine are okay, but Brandon's collaboration is an incredible depiction of his relationships with each friend. As the laughter died down, the tables turned and the guys began to speak.

With my parents present, these special friends began to share stories and testimonies about Brandon. I was amazed to see these men speak with such sincerity and vulnerability. As the reflections poured out there were clear traits that shown through - Brandon's character and ethics, his loyalty and friendship, his faith and determination, his discipline. I found myself in a place where not only where I felt incredibly blessed and in awe of the man about to become my husband, but also so grateful for the friendships in our lives. 

Over the past few months my family has really gotten to know Brandon. My parents especially have spent a lot of time with him, and much of that time has been in deep conversation. But I know that their presence for this conversation was extra special. Not necessarily because of the character traits discussed (they already knew all those great things about my man!), but because they saw the clear respect Brandon's friends have for him.

For so many years I prayed for a man I knew nothing about. Not only did I pray that he was out there :) but also for his faith, his heart, his direction, and his relationships. Each day that I spend with Brandon I am more and more aware of how specifically God has answered those prayers, and how he used our time apart to prepare us for one another. While we are both far from perfect, we are also both very blessed.

"He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."
Proverbs 13:20

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Renewed

Nearly 2 weeks have passed since the bar exam and many more since I was last able to post here. The past 2 weeks have been a time filled with much needed physical and emotional rest. 

As I ease back into the blogging world, I strongly encourage you to head over to Kathleen's blog and watch Addison's story - the testimony of their family, their new son, and their new ministry. Kathleen, Allen, and their children have come to hold a very special place in both Brandon and my hearts, and their strength in embracing the gift God has given them in Addison is truly inspiring.