October 25, 2011


Israel and I actually went to high school together. I am two years older so we knew each other, but it wasn’t until five years ago this Thanksgiving-eve that we ran into one another at a local bar and started talking. The night before Thanksgiving is like an unofficial holiday (I assume it’s like that in a lot of small towns). We were both home visiting our families; he was living in North Carolina at the time, and I was in Chicago. The next fall I moved back to Ohio, and Israel was not far behind.

{my fav high school picture of my Mr... who would have known then that we would get hitched!}

Israel proposed July 2nd, 2010. He hid the antique ring in a guitar case and acted like he was showing me an expensive new guitar he had “purchased” (a new guitar he had actually acquired by trading one of his old ones). I would have been 100% fooled if he had not been on one knee.

We immediately agreed the most important things to us were the reception being a great party for our friends and family, and for the wedding day to feel like “us”. We also had a budget to keep in mind. It was important to my parents to purchase my wedding dress, and they also wanted to cover the open bar (which was amazing!). With that in mind, Israel and I set a modest budget for the rest of our festivities, and started saving! We quickly ruled out having our wedding in Columbus - Ohio, where we live now, and decided to have it in the small town of Shelby where we both grew up.

There are not a lot of reception venue options in a small town and we really wanted to do something different. I had always dreamed of having my reception in a tent outside, but after making a few phone calls I realized it was too expensive. We decided to check out the Ohio State Reformatory in nearby Mansfield, Ohio. The Reformatory is an old prison built in 1896. It is most famous for being where "Shawshank Redemption" was filmed. While it is not what you would typically think of as the “ideal” wedding reception site, we knew we had found our place while we were still standing in line to buy tickets for a tour last July. It made for a lot of interesting conversations throughout the next year when people asked where we were having our reception, and the anticipation was evident among our friends and family!

The scene below is from Shawshank Redemption. Shawshank used this room for the chow hall, and it is the room where our reception took place. 

...and it takes on a very different look for our reception!

I had a vision of everything looking vintage, romantic and whimsical. It was really important to both of us to have lots of personal touches; we wanted everything to feel un-stuffy and laid back. We saved a lot of money by working together and finding ways to do things ourselves. With a ton of help from my parents and my sister/maid of honor/honorary wedding coordinator, Katie, all of the projects were completed. We don’t know how we would have done it without the help of our family and friends.

We got married in the same church that my Mom and Dad, and my Grandparents were married in – St Mary’s. It is a beautiful Catholic church, and I had pictured walking down that aisle with my father since I was a little girl. The actual moment was full of more emotion that I ever could have imagined. There were things I thought I would care about: the rain, the heat in the NON air-conditioned church, and both of those elements evoking my natural curl and frizzy hair. But those things did not even faze me that day... I was too happy and having too much fun to care {although, looking back at pictures... maybe someone should have told me to find a mirror and fix my mop}.

Recently married friends warned us to take the day in because it goes by so fast, but we were not prepared for how true that really was! It was a happy blur that we wish we could relive. What an overwhelming feeling to walk into a room and be surrounded by everyone you love. Our wedding day was the best day of our lives, and our friends danced the night away. We could not have asked for more.

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