A church fire, a dislocated kneecap, and 7+ inches of rain weren’t going to get in the way of Allison and Brad tying the knot and celebrating with friends and family! Their small town wedding was full of special moments and sweet details, and Allison kindly answered all of our questions about the day…
“My entire Dad’s side of the family is Catholic and all of us kids were raised Catholic, so it was important to me to be married in our church,” says Allison. “The church I grew up going to was large and old, with stained glass windows from Germany and an incredibly large organ that had been broken way before my time. The high, white ceiling with gold trim and long aisle are a bride’s dream! However, the 200+ year old church caught fire roughly eight months before our wedding. With our date set and everything arranged, there was not much we could do but wait and hope. I was told there was little chance of the church being ready, but being the hard headed and stubborn person I am, I refused to have a Plan B and went ahead planning our ceremony as if there had not been a fire. About two weeks before our wedding they welcomed people back for the first mass. The church was far from done, with lighting, sound system, painting, carpet, and much more to do, but people could at least be in it! It was heaven to us! The people who donated money, time, and talent were amazing. I think it made it even more special to us to have our wedding there.”
Your ceremony in three words. Traditional, Simple, Beautiful.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? Because we were having a Catholic ceremony, we met with our priest several times leading up to the wedding. A Catholic ceremony is pretty traditional, but we decided not to have a full mass – we wanted to have a simple ceremony, with the focus on us and our desire to be married in front of God and our friends and family. Our priest gave us a template of how the ceremony would go and we got to choose the readings and music. He let us know what we had to include and what we could skip. Our Catholic church doesn’t allow your to write your own vows, which we were completely fine with – I know we would have both been blubbering messes! We didn’t choose readings that were directly about marriage, but more about what it means to be a good person and what God asks of us in daily life – readings that spoke to us.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? This is a hard one – can I say the entire thing? I loved walking down the aisle with my dad. I loved when we got to the front of the church and seeing Brad and him shaking my dad’s hand. // My nephew, Luke, was such a character during the ceremony. He took his job as ring bearer very seriously! He also decided to look doubly handsome and wore both a bow tie and a neck tie – the “bowtie tie” it became known that day! I think it will catch on. // Seeing Brad get emotional and talking to distract him was another favorite part. Everyone laughed because we chatted through the whole thing, but it was our way of handling being in the spotlight and the overwhelming sense of the importance of what we were doing. // Oh and the kiss! The priest forgot to say, “You may now kiss the bride!” and we were kind of left hanging, so there was a moment we looked at each like, “Now what?” Later my sister told me that my nephew, Luke thought it was his job to say, “You may now kiss your prize!” and was seconds from yelling it out. I wish he would have! // After we walked back down the aisle, we wanted a moment with just each other to really let it all sink in. We went upstairs to the balcony and shared a few minutes just talking and saying over and over, “We just got married!” I loved overlooking the balcony and seeing all of our guests – it was such a neat moment to see everyone we love all be there in one place and all for us.
Tell us about any special details from your ceremony. My favorite book is Emma by Jane Austen, and in the movie Emma they throw flower petals and wave wedding wands. So for our ceremony exit, my best friend made paper cones out of the pages of Emma that we filled with lilac, hydrangea, and rose petals, and we had wedding wands made with ribbon and bells and small flowers. They were perfect! // Brad’s stepdad, Roger, let us borrow his 1963 corvette, a car he holds very dear and one that Brad has never seen driven by anyone other than Roger. Brad was so nervous driving it!
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? The night of our rehearsal we had to wait for the painters and electricians to finish and leave the church. We laughed so hard at our luck and how wonderful everything was turning out to be. The church was so gorgeous that I didn’t think there was any need to decorate. Why clutter and complicate something that they worked so hard on! // I think I mentioned the entire thing already! A special moment for me was when we were getting ready to leave the convent where us girls were getting ready and everyone had gathered my dress and we were all ready to make a dash for it in the rain when out of nowhere it stops, and we walked the few steps to the church in sunshine… and then it started raining again! // Due to the church fire and wiring problems, there was a problem with the sound system that couldn’t be quickly fixed the night of our rehearsal. The musicians came to me and gently broke the news. We were not able to have the songs that we had chosen, and with no time to panic, I decided to just let the musicians choose the songs for the ceremony. I had known them for years from church, they knew me, and everything they sing is amazing, so I put my faith in them and it was completely wonderful. People still comment on how beautiful the music was and how perfectly it highlighted our ceremony.
“I couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else besides the center of my tiny town with everyone I know, so we chose to have our reception in my family’s backyard,” says the bride. “I am from a town of around 50 people in the middle of nowhere and everyone had a part in helping with it one way or another. I’ve always known it was a special place to grow up and be a part of, and that was definitely apparent on our wedding day – when it rained seven and a half inches that week and everyone was either barefoot or put on boots to party in the mud.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? I was really influenced by Jane Austen and British country weddings. I wanted an English garden wedding with Italian simplicity. I brought all of our favorite things into our wedding, even if it didn’t match or fit, and made it about friends, family, food, and us. I also wanted it to be timeless, simple, and romantic, like it could have been a hundred years ago or yesterday.
Please tell us about any special details from your wedding. My entire family came from all over to attend the wedding, and many hadn’t been in Leonard since my grandmother died twelve years ago, so there were a lot of tears shed for everyone to be back. I had to take the opportunity to get a family photo on the front porch of my parents’ home where there was a photo taken every year when my grandmother was alive. I knew she was there with us that entire day. // The most special detail was Brad’s wedding gift to me. He built a walnut farmhouse table for us to sit at during the reception. He told me that it was where we would have our first meal as a married couple, and that it will be our family table for years to come, and he hoped that our children and lives would grow around that table. Knowing that he had worked on it for months and the thought he put into it is exactly why I married him.
What was your favorite moment or part of the day? That’s such a hard question because there wasn’t a single moment I didn’t like, but I have to say dancing in the rain! I know they were photographing us but in that moment it almost felt like it was just us dancing in our kitchen.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? Our ceremony was very traditional, but our reception on the other hand was not traditional at all. We didn’t want to be announced, no garter toss, and no bouquet toss, which was probably for the best because my bouquet was so huge! It would have knocked someone out! Beautiful but huge!
What advice do you have for other brides? Don’t stress about the weather or the details. You can’t do anything about the weather, and no one will notice tiny monograms or favors, but they will notice your attitude and joy, even if things aren’t going as planned. Think about the bigger picture, which is that you are marrying someone you love and leave it at.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? I have never heard of any wedding having as many obstacles as ours did – the church fire, over seven inches of rain that week, the groom dislocating his kneecap six days before the wedding. It was a true testament to our friends and family to brave the elements and kick off their shoes to celebrate our day in a foot of mud. Every disaster and obstacle we faced gave our wedding day so much character and life that I wouldn’t have changed it for anything in the world. God had a far better idea of how our wedding would go than we did and I thank him for giving us such a memorable and fun wedding – the little details were lost in the rain but the love for each other, our friends and family, and the fun we were all having together endured.