Our Wedding: The Ceremony

If you missed our previous wedding recaps, please check those out first! Here are the most recent:


Unless otherwise noted, all the photos in this post are credited to our awesome wedding photographers, Ben and Taylor, of Ben Powell Photography. They did SUCH a great job!

Before I start talking about the ceremony, I first have to say how lucky we were that it didn’t rain. Thank you again, weather gods, for being amenable to our plans. :)


Our wedding ceremony was held on the lawn of beautiful Rosemont Manor in Berryville, VA. I was awed at how gorgeous everything looked – the venue’s on-site coordinator and our florist, Flowers Unlimited, did such a beautiful job putting everything together. This was all their vision because I had no idea what to do in terms of decorations, but I loved it! Simple and classic.



After getting ready and taking our solo photos, the girls and I waited upstairs, sneaking peaks out the window at the guests arriving. Eep! (I was cold, hence the pashmina.)


Before I knew it, they were calling for us to line up. All of us would walk out of the house, onto the front portico with the beautiful pillars, down the stairs and down the aisle. The men lined up downstairs while we lurked upstairs out of view. At this point, I started feeling kind of nervous. I remember hearing the music start outside. This was really it! Gah!

We hired a string trio from Labrador Entertainment to play during the ceremony. They did a wonderful job, highly recommended.


The entrances began with Matt taking my grandmother, my mother, and his mother down the aisle. Apparently everyone was laughing because he kept walking in and out!


Next up, the groomsmen made their grand entrance:


Matt, walking down the aisle to join them up front:


My beautiful bridesmaids:


Still in love with the bouquets. So beautiful!


And our cheap Joanne Fabrics ribbons worked out perfectly for a splash of color on the dress!


And then it was my turn.


Walking down the aisle was completely surreal. I remember taking a deep breath and the doors flying open. Pachelbel’s Canon in D began to play. This was really it. There Matt was, there EVERYONE was, waiting for me. I get chills just thinking about it now.


Matt and I came up with our own ceremony program with the help of the Internet. Neither of us is particularly religious, so we didn’t want a lot of traditional language, and we also wanted some cute, quirky readings that reflected our personalities.


After welcoming everyone and our declaration of consent, we had our sealing of the “Love Letter Box.”


The Love Letter Box was a fun idea that I found online while perusing some ceremony program options. Here’s how our Officiant explained it to everyone:

At this time I’d like to draw your attention to the box beside Matt and Anne. They have written letters to each other expressing their feelings as they begin
their marriage. They have detailed why they fell in love and what they truly admire about the other person. These letters were sealed before they could be
read and given to their mothers for safekeeping. Together we will place the letters in the box and seal the box. On the happy occasion of Matt and Anne’s anniversary, they will open the box and read the letters together. Each year, after reading their letters, they will write new ones to seal in the box for the following year.


After the box was sealed, our readings started. First, we asked Matt’s sister-in-law (and now my sister-in-law, too!) Jess to read the following:

“The Art of a Good Marriage” by Wilferd Arlan Peterson

A good marriage must be created.
In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once each day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.
It is finding room for the things of the spirit.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is not only marrying the right partner…
It is being the right partner.

Matt and I loved that passage – we looked through tons online and it really stood out to us among the rest. When Jess started to read, the microphone didn’t work, so our Officiant went over and held out his lapel mic for her instead. :)


Next, we asked my cousin Keith to read the following untitled passage by Victor Hugo.

You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.

The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love.

Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again.

And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.


Following the readings, our Officiant offered his homily. Matt and I met with him a number of times before the ceremony to talk details and share more about our relationship and why we love each other, and he created his presentation based on that. We had NO idea what he was going to do but it ended up being perfect – so quirky, sweet, and casual.

He started with an analogy, using rice (he jokingly shared that he had gotten brown rice instead of white since it was for us) and large walnuts. He stated that in this case, the brown rice was the “little stuff.” The stuff that happens every day, that you need to get done, but it isn’t necessarily anything huge. The walnuts were the “big stuff” – so our relationship, our family, things like that.


He held up a jar. First, he put all the brown rice into the jar. He explained that this is often what happens. Everyone gets caught up in their own lives, all the little stuff that’s stressing us out every day, everything on our to do list, and all of that. With all of the brown rice in the jar, he next tried to fit in the walnuts, or the “big stuff.” But, surprise!, there wasn’t space.


Then, he emptied the jar, and put the walnuts in first this time. This, he explained, should be your focus. The small stuff should come after the bigger stuff. When the walnuts were already in the jar, he poured the brown rice in around it. And what do you know? It all fit. :)


A good reminder, especially during these busy days, to always remember what really matters. He gave us the jar with the brown rice and walnuts inside to keep as a nice reminder of this and our big day.

Next, he juggled little hacky sack cows as an analogy that things can be crazy and upside down, but you can still end up with something good (a “milkshake” – hilarious). No, I’m serious. Matt and I were cracking up like, where is this going? And even more hilarious was that he dropped them the first time. It was all so quirky and awesome. He definitely nailed “us”.


Next, it was time to get serious again. We were ready to say our vows!

“I, Matt, take you, Anne, to be my wife, to have and to hold for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part.”


“I, Anne, take you, Matt, to be my husband, to have and to hold for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part.”


And then came the exchange of the rings, which Matt had given to his brother, Chris, to hold on to right before the ceremony.




Chris handed our Officiant the rings, and then… he dropped them. I heard an audible gasp from the crowd, and Matt and I promptly burst out laughing. :) Thankfully, they didn’t roll away!


Okay, now we’re really ready.

“Anne, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.”




“Matt, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love for you, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.”



Runaway veil! Lol.


“By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”


“You may kiss the bride!”



“Ladies and gentlemen: I now present to you – for the first time – Mr. and Mrs.!”


We’re married!!





Above photo via Elle 


And with that, it was official!


We all retreated into the house to grab a snack and get ready to head outside for more pictures.

Stay tuned – my next installment in the wedding recap series will be photos from our official wedding party and new married couple photo shoot! I’ll share those sometime in the next week or so. Sorry it took so long to get this post up!


  1. 1
    T.G.I.F!!! (the goal is fitness) says

    That was an amazing recap. So special.
    (made me smile -and sigh, a few times)

    Gorgeous photos! Thank you for the beautiful memory.
    ps sorry for sitting on the wrong side! Lol! :-)

  2. 2
    Natalie @ freshlifefindings says

    Your wedding was beautiful! Our officiant dropped our rings too! They slid right off his bible and thankfully the wood slats on the deck didnt have cracks :)

  3. 4

    Congratulations Anne! I love the officiant’s use of the walnuts and the rice – it’s so true that we focus many times on the little day-to-day things and forget about the big stuff. The photos are gorgeous!

  4. 5

    What a gorgeous ceremony!! My husband and I lucked out with a beautiful sunny day in October too. :-)

    Hope you have a wonderful honeymoon!

  5. 6

    So beautiful!! Congratulations once again. :)

  6. 7

    Beautiful! Loved how much of your personalities were in it. We also chose slightly different readings (one from MLK and one from Hemmingway) and everyone commented that it was so very us. The perfect compliment of what we were trying to do!

    And you will always remember the silly parts. More than six years since our wedding, the first thing I always think of is my husband messing up the vows because our officiant, my father-in-law, threw in some line about “I plight thee my troth.” It was something we hadn’t gone over before the ceremony and for the life of him, my husband could NOT say that. It took him three tries. We were all laughing and it’s always the first thing I think about of our ceremony and reminds me what a fun and happy day it was.

    Congratulations on a beautiful day unique to you two.

    • 8

      Totally agree! We loved that we were laughing during it and not all went as planned. Much more memorable. That’s too funny about “I plight thee my troth”! I wouldn’t have been able to say that, either!

  7. 9

    YAY!!!! The photos came out amazing!!! Way to go Ben! It was a great recap of a great wedding! :)

  8. 10
    Pat Elsberry says

    Anne, that was a fabulous recap! I really loved the idea of the “Love Letter Box”! Hmmm.. wonder if you can begin that at 10 yrs. down the road?! It will be such a wonderful reminder of why you fell in love and married in the first place and how cool to reflect on those letters as the years go by! I also loved all the funny moments – the officiant dropping the cows, the rings and the runaway veil! LOL! You were a beautiful bride and these photos highlighted the beauty of your gown and your day!
    (p.s. Your grandmother is a beautiful woman!!).

  9. 12

    Beautiful ceremony! Seems to really have been personalized and perfect for you.

  10. 13

    I love the kissing shots – so sweet :) your photography did a great job!

  11. 14

    Everything looked so beautiful! As I was reading it I had a smile from ear to ear :-)

  12. 15

    Amazing. You are a beautiful bride and the wedding seems to fit you and Matt to a T! I would have cracked up if a priest was juggling at a wedding… SO funny!

  13. 16

    Gorgeous wedding and I like the hilarious and quirky things throughout. The Officiant at my wedding emphasized during the rehearsal that we were to ‘cup our hand’ under the rings so if we dropped them they would land in our hands! Apparently it’s very common to drop rings during a ceremony.

  14. 18

    So it *might* be my pregnancy hormones, but this post definitely made me tear up. What a beautiful ceremony! Thanks for sharing :)

  15. 20

    Ahhh, you and Matt are so cute! :) Great recap and the pictures are awesome! Loved the beautiful quotes as well.

  16. 21

    Beautiful recap, Anne!!! Congratulations again to you and Matt! Sounds like it was a perfect day, and the photos are incredible. You were truly a stunning bride!

  17. 22

    Aww! Your ceremony was beautiful, and I love your wedding dress! Also, nice taste with the bridesmaids’ dresses- my sisters wore the same ones to my wedding in September :)

  18. 23

    Loved reading this since I am in the midst of planning my wedding! I’ve thought a lot about the ceremony, and loved the idea for the love letters. Thanks for sharing :)

  19. 24

    So Pretty!! I love the idea with the letters in the box. I seen something like that but it was for when your marriage hit a rough spot. That didn’t sound very romantic! Your idea was much better!!

    I just got married too and can’t wait to see my wedding pictures. My photog was great but taking his time getting them ready!!

  20. 25

    Beautiful pictures and such a fun recap to read! :-)

  21. 26

    What a beautiful ceremony! Love all the laughter and joy ( and your dress- the back is gorgeous!). Thanks for sharing w us.

    Ps. The groomsman in the photo at the w of the post right before the photo of Matt’s parents ( ?) is cute! ;-)

  22. 27

    Haha the pashmina pic in the beginning is funny b/c that DEF would’ve been me! #alwayscold
    What a beautiful ceremony. Those rings and the photo of them among the flowers – just breathtaking. I still can’t get over your gorgeous dress.

  23. 28

    What a beautiful venue!! All the pictures look so great with that bright, blue sky! Thanks for sharing the recap.

  24. 29

    What a beautiful ceremony!! I could not be happier for either of you :)

  25. 30

    Your wedding ceremony looked beautiful!! I think the funny, unplanned quirks in the wedding are the most memorable parts sometimes :) So great!

  26. 31

    The long-awaited post! I don’t know if I ever told you, but I LOVED the readings you two chose. So beautiful. And the officiant was awesome, too :)

  27. 32

    I love these photos- I will never forget the rice and walnuts proverb, that was SO CREATIVE! I hope there will also be photos of Matt singing Johnny Be Good with the band coming in the next installment ;-)

  28. 33

    Absolutely gorgeous pics! I’m in love with your dress (and the pashmina is so pretty!) It all belongs in a magazine! You should be a wedding planner!

  29. 34

    Absolutely beautiful! Congrats again!

  30. 35

    Great photos! I wish both of you all the very very very best!! :)

  31. 36

    I’ve been waiting for this post!!! You look absolutely beautiful and I love the fact that there were some quirky things that happened during the ceremony. Keeps it light and fun and makes it super memorable:) Nobody will forget!

  32. 37

    Congratulations! What a beautiful day!

  33. 38

    such a beautiful ceremony…that part of our wedding just seemed absolutely perfect. It’s so romantic!
    Your dress was absolutely gorgeous too, Anne!!

  34. 39

    Congratulations Anne! Thank you for sharing your beautiful and touching ceremony. I wish you and Matt much happiness.

  35. 40

    I have loved every wedding post! Everything seems to be made just for you guys and your personalities really shined through. Beautiful!

  36. 41
    Healthy Eater says

    Just beautiful…

  37. 42

    Love the quirkiness of your officiants homily!! awesome. I’ve heard something similar that a professor said to his class. You looked beautiful!! Did you have a plan of what you would do if it rained?

  38. 44

    The wind blowing your veil made for amazing photos! The funny moments like Matt dropping the rings will be special funny memories everyone will remember. My husband crashed a car on our wedding day and we always laugh about it now.

  39. 45

    Beautiful ceremony! I just got married last Saturday and our best man dropped one of the rings. At first everyone thought he was joking, but it was definitely an accident. We got married on a 4th floor terrace, so it could have been bad, but luckily it was just a funny moment!

  40. 46

    We did a similar Love Letter Box at our wedding too, only ours is to wait until our 5 year anniversary to open it (at least, I think that’s what we decided!). But it would be cool to keep opening it up, reading the letters and writing new letters.

  41. 47

    Hi Anne, your wedding looks beautiful! Congratulations to you both.

    Would you mind sharing where your Mom got the top she’s wearing? My daughter is getting married in Feb. and I’ve been looking for something like it with no success. I love it, very classy! Thanks in advance. :)

  42. 48

    AWWWW!! I love this! The ceremony seemed so loving and fun and just perfect. I love the idea of the love letter box. And you looked phenomenal. HUGE CONGRATS to you & Matt! Hope you’re enjoying your honeymoon!

  43. 49

    I’m a regular reader, but just getting to this post a bit late. Your pictures are gorgeous and it looks like your wedding day was filled with love and laughter.

    I must say, I just ADORE that you’ve included all the hiccups of the day! I got married 2 years ago, (celebrated our second anniversary in October – GREAT wedding month!), and what made my day special were all the silly and unexpected hiccups – our wedding bands were forgotten! (we used my husband’s grandmother’s engagement ring – SO meaningful) and I spilled RED! wine on my dress at dinner (my hubby dipped his tie in said wine and splashed it on his shirt to make me feel better <3).

    Marriage, in my short 2 years of experience, has been defined by the unexpected and silly, and how we've responded as a couple. I just love the honest, beautiful and meaningful story that you've shared of your wedding day! Thanks so much, Anne! :) All the best and wishing you a wonderful honeymoon! :)

  44. 51

    Your dress is BEAUTIFUL! If my husband and I ever renew our vows, I want to wear a dress like yours haha

  45. 52

    I just stumbled upon your blog and realized I wore the same exact wedding dress. Great taste! Looks like a beautiful wedding.

  46. 53

    What a beautiful day! I think weddings can be such wonderful things and yours seemed so lovely. I really like your blog and really love this post (even though I know its nott hat recent).
    Thanks for the stories and great recipes!

  47. 55

    Ah I just loooove this post!! Everything looked so beautiful. I love that you made the ceremony your own with unique readings. I’ll have to remember that! Also the picture of you and Matt grinning from ear to ear right before you kissed is so precious :)


  1. […] can hardly believe it, but it’s been almost exactly 1 year since Matt and I said “I do” on a beautiful, sunny October day in […]

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