(1. Paige and Gracey Mae (Ry’s sister and daughter), 2. Pete and Dallerie (Ry’s Mom and Dad), 3. Claire Bear and Gracey, 4. Cutting the cake, 5 & 6. Dancing, 7. Dallerie and Paige, 8. My ring.)
We have had a house full of family and friends for the past week.
A crazy, happy, FULL, loving house full of people who came to celebrate a top-secret wedding set to take place in Custer, SD.
On August 23rd … a perfect Thursday morning, a house full of women curled and painted and slid into dresses. Drank cocktails and traded make up secrets, laughed … and cried. So much happiness as I took a look at the girls in their pink dresses and Cade in his J.Crew suit with his pink bowtie.
And the chaos and anxiety of the flowers not being right, Caeden’s dress shirt MIA, everyone rushing into vehicles as we headed to Custer. Cocktails for the passengers.
A blue heart sewn into my wedding gown for my something blue. My engagement ring so generously given by Ry’s Mom – inherited from her Mom … for my something old (and something so precious it deserves a category all its own), a vintage hanky with pretty pink trim from my Mom for something borrowed. My family – my something new.
Vows handwritten on the back of a family picture, which I read over and over and over as we zipped to Custer. Ry and his Dad were waiting … and for that …I didn’t want to be late.
We got married in the place that meant the most to us. A place that last summer, just as we started to talk to each other but knew we were headed towards something special, Rylan discovered and mentioned, “This would be a beautiful place to get married.”
And so by the water, under the trees, in front of only family, Ry waited for me in his grey suit and pink tie.
My brother in law played acoustic guitar all the while …
Caeden walked towards him, carrying our rings tied to the family Bible. And the girls followed him, throwing rose petals.
And then Dad (you all know by now that Dad is Dave Koop – Wayne’s Dad) held my hand and walked me towards Rylan.
And my sister read a passage about the significance of our hands (to hold each other tight through life) before my dear friend Raphael officiated our ceremony.
We wrote our own vows, and Ry’s were amazing. I kept absorbing his words into my heart as my eyes never wavered from his.
And I choked on mine as I got to the middle of my vows when I praised God for him. For his love, his friendship, for my new family.
And after we kissed, we headed towards Hill City to have our reception at Prairie Berry Winery.
And after that, we went to a cabin at Sylvan Lake where we (he) built a fire, we watched shooting stars across the sky, and drank a very special bottle of wine.
With a house full of family and friends waiting, we headed home Friday and through a big BBQ Saturday evening to announce our secret to all those not at the wedding.
And then we (he) spent Sunday recovering.
And now the house is quiet and Caeden is at school and I have this moment to tell you that I’m Valerie Johnson and I am not sure how that is going to affect my work name, my email, my anything … but I did change my name on facebook because it seemed to be the easiest of baby steps.
And I haven’t looked at a single picture taken except for the SUPER FUN Polaroids that Paige (my new sister!!) took.
So, very professional like, I took a picture of a few with my phone to post here.
You’d never know I did this for a living, would you?
But I love them and I cherish them and even if this is all I have to remember the night by,
My Cup Runneth Over.
We danced to Blower’s Daughter by Damien Rice before twisting the night away with the kids.
Simple, perfect, intimate, and forever.
(Do you have ANY idea how hard this was to keep quiet? Glad to finally be able to tell you what I’ve been dreaming about.)
Get ready for lots of wedding pictures (soon) and then we’ll return to regular programming.