Snapshots: Halvorson wedding behind the scenes

This will be my last wedding related post for a while ( I promise). But I thought you might enjoy seeing a few more behind the scenes pictures collected from iphones (along with a few professional shots) that have come in from Matt and Stina’s wedding. If you haven’t read up on the wedding events then you may want to skim these posts: The RehearsalThe WeddingThe Reception,  before scrolling through these extra snapshots.

Here they are:

Getting ready:

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Post-picture lunch/brunch break with family and bridal party:

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My mom’s mother and my cousin Paige

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My Dad’s Mom and the sixpence for Stina’s wedding shoe

Stina waiting for the guests to arrive watching them from the upstairs window and entertaining the flower girls:

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Prayer time for Stina with all the bridesmaids and female relatives:

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Time to line up for the wedding:

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The ceremony (and singing):

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The processional:

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Matt’s best friend from high school and I

Celebrating after:

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My mom, my Aunt, and I

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Cousins iphone moment

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From left to right: my father (in law), my dad’s dad, and my hubby

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Matt and Stina snapshots:

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Something borrowed-hairclip from me

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rainbow polka dot socks so my brother wouldn’t get cold feet

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Details from the reception:

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at the trail mix bar

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family wedding photos

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mailbox to fill with advice and wedding cards

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wall of pictures of Matt and Stina growing up

Let’s Dance!:

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Traditional Norwegian folk dancing

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Saying Goodbye!:

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Thats all for now! Thanks for reading and sharing in this wonderful family event!!

To the Brides to be . . .

As we come down to the last few days before my brothers wedding (sorry if you are getting tired of hearing about this-I’ll be done on this topic soon). I think back to my wedding day which was-honestly a blur. There are moments that stand out in my mind good, stressful, and bad but let’s just say I’m grateful we had it all video taped because I could use a reminder of the play by play beyond what I planned for.

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But one thing I do know is that a lot of pressure is put on this one day, that one moment, this one event that when you get finally get there-it’s a little difficult to know how to feel, how to move forward or what to do. Many bridal magazine will try to tell you how “to look and feel your best” the day of your wedding . But this advice is usually superficial at best: detox tea, face masks, deep breathing exercises etc. only work so well. So I thought I would write a little realistic advice to the brides to be out there for their wedding days.

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Pause, breathe, and take it in-no need to rush!!

There will  be a lot of activity the day of your wedding people decorating the space, the caterers delivering food, or the cake people doing the same, florists, set up of tables and decorations. Then there is also all of the family, and wedding party with their different duties and assignments. Not only that, but every one will want to talk, see, or visit with you while you are being pushed and pulled by those doing your makeup and hair

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With everyone so busy around you, it’s easy to get caught up in the anxious rushed high. But you do not have to worry about a detail-that (hopefully) has already been delegated to those who love you and have volunteered to help.You need to pause, breathe, and take it in. The wedding can’t start without you (and everyone expects it to start a little late anyways).

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For example,  I had met with my florist only once and since I have a green thumb, the flowers and table decorations were very important to me. I was couped up in the bridal room for hours so Luke wouldn’t see me. When it was finally time for me to leave the room  I wanted so badly to look at the tables, knowing that by the time I would see them again I would  be busy at the reception and it would be dark. The assistant wedding coordinator told me to take a moment to take it in -it was a necessary  to breath and relax before heading down the aisle.

Recognize significant moments and take them in fully

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We all know those moment you want to remember from your wedding day (maybe it is all of them) but the reality is most of it will be a blur. And yes, all of the moments of this day are significant but which of them will be captured in a picture or on the video that you can look back on -and which ones will not?

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For me : these moments are when my dad first saw me in my dress, or when my grandmothers joined the bridal room. Some of these moments are unplanned, such as getting colored drawings from our younger guests, or a passing piece of advice from a friend or relative, a laugh, a glance at your new husband. Things only you can capture and remember.

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Focus on the positive and the big picture. 

As much as you are the one planning through every detail you cannot control it all. You are yourself and are working with humans– it may not all go exactly as you had planned (sorry to be so honest) but it will all be wonderful and beautiful.

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I am a detail oriented with a type A personality. So to give control of so much of “my day” to those around me in hopes it will all go well is difficult-but I had not choice. Of course there are things you cannot predict. For example, there was a miscommunication about one of the groomsmen suits. So a couple from Luke’s side of the family drove quickly back into town to pick it up and back to the wedding right in time. ( I didn’t hear about any of this until Luke and I were driving away that night). Also I could not predict that my dress’ bustle would keep falling out as people stepped on my dress in the tight reception space.  It may not all happen how you want, but if you focus on the positive and the big picture you’ll realize it is amazing.

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Take a quiet moment to yourself

As I mentioned in my first point, you will be surrounded by many people from the moment you get up until you are alone with your husband in the car leaving for the honeymoon. If you are anything like me and even the slight bit of an introvert, a few seconds of quiet time to yourself to take in the day is important. This may mean taking a few minutes to meditate, journal, pray, listen to some music,or go on a short walk before getting going that morning.

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For me, after everyone was seated for the ceremony, and my bridesmaids sent out for the processional, I was left alone. I got a few precious moments in the bridal room to myself. There I was able to pray, look myself in the mirror and take it all in before greeting everyone else.

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Get a calm or relaxing moment with your bridesmaids and/or female friends before the wedding

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Much like the last point, it may be equally important if you are an extrovert to take a few minute to have a calm moment with you female relatives and friends before the wedding. This may be a toast, and encouragement. It could be a time to pray together or just a moment of silence. Or it could be a chance to exchange gifts.

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My wonderful bridesmaids set up time for an informal toast where grandmothers, mothers, friends, cousins, and bridesmaids all gathered and shared encouragement and congratulations. After most of my family had left the bridal room I gathered with my bridesmaids, mother, our pastor, and soon to be mother-in-law to pray for and over the day. This helped calm all of our nerves and help us focus no longer on getting ready but being ready.

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Celebrate

Once the formalness of the wedding ceremony (and pictures) are over remember to switch modes and celebrate. When the reception comes, yes there are still traditional events happening but this is a celebration time. Be yourself, laugh, joke, talk with friends, dance, and enjoy and be in the moment.

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side note: make sure you have talked through the reception pacing with your MC/DJ. It is important that your MC/DJ knows how to space out the events at your reception. You may want to get all the traditional cake cutting, bouquet toss, toasts etc. over with right away so you can enjoy the dancing and food. Or you may want to space things out, get breaks in between so you can greet people, eat, rest, (or go to the bathroom).

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I was under the assumption, since the MC/DJ was hired by the venue, that he would know and keep a moderate pace for all of the reception events. I figured he would take some time for dancing and socializing between the cake cutting and bouquet toss etc. Instead I was asked at the reception what I wanted to do!!  Unprepared to make any type of decision at my wedding I have no idea what to answer. So all reception events happened quickly in a row-so fast few knew they were happening to enjoy them or take pictures. Then a large amount of time was given at the end for dancing. Because it was dark, and getting cold, people began to leave early since all main events were over. This gave me limited time to see everyone as well as it left a very limited grouping to enjoy the dance floor.

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Remember: at the end of the day no matter how all the pieces, details, and events unfold you are leaving your wedding and starting a life with your new husband.

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Yes that big day  is important, but the decision and promises you’ve made on that day will mark the days to come which will be even more significant. If you keep that in mind,  focusing on the purpose of the day and your future spouse, your wedding day will be a positive blur and one you know is only the beginning.  .  .

Tell them Thank You!

We are now counting down to my little brother’s wedding.  In T minus 16 days, I’ll be the proud big sister standing with the other bridesmaids watching every moment up close.

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my brother’s wedding in only 2 weeks

When I think back to my wedding, one of those last minute details was personal gifts and thanks yous to those who mattered most: bridesmaids, groomsmen, family, and others who significantly helped in the journey to the day at the altar. If you read my Favors from Friends a great way to Save blogpost then this will be an expansion on my last important note: don’t forget to tell them Thank You!!!

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Bridesmaid gifts:

Traditionally brides give their bridesmaids a small gift the day of the wedding usually as everyone is getting ready. It is common for this gift to be  jewelry such as earrings, a pendant necklace, or bracelet that the bridesmaids can wear that day.

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As you may recall, I had a family friend make bracelets with purple glass beads and a golden clasp for my bridesmaids. These bracelets was casual enough my bridesmaids could wear them again buy classy enough for the wedding.

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But you do not have to be traditional and give jewelry.  How about some lip gloss, or small sample-size hand lotion? Maybe you can’t budget-in these gifts. You can alway make a small personal keep sake or of course keep it simple and write a thank you card. The gifts are no where near as important to your female friends and family then a personal thank you note recognizing their help in getting you to this significant day.

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Groomsmen gifts:

Luke chose to give out nice hunting knives to his group of Northwestern groomsmen. Although guys are not as apt to write detailed thank you notes, it is a good idea to have something small to recognize they chose to be there for you and to thank them. How about a beer or coffee mug? Sunglasses if it’s a summer wedding?

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Or maybe you just want to take some time to get coffee, a beer, or a burger with them before the wedding hits. (Some time other than the bachelor party); low key hang-out which you can do with everyone or each individually.

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Ring bearer, Flower Girl gifts

For a kid being in a wedding requires a lot of patience, wearing fancy clothes all day, and a large amount of time spent with grown-ups. So taking the time to thank them for being good is important. I chose to buy my flower girl  jewelry from Claire’s: a little costume pearl bracelet set and a necklace.

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Again, you do not have to give jewelry. What do little girls like?  Bubbles, coloring books, dolls, stuffed animals, get creative!!  I did not have a ring bearer but think about giving him small toys like bouncy balls, hot wheel cars (or a cheap version), coloring books, toy dinosaurs etc. Of course remember to buy age appropriate toy!!

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Volunteer Helpers:

I had good friends volunteer to do my hair and another to do my makeup. I knew neither one of them would accept a check for their services. So instead I bought them both gift cards for facials from our esthetician friend.  You may have all paying services, but if you have asked a friend to MC, be the DJ, wedding coordinate, take photos/video, or professionally do everyone’s hair/ makeup and they are not getting paid for it-consider at least a 5 dollar Starbucks thank you card.

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I gave these thank yous to my helpers the day of the wedding but you can always mail it to them later if you are concerned about them getting lost in the after wedding clean-up.

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Mom: (person that helped you plan/coordinate the most)

For me it was important to recognize my Mom. She was my right hand women during the whole engagement process: dealing with my stressed moments and helping me make decisions, stick to a budget, and a timeline.  So I bought my mom a ring with amber and amethyst colored stones which she could wear at the wedding.

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Your mother may not be your go-to girl. Maybe it is your maid of honor, a sister, a cousin, a roommate, or best friend. Whether you can afford a gift or not taking the time get to coffee or drinks, or just pulling them aside in the middle of pre-wedding events to share your appreciation is important. You know that without them you would have given up on trying to properly get down the aisle and given into the temptation to elope months ago.

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Grooms/Brides gift

In some circles it is also tradition that the night before the wedding the bride and groom give each other a small gift; something simple to say “thank you for getting through the past few months of craziness with me”.  After the wedding rehearsal, Luke and I sat in the car for a few quiet moments alone.  It is then that I chose to give Luke a card expressing some thoughts I felt more comfortable writing out for him then reading out-loud the next day. With this card came a Princess Bride themed mug that said “mawidge is what bwing us togevver today” and a bag of expresso beans from our favorite coffee shop. He now uses this mug for coffee breaks at work.

I got a canvas tote bag saying the same phrase

I got a canvas tote bag saying the same phrase

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Again, these gifts do not have to cost much or anything at all. Maybe it is important you express how you are feeling about your wedding the next day or want to give each other a card that says so.  Or maybe it’s important to just have a few minutes together:  go on a walk, get coffee or ice cream; something simple, something normal.

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The most important thing for all of these people is to express that you are grateful they were apart of your engagement and are there to support you on your wedding day. It  doesn’t matter how you express your thankfulness or how much you spend on their gifts-you know how best to tell them thank you.

Who to choose for your bridal party?

The people in your bridal party are there to support you, help you prepare for and celebrate in your marriage. Too often though bridal parties cause conflict, drama, and stress for the engaged couple. It all comes down to who you choose to be in your bridal party. (And when I say bridal party I am speaking bridesmaids and groomsmen!)

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Here are 3 things you should know:

1a Know your expectations

Planning a wedding puts the bridal party and the future bride/ groom under a lot of pressure. Before choosing your bridal party, consider who is up for the challenge. Only you know what responsibilities and expectations you hope to delegate to your party. Ask yourself:

Do I want them to help with the invitations? Dress shopping? Registry?

What type of “day of” events do I hope they will take care of?

Do I want them to help organize my schedule?

I would suggest not having more than a few (1/2 ) bridesmaids/groomsmen that live far away. This is especially true for bridesmaids. You need some people  less than 4/6 hours away to help plan a bridal shower and be available to meet with you face-to-face.

My in-state support team : first cousin and college roommate

My in-state support team : first cousin and maid of honor my college roommate

Still do not dismiss your out-of-staters. Know when they can come into town for the wedding and let them help the week-of. Delegate things to them you know they can do long distance or that you won’t need until the week-of. They want to help even if they are not close.

Luke and his best-man who lives in Luke's home state of OR

Luke and his best-man who lives in Luke’s home state of OR

My matron-of-honor who lives in the state of  WA where I went to college

My matron-of-honor who lives in the state of WA

1b Know your values

I have heard several couples less than five years into their marriage share they are no longer in contact with their bridal party. If you are a young couple, you have a lot of change down the road: moves, careers, children, all of this can cause separation from those you are close to when you get married.

So think about:

– In 10 years will I still be in contact with my wedding party? Will that matter to me?

-Is it important that my future kids know who they are/or that they are involved in their lives?

-Why do I want them standing next to me at the wedding and in my family pictures?

It may be old fashion, but I see the bridal party as literally standing with you in agreement of your marriage. They are the people who I can go to or them to me as accountability to the promise I made on my wedding day. I want my future children to either know who they are or I will be able to quickly tell them their importance in my life.

My younger Engaged! brother and my first  cousin

My younger Engaged! brother and my first cousin

I would encourage you to include family in your bridal party. Even if you move far away, they will be around for holidays. There is a guarantee you children will know their aunts, uncles, your cousins etc. Also, if they grew up with you, they know your values, and expectations pretty well.

2. Know their personalities and character

A lot of problems and drama occur because the bride or groom do not want to hurt someone’s feelings by not choosing them to be in the wedding.  But often friendships end after a wedding because of  bridesmaid/groomsmen conflicts. You want people who are truly responsible and capable of being there for you in this important and stressful time.

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So mull over this:

-Are they encouragers/can they tell when I need help or a break?

-Are they trustworthy/reliable/dependable/on time?

-Will they be respectful of my family and work well with the other bridal party members? (AKA Would grandma like them?)

-Are they apt to push their wants on my wedding? Or be impolite in expressing their dislike for my plans?

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It is a privilege to be asked to participate in planning and/or being in someone’s wedding. The person has probably earned a special place in your life, gained your trust and respect. If you choose someone who is unreliable, disrespectful, or inappropriate then you will find yourself with unnecessary drama instead of encouraging help.

3.Know their experience and talents

Even if the people you are considering for your bridal party understand your expectations, are mature, and willing to help they may not know what to do. Once again, if you are a young couple then it is likely that your peers are not married, have not been in a lot of weddings, and very possibly have not been to many weddings. You may be surprised how many people don’t know what is included in wedding planning, or typical groomsmen/bridesmaid responsibilities.

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Consider this:

-Have they ever been in a wedding before? Have they been to a wedding before?

(If no then ask: are they quick learners?)

-Are they creative and independent?

-Are they flexible and organized?

I would highly suggest choosing at least one married matron of honor/bridesmaid. Having one or two people in your wedding party who have “been there done that” is helpful. They have perspective, experience, and can help you prioritize. They will know what you are going through and are less apt to project their thoughts on your wedding.

The best man is married and my brother and the other groomsmen are both engaged

The best man is married and my brother and the other groomsmen are both engaged

Answer these questions honestly. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses in planning for the wedding and choose people who are strong in your areas of weakness. But be realistic, no one is perfect.  Consider these questions and suggestions and you will be on your way to building a strong support team!

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