He Put A Ring On It: A Look Into Our Wedding Planning
Finding the Venue
As soon as we got engaged, Ross took the task of looking for the venue. Between the two of us, he is a lot savvier with money and exceeds my ability to negotiate price and look for the best deals. Ross will exhaust all of his resources before making a decision. It's not that fun when you're in a hurry. Me? --- let’s just say that I have overpaid for a dozen eggs before solely because the container said that the eggs in it came from happy chickens. Don’t judge me. With the cost of the venue and food taking up most of our wedding budget, we thought it would be fitting for Ross to spearhead the mission instead of me.
After an entire month of looking, we came up with nothing. Ross spent HOURS upon HOURS trying to look for the perfect Airbnb to double as the wedding venue AND as accommodations for all of our out-of-town guests. Eventually, we found 2 in the Fallbrook area---two breathtaking homes on their own separate hills, each with a 360-degree view of their surrounding areas. The photos made us weak in the knees, so we booked a time to drive to Fallbrook to tour the properties with their owners. Ross’ parents happened to have been in town and Sophia was with us that weekend, so the 5 of us took a mini road trip to Fallbrook and made a Sunday afternoon of it. Sophia felt so important because she felt involved in the process by doing cartwheels in the front and backyards---you know, to make sure there was “enough space” for the guests to move around.
Although these homes were spectacular, neither of them felt right for some reason, and I didn’t want to put a deposit down on a place that I was half-hearted about. Ross felt the same. So, we decided we would pause from the search, regroup and let the frustration simmer down a little bit...
They say hindsight is always 20/20. I’d have to agree. Last year, in 2016, for our 34th birthdays, a coworker of mine suggested that Ross and I celebrate by going wine-tasting at her favorite winery, Europa Village in Temecula. We took her up on her suggestion. It is a beautiful winery on incredible grounds.
When we were there last year, they had just broken ground on expanding their property to include several hundred more acres. We were treated well and our tasting was served by a man who called himself “Dr. Doug”----and rightfully so, because if there was such a thing as getting a Doctorate Degree in Wine, he’d have graduated top of his class.
Ross and I took our wine-filled glasses outside and sat in the seating area that was surrounded by these beautiful rose bushes.
A wedding was being set-up in the grass area, and although Ross and I had only been together for a couple of months at the time, we knew we were intentionally heading towards marriage (when old people start dating, they don't necessarily have time to waste). So, as I looked out at the wedding coordinator staging the chairs in front of a beautiful archway, I said, “This would be a beautiful place to get married.” Being the logistical, mathematical man that Ross is, he responds, “It definitely would be. But it would cost an arm and a leg, don’t you think?” I agreed. A place that pretty had to come with a pretty penny. Though we knew we were actively heading towards marriage, we weren’t trying to plan one just a few months after meeting, so the thought of Europa Village, and the thought of planning a wedding there never came up again until…
… until I was at work one day, tired from the night before trying to find more potential wedding venues, when I got an email from The Knot that read, “Have you booked your wedding venue, yet?” Exasperatingly, I rolled my eyes and out loud said, “Nope!” People in my office didn’t flinch. They know I talk to myself sometimes (again, don't judge me). I clicked on the link provided and entered some credentials: location (anywhere from Orange County to San Bernardino County), and budget (one that Ross so unbudgingly held).
Lo, and behold----the first location that came up was Europa Village Winery.
“Well…that looks familiar” I told myself. I entered our guest count, our food choices, and our proposed date and hit “enter.” A miracle: it didn’t cost and arm and a leg, and it was well within our budget. I sent the link to Ross right away. I could tell by his immediate response that he was excited. From the time I sent him the link, to the time I got off of work, he had already called the venue and received estimates. He took it upon himself to customize each line-item, negotiate with the coordinator, and grant us even MORE money in SAVINGS! (You gotta love the guy!)
We drove to the venue the following weekend. As soon as we arrived at the grounds, we knew we were “home.” We met our coordinator, Yesika, at The Inn (the on-site bed-and-breakfast/”hotel”) and were led to the kitchen where we were greeted by Chef Dean, his wife, and a couple of White Sangrias----a refreshing glass of white wine-blend infused with honeydew, cantaloupe, and green apples. Instantly, we knew this was going to be a wonderful experience----and it was.
Yesika walked Ross and I out to the grounds and showed us all the amenities that we could take advantage of the day of our wedding. She led me to my bridal suite that has its own private garden.
We even got to take a photo at the same rose garden from the year prior.
My church family has been instrumental in my journey towards healing. The pastoral staff walked me through my pain, the ladies who sat in the left, front row every week sent me texts of encouragement every day, and my girlfriends on staff even took turns sleeping on my bed with me on nights I was too afraid or sad to be alone. They taught me love, grace, and the essence of hope. They encouraged me to sing through my pain on stage during what I consider to be the toughest time in my life and during moments where I said things to myself words that were untrue, they spoke life and truth into my identity, helping me see my worth and value. I am forever indebted to Rock Harbor and I am proud to call it my Home Church.
The nice thing about singing in a band at a church known for their worship community, is that the people you volunteer with are artistic, creative, and have pretty cool jobs outside of the band. Another cool thing is that these people become family throughout the years. I have the privilege of having my church family not only be present to witness our union, but they were so gracious and willing to contribute their talents on such a special day. There is nothing like having people you know and care about, putting their gifts to use on such an occasion.
Officiant: Josh Harrison – Josh and I geek out on anything-Tolkien and anything-Lord of The Rings. In his sermons, I get more excited than the average person when he gives a grammar lesson (for the third time, don’t judge me). He brought me up on stage in front of hundreds once, by surprise, to recite the Lord's Prayer in Hawaiian-pidgin---Josh is the kind of guy you couldn't even be mad at. So he made me recite it for 3 more services. Now he's got the idea in my head to start reviewing English Literary Classics in Hawaiian-pidgin (this is harder than it sounds funny). Josh has been instrumental in my spiritual growth, teaching me what it means to also love the Lord with my mind, an area that most churches lack in their exhortations. He and his wife, Heather, have 3 ADORABLE children and have placed themselves in the front lines of foster-adoption. They are a wonderful family to know.
Music: Trevor Kelso – Trevor is my worship pastor and I get to have the privilege of leading worship with him regularly at Rock Harbor. His vocal range is ridiculous, and he’s FUNNY. The next time you see him speak into the microphone while the music is playing, he’s actually telling us jokes through our inner years (I kid, I kid…but not really. The Holy Spirit has a sense of humor, too, you know). Follow him on Instagram at @trevorkelso
Photographer: Jorge Macias – The first time I met Jorge was at a Worship Community Gathering at Rock Harbor sometime last year. He plays electric guitar. He’s certainly got a flair for fashion, and his work speaks for itself. I get to have the privilege of having him and his gorgeous wife shoot the wedding. You can find him on Instagram at @jorgemaciasphoto or at www.jmwedding.co/
Florist: Stephanie Vasquez – Stephanie is a dear friend and she and I met through Rock Harbor’s Financial Peace University seminar about 8 years ago. Stephanie had her own floral business, arranging flowers for weddings and events, before moving to Texas in 2014. Steph has a very special relationship with the Lord and I truly believe He speaks through her in very tangible ways. She has a joy and peace in her eyes, despite the tragedy she has gone through most recently. Steph said that the first time she saw Ross and I together, she could tell I was “at home.” I hadn't heard from Steph for about a week or so, and one day, I get a text from her out-of-the-blue:
Did you catch the date-stamp on that? Steph sent that text to me on March 9, 2017.
Later that evening, Ross would propose.
(Stephanie had no prior conversation with Ross and did not know beforehand that he planned to propose that night)
Makeup: Nicole England – I’ve known Nicole since Sophia was in my belly. I never have to tell her how I want my make up done because she just knows. Nichole has always been a go-to person for me---she was there for me when I had to do several live concerts and grand openings. Follow her and see her amazing work at @nicolengland on Instagram.
Hair: Ryan Reed – I’ve known Ryan since I was 18 and he was 21. I was at Nordstrom one day and I saw this girl working a cosmetics counter whose hair was so meticulously layered that it stopped me in my tracks. I had been looking for a serious hairdresser because the Asian lady at the Fantastic Sam's across the street from my house just WRECKED my hair. So, I asked the-girl-behind-the-counter where she got her hair cut and she led me to Ryan. I booked an appointment and have never gone anywhere since. I guess you could say Ryan and I "grew up" together. I came to him with horribly cut hair, and the day I met him, he had hot-pink, spiky hair, with a dog-collar around his neck, smoking a cigarette and thought to myself, "I may just made a big mistake letting this guy touch my hair today." I was wrong and he has been a staple in my life since! Needless to say, we both look like normal people today: Ryan lost the pink hair, the dog collar, and the cigarettes. He runs that salon like a tight ship and is highly respected in it. Ryan doesn’t have social media, so if you want to pay him a visit, call Toni & Guy-Irvine Spectrum and book an appointment! Make sure you tell the front desk I sent you!
I can't wait to share with you photos of our wedding day! Stay tuned...