Happy Anniversary to my darling husband!

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10 years ago today I walked down the aisle to marry my beloved husband. After courting for 16 months, we were more than ready to get married and start a new life together. I can’t believe that 10 years has already come and gone! Having had five children since then makes it feel a little more real though. :)

I thought I would share some pictures and memories of our wedding, as I’ve had a few people ask about how to put on a wedding on a budget.

We had what some would consider a very simple wedding. We spent just a little over a thousand dollars for the whole wedding, and had around 150 people there. My sister sewed my dress and the most of the bridesmaid dresses. I sewed the flower girl dresses, and we bought fresh flowers at a wholesale flower supplier and had a good friend help us arrange them all the day before the wedding. We spent the most on hiring a photographer, and then we paid $100 for our wedding cake, and bought sheet cakes from Costco to feed people once our wedding cake was gone. We just had cake, punch, and mints. Friends and family provided the music.

My sweet friends! The bridesmaids, candle lighters, and flower girls.

My sister attaching my veil

I loved the pearl buttons and lace flower at the back of my dress

I love Pansies, so we had fresh pansies on our cake, and for decoration in pots on the tables.

Our first kiss! I don’t ever regret waiting to have our first kiss at the alter.

We kept it simple, and only rented a tuxedo for Sean. His brother was his best man, then my brother and his cousin were groomsmen. My sister was my maid of honor, and two of my friends were bridesmaids. Little did we know at the time that my sister and his brother would walk the aisle a few years later together as husband and wife. :)

Both Sets of Parents with Sean and I

This is about the only picture I have of my mom and I at my wedding :( I really wish I would have gotten more of us together, but at the time I didn’t even think of the fact that she wouldn’t be alive at my ten year anniversary.

I’m so grateful for the past 10 years of wedded bliss, and just pray that I have many more years spent with my husband as we raise our family together! I couldn’t have asked for a better husband, and still feel so incredibly blessed to be Sean’s wife!

Courtship Story Part 3: The Long Adventure

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(I apologize for the long delay in getting the final part published.)

Follow these links to read about our story leading up to this:

Part 1: It all begins
Part 2: The Courtship begins!

Several weeks after starting our courtship I left to go visit my grandparents in a different state for almost a month. This had been planned for quite some time before I knew I was going to be in a courtship and my emotions were quite mixed to leave and go stay with them! The weeks leading up to me leaving were filled with learning to open our hearts up to each other. By the time I left, we had already verbally told each other that we were committed to this courtship, and that, Lord willing, we would be married to each other. Some people were amazed that we could already know that, but we just did.

Some things we did together before I left were attending a wedding together where I was the pianist, going to a botanical garden with my family, and spending lots and lots of time just talking, both with my family and by ourselves.

While I was away, I spent most of my vacation money on pre paid long distance phone cards so I could call Sean! We also exchanged letters (which continued through the whole courtship) and they are so precious to me. I have them all tied in ribbon bundled away in my drawer. :)

When I returned home it was a bit awkward, getting used to being around each other again. We resumed our talks, and a tradition began. We would talk a few times throughout the week on the phone, and he would come over on Friday nights to my house and spend the evening there. Sean’s parents had a curfew in their house that he had to be home at midnight, and many nights he made it home just in time. :) If my parents were tired and wanted to go to bed, my sister was wonderful and stayed up to act as a chaperon for us. The first few hours were normally spent talking with my entire family, and then we talked by ourselves for a few hours.

For the first six months we never held hands, put our arms around each other, etc. My mom told Sean that she trusted him, and that when he felt it was time that we could hold hands. We finally did start holding hands, but if we had known how much longer it was going to be before we were married it probably would have been best to wait even a little longer than we did. I am not a proponent of getting married and never having any sort of physical contact though. I know that can be strongly promoted by people who believe in courtship, but the real life examples I have seen where the couples had zero physical contact before marriage had some struggles that could have been easily avoided by simply starting to hold hands before marriage.

Sean was still in college and we were not sure what the future would hold. At times I got discouraged, wondering if it would be several more years before we could get married. Sean switched colleges, going from pursuing a graphic design degree to becoming a sign language interpreter. After a semester of pursing the sign language degree, he realized some issues in becoming certified in that field and decided to drop out of college.

We spent many hours talking about what he would do, and for some odd reason we came up with him being a cabinet maker. I laugh now thinking of the reasoning I gave him, “well Jesus was a carpenter, and it sounds so nice to have you work with your hands!” We were young for sure.

He was hired on at a local cabinet shop having no experience at all, and making hardly above minimum wage. After a few months he switched cabinet shops going to a shop in the city making just a little bit more money. I wondered when we would ever get married as it seemed like it would be quite awhile before he would be making enough for us to get married on. Thankfully he became extremely skilled at woodworking and even owned his own cabinet shop for several years, so it wasn’t all for nothing.

Finally, when I least expected it Sean proposed. We had been courting for 16 months-more than enough time for us to know that we wanted to be married. It was on a Sunday evening, and he proposed as we were sitting on his Grandparents porch swing. :)

We had a very short engagement period of 2 months. My dress had already been sewn by my sister during a week long vacation she took from work a few months previously (she knew it was the only time off work she had for quite a while).  Somehow we pulled everything else together, making the bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses, and with the help of a good friend doing all of our own flower arrangements as well. The wedding was lovely-but what touched me the most was how many people said that the Spirit of God was present.

We had our first kiss in front of 200 people! I have never regretted that decision and I pray that my own children will make the same decision we did.

My  husband is such a blessing in my life, I tell him he is my rock. He is the one person I know that will not abandon me and will always be there for me if I need him. I am so grateful that we built a foundation of purity and trust in each before we were married.

Courtship Series Part 2: The Courtship begins!

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If you missed reading part 1 go here.

As I walked over to my small group and sat down, I was thankful to see a few girls in the group that I knew. As for the guy who introduced himself as the leader, I had no recollection of ever even seeing him before. We spent the time in that first meeting getting to know each person in our small group study. The leader, who was a young man named Sean, wanted each person to ask a question that everyone else had to answer about themselves. He himself, however, seemed to take particular interest in asking me questions, and quite frankly, I wasn’t comfortable with it. So, when my turn came around to ask the group a question, I asked how old everyone was. I did this mainly because I wanted this guy to “discover” that I was only 17. That would pour cold water on his curiosity for sure! But no, all night long the questions kept coming and I began to wonder if he was flirting with me! By the end of the night I had pretty much made up my mind that I really didn’t like him. Not only was he bothering me with all of his probing questions, to make matters worse, he was wearing baggy basketball pants! YUCK! There’s few things I disliked more on guys than baggy basketball pants :)
On the way home I told my sister about the evening, but after awhile I dismissed the whole thing from my mind, thinking maybe I had made it all up. A college guy flirting with ME?! Ha! The next few weeks went pretty much the same way though. He would teach the scripture lesson he had prepared, but he always seemed to find a way to draw me out and ask me what I thought about certain passages, what my views were on certain doctrines etc. Strangely enough, after a few weeks of this I began to realize this guy (ahem! ‘young man’ now) wasn’t so bad after all. He was serious, yet nice. You could tell he really loved the Lord, and was taking his job as small group leader very seriously. What impressed me even more, I could tell he didn’t look down on me for being a homeschool girl who dressed differently! Actually, based on all appearances, this seemed to actually intrigue him. Now, if we could only do something about those basketball pants : )
I talked to my mom, telling her all about Sean. What I didn’t know was that my sister was also watching this young man very, very closely and she was also bringing home reports of him to my mother.
Then there were the phone calls. One late Wednesday night the phone rang and my dad answered. He called me to the phone, and said (where the person on the line could clearly hear) “It’s a guy on the phone for you!” I was mortified to say the least. When I got on the phone I could hear Sean chuckling on the other end. I explained to him I don’t get many guys calling me (umm, like NONE!) and that my dad was teasing me. Thanks Dad!
That phone call begin a tradition of Wednesday night phone calls. Sean would call all of the people in his small group study to remind them about the meeting. But his phone calls to me grew into chatting about other things. He admitted later that the one thing which kept him consistent with these reminders were the opportunities they provided him to speak with me.
I knew nothing about Sean’s past. One night, I walked in to the small group study and he was with another young lady. He seemed to be directing her somewhere, and I wondered if it was his girlfriend. He never mentioned having a girlfriend though. Then, at a campfire outside he greeted the young lady, but came and sat down next to me. Come to find out it was his ex-girlfriend, who he was still trying to encourage to become more involved in church activities. I also know now that he purposefully sat down next to me to make it clear to me that he was not attached to this young lady. He was afraid his interaction with her would trouble me, and he was right.
At this point, I was a nervous wreck. I talked to my mom and sister a lot, telling them what was going on, what we were talking about, etc. I didn’t hide anything from them, and I really wanted my mom to meet Sean. They finally did meet up at a event that the college group put on. I led him to meet my mom, and he introduced me to his Mother. It was all so awkward. We were just friends, right?
At this point I put on the breaks a little bit. Sean was so eager to learn many new things. He asked me many questions about my conservative lifestyle, and wanted to know more about courtship. I let him borrow a few books to read, which he did. I thought he would get the point. The young man comes and asks the girl’s parents if he can court her. But he wasn’t coming.
At one point during the study, I actually had another young man interested in me that was in our small group. Sean clearly picked up on it, and thought for sure I would be mutually interested in this young man as he had been home schooled also and had embraced similar values as my own. I was NOT interested at all, and wished this guy would go away! At one point he asked me in front of Sean if I had come to the study with Sean, to which I replied no. He seemed happy and hopeful then, but I think he finally got the point that I wasn’t super friendly in talking with him :)
Months dragged on, 8 l-o-n-g months to be exact. During that time Sean spent some time doing a few church activities with my family. I was at his families house once for a special small group study that was held there.
Then it happened. Spring break came and with it we said goodbye. He said he would probably see me around that summer, and hoped I would have a good summer. I cried all the way home from the meeting. I felt cheated almost, as I wasn’t sure what to do. I had prayed and trusted the Lord through those 8 months, and I felt like I had just given my emotions away to a guy that wasn’t taking them seriously. I felt like the Lord had been telling me just to trust Him through all those months, so now what was to happen?
Sean actually called me a few days later, and at the end of the conversation he said he would see me the next day. I asked him what he meant, and he said my mom had written him a note asking him to come and see her. Interesting….I didn’t know anything about it. I got off the phone and asked my mom what was going on? She told me that she never intended for me to know about the meeting, but she was going to sit down with Sean and ask him what his intentions were. She said this had gone on long enough, and she couldn’t keep allowing me to talk to him, etc. if he had no future plans with me. As nervous as I was, I agreed with her. Emotionally I couldn’t handle this any longer.
The next day she sent me out of the house. I spent a very long two hours at the library, and then just sitting at a Civil War cemetery (of all places), praying to the Lord to help me through this. If he said no, my heart was going to be broken. If he said yes, I was
going to be a nervous wreck!
She finally called me and told me to come home. I asked what he said and in a nutshell, she said that he didn’t say yes, and he didn’t say no. He said he wanted to go home and pray about it, and he would be back that evening. Now I was REALLY nervous!
Come to find out, Sean had thought about courting me, but he honestly wasn’t sure how to go about it, and if we would even be open to that. That afternoon he went home and prayed a lot. He called and said he would be coming over for dinner. I can’t remember when I had ever been so nervous! When he knocked on the door, I didn’t want to answer it, but I made myself go and open the door. I’m afraid I was rather rude, I was so shy and nervous I barely looked at him all night, and didn’t talk much throughout dinner! After dinner was over, he was just standing there, so I asked him if he wanted a tour of our house. I showed him around. Finally he looked at me and said we should talk – alone, so we went outside and sat in front of the house on a blanket.
We sat on the blanket for well over two hours! Sean was getting mixed signals from me. My mom had made it clear I was interested in him, but I wasn’t acting that way. When he made it known that he would like to begin to court me, I begin to describe all the problems in my complex family life to make sure he was willing to deal with it. I learned that Sean’s major concern was whether or not he was worthy of me and my family. He admitted he was largely ignorant when it came to the mechanics of courtship and he didn’t want to do anything which would offend or disappoint my hopes and dreams for the process. He did make it perfectly clear, however, that by intimating this courtship, he ultimately intended to marry me. I accepted his proposal with the same understanding and have never looked back.
We went back in the house and I think my mom laid down some guidelines for us. By this time my dad was fast asleep as it was around midnight when we got done talking :)
So that is the very unconventional, non-typical courtship story of how we begin our courtship.
I do want to make it clear, that if my father had been involved it probably would have gone differently. A wise father would not have let that friendship blossom for eight months without knowing if that young man had any intentions of courting his daughter. My mother did the absolute best she could in that situation, and I know it was hard for her to play the role of the father. My dad just didn’t care to step in and do that. Sean’s parents had never even heard of courtship before I came around, and they were not extremely involved in the typical way either.
But, the Lord is gracious and merciful in these situations. Our courtship was sweet, and was filled with time spent with family.
Part three will be where I write more about what our actual courtship looked like….

Girls Are Like Apple Trees….

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Love this! So many times virtuous young ladies look around wondering what in the world is wrong with them. Why isn’t there a young man interested in them? There is absolutely nothing wrong with them, they are lovely and beautiful to behold! Their ideals just scare men off, until a true man of valor comes along.
Mother’s, encourage your daughters to keep waiting! It is so worth it.