Can’t buy me love!

When I first got hooked on Pinterest, one of my favorite things about the site was that I could have a “secret” board. This allowed me search all of the wedding pins, re-pin my favorites, and never worry about anyone thinking I was crazy for having a wedding board even though I wasn’t planning a wedding. (My guess is that if most single/dating women are honest, they’ll admit to having secret wedding boards too!)

The reason I bring up my no-longer-a-secret wedding board is to bring up the pins I never paid attention to before this last month. The “How to Have a Wedding Under $5,000” and “Bride on a Budget” links never grabbed my attention…until recently. Before I started looking at wedding dresses, venues, music, and photographers, there is no one in the world that could have convinced me how high the cost of getting married was. Now, however, I can’t get enough of all the former brides’ advice on how to do your own décor, or cut down on food and alcohol expenses, or even how to make your own invitations.

At the end of last year, Wes helped me make one of the biggest…and best…decisions of my life. January 4, 2013 was going to be my last day of full-time work, and I was going to begin the last year of school necessary to earn my degree. There hasn’t been a single day since then that I’ve regretted my decision, but over the last few weeks, I have mentioned several times that I wish I had the money now, for our wedding, that I had a year ago. It has been the first time in my life I’ve ever understood why it is that soon-to-be married couples give up on their lifelong wedding dreams and go to the courthouse for a simple (inexpensive) ceremony.

Last week, to cure one of my emotional breakdowns, Wes got right in my face, put his hands on my shoulders, and told me to listen to what he had to say. For the next few minutes, Wes convinced me that the type of food we serve at our wedding will not matter to our guests, and that I will look beautiful, no matter how much we will need to save on my dress, and that we will cherish the pictures taken of our special day, even if they aren’t taken by the best photographer Asheville has to offer. Finally, Wes said, the most important thing to remember is this: At the end of the day, if we’ve spent one hundred dollars or ten thousand dollars, or if we head off to a honeymoon or have to wait until next year, we will spend our first night together as husband and wife. And God willing, Wes and I will have thousands of those nights to look forward to.

My determined fiancée has to remind me almost daily not to get stressed out about all the expenses we will be facing in order to have the wedding of our dreams, and also that the purpose of our wedding day is to celebrate each other and the love that we plan to share for the rest of our lives. Weddings are a lot more expensive than I ever knew, but I get to write my own vows for free. On December 15th, I get to tell our friends and family why and how much I love Wes, and exchange rings, and be presented as Mrs. Berry. As for the rest of it, with the help of Pinterest, I will continue to tirelessly research how to provide the most entertaining evening possible for my guests.

I am so excited to celebrate our special day with you all!

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A blushing bride…with the best bridesmaids

ImageImageImageImageIt is my belief that there should be a word that combines gratitude and inspiration. (“gratspiration” is my suggestion, if any of you know someone employed by Merriam-Webster) If someone inspires me, gratitude becomes an instant reaction. Also, when genuine gratitude is felt towards someone…I’m talking deep, stop-your-heart gratitude…the actions or words that brought that emotion about probably summoned some sort of inspiration in your mind and soul. The dictionary definition of inspiration is “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions”. It’s a simple phrase, but one that carries so much intensity. We all are who we are, and very rarely can any of us be changed. Or moved, as the definition says.

The reason I bring up inspiration today is because this blog is about the four women I have asked to be my bridesmaids. Even my silly, made-up word gratspiration doesn’t do these women justice; in fact, I am positive there isn’t a single word made up by anyone that can adequately express the way they have influenced, altered, and positively impacted my life. These four ladies are the true definition of best friends, and while they have all expressed their own gratitude to me for choosing them, I want everyone to know that I am the one honored to have them stand beside me when Wes and I get married.

There is no woman more independent, powerful, and gracious in the world than Rachel Herrick. I met her when I moved home from Boone (the first time) and started working at Tripps. Rachel was the ultra-cool, ultra-popular bartender in the restaurant, and I tried all my subtle tricks to get into her friends circle. Everyone loved her, and everyone wanted to be close to her…Rachel has always had this incredible ability to make anyone around her feel better about themselves. For reasons unknown, she accepted me, as uncool as I was, and our friendship has never, ever stopped growing. Just yesterday, Rachel and I laughed hysterically, remembering how young and free we were when we lived in Asheville, going to bars and clubs on a fairly consistent basis. When I moved to Greensboro, Rachel orchestrated a Christmas party for all of us that had moved, and every single girl, no matter how far we lived away, showed up. To this day, I remember that party as one of the best I ever attended. After Rachel graduated, she so selflessly worked for AmeriCorps and the YWCA for years, whole-heartedly giving herself and her efforts to help others. Five years ago, Rachel had a baby girl, and has done such an exceptional job raising Maggie. And two years ago, Rachel made the decision, on her own, to pick up her life, and Maggie’s life, and move to Boone to go to grad school at ASU. As I’ve told her a thousand times, this is the main reason I decided to come to Boone as well. I had been trying to figure out a way to make everything work for me to come up here, live on my own, and finish my degree, and had all but given up on the idea when I never could determine how to make finances work. One sleepless night, I had a revelation: If Rachel is confident enough to move to Boone, find a school for Maggie, figure out how to make money to live, and be enrolled in school full time, then I want to try too! Besides, if Rachel is in Boone, there is nothing I could be faced with that she wouldn’t be able to help me with. The rest is history. Rachel and I have seen each other through the last two years of classes, jobs, daycares, no money (which means a lot of VERY cheap wine), and she finished her degree (one semester before me!), obtaining a diploma that shows nothing but straight As. Earlier, when I mentioned that she makes everyone feel better, I left out the best part: Rachel has never ceased to make HERSELF better. She has never stopped learning, never stopped growing, and most importantly, has never stopped inspiring. I love this girl with all my heart, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.

 

I met Jennifer Blanton the same time I met Rachel, in my first couple months of working at the Tripps in Asheville. I think it took us ten minutes to realize we would be instant friends, which led to almost two years of being inseparable. When I accepted the management job and had to move to Greensboro, Jennifer was the person I called every single day to tell her about my great new job, but also about my lack of friends and abundant loneliness.

 In the country song “Find out Who Your Friends Are,” the chorus goes like this:

Somebody’s gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas, get there fast
Never stop to think ‘what’s in it for me?’ or ‘it’s way too far’
They just show on up with their big old heart
You find out who your friends are

In the one thousand times I have heard this song, there hasn’t been a single one when Jennifer hasn’t come into my mind. The week before my first Christmas in Greensboro, I was driving to my apartment late one night after work when my car broke down. I didn’t have a single phone number of anyone I worked with, and I didn’t know anyone else. I called Jennifer, crying and panicking, and she told me to wrap up as much as I could, and she would be there in an hour. And she was. This was a past-midnight trip, right before Christmas, in the freezing cold…but my best friend knew I needed her, and she showed up. It was less than a month later that Jennifer moved to Greensboro and started working at another restaurant. She needed something new, and I needed a friend. It was perfect timing. Jennifer has been through her share of hard times, but has been rewarded with an incredible husband and a beautiful new house. She, like Rachel, also went back to school for nursing, and is making terrific grades as well. Jennifer has always been so great to keep in touch, no matter what was going on in either of our lives, and we have always stayed close because of her efforts. We’ve gone through so many good, bad, hilarious, and ugly times together, and I’ll spare you all the stories, but I am so grateful for all the memories I share with this special woman.

I have heard that many long-standing friendships usually start with a grudge or rivalry of some sort. In the case of my friendship with Karen Hill, that is definitely the case. We were softball rivals when we first met, and it wasn’t until we had classes together in 7th grade that we became friends. Between my sister and my best friend Karen, I surrounded myself with girls that were better athletes than I was, but we always had the best times playing on all the same teams. Karen’s birthday is only 6 days before mine, and we were usually at some softball or basketball tournament the week of our birthdays, so joint celebrations were common. Before I wrote Karen a letter asking her to be my bridesmaid, I read everything she’d written in our high school yearbooks. (Quick side note here: if you want a good laugh, go back and read what your best friends wrote to you in your yearbooks. You’re welcome.) Reading her stories and jokes brought back so many memories I shared with her! All the silly details of our boyfriends and/or crushes were shared with each other first, and oh-so-frequently. I can also embarrassingly admit that there may have been one or two drive-bys of crushes’ houses… Sigh. We really were silly high school girls. We were two of the four freshmen girls picked for varsity basketball, and had to suffer through two horrendous years before it got better. When Karen turned 16 and got a car, she came to pick me up first, and we drove around town, thinking we were the coolest, luckiest girls on the planet. Our senior year was different than years past; we lost touch and were not as close as we had always been. That changed, however, once we got to college. It took us a little over a year, but once Karen and I reconnected, we spent the next two years joined at the hip. When I look back over my first college experience, the best memories I have involve Karen and our friendship. Our junior year came with the tragic death of Karen’s father, and I remember not knowing how we would survive that time. The grieving was so intense, and all of Karen’s friends did whatever we could think of to help her through it all. Somehow, after a significant amount of time, Karen came out unscathed, still as sweet, caring and loving as she had always been. That’s the thing with Karen. She, like most people, has faced difficult times, and has encountered difficult people, but UNLIKE most people, has never let the hard times and bad people change who she is. Karen loves her family and her friends as tirelessly as anyone I have ever met, and that makes those of us in those categories exceptionally lucky. Karen now has a precious newborn son, and my heart swells when I think of how blessed little Ben is to have my very first best friend as his mother.

I wrote about the first three bridesmaids without a moment’s hesitation, but now that I’m to my sister’s part, I keep staring at the screen. Where do I begin? How can I possibly talk about how Ali has inspired me? I actually don’t know if it IS possible, but I will try. Bear with me.

Members of my family love to tell the story about how intensely Ali and I would fight when we were kids. In fact, it wasn’t until she was a freshman in high school that we could (almost) tolerate each other. That’s a surprising fact for most people that know us to learn; all of our adult friendships and relationships have known nothing except how close Ali and I have always been. In high school, because of our mutual need to get out of the house, we would get in the car and drive around for hours. It’s hard to believe that there are enough roads in Candler to drive around for hours, but Ali always found them. The day my family moved me into ASU for my freshman year, I was so excited I couldn’t stand it…until I hugged Ali goodbye. That’s when the tears came. Over the next two years, there were a lot of visits, both in Boone and Asheville, and then I pressured her to come to App with me! I was here for three more years, and lived with Ali for two of them (although it might as well have been three). I eventually moved back to Asheville, and Ali had one more year here to finish her degree. After she graduated, she moved back to Asheville, but I was Greensboro-bound at that point. Over the next six years, we rarely went longer than a month without seeing each other. There were Vegas trips, Boston trips, Braves series, and so many other vacations that we took together. After Ali was diagnosed with cancer, the vacations stopped, but the visits did not. I drove to Asheville every week, trying to be there with her as much as possible. Watching your younger sister suffer through a cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, and eventually radiation is something I would wish upon no one. As I mentioned in the blog post about my dad, the cancer era is a dark, scary time that I try every day to forget. But, as silly as it may sound, there were good parts too. Ali was so sick, and in so much pain, that laughing was very uncommon around our house. In the rare moments that Ali did laugh however, I remember thinking there was no happier sound in the history of the world. Not knowing how bad the cancer was, or could be, I was determined to never leave Ali’s side when I was home, and never took a second for granted. I was with her when the doctor first mentioned an oncologist appointment, and I was with her when we got the first results showing no more cancer cells. The years in between those two days were a blur, and I’m glad they’re over. Ali spent her first cancer-free Christmas in Salt Lake City with our grandparents, and as the days passed, getting closer and closer to the holiday, Ali and I both grew more and more sad, realizing we had never spent a Christmas apart. Luckily, I had been planning a trip to SLC to surprise her, and in one of the most special, emotional moments of my life, Ali’s reaction to seeing me come through the front door had everyone in the room in tears. As I write this, I think of the things about Ali that are so opposite from me: she rarely laughs or smiles, and even more rarely shows emotion. But, because of that, when you can make her smile, or laugh, or cry, it makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. That’s how Ali is with friends too. She has very few close friends, but if you’re one of them, Ali has a way to make you feel pretty special.

After Wes proposed, he told me of all the challenges he’d faced pulling the day together, but emphasized that he couldn’t have done it without Ali. She’d gotten all of my family and Asheville friends together, and had coordinated everyone’s schedule so that they all could be there. In my mind, it comes full circle that Wes needed Ali’s help to plan the proposal, and I will need Ali’s help to plan the wedding. I’ve needed Ali’s help many times in my life, and have relied on her probably more than I should have. But, she’s always been there. She’s always helped, whether it’s been financially, or emotionally, or just to provide a joke at the right moment. Ali Mertens, the cancer-fighting, sarcastic, hilarious, beautiful girl that I’ve been blessed to have as a sister, will be the gorgeous girl in red standing right beside me, holding my bouquet, smiling (and maybe crying?) when I marry the man I love, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

(If you made it this far), thank you for reading. I am so lucky to have four wonderful women who are so special to me honor me by being in my wedding, and I appreciate the opportunity to tell the world just how incredible they are.

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The guest list: making the cut

I have stumbled upon what I believe will be the only part of wedding planning that I do not enjoy: the guest list. It is becoming obvious that I am way too nice to be in charge of something this important!

Here’s the thing. I have lived in Asheville…then Boone…then Asheville again…then Greensboro…then Asheville again…then Boone again. Throughout my life, and in those three cities/towns, I created many friendships and relationships that I will remember and cherish forever. Unfortunately, however, while I was scrolling through my phone, looking at some of the names of people with whom I used to be joined at the hip, I experienced some sad, sobering moments when it sank in that I couldn’t remember the last time we’d had any interaction. In fact, through the past three weeks of constant cards, phone calls, texts, and Facebook posts from people bestowing their congratulatory well wishes, it wasn’t until today that I could really analyze the list of people that have NOT contacted me since we got engaged. This isn’t a post filled with bitterness or anger; instead, it’s an expression of my thoughts on how life surprises you on a consistent basis.

Some of those names from my phone I mentioned earlier were immediately transferred to our tentative guest list, since they were people I shared a significant portion of my life with. When I read the names aloud to Wes, and he said, “I’ve never heard you talk about her,” or “how do you know him?” or (the best) “when is the last time she called or texted you?”, it broke my heart to scratch the names off. That’s why I think I’m too nice for this. I could tell you story after story about girls I’ve spent endless time with and now have no contact, but I won’t bore you. Plus, I don’t want to exploit anyone specifically, and I definitely don’t want anyone to think our memories are less special to me just because we aren’t close any longer. Some of you reading this may not even be expecting an invitation; on the other hand, some of you believe without a shadow of a doubt that our save-the-date will show up in your mailbox soon. If it were up to me, I’d have a guest list of 800, and every single person that I’ve ever been close to would get his or her name written on the list. Sadly, that’s not possible, and there are many former “best” friends of mine that I wouldn’t even know how to get in contact with.

Here is the beautiful part of this whole thing called life though. While there are friends that I’m not close to anymore, there are some friends that have been around forever. When I think of the women I’ve chosen for my maid of honor and bridesmaids, my heart and soul fill with gratitude for the opportunity I’ve had to share so much of my life with them. There are old friends of mine from Asheville and Greensboro that I’ve reconnected with recently, and they contributed more than they’ll ever know to my happiness at different times in my life. I have established new friendships in Boone that make my life better every single day. I’m so blessed to be able to include every relative of mine, knowing they will all be there to support and celebrate my love for Wes.

Between the two of us, we have a set number of invitations we can send out, which regrettably means a set number of people will have to be erased from my list. It’s been a sad few hours, scratching off names of people that five years ago, or even 15 years ago, would’ve been beside me on my wedding day. But, it has also been an eye-opening experience, and one that I am thankful to go through.

When I was in college (the first time), I kept a book to write quotes in. There are some motivational and inspirational quotes in there, but mostly, it’s full of quotes about friendship and love. Today, I was browsing through it and found one from the Dalai Lama that seemed perfect to end this post:

“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend—or a meaningful day.”

On the most meaningful day of my life, I cannot wait to share it with those that have loved me (and us) in the past, still do in the present, and will always love me in the future.

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A Father’s Day tribute

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Last Friday, I was in a car accident. I am okay, and so is the girl that I hit, but my poor car is totaled. I am no stranger to totaled cars, ironically; this was actually the fourth car I’ve owned that has been totaled. This was the first one that was my fault, unfortunately, but the point of this post is to focus on another first from that day. When I got out of the car, after checking to make sure the girl was okay, the very first thing I did was pull out my phone and call Wes. I didn’t call the police, I didn’t call my insurance agent (like they do in the commercials), I called my fiancée. It wasn’t until this morning in church that I realized the magnitude of this phone call. I’ll explain below:

Most childhood memories of my father involve sports of some kind. Unlike my sister, I was not the daughter that was naturally gifted at every team sport I tried. I had to work hard just to be average, and I was blessed with a dad that wanted to work with me. I was a hopeless softball player when I was 8 and 9, and only made teams because our youth league didn’t cut anyone. Before my 10-year-old year though, my dad had the brilliant idea to turn me into a pitcher. Granted, slow-pitch softball isn’t the hardest to learn, but there are position players that were great. I was one of them, but I won’t take credit for it. In one of my first games, I took a line drive to the shin that almost broke my leg. I was terrified, and refused to go back to the mound the next inning, or for the next game. My dad saw that his oh-so-assuring words of “it just happens; you’ll be fine” were having little to no impact on me, so he had to figure something out. One day, he made me come to our backyard because he had a surprise for me. As we were walking down the steps, he told me we were going to work on my pitching, and I simply froze. I was trying to quickly figure out a way to make my dad understand that I was never going to pitch a softball again. He saw my fear, but just wasn’t accepting it. When we got to our pitching area, I didn’t see a mound or even a plate, but a game of horseshoes. My confusion was evident, and to this day, I still remember his explanation. He told me that all pitchers get hit by line drives. There isn’t a good softball or baseball pitcher in the world that hasn’t taken a line drive to the head or shoulder or foot that made him or her never want to pitch again. The difference in the great ones, however, was shown when those that were hit went back to face the next batter. Dad said he wanted to teach me a way to pitch so that batters could only hit fly balls, and line drives and grounders would be very uncommon. That’s where the horseshoes came in. Because they were so much heavier than softballs, he made the distance shorter, and my only option was to throw them high into the air so that it would be similar to pitching distance. And it worked! For the rest of that season, softballs were hardly used at my house, only horseshoes. We didn’t lose a game that season, and I was voted to our all-star team at the end of the season. My dad had taken me from the awkward, clumsy girl that was just thrown into the outfield to an undefeated, unafraid, all-star pitcher because of his horseshoes trick. It’s a story about my dad that I have told many times, and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

There are dozens of stories like that. In four years of varsity basketball, my dad didn’t miss a single game. My sister and I were on every traveling softball and basketball team my parents could find for us, and they made sure we could make it to every out-of-town tournament. The sports memories overflow, but there were trying and difficult times as well. My dad has led the charge for our family to survive through heart attacks, car wrecks, cancer, and even the death of both of his parents. The time that my sister was so sick was a scary, dark time for all of us, and there are blocks of time that I simply don’t remember. There were countless people with hearts of gold that called to check on me and make sure I was handling everything okay, and sadly, I don’t remember all of them. I do remember my dad’s calls though, almost daily. He’d ask my work schedule for each day, and try to call when he knew I could talk. My dad is a man of few words, but his persistence to make sure I knew he was thinking about me and wanted me to be okay was such a bright spot in my life at that time.

How did I get here? Why I am talking about my sister’s cancer when I started the post with a car accident? Well, I will tell you. In that first paragraph, I put a lot of significance with the fact that I called Wes after the wreck, and it’s because I called someone other than my father. As I mentioned, I have been involved in many accidents, and there has never been another phone call before the one I made to my father. Not only did he know how to take care of all of the car logistics, he simply was the only person I wanted to help me take care of the situation. As most frantic daughters can agree, there is something indescribably soothing about a dad’s voice helping calm you down in an intense, unexpected event. Friday, however, my dad was my second phone call. While I was in church this morning, that realization hit me like a ton of bricks. By no means does falling in love with Wes decrease the love I have for my dad; everyone knows that’s not how it works. But, as I was daydreaming about our upcoming wedding, I had this vision of my dad walking me down the aisle, towards Wes, and it filled my heart up so much I thought I was going to explode. My dad, who taught me how to pitch, and sat in a bathroom floor with me when I was crying one night, and helped coach some of my teams, and taught me how to drive, and moved me into my first college dorm, and called me daily in Greensboro when my younger sister was battling cancer, and drove up the mountain to surprise me when Wes proposed, will wrap my arm in his on my wedding day and escort me to the man that will take care of me for the rest of my life. The magnitude of what that tradition means is overwhelming beyond words.

I am so blessed to still have the opportunity to call my dad when I need his advice or guidance, as there many dear friends of mine that do not have that luxury, and my heart breaks for them. After my accident, Wes got the first phone call, but my dad got the second. Today, on Father’s Day, I truly feel like the luckiest woman in the world. On our wedding day, the man that has taken care of me for the first 30 years of my life will “hand me over” to the man that will have that job for the next 30 years (and hopefully longer!). It’s a beautiful story, and one that I am so thankful to share with all of you. 

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What’s the date?

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While I want this blog to chronicle my experiences as a bride-to-be, I want to be sure that I am not offering any advice. I am an expert on nothing, and I do not pretend to be. But, with that being said, I want to spend a few minutes writing about the one question that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN will be asked immediately after announcing her engagement:

What’s the date?

Have you picked out a date yet?

When’s the big day?

These are only three variations of the question that I have been asked countless times in the last week, and one to which I have no answer yet. Please know this is neither a rant nor a complaint. In fact, just last week, a dear friend of mine got engaged (two days before me!), and after the excited congratulatory messages I sent her, the very first question I asked was, “do you have any ideas for date yet?” She, unlike I, actually had an answer! I am learning quickly, however, that the very first conversation a couple should have after getting engaged deals with possible wedding dates.

I’ll give you all a few insights on our potential dates:

I love autumn. Anyone and everyone that has spent any significant amount of time with me can pick up on that fact pretty quickly. The town I live in displays a glorious multitude of colors and smells in the fall, which makes Boone an ideal place for a fall wedding. Unfortunately, the glorious display usually lasts no longer than just a few short days before the cold, blustery winter season rushes in. Also, in case you’re all unaware of where we are in the year, it’s June. Fall is in three months. Since I have limited exposure to wedding planning AND because I’m in school full time until December, the thought of getting everything together in such short time makes my heart start racing. Next fall is out of the question too because I want to be married to Wes yesterday. Next fall is too long to wait!

Our second option is immediately after I graduate, and there is only one potential disadvantage to this: see above. Remember when I mentioned the cold, blustery winter season? I was being kind. The snowy winter days in Boone can hurt your feelings, and I don’t want to worry about my Phoenix and Tucson families never forgiving me for freezing them to death. On the flipside though, I love the winter, and snow. One of my alltime favorite memories is being in the back seat of my Grampy’s car as he and Nana drove me around Lake Tahoe when the mountains were covered in snow. There are no words that can express the beauty we observed that day, which is what made me fall even more in love with snow-covered mountains. My poor sister will disagree, but I simply can’t help it.

Our third and final option is May 2014. If we don’t get married in December, I want to wait until warmer weather. Again, in Boone, there are more cool/cold days than warm, so I feel as though late May would be our first feasible option for an outdoor wedding. There really are no disadvantages to this possible date, other than the fact that it’s almost a year away! I’m ready to start my life with this man, and would like that to happen sooner rather than later.

It has been an entire week since I agreed to marry Wes, so maybe I am behind on choosing a date. One great thing about having a blog, however, is to beg and plead with my readers to offer feedback!

Please leave comments below… 🙂

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Becoming a Berry – week 1

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My fiancée is the biggest advocate…and critic…of my writing. And when I say critic, I don’t mean that he gives me negative feedback. His “criticism” comes in the form of reminding me how long it takes me to get started, but also comes with the constant reminder that once I begin writing, I can do no wrong. As I have struggled with starting a blog, I kept hearing Wes’s words over and over in my mind until I made them a mantra. I CAN write well. I do have the right things to say. I just simply have to say them.

So, as I will in probably every post I have from here on out, I want this introduction to my blog to not be about my writing (or challenges of starting my blog), or even the results of the first week of my engagement (which will be the underlying theme of all my posts), but instead to be about gratitude. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” When I think back over this last week, especially to last Sunday (when Wes proposed), there isn’t one memory that doesn’t bring tears to my eyes. I knew a proposal was coming, but I didn’t know when. I knew Wes would blow me away with his plans to present me a ring, but I could have never imagined how magical the night would be. My family and friends, near and far, showed us so much love and encouragement in a night that I will never be able to go a few hours without remembering. It was a fairytale. Our love is a fairytale! And I am so excited to be sharing our upcoming story of forever with the world.

To everyone reading this, my gratitude starts with you. I am humble (and smart) enough to believe that what I have to say has no impact on the life of anyone I know. However, I want to say thank you to those that will support my love of writing, and humor me into thinking what I will say is read-worthy. It’s a safe assumption that each of you played a major role in our engagement last week; more importantly, however, you’ve played a major role in my LIFE. I am in a euphoric state of engaged bliss, as you may all be well aware, but do not let that diminish my love for all of you, and my gratitude for the place you have in my life and in my heart.

There is no date set. We don’t know where we will have it. I haven’t officially asked anyone to be my bridesmaid yet, so I hope they say yes! We are close to choosing colors, but not certain yet. There are so many fun details that we have yet to focus on, but I do know this: I am absolutely the luckiest woman in the world for the chance to plan a life with Wesley Berry. I have the best family and friends to rely on for help and support. And I cannot wait to share the steps we take along the way with all of you that I love.

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