Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Planning Half My Wedding in 3 Weeks: Showered With Love

I promise, this will be the last wedding post in a long while... *tears* 
Since I'm back to kicking it in Costa Rica!

BUT, I had to give a big shout out to my awesome friends 
[& family] who pulled together some amazing wedding showers while I was back in the States! 

The Couple's Shower

McCray and I graduated from different universities so he and I have had the chance to broaden our networks by becoming friends with each other's friends! The purpose of this shower was to involve some of McCray's guy & girl friends [who I have grown to know and love!] in the whole wedding process. We held it at one of McCray's groomsmen's houses and his fiancé, Laura [one of my bridesmaids] and McCray's good friend Taylor helped to pull the whole thing together!

Taylor - Me- Laura

A few of the guys who came!

Me -McCray- Sam- Laura

favor: homemade cookies!

P.s. We dominated the couple trivia game. 
We should probably apply to go on the Newlyweds game show. 

My UGA Girls

This shower was planned by 3 of my bridesmaids- my maid of honor & sister, Sara, my childhood friend/college roommate, Becca, and my sorority little/college roommate, Melissa.

To make things a little more fun, they decided to make the location a surprise! McCray and I met working at a summer camp together a few years ago so we had the shower at a park in Athens, GA and it was outdoorsy/camp themed! I was blown away by how adorable it was.

Invitations picked out by: Melissa

Dirty Laundry Game: Please write an embarrassing or funny experience you have with the bride on a piece of 'dirty laundry'. Hang your piece of 'dirty laundry' on the clothes line!

I had to answer trivia that McCray had previously answered and try to guess his answer! If I got it right, I got to open a present. If I got it wrong...Becca shared a piece of  'dirty laundry'! 

Decorations & games designed & provided by: Becca

Food selected & prepared by: Sara (& my mom!)

Food selected & prepared by: Sara (& my mom!)

Part of my sorority fam!

I love these girls!
(photos for this shower were taken by the one & only: Callie Hanes!)

Friends & Family Shower

Another one of my bridesmaids, Jessie, and her mom pulled together this fabulous shower. 

All of my neighbors, childhood "other moms", high school friends, and even some of McCray's Aunts, Grandma, & mom came out for this one!

My favorite piece of advice:
"When you get mad at each other, kiss for a whole 10 seconds. When that doesn't work, get naked!"

It was such a delight having so many people whom I love from so many different walks of life all in one house!

These events were also the perfect way to see so many people who I had missed so much since January! I am so thankful and so blessed.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Planning half my wedding in 3 weeks: The Most Important Thing

In honor if today marking 6 months until our wedding day, I am going to tell you about the most important wedding thing that I did while I was back in Georgia.

Yes I ordered flowers, found a DJ, and picked out invitations-- but that is not what tops the list. The most important thing that I did to prepare for my wedding during my trip back to the States was preparing for marriage with my future-beloved. 

I want to have a marriage that is even more beautiful than my wedding. 

When, I arrived at the airport in Atlanta, McCray was waiting with a few our friends to loudly serenade me in front of the whole baggage claim- guitar and box drum included. Truly, he loves me so well- even if it is a bit embarrassing sometimes. We both are committed to making our romance last, long past saying "I Do". 

 During my visit, McCray and attended a few premarital counseling sessions and had a lot of really in depth conversations about communication, honor, and trust. Some of the things that I'm about to mention may seem a little cliche- but seriously, we dominated a few conversations/conflicts over my visit just by communicating, honoring, and trusting one another.

Communication-- Geez! I could write an entire book about how important this is. WAY too many conflicts are created because of a lack of communication in relationships. If you keep the lines of communication always open, then there's a lot less guess work involved.

For example, one afternoon a few weeks ago, McCray and I went to one of our favorite spots (The Athens Botanical Gardens) to swim in the river. I had been looking forward to this all day! When we arrived, we were in the middle of a very serious conversation about a tragic event that had occurred a year or so prior. I was already feeling very ill at ease (due to the conversation) when we walked up to the path towards the river only to find it completely flooded. My reaction to the river dilemma was a combination of disappointment and upset due to the previous conversation. 

McCray saw my deflation and proceeded to tell me that it wasn't that big of a deal that the river was flooded and that he didn't want to swim there anyway. As we walked back to the car and headed out of town, I still couldn't shake the mood. I knew that a lot of my internal distress was due to our earlier conversation but McCray could only see the external factors affecting my mood (obviously). So, he started to feel annoyed that I was making such a big deal out of the river disaster. 

At that moment, I had a choice. I could just try to shake it off and forget about it (but not really get over it) or I could choose to honor McCray and be extremely vulnerable by communicating what I was feeling and what I actually needed at that moment. 

Thanks to the grace of God, I chose the latter option and told McCray that I really just needed to feel protected because our conversation had scared me. His annoyance was only making me feel less protected- but the only way that he would ever know what I really needed was if I communicated it. Instantly, reassuring words or love and commitment began pouring out of him. Immediately I remembered that I was safe and protected. All it took was a few words and a moment of trust, honor, and vulnerability.

In moments of conflict, I have to remember to trust the Spirit inside of McCray. I know that he is on my team. He has the same Holy Spirit inside of him that I do and I trust that God will move and provoke his heart to love and honor me the best that he can. When we are both looking at Jesus, we see each other through His eyes, not our own.

I asked McCray to share what he learned during our premarital counseling (just to get some male perspective up in here-and I promise I didn't read his before I wrote my reflections):
 "I think the most important thing that Lauren and I have learned during our premarital counseling sessions has been that any time there is conflict or a disagreement,  the most important thing is to always seek that awe of the Lord- the weightiness of the Lord's goodness and mercy. When we focus on the Lord first, then we can see our lover with the eyes of Jesus and know His heart for her. For me, I have grown a ton in trusting the spirit within Lauren. Lastly, my favorite aspect has and will always been that my number 1 goal/task as Lauren's husband is to prepare her to be a Holy and Pure Bride for King Jesus. I never getting tired of learning that even though I painfully long for my bride- His desire for Lauren is even greater!"

In closing, here are some resources that have been referred to me over the past year that I have just been getting rocked by. Even if you're not engaged..or even in a relationship..it's not too early to start molding your perspective of the most important human relationship that you will have! I bet you won't regret it down the road.

Defining the Relationship (audio series w/ manual) by Danny Silk

I got this for McCray for Christmas. It has been invaluable! I love it!

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman

I actually read this book before we even got engaged and I'm glad I did!
It's chock full of things that you should probably consider before even putting a ring on that finger.

Letters to Karen by Charlie Shedd

An old book with timeless wisdom.
McCray's Aunt Linda actually gave me this book at a bridal shower with a note telling me that she had received it years ago when she was engaged! It's a quick read and I am loving it so far!
I will definitely be reading it more than once. 

Of course, there's about a million more on the market but these are the ones that have touched me in my time of preparation.

I know that I really only have about 5% of an idea of what marriage will be like- but I'm just trying to make sure I've got all my sunblock rubbed in and goggles pulled tight for when it's time to jump in to the deep end headfirst! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Planning half my wedding in 3 weeks: Have Your Cake & Eat It, Too.

Dress = Check.

Photography = Check.

Cake = Here we go!

Absolutely the most tasty part of my trip back to the States. Choosing our cake vendor was no contest. My mom had only one request: that the guests would actually eat the cake.

If you're from Athens, Georgia, have ever lived in Athens, Georgia, or even have visited Athens, Georgia- you've heard of the small, hole in the wall shop on Milledge Avenue: Cecilia Villaveces Cakes...or at least The Last Resort Grill (well renowned for their dessert selection from Cecilia's).

As soon as my mom and I checked out the price sheet, we were sold. These decadent cakes are comparable to generic brands in price but top of the line in taste.

After our appointment with the manager, we hopped on over to The Last Resort Grill in downtown Athens with our 5 free samples coupon. Then, we preceded to eat cake for breakfast. 

I'm going to let you in on a secret-- since we are in love with almost all of the flavors the Cecilia's has to offer, we've figured out a way to have a large variety at the wedding:

Each tier will be a different flavor & we'll have small sheet cakes in the back with all different flavors as well. You can check out all of their different cakes & flavors: here

So come hungry for cake because it is going to be good

Some cake design ideas that I adore...