The Best Day Ever - Ryan and Jenn Hodges, Est. 8.24.13

by - 10:18 AM

Once, years ago, someone told me that when I got married, I should write every single thing down on a piece of paper. If I didn't, they warned, I'd forget. Maybe not the big stuff, but the tiny details that made the day so sweet, they were at risk of being lost forever.

As time always does, it moved quickly. Our wedding day, only a week ago, is already such a blur. It was as much on the actual day, too, but only three days later, I was very aware that the advice I'd received so long before I ever intended to marry, was imperative to heed. So, I wrote it down. Not beautifully, not writing as a craft, but as a record keeper. Things like "Brad arrived around 8:30 p.m., and was in the barn chatting merrily when we returned from the rehearsal" and "Cherie wore a polka dotted dress. Interestingly, I wore a polka dotted dress to her wedding, the year prior."

I wanted to remember that. All those tiny, inconsequential things that made my day so memorable.

It started on Friday night --

We rehearsed and then he kissed me goodbye and I had this heady feeling -- next time we kiss, we'll be married.

And for the last time ever, we went our separate, single ways. He to a night of unknown debauchery and pizza, me to a night of margaritas and Apples to Apples wit ma ladies.

The next morning-- oh my gosh, such a blur. The fastest day in history was launched -- breakfast, the beach, hours of practicing my vows, hanging balloons, laughing, giggling, loving, anticipating. I can say, with honesty, I smiled every single minute of that day. Over and over, I remember thinking to myself, this really is the best day of my life.

And then, it was time to get ready. The clock tick-tocked too quickly and it became very real, my last moments as Jenn ten  Haaf. The girls said that name, over and over, effectively wearing it out before I officially bid it adieu forever.

I had a few very special moments with only my maid-of-honor. My best friend. My sister.
This is why God made sisters, for moments like these. Sister friends.

God has blessed me richly.

The secret to remembering your vows.

 I had the best day, pre-celebrating with the girls I've known since high school. They came from far and wide to be here and we had the best time. It was a Sunday school lesson come to fruition -- it doesn't matter what you have, if you don't have anyone to share it with. 

I had someone. Quite a few someones, and the day could not have been the same without them. These girls made me feel like a rock star. Like the most important person on the earth. Like a friend. 

And the line of the night - "we heard a cop and a nun were coming to this wedding..."


Now, for the record: there is no "go time" like wedding go time. I could have spent more time savoring the details and feeling each individual second of the afternoon. But the clock ticks, with or without you.

As planned, MGB and I huddled together in a 1948 Pontiac and giggled together as we were chauffeured to the holiest beach. Style, baby.

Memory of memories -- those girls and I had a plan for the ceremony. As we were having an outdoor wedding, I had to wait in the car until my groom had made his way down the aisle, lest we risk him seeing me before it was time. And dammit, I'd planned too hard to take that chance. So, I held MGB's phone in my hands, waiting for the magical text message that would tell me it was safe. I was parked far enough away to remain unseen, but I could see the blur of people, my wedding party, lined up on the boardwalk. I could see enough that I could sense movement and could tell when Ryan's best man, clad in blue, began escorting my sister down the aisle.My heart beat like it has never beat before. In fact, the words "shit just got real" came out of my mouth, although at this point, I was alone and nobody could hear me. I opened the car door, knowing the text was on its way, and when I felt the seat vibrate, I never even looked at the phone. I jumped out of the car and ran to the place where I would meet my groom.

Here's the moment, right here, when shit got real. I knew I only had two little girls worth of time to hustle up that board walk. My flower gal, Adellia, was long gone by the time I got there, but sweet Gracie turned and waved shyly at me before beginning her own march.

My heart is pulsing familiarly even as I write this, because I know what happens next.
The most important moment of my life begins now.

And my heart stops as I stand there, waiting for him.
We had made a decision together, that he would escort me down the aisle. It was a hard decision to make, perhaps unusual, but we felt like it was the right one. And friends, I knew I had made the best decision of my life, on many accounts, as I watched that man run to me.

He ran to me.

Quick interruption, and even more brief explanation:
This is the face you give your husband when he drops an alarming number of diamonds on your left ring finger and shocks the life out of you.
The face he gives you back is priceless.

And I encourage you to peek at the faces of our guests because those sneaky, startlingly good secret keepers knew. May I suggest, if you ever need a partner in crime, my family knows how to keep a secret. Big ones.

But, look at those faces.

And all too soon, it's over. But really, you know, it's only just begun.

And here, we thank the world of technology and greet my brother and his very pregnant wife, who attended via Facetime in Florida.
Steve Jobs, we owe you one.

Sister friends.

Our wedding's youngest attendant, Ms. Riley Anne, who looked all kinds of fabulous in her polka dotted dress with the bright, cherry red bow.

Weddings are a family event. Two become one, after all. And ours became the HodgesMcQuayKlaissHilltenHaafAllarProbablyTenMillionMoreThatI'mForgetting family.
Put that on our Christmas card, please.

There's the family I chose,

And then, the family that God chose for me.

 The family who's name I chose to adopt.

And the family that raised the man I love more than anything.
Good work, folks. He rocks. And he's smokin' hot. Very good work.

 The family that gives me the confidence to publicly say "girls rule."
Count 'em up. 

The newest, youngest family member who will be told for the rest of her life, that she was there.
Two weeks old, but she was there. The first niece in our family who is our niece from the beginning. Not Ryan's niece. Not Jenn's niece. Our neice.  There will never be a time in her memory in which Aunt Jenn and Uncle Ryan weren't married. And she joins a happy crowd of little ladies, and a couple of growing gentlemen who from here until forever, call us Aunt and Uncle.

After the wedding ceremony and photos were done, Ryan and I took off on an impromptu parade through the busy streets of Frankfort. Horns blew while we cruised through town and I waved my arms in the air like a crazy lady. People stopped on the sidewalk to clap and yell for us. It was freakin' magical.

We were joined by our entourage -- wedding party and friends -- for a quick drive that I will never forget.
Gosh, I can still see the people, their eyes wide with confusion at the sound of so many horns blowing, but then the way they gave us hopeful smiles that wished us luck and love forever. Who knows, maybe they shook their heads after we scooted away, and thought "crazy kids," but maybe too, they felt the way we are in love and not enough horns exist in the world to celebrate that. Maybe, just maybe, they believed in us.

Three generations of ladies in love. Three generations of women whose men who put a ring on it.

Now, the order of events went a little like
- Music starts
- We get married
- Everyone parties

And with one and two, clearly accomplished, it was time to move on to number three. And I don't want to toot my own horn, but Team Hodges knows how to throw down a party.

Then, for perhaps the second time in our entire relationship, we danced. 
I struggled to find a song to define our first moments as a married couple. Because I love him, I aimed for something short. Because I love old Hollywood, I aimed for Bing Crosby or Fred Astaire or maybe the Clooney sisters. I wanted something jaunty, yet sweet.

I landed on Frank Sinatra - This Love is Here to Stay
"But, oh my dear, our love is here to stay. Together, we're going a long long way."

Oh, that fabulous man.

Signed, sealed, delivered (I'm yours....)


For a long time, I've known that we each have different, yet equally deep-rooted reasons to be committed to a marriage. For us, once is enough. This is it. But more importantly, we have a shared commitment to us and this love, and by default, our marriage.

Here's to forever, baby. 

With so much love, 

The Hodges


Each and every single one of these photographs were taken by our good friend, and fabulously talented photographer, Cherie Thompson. I could speak for hours on her outstanding abilities, but I think she appears well represented on this page. Thank you Cherie

And finally, on a personal note, I humbly ask that these photographs not be shared on Facebook, Pinterest or any other social media sites. My head is not so big as to believe that any privacy is in jeopardy, but these are very special moments and Ryan and I would like to reserve the rights to share them at our own discretion. Please enjoy them on this blog!

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