When I started making a guest list of everyone close to my heart, it was inching towards 150 people. Yes, those are truly people close to my heart! The 16 years since high school have been incredible. Not easy. But incredibly challenging and rewarding. The milestones and moves meant a lot of people came into our lives. It brings me to tears when I think about the friendships, mentors, helpers, prayer warriors, counselors, pastors/youth pastors, teachers, daycare workers, coaches and co-workers that have been part of the last 16 years, and beyond. I could write a book just on this! The ways God provided us with PEOPLE have been nothing short of miraculous.
So when it came to wedding planning- there were two things that I wanted most: PEOPLE and CREATION.
I could have the most overwhelming day but to sit by the water and breathe in the air and sky, just soothes me. I feel closer to my Creator and I feel assured that everything truly is going to be ok. I remember when living in Pensacola, a couple times of year, I would take the day off and just go sit still and silently on the beach by myself with my journal, soaking in the presence of God, unrushed. There's something very special about being still in His Creation. He is a master artist and it shows in EVERYTHING that His hand has touched! So I can't think of a more peaceful atmosphere to say "I do" than in His Creation.
But there is something even more beautiful than nature- PEOPLE. We are the only part of Creation that is made in both His IMAGE and His LIKENESS. A perfect beach day or a multi-colored sunset, could never tend to the soil of my heart the way a human can. And there have been so, so many of you over the years. When I closed my eyes and imagined my wedding, I pictured all of you sitting there watching this answered prayer come to pass. You mean more to me than I can ever describe.
We found a beautiful wedding venue in Bella Sera Gardens. Close to home, wide open land, trees surrounding the property, a place to escape the July heat- and an open air, rustic chapel being built on site. The driveway up to the "Gardens" is a little oasis of nature and Robin has done a remarkable work in landscaping and designing it. It was as close to perfect as I could have imagined.
|Bella Sera Gardens, Loxley, Alabama|
The details of a larger wedding were overwhelming me though, even in spite of having incredible friends and family who offered to help put this together. My heart was torn. On one hand, I could host everyone I've mentioned above in a gorgeous setting. On the other, there was a good possibility that it would be too difficult for my Grandma and Poppy to attend, two people so close to my heart.
As my Grandma Watt became more ill, he served her and made sure she was comfortable- positioning her bed in the room with the brightest natural light, surrounded by a long stretch of windows so she could watch the birds that she loved so much. He'd mash avocado for her and mix her medicine into her applesauce, to make it more pleasing for her. And those were just in the last years of her life. Growing up and vacationing in Cape San Blas, Florida with them, I remember her love of her family- her devotion to her husband and grandchildren; The careful time she took to prepare meals, her gentle hands "shelling" on the beach and arranging them on a plate based on size or color or type. Their routine together seemed flawless, natural and woven together through many years of mission work, raising children, gardening, hosting gatherings and ministering. They were a picture of "oneness" and devotion. Losing her in 2011 was a deeply painful loss for our family. And yet, my "Moyo" (Grandaddy Watt) still stands strong, devoted and forever in love with his bride. Their legacy would be inspiring for anyone, but to know that it's part of my family legacy, is a huge honor.
|Photos and video by: Rob Watt|
On the other side, are Grandma and Poppy, in Mobile. I grew up seeing them on a regular basis, so I was able to notice the "day to day" love shared between them. A common thread between my two sets of grandparents was quiet and loving service to one another. I remember the little, yellow notepad on the kitchen table scribbled: "Went to the store for milk. Will be back shortly. Love, Porter"- My Poppy loved yellow legal pads. One of the most special things that I have is a letter, several pages long, when I found out that I was pregnant with Dylan. It was the most beautifully written letter of love and affirmation that I've ever received. I miss seeing him write. My grandmother is the epitome of "Acts of Service"- she could have written "The 5 Love Languages" herself. It was so ingrained in who she was/is. To this day, you can't go for a visit, without her thumbing through the kitchen for some cookies or offering a glass of Pepsi. Growing up, a typical Sunday lunch would include her famous thin sliced hot roast with homemade gravy, cauliflower with (again, homemade) cheese sauce, brown rice with french onion soup, fruit salad, hot rolls and everyone's favorite Macaroni and Cheddar Cheese. She wouldn't sit down at the table until everyone had a plate- or two. And even then, she insisted on getting back up to take some pictures of everyone- usually mid-bite. My Poppy would firmly insist "Sit down!" He knew she'd continue moving about for everyone else before eating a bite of food for herself.
A local news tribute to my Grandad: Local WWII Veteran Honored
|Photos from: Sandy Roberts|
My grandparents have the privilege of still living in their home together. Poppy had a stroke 2 years ago and Grandma has to use a wheelchair. But they are at home. And they are together. And I don't think anything in this world could make them more satisfied and happy than that.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch talking to my Grandma. Poppy was taking a nap and she was asking me how wedding plans were coming along. I hadn't planned on it but I blurted out "You know where I want to get married? Right there." and pointed to their overgrown, but beautiful Secret Garden of a backyard. In the back of an oak-lined Park Avenue in Mobile, this yard holds many memories. We grew up trick or treating at this house. I remember being terrified of the look of that street. (My dad didn't help with that.) Now, the same oaks that seemed like witches fingers, are some of my favorite things about that area. Their backyard is small, but it sure is beautiful. And most importantly, it's theirs. My Grandma looked surprised but honored. My Poppy ended up clasping his hands together and slowing saying "Well! That. Is. Wonderful!" when we shared the idea with him.
So there it was. I had their blessing and my Dad's blessing and we could move forward with planning. I would be going from a wedding of 150 in one garden, to about 35 in another. But it would mean that they could be there. And that makes my heart so happy and peaceful.
So, the fun part of this project will be a get their yard back in order for them. I reached out to some landscaping companies and received a heart felt and eager reply from Bay Landscaping. Camilla met me out there (she was destined to be in the gardening business!) and we spent about an hour wandering around the yard and admiring the trees, vines and flowers that have made their home there. I can't wait to see how it turns out!
I know you understand that if I could teleport you to Park Avenue on July 15th, then I would. I also know your hearts for us and that you will be so utterly happy for us on that day. I am excited to have Cheree from Lifehouse Films, capture our videography and look forward to sharing that with you when the time comes. And perhaps, I can convince my cousin who's up for just about anything, (he was a monkey at my niece's birthday party yesterday), to livestream our ceremony if you're interested in "joining us" in that way.
Thank you again for loving us and sharing in our joy! I really can't tell you how much it means to me (and surprises me!) that people are THIS excited for us! I'm richly, richly blessed by you.
With great love,