Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mr. and Mrs. Big Daddy Hays!

The wedding of two dear friends brought us to Hot Springs for Easter weekend. One of Sean's best buddies...groomsman...and our former roommate, Dylan, is lovingly referred to as the "Big Daddy" in our lives.

The new "Mrs. Big Daddy" is Melinda, an absolute angel of a girl who could not possibly be a better fit for our friend. What more could a country fishin' boy wish for than to find a country girl that could out-fish him?

Because they are both avid fishermen, woodsy and natural elements of the great outdoors were tucked in every detail of their special day. Held at the Fordyce-Ricks Estate in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Dylan and Melinda's ceremony would take place underneath a grove of shade trees.

Sean and I, with Dustin and Ashley, arrived at the beautiful setting Friday night for rehearsal.
{DS and Ashraf}

You would think as on-the-go as we are all the time, I would have weekend traveling down to a science. But I guess since I'm more of an artistic type, I don't ever get that formula exactly right.

My arms were full as we loaded up the car, but this load did not include all my dresses on hangers...My entire wardrobe for the weekend.

In my duffel bag, I was left with a t-shirt and panties to wear. The heels and jewelry might have dressed it up a bit, but it was a family affair and all. Ashley and I made a last second Cato run beside our hotel and luckily the children's section yielded a little yellow eyelet number that I could work with.

{Ashley and I}

{Sean and I}

{Me and Ashley with Melinda, the woman of the hour}
After some amazing supper at Smokin' in Style Barbecue, we all had a blast back at the hotel playing Quarters, Signs, and whatever other shananigans we could think up into the late night hours. Hotel continental breakfast tastes so good after nights like those!

The wedding was at 5:00 Saturday evening. Luckily, Devin and Nina brought my long-lost dresses with them so I did not have to attend the wedding naked. Or in another last minute Cato Special.

We pulled up the long, winding hill in the woods to the scene of the wedding.
The jewel-toned colors of plum and fuschia popped against the lush green backdrop of the trees. Lanterns of colored glass hung from the branches. A vintage vignette was arranged at the entry beside the cobblestone sidewalk with a distressed dresser displaying their moss initials, an iron coat rack, an antique sofa and trunks.

Here, guests left their thumbprint on the charcoal sketched tree I created for them.

The men wore khaki colored suit pants and vests with bright plum ties and the girls' dresses were plum too.
We could not have wished for more perfect weather on that April day. I never once felt a rush of heat or a chill. I'm normally on edge before any wedding; nervous and uneasy with anticipation. But this day, there was a peace over the setting that made me feel calm and actually enjoy mingling with the wedding party and guests.{Love love love this boy!}

{The Gardners}

{The Smiths}

{The Girls}

I love handing my camera off to people. It comes back with beautiful shots like this...

And fun shots like this...

Don't we look like a JC Penney ad here? I may not have travelling down to a science, but our crew definitely has the formula for coordinating ensembles down! The fuschia, coral, plum, and peach made us look like a perfectly planned family portrait.

{The boys of 111 reunite}

The music cued us to find a seat so we picked a row in the grouping of white garden chairs and turned out attention to the white pergola atop a flight of steps where the vows would take place.
I started to cry a little just seeing sweet Big Daddy all grown up and waiting on his best friends and wife to join him.

The wedding party walked down the aisle in pairs to "Then" by Brad Paisley.I remember, taking you back to right where I first met you,
You were so surprised
There were people around, but I didn't care
I got down on one knee right there and once again,
I thought I loved you then

And now you're my whole life
now you're my whole world
I just can't believe the way I feel about you, girl

Like a river meets the sea,
stronger than it's ever been.
We've come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then...

All wedding long, I found it hard not to stare at their niece and flower girl, Avery. She is so absolutely beautiful.

She balled the whole way down the aisle, but did exactly what a flower girl is supposed to do. Look adorable.

The ring bearer carried a wood painted sign proclaiming "Here Comes the Bride."

"Mama's Song" by Carrie Underwood began to play.
Mama, there's no way you'll ever lose me.
Giving me away is not goodbye.
As you watch me walk down to my future,
I hope tears of joy are in your eyes.

My husband looked at me. Big Daddy looked at his bride-to-be. I looked like an emotional mess. But Melinda looked stunning.

Cause, he is good, so good.
And, he treats your little girl,
like a real man should.
He is good, SO good.
He makes promises he keeps.
No, he's never gonna leave.
So, don't you worry about me.

She made her way down the long cobblestone pathway on the arm of her Daddy. Both with beaming smiles. I was a WRECK. It was painfully beautiful. The groomsmen watched us wives in the crowd, debating which of us would lose it first. I won.

Luckily, I dissolved in a puddle behind the privacy of my sunglasses in the setting sun.

They looked at each other like no other couple I had ever seen; neither ashamed to be absolutely bubbling with happiness.

The love they emitted was contagious.

You are now husband and wife!



Dylan walked back down the aisle with his girl.

Backed up by his boys.
{Justin, Dustin, and Sean}Yaaayy!! We love yall.

The boutonierres I made for the groomsmen.

The reception was at the pavillion on site. Dylan's cake was as appropriate as can be!

After grabbing a bite of food and little wine to dry my tears, Dylan and Melinda had their first dance.

Ahhh here we go again. This time, we were armed with cocktail napkins.

Song: God Gave Me You
Blake Shelton

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
And for when I think I lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it's true
God gave me you

On my own I'm only
Half of what I could be
I can't do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo

The moment the first note of the song for the father/daughter dance played, Nina had a come-apart. Then after hearing Alan Jackson's voice sing just the first few words of the song about a Dad teaching his child to drive their first boat, I joined her.

Song: When Daddy Let Me Drive
Alan Jackson

Put on a shine, Put on a motor
Built out of love And made for water
Ran it for years Till the transom got rotton
A piece of my childhood that'll never be forgotten
It was, just an old plywood boat
75 johnson with electric choke

A young [girl], two hands on the wheel
I cant replace the way it made me feel
And I would turn it shore line, and, make it wide
He'd say, ya can't beat the way an old wood boat rides
Just a little lake across the Alabama line, But I was king of the ocean,
when daddy let me drive

Dylan and his Mom danced to the classic song for a mother.

Song: Mama
Boyz II Men
You were there for me to love and care for me
When skies were gray
Whenever I was down
You were always there to comfort me

And no one else can be
What you have been to me you will always be
You will always be the girl
In my life for all times

Mama, Mama you know I love you
Mama, Mama you're the queen of my heart
Your love is like tears from the stars
Mama I just want you to know lovin' you is like food to my soul

Next up, Melinda had a surprise for her friend as the dj called her to the front and handed her the mic. The two served in the military together and she would sing every word to "American Pie" before they would go to sleep. As payback, Melinda made her sing it to everyone at the reception!

Well I know that you're in love...

Cause I saw you dancin' in the gym. You both kicked off your shoes.

Man I dig those rhythm and blues!For a solid 8 minutes, we all chimed in to help her out. It was a fun start to the night.
Sweet Ben with precious Avery.

Night time fell and these two were feelin' frisky.

Whoohoo Big Daddy!

{The girls with Melinda}

{Me and My Big Daddy!}

Hey hey Hey!

I wouldn't trade my friends for ANYthing.

Or this guy.

Or the nights we get to all dance together. They're the best!

Gettin' Dowwwn.

...And dirty.

{They do actually love eachother.}

{So cute together!}

{Ashley and Ben}

The new Mr. and Mrs. Big Daddy Hays!

We bid farewell to the couple with burlap bundles of birdseed and for the rest of us, the night was just beginning. Stay tuned for the after party when we brought some class to the local grungy lake-side bar!

Check yall later,
The Grays

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