Our Little Fur Baby

Having to wait another week for some of our terrific Ceremonial photos, I'll take this post to tell a little story that I lived yesterday. Although 12/12/12 didn't quite stand up to the supposed 'end of the world' finale for most, yesterday truly proved, at least for a little while, to be MY end of the world.

Yesterday morning began just like any of my mornings. I get up, let my dog Aries out on her chain-run while I wash my face, then I left her in for the rest of the morning. As I opened the door, I noticed that she wasn't sitting on the stoop in her usual perched fashion. After calling her a couple of times, I noticed that not only she seemed to be out of site, her chain that connected her to the house was also missing. My mind went a million directions and I couldn't seem to catch my breath. I finally put it together that she was, indeed, gone.

Aries was a rescue that Pieter and I adopted about a little over a year ago, and she quickly became our little aptly-named 'fur baby'. We both grew up as dog lovers and new we wanted to find the perfect dog for our little family. Our search and final selection lead us to a little pup named Chime that we adopted through Bellwether Harbor. She quickly warmed our hearts with a strange 'hoppy' gate and a slightly humorous smile. After much consideration, we chose to name her Aries after the classic constellation that Sailors use to find their way home. Losing Aries was the closest I could compare to losing a child.

I immediately called on my parents and brother for any help they could give, and throughout the morning, word spread like wildfire. Although Pieter is away at work, we are lucky enough that he was in Baltimore and had phone and internet signal so he could search from his end as well. We contacted every friend we could, I made and posted 'Missing' signs around town, we called Cherryland Humane Society, Animal Control, every radio station we could think of, posted the information on Craigslist and Facebook, and combed the streets, calling her name and rattling food in a bowl in hopes of any sign of our girl. Over 25 friends reposted  We had a couple leads to locations near 8th & Woodmere, but nothing more than "she was here 20 minutes ago". Anyone who knows dogs, know they don't stay in one place for long, unless they're asleep. ;)

About 10 hours had past and I was truly giving up hope - it's hard to accept that there's nothing else you can do, aside from what's already been accomplished. We had exhausted all of our contacts and were the 'waiting' stage of the process. My parents came to pick me up to get out looking one final time before it got dark when I got a phone call to my brother asking where I was. After tearfully explaining our plan, he stopped me and said "Don't do any of that. We have her." I don't think I could have cried harder or could have been more thankful than I was at that moment.

Aries had gotten herself stuck between two old buildings, catching her chain in some debris, and had most likely remained there the entire day. A family friend of ours got word of Aries gone missing and having remembered some experience with her own dogs getting out and wandering the train tracks, Lory thought she'd spend her break taking a walk on the train tracks near the Library. Call it a coincidence, divine intervention or just dumb luck, but Lory came upon Aries, sitting quietly, cold and scared, waiting to be rescued.

Family is everything to Pieter and I, and although yes, she is a dog, she is our family. Most importantly I learned today just how incredible our community is. We had friends leave work to come help or spend their lunch break searching for her, I had people willing to pick me up and drive me around when they saw me running down the street, and even more incredibly, I'm still receiving phone calls from complete strangers wanting to check up on our little Aries and making sure she was home. Traverse City has blown my mind today, and if I could personally hug every single person who worked so very hard to find us out little darling, I would. Thank you so much, Traverse City, for bringing our little fur baby home to our hearts. You really are the best place to be.

The location where Aries was found

A very happy Aries and my brother, Clint, who brought her home!

Our First Look

Pieter and I spent a lot of time determining whether or not to do a 'pre-ceremony' first look, and after much thought and weighing the pros and cons, our decision lead us to a special moment before our wedding spent on just us two. There were certainly many reasons but a large contributing factor is that both of our families are rather emotional and I didn't want to be a mess walking down the aisle. It's kind of that scenario of one person crying from seeing another - well I knew walking down the aisle without a first look would lead to a whole-hearted cry-fest. We also felt that buy seeing each other before the ceremony in a private setting - just us two - that it would truly relieve some of the ceremonial gitters. And guess what, it most certainly did.

Wanting to appear as fresh as possible and as cool as cucumber, our decision resulted in Pieter and I spending about a half an hour, just us two, taking photos of our first look at each other. In the photos below you'll find Alicia's incredible eye and documentation of our quiet moments spent seemingly meeting each other for one last time before we become husband and wife. It was such a special portion of one very special day and we couldn't be happier of our decision.

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The Gown

It's not the gown that makes the bride, but it sure makes a girl feel special. Choosing my dress (and not sharing it with you all!) was definitely a tedious process - that is up until you find the perfect one. All of the searching, zipping, buttoning, sucking in and strapping up come to a screaching hault and fade away as you put that one, perfect dress - realizing that you've finally found the one.

Something to keep in mind when begin your search is to certainly look ahead of time for dresses that you think will compliment you or dresses that you simply think are great. However the biggest advice I have is keep an open mind and listen to the suggestions and advice of the people with you. Gown specialists have years of experience in what compliments body types and although a dress they may hold up in front of you isn't something you had pictured in your mind, it may just pleasantly surprise you.

I say to take this advice because I followed it myself. I was 100% certain that I wanted an all-lace, mermaid cut gown. As you can see from my dress below, you can instantly notice that my dress fits neither of those characteristics.

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I Held My Breath

The quiet moments before the ceremony are sacred. For the first time after months of planning, a pair is separated and whisked off to their appropriate locations. In today's post you'll experience my pre-ceremony moments where breaths were held, details watched carefully and emotions built up. There's something to be said about knowing you're about to marry the perfect man in the world - it's a feeling that's quite indescribable, but can definitely be seen in the photos you're about to see.

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Woodwork and Light

The pre-wedding stresses, broken nails, paper cuts and hours upon hours of hard work pay off to create every fine detail of the wedding. In this weeks post, I’d like to share photos of the beautiful décor we worked so very hard to image and then create. I’d like to share with you all today, the spoils of so much hard work. This post will be dedicated to the little pieces that came together to make our day oh-so-big.

I have to first and foremost thank my incredible photographer for letting me pester her into an early release of some photos in the name of the blog! She’s beyond a dream to work with and her talent speaks for itself. I also have to bring our beautiful location, Crooked Creek Ranch and our fabulous florist Christina with Field of Flowers Farm into the spotlight during this post, as you’ll surely see their impressive work.

Next week look for photos of the ‘pre-wedding’ preparations with my girls, Pieter with his gents and what it takes to prepare to be wedded.

The Rehearsal

The pressure of wedding projects upon deadlines on top of crafts don’t seem to hold a candle to the weight of the rehearsal – or at least for this girl. Although the rehearsal is a day for enjoying time with your family and friends in celebration of what’s to come, it’s also a key time to be finalizing exact layouts of your décor, distributing itineraries to your wedding party and making sure each detail is perfect. You’ve got to be on your toes and prepared for left-field surprises, especially if you're not able to set up yourself.

If I could offer one piece of advice for the day before your wedding, it would be to make sure you accomplish everything you need to before hand. Having the day to relax, prepare and savor rather than stress and run around made all of the difference for me and I couldn’t imagine having had a to-do list to attend to. Be relaxed, keep your head on and stay on course. Make sure to take advantage of your officiant's experience to answer any questions regarding the process of the ceremony. Once all of the requirements, questions and finalizations are done, it's going to be a huge weight off of your shoulders!

Pieter and I spent the morning and early afternoon doing just as I mentioned before – relaxing. We new we had an important job ahead of us and we wanted to be as care-free as we could allow ourselves. We ventured out to Crooked Creek for our rehearsal, eagerly anticipating a night full of family-togetherness, laughter and finally a little bit of relief. We practiced the ceremony's timing and then practiced it once more, on a suggestion from our officiant. I highly recommend this, as the second time around I was much more relaxed! After we finished up at the ranch, we ventured slightly south along M-22 to Hilltop Lodge: a stunning lodge rented by Pieter's parents. It was placed perfectly on top of a hill over looking West Bay where we were fortunate enough to celebrate the rehearsal dinner.

We laughed, ate and socialized until late into the night until we had to force ourselves away to get some much-needed rest before the big day. It was strange to part from Pieter, knowing that the next day we would be seeing each other as soon-to-be man and wife. I can't describe the way it felt, but I can tell you this: when you experience knowing that everything you've worked so hard for is finally just hours away, and when you realized that you're pledging your love to the man of your dreams in front of everyone, nothing in the world could bring you down from that happiness. I went to bed that night a little nervous, a little anxious, and very, very thankful.

The rehearsal day won't compare to your wedding day, but it sure is a day to remember so savor every moment!

Photos thanks to family, friends and my beautiful bridesmaids.

Farewell September

Since July of 2011 I have spent every free moment, and at times not-so-free, thinking ‘wedding.’ Beginning my journey in January of 2012, I’ve spent every Thursday documenting the planning, process and execution of my journey as a soon-to-be bride in Northern Michigan. I’ve shared stressful moments, joyous occasions and triumphant success each week in the hope of bringing information, advice, maybe a little laughter and a strong dose of relief to each of the incredible people who took the time to share my story. This is my formal Goodbye to September but a strong and warm embrace to the adventure that lay ahead of me.

Although I know this is the end to September and the steps that got me there, it is also the opportunity to open up a door to the life of a Northern Michigan newlywed. I will be sharing my embrace and illumination of life as a new bride paving her new adventure in Northern Michigan. I'll be talking struggle, triumph and what it's like to be married to the man of my dreams.

But before I begin, I would like to share a few posts dedicated to this beautiful thing we’ve all been waiting for: the wedding! Beginning next week, I’ll take you through the day before, the day of and the days that followed my breathtaking Michigan wedding. So really, it’s not so much of a goodbye, but more of a ‘see you later’. So, see you later, dear friends.

I didn't want to reveal too much, but I wanted to share just one of the incredible photos captured by the even MORE incredible photographer, Alicia Magnuson.

Happy Wedding Day, Emily and Pieter!

Since introducing her on the blog back in January, we knew Miss Emily Kane had that special something that our dedicated readers would love!  I have to admit that even those of us at SBW were always excited to read her Steps to September posts on Thursdays!

Week by week she's filled us all in on her wedding planning process and progress.  We've had the pleasure of being the "flies on the wall" at her bachelorette party, bridal showers and even her trip to look for the perfect dress.

Today we'd like to extend our sincerest thank you and congratulations to both Emily and Pieter.  Thank you for welcoming us into your lives at such a special time and congratulations, it's FINALLY your wedding day!  I think I can speak for all of us when we say that we cannot wait to see photos.

From all of us to the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan, we wish you many, many years of happiness and wedded bliss!

And for all of our readers who are already going through Steps to September/Emily withdrawal, don't worry, she'll be back...

Photos courtesy of Emily Kane