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Amy + Chris, Laughing Into The Sunset



Their Story: Chris and Amy first met as freshman at Lehigh University. Their mutual friend Matt Weintraub introduced them a few weeks into the semester, making light of their social habits—“Hey Chris, this is Amy, she doesn’t drink either so you two can hang out.”  

Living on the same floor of the freshman dorm called (ironically) Drinker, they became fast friends and soon found themselves meeting up for “breakfast, lunch and dinner”… sending each other AOL IMs to coordinate meet ups at the center stairwell to raid the vending machine together for late night snacks. They’d watch movies and hang out on the weekends. Their first year at Lehigh flew by, and before they knew it they were saying goodbye for the summer.

While they were apart, Chris found himself thinking a lot about Amy and wondered if she was thinking about him too. His questions didn’t go unanswered for too long though. When he arrived at his new dorm room to unpack at the start of sophomore year, he found a note already on his door from Amy--She had missed their good times together and had already stopped by.
That semester, they started dating. Chris recalls that he “couldn’t stop thinking about Amy whenever they were apart.”    

Over the past twelve years, there has hardly been a day that Chris and Amy haven’t spent together. They both say that, through it all, their constant friendship and appreciation for the other’s sense of humor continues to be the brightest spot and force that binds them together. Chris says, “we’ve never gotten tired of spending time together. We can always laugh and I know that we can get through anything.”


A Ceremony Built On Laughter: This October, they returned to where it all began, Bethlehem, PA for a beautifully appointed wedding at The Sayre Mansion, just down the road from where they first met. When I asked Chris and Amy what emotion they wanted their guests to take away from their ceremony, Chris said, “Lighthearted calmness” and Amy added, “Joy. We try to take things lightly and laugh as much as possible.” 



Preferring to see the bright side of things doesn’t mean that this couple isn’t deep. One of the things that Chris loves about Amy is how thoughtful she is in making an effort to give gifts of significance and say meaningful words in their shared life. I thought immediately of floriography, the coded use of flowers to send secret messages, which became very popular during the Victorian Era. So I called their wedding florist, Sarah Petryk from Allium Design, to talk about creating a beautiful set of garlands for Amy and Chris to exchange that would be symbolic of their relationship and hopes for the future.

On their wedding day, Amy and Chris adorned each other with garlands made of Ivy (meant to symbolize devotion and friendship) and Jasmine (which means humor and cheerfulness). Newly adorned in symbols of their devotion, friendship and shared outlook in life, Amy and Chris listened as Amy’s brother read “Your Laughter” a poem by Pablo Neruda.



"Your Laughter" by Pablo Neruda


Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

 


I’d like to thank Sarah Petryk and her team from Allium Design for creating such beautiful and meaningful garlands for Amy and Chris to use in their wedding ceremony. The jasmine came from Sarah’s own grandmother’s tree that had been tented for weeks to protect the fragile and fragrant blooms for this purpose.




And of course, it is always a pleasure to work with Bradley and Janna, the husband and wife photographic team who are the ├╝berstylish Rhema Images Photography. Thank you for capturing these amazing moments of genuine emotion on Chris and Amy’s wedding day and for being so generous and sharing these images here.


Jessica + Walden, W is for "Will you marry me?"



Their Story: Jessica was just about to delete her online dating account when she got a notification that she had an email. “It had to be one of the sincerest requests that I had read in a long time” Jessica remembers writing a response and then waiting. She waited about a month without hearing anything back. Upon further investigation, Jessica realized that she never actually clicked “send” the first time. She quickly took steps to remedy the situation and a week later found herself meeting Walden for their first date.

The risks of meeting a stranger (whom she met online) so soon, were not lost on Jessica. To minimize the inevitable I told you so’s from friends, Jessica chose to meet at Red Robin at the local mall, then made sure to tell a couple friends where she was going to be.  

Jessica dressed to emphasis the casualness of her expectations, “I felt so under dressed. Here I am thinking casual, a good pair of jeans, a fun t-shirt and a sweater, meanwhile he was in dress pants, a button-down shirt and dress shoes…He held the doors open for me, refused to let me pay, and walked me to my car after the movie.”

Three weeks later, Walden’s mother was in town visiting. Walden invited Jessica to dinner with his mother. “I think that was the moment I really started seeing Jessica as the one I would spend my life with” Walden remembers.

When Jessica was vulnerable enough to share how she had been hurt in the past, what resulted was a very creative and alphabetically-inspired proposal from Walden. Jessica was brave to show up emotionally, and in doing so, she allowed Walden to become her knight in shining armor.
When Walden embraces his inner geek, it allows Jessica to appreciate his adorable quirkiness too.  She says, “he is all that I wanted in a guy, he’s my north star.” 


Being vulnerable enough to be who you are in front of someone else is very brave.  It is only when we show up in our relationships, in this way, and take this risk, that we allow someone else the opportunity to show up too.  To be there for us when we need it.  To love all of our parts—the polished and the one’s still under construction. Finding someone who, as Walden puts it, “not only tolerates, but openly embraces and supports me. She is simply perfect for me” is something to be celebrated indeed!


For their Wedding Ceremony:
Walden and Jessica wrote and shared their own vows. After exchanging rings, we surprised their guests with a unity ritual using LEGOs. Here’s how we used this favorite toy to talk about marriage and demonstrate Walden and Jessica’s intentions for the future…

“In LEGOs we find a great metaphor for life and also for marriage. LEGOs, like us, come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. Each piece can be used for many different purposes and that purpose can change over time.

Besides providing hours of creative play, LEGOs are used to build robots, vehicles, buildings and even amusement parks. The magic of the design of the LEGO is that they are versatile, adaptable, stick together and can withstand a tremendous amount of pressure. And just like in life, when something you’re building falls apart or conditions change, you can easily gather the pieces and build something better together.

LEGO, the company was inspired by the Danish phrase to “play well”. It is with the intention of laying the foundation for cooperation, teamwork, creativity and playfulness in their marriage, that Walden and Jessica have chosen to express the transformative nature of today’s union by using this beloved toy. 

They have each brought to the ceremony a tower representing themselves.  The purple bricks represent Jessica and her life up until this moment. The blue ones--Walden’s.  Today, these two sections will be joined by a third color red—that they will build together-- representing the life that they will share. 

Keep in mind that with LEGOs, as in life, there is always room for adjustment and additions…”

Then, to the delight of all of their friends and family, the happy couple then turned their attention to building their tower, together.

Jessica and Walden exchanged vows and celebrated the start of their married life at Woodsgate at the Stroudsmoor Country Inn.  A special thanks to Jan of Essence Photography for the use of this image to share Jessica + Walden’s true love story.