My baby girl, Rayzanna, got married this summer and there was much joy!
NOTE: All photo credits go to Katherine Heppner, unless otherwise noted.
Many people asked how we could manage to travel a summer that included death and marriage without it taking away from one or the other.
The grace of God. That's all I got.
The wedding took place three days after my dad passed away and those three days were Ray's - in my mind. If I took time to write the obit, and she walked in and had a wedding question - the CTRL S buttons were hit and I walked out with her. There was nothing short of a tornado ripping through the yard that would steal that joy and this moment for my daughter.
The beauty is - dad had told us so. Weeks earlier dad had sat down with Ray and talked about her wedding and his death and how much he would have wanted to be there, but knew that was unlikely. More than anything he wanted joy at that wedding. He wanted Rayzanna's heart to soar. He wanted Nick to light up her life. Dad, dying of cancer, lifts Ray's chin and says, 'chin up,' this is going to be ok. Basically, in his own way, giving her permission to experience joy and the knowledge that he would be with her that day in some way or another... and he was.
Rayzanna and Nick got engaged Christmas 2015 and the planning began! She wanted an outdoor wedding and the first shoulder she tapped? Was the aunt who had said, over and over again, 'if you ever get married, you got to get married on my yard... it would be FABULOUS, DAHHRRLING (ok, she didn't say DAHHRRLING like that - but close!). Shoulder was tapped and the answer from Jodi was, 'of course!' When? Here is where it got a bit tricky!! Due to bridal party mission trips and all kinds of different date issues, the only date that worked was August 20 and what is significant about August 20? Well, it so happens to fall right in the middle of harvest! But Gary and Jodi both pulled on their work boots, grabbed shovels and spades and said, 'we will make this work.' And boy did they make it work!! (PS. God's plan is amazing and Gary had work on the field until the week before the wedding and then had no crops to harvest till after the wedding!)
Rayzanna had amazing ideas and contrary to my nature - I think, for the most part, I let her fly and tried not to give too many of my own ideas. There were times where we all got a little upset with each other or frustrated - but such is wedding planning. Name a wedding where everyone agreed to everything all the time.
https://www.pinterest.com/ became a familiar screen. Rayzanna brought her 'A' game and with the help of Jozanna, Dexter, Grammy, Auntie Jo, Uncle Gary, Nick, Judd, Ashley, Victoria, the wedding party and a whole gammet of others - including Grandpa - her dream wedding came to fruition. (Not all dreams are perfect - always some weird things or stray cats show up!)
So many little things adds up to a beautiful thing. AND how to do weddings cheaply and beautifully became Rayzanna's motto!
So... How to make an old shed look good?
1) have a group of people clean it out - take all the old metal, parts, screws, wood pieces, rocks, furniture, etc. and divide it amongst a burning pile and a scrap metal pile and the local furniture store located in the shed on the other side of the yard. We often and affectionately refer to it as Lynda's Mahvelous Antiques and other Crap Warehouse. (Some things didn't quite make it there... oops, fell in the fire... but don't tell mom!)
2) You take a leaf blower to the innards of the shed. Yes. Ray spent quite some time blowing out old leaves, old dust - dust that perhaps even the ancient Clovis people (Google it... it is something!) walked in.
3) You sweep - and cough - and sputter - and for hours after you sneeze out black gook!
4) Your uncle hauls in quarter down and you borrow a packer from another uncle and you pack gravel so you have a nice smooth surface. This packing causes involuntary muscle shudders after doing such work for a long time - right Nick?
5) You make sure you do this on the yard of a farmer who not only farms but quite possibly descends from the line of MacGyver (video of intro included for you 80's fans!)
So Gary 'MacGyver' Friesen was nothing short of fantastic as he brought hay-bales (Thanks Dalrymples!) and placed them 'exactly' where I asked him to. He rigged up extension cords, helped hang from the ceiling and, for his wife, created a beautiful 1/4 down path - a winding path nonetheless!
6) You have a gramma who 'knows' people and contacts a Winnipeg hotel to chat with a lady (that she, of course knows and does business with) to see if she has any clean white bed sheets we could have. Well, what are the odds? When Grammy's involved - pretty high! So sheets were sewn together by Grammy and Auntie Jodi in between hospital stays and those sheets became an amazing entry way into the reception area. (The men did the finishing touches by hanging them up - with a staple gun!!)
7) You have an auntie who loves to plant flowers and grow things. Thanks to Jodi there were bouquets, decorations and an infinite supply of succulents that got re-potted for wedding souvenirs. Dexter headed out into the woods and gathered lumber to cut into 2" pieces and drilled into them just deep enough to plant the succulents. The same auntie made too much food for so many people - decorated a special sun-room for the bride and her ladies to get ready in and so very much more. Words are not enough to express gratitude for Jodi and Gary and their family for the location and the hours and hours of work.
8) You spend time painting signs. Ray started painting signs in early spring - out on the grass in our backyard - hoping for a tan - a two-in-one scenario!! We had signs all over the deck - either drying from stain or from paint. Ray requested more signs from grampa and more signs were created. Then, her dream chandelier came to life - again with help from all hands on deck! It turned out beautifully. What you can't do with an old metal tire, a bunch of mason jars, electric lights and branches and a few fake flowers - oh, and a lot of heavy chain and a tractor to lift you up to hang it!
9) You have another aunt and uncle who are into pottery and gift you with 20 eclectic and beautiful vases to hold more of those home grown flowers. Jen and Lyndon made beautiful vases to accent the whole centerpiece display. The thrift shop had many doilies that Heidi and her mom gathered for the occasion.
9) You have amazing new in-laws who went above and beyond! Thanks to them and MCI we had tables and chairs! Thanks to them we had beautiful drapes, lights and more. Our son-in-laws parents were ready to step in whenever we needed them and that was heightened as the stress of our situation became ever more clear. Food was brought. Help was given. Treats were ordered. AND during this time... they became COSTCO members... no longer virgins to the vast expanse of 'stuff' that is Costco. Oh the things they will buy!
10) And you, unfortunately, will never have access to this - but a great Grampa who for months ahead of time had created wonderful wooden centerpieces for his granddaughter. They were all different shapes and sizes and they were sanded and stained for the occasion. He also made wine - red and white - a gift to Ray and Nick. Although he didn't bottle it - it was his and dare I say every bottle was empty by night's end. (Thanks to cousin Vic who helped us wine bottling newbies to bottle wine one lovely evening!)
There were so many little touches - so many hands who created beautiful things and together we created a storybook wedding with a beautiful princess and prince - a few handsome knights and some lovely maidens - a frog - some old buildings and some new friends. Food was supplied by the ye olde fast food joint, Qdoba!!!
What fantastic service - they drove it out, set it up!! IT was hot, it was good, wow!! (ps. after returning their stands almost a month later, the manager lit up and talked about the fabulous venue and how wonderful it had been to be out there! then proceeded to give us three free entree coupons - how sweet is that!!) Kudos to Qdoba on Kenaston for catering!
Well enough of me talking... enjoy some wedding shots.
Our hearts broke and our hearts healed. Our hearts hold scars that sometimes ache. But those scars show us we loved and we loved deeply. Marriage is a celebration of that kind of love - the kind of love that is risky - it could hurt - it could be painful. But that kind of love is vibrant, untouchable, fun, warm, encouraging and full of grace. I'd rather have loved so deeply that the scar is almost unbearable than to never have loved at all.
Although it is not lit in the picture - it was lit later. The succulent was dad's. The spot was his - right beside his grandaughter.
And we know, dad, that you would have been there if only heaven hadn't been so far away.
Thank you, dad, and thank you all for helping us create such an amazing and beautiful day. It will forever be a day of deep deep love and celebration.