Wow, how quickly time had flown by as Claire woke up on this beautiful morning. It was the day before her wedding. It was finally here and excitement was an understatement for this bride to be. Claire and her mom were planning to go her have their nails done and spend time relaxing and enjoying the day together, before the big day arrived. Chelsea, Claire’s best friend planned to meet them at the nail salon after she got off work from working nights at the hospital. The day was off to a great start with the three of them talking and laughing as they were pampered.
We all decided to go with a French gel manicure, and Chelsea and I also did a French pedicure while my mom got a pretty lavender color to match the overall wedding color scheme. One funny (and bad, lol) thing that I remember is being so shocked when they told us how much our tab was going to cost. My mom treated us, so I felt terrible that it cost so much. (They didn’t have their prices in view, so I figured it was the same as when I went last time… but needless to say, it definitely had gone up, haha.) Thankfully mom wasn’t too upset, and we able to laugh it off saying that we had better have the best looking nails in the city! : )
After this, Chelsea had to go home and get some rest (she worked nights at the hospital the night before), and mom and I grabbed a delicious lunch as Panda Express. Then, we headed over to Heron Lakes Country Club to take care of a few last-minute details and items for the reception. They already had some of the tables and chairs set up, and I remember being SO excited and thinking how wonderful everything was going to look the next day… our Wedding Day, eeeek!!!
Next, we headed home to relax for a couple of hours. After resting a bit, Chelsea came back over to get ready at my house. She brought me the SWEETEST gift ever… a t-shirt quilt that she handmade! It was absolutely beautiful and held so many memories between the two of us and from our high school and college years. She also brought my mom the prettiest flowers to thank her for the manicure and pedicure… she is seriously the sweetest and most thoughtful friend! Now… time to get ready for the rehearsal!
I am so happy I was able to have a relaxing day before the wedding because little did I know how busy the nest day would be.
The Rehearsal ~ Claire
I had decided to give my bridesmaids their gifts right before the rehearsal started. I got them a monogrammed bag with their first initial on it, along with a monogrammed robe to get ready in for the wedding day, a monogrammed makeup bag, and a personalized hanger to hang their bridesmaid dress on. (As you may guess, I am obsessed with personalized things, hehe.) I absolutely love giving gifts, and I loved watching my girls open them. They have done so much for me, so this was a small token of appreciation for them! : ) Chad gave his groomsmen their gifts on the wedding day, and we gave our parents their gifts then as well… more to come on that later!
Everything went so smoothly at our wedding rehearsal. Our wedding planner, Cindy Squires, had a print out of the order of events for everyone, so that was super helpful. Everyone showed up on time, listened well, and cooperated like champs. We had the best bridal party!
The Rehearsal Dinner ~ Claire
First off, Chad’s mom, Ms. Robin, decorated everything SO beautifully! Our rehearsal dinner was at Felix’s Fish Camp on the causeway, and she reserved one of the private rooms that overlooked the bay… so pretty! When we walked through the doors and I saw all of the amazing decorations, I almost started crying, hehe. Ms. Robin chose a nautical theme to reflect my and Chad’s engagement on the sailboat. It was perfect! She thought of every detail, from sea shells to starfish decorated as a bride and groom, to sailboats, and our initials written in a small-scale version of a beach. The pictures don’t do it justice! To top it off, the sun was setting on the bay and shining through the windows, so on top of an awesome dinner and setting, we had the privilege to witness the Lord’s beautiful artistry in the sky.
My dad prayed over the food before we all ate and gave a few precious words towards me and Chad. He started crying which of course made me cry as well. His prayer was so sweet and spoke blessings over our marriage, along with blessings to those who were in attendance. The menu was absolutely delicious! We were able to choose from 5 entrees, 3 side items, and 2 desserts. We also had tons of appetizers as well! To name a few, we had crabmeat stuffed fish filet, ribeye, crab cakes, fresh catch, crab claws, seared ahi tuna, and so much more. It was DELICIOUS, and everyone seemed to LOVE the food!
After we ate and fellowshipped for a while, Ms. Robin said that she had a special surprise for us. She had a projector set up, so I thought maybe she had put together a slideshow of pictures, but oh-my-goodness, little did I know the precious thing that I was about to watch. She had one of her dear friends put together a short film of my and Chad’s relationship from the very beginning. It had everything from baby pictures to pictures of us together over the years. She also included a home video of me when I was about 3 years old where my grandmother was secretly filming me playing. (We happened to come across this video a few years ago during Thanksgiving while watching home videos at my grandparents’ house.) In the video, I vividly and clearly say something like this… “I’m marrying this guy, I’m marrying this guy… me and CHAD.” Wow! My parents said that I did not know a Chad at the time and, to their knowledge, had never met one either. So, I take this as an early sign from the Lord as to who I would marry! Hehe. 🙂 SO cool! The video also included clips from our engagement videos as well! It was absolutely perfect, and of course, the waterworks were flowing significantly as I was watching this beautiful tale! I cannot thank Ms. Robin and her dear friend, Walter Cazalas, for putting together this video that I will forever remember and cherish. (https://www.facebook.com/walter.cazalas/videos/10152866896111443/)
We cannot thank Ms. Robin and Chad’s dad, Mr. Charlie, for throwing us the BEST rehearsal dinner I could have ever dreamed or hoped for. I would say the rehearsal and dinner went flawlessly! All of our families were there, along with our dearest friends. I loved spending this time with each and every one of them!
This had been an amazing day and just to think that the next day would be even better was just overwhelmingly amazing! It almost felt totally surreal. It was hard to believe that the time had FINALLY come where Chad was going to be my husband. I remember hugging Chad right before we left, thinking that the next time I would hug him would be moments before we walked down the aisle. It was such a cool feeling that is hard to put into words. Chad and I decided that we wanted to spend these last few moments before our wedding day and wedding solely with family and friends enjoying their company and fellowship. We loved being able to spend time with them and celebrate this special time in our lives with the ones who mean the absolute world to us. I will forever treasure that last night where I was Miss Claire Langham awaiting to become the bride of my beloved, Chad Elliott.
The Rehearsal Dinner ~ Ms. Robin (Mother of the Groom)
We chose the setting for the rehearsal dinner to be at Felix’s Fish Camp on Battleship Pkwy. We reserved the large private room overlooking the bay and it could not have been more perfect. My son, Chad, proposed tight after a sailboat cruise with the Mobile Bay as their backdrop, so we wanted to bring all those elements into the rehearsal dinner. We went with a nautical theme incorporating sailboats, starfish, and seashells as they décor and I even made a starfish bride and groom for Chad and Claire’s table. I think having the décor and theme reflect the day of the proposal was probably special to both of them. We also wanted to share a special surprise for Chad and Claire with the bridal party and guest so we arranged to have a slideshow video, which our friend, Walter, put together for us shown at the rehearsal dinner. I will always cherish the look on Chad and Claire’s faces as they watched the surprise slideshow… it was priceless. I will also cherish the smiles and laughter on the faced of family and friends. It was truly a night of happy celebration!
The setting, delicious food, and the slideshow stood out the most to me. Everything about the night turned out beautifully. I would offer this advice to any future parents of the groom, having the rehearsal dinner at a restaurant where the room, food, servers, and clean-up were all provided was definitely the way to go, and it provided me a stress free night. I found myself actually enjoying everything and able to socialize and relax. I sometimes lean towards putting a lot of extra work on myself when it comes to special events, but this time I made the decision to let someone else do the work (the restaurant), and I am so glad I did. I highly recommend a reputable restaurant as the venue for a rehearsal dinner.
For the rehearsal: If you are able to, hire a wedding planner. I honestly think this was one of our wisest decisions. When we began the wedding process, I knew I did not want me or my mom to be stressed out at the rehearsal trying to round everyone up and get everything in order. Our wedding coordinator took care of all the details and truly made for a flawless and smooth rehearsal. If you are unable to hire an outside coordinator, I would suggest designating someone in your family (aunt, cousin, etc.) who doesn’t mind taking control and getting everything in working order. It would definitely be best if the bride, groom, and their immediate families were able to relax and enjoy this time rather than being stressed out to the max.
For the rehearsal dinner: Turn this time completely over to your in-laws (for the bride) or parents (for the groom). If you have awesome in-laws like I do, they will take care of EVERYTHING, and you will have nothing to worry about. This is a time for the groom’s family to shine and for you to show your appreciation and love to them in any way you can. Help your in-laws or parents if they ask for it, but I wouldn’t necessarily try to force your own opinions and wants on them. Yes, this is totally your rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, but you also must remember who is paying for and arranging everything. So, coming to an agreement from the get-go about the style and wish for your rehearsal dinner is key. 🙂
Pictures Provided By: Claire Langham Elliott
Wedding Rehearsal Venue: Kushla-Bethany Baptist Church
Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Cindy Squires at Squires Farm Weddings
Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Felix’s Fish Camp, Mobile, AL
Catering: Felix’s Fish Camp