Wedding Paper Divas Sweepstakes

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Are you getting married sometime this year? If so, you definitely need to check this out!  Wedding Paper Divas, part of the Shutterfly family, is having the Next Real Couple Sweepstakes. Enter by April 10, 2016, to win. Wedding Paper Divas - Next Real Couple SweepstakesThree engaged couples will win a prize package that includes:

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Wedding Paper Divas has beautiful invitations and thank you cards, plus they will give you a free wedding website.

Wedding Paper Divas - Holiday 2015You might also like Wedding Paper Divas’ Getting Started Wedding Checklist, perfect for keeping organized and turning visions into realities! Wedding Paper Divas has a really nice selection of Save the Dates too.

PLUS, they are having a 30% OFF SITEWIDE SALE right now (thru 1/26). Use code WINTERSALE.Wedding Paper Divas - Sitewide SaleSo if you are planning a wedding, you should definitely take advantage of these deals — and maybe just be the Next Real Couple winner!

Pinterest Generation

Ladies, adiposity just STOP IT. Unless you already have loads of free time and money, please stop with all the trying to out-shine your friends and enemies (and frienemies) with all the over-the-top weddings, kids’ birthday parties, and oh-so-perfect front porch decor. I totally blame Pinterest for this obsession. Yes, I love to dream and pin photos of projects that I will NEVER accomplish, but there is a balance with reality.

My reality cannot live up to the hype.

I wanted a magical HGTV-episode-worthy wedding. But I also wanted to pay my mortgage. Guess what won out — HOUSE. So I had a potluck dessert bar and wore a $20 TJ MAXX dress. But you know what, Anthony and I are just as married now as we would be if we had spent thousands of dollars on a wedding. IMG_9424I wanted Maya’s superhero birthday party to have really awesome homemade capes for each kid. Instead the kids had really crappy homemade capes, and they LIKED IT.

I wanted to decorate my front porch with colorful plants and flowers, but I managed to KILL most of them. I have a few strong-willed plants holding on. Let’s hear it for IVY for the win! IMG_1456For all you mommas who manage to keep a clean house AND create Pinterest masterpieces, I applaud you. I’m not sure how you do it. So for now, I’ll make peace with my toy-filled living room and half-dead/half-alive hanging plant, and try to stay off Pinterest for the rest of the day. IMG_1458

more wedding photos

family of five our blended family

img_8518 the mothers

img_8603M listens intently to the ceremony

img_8543Russell and Chris provided the perfect musical backdrop

img_8847 Mr. and Mrs. Anthony K Valley

img_9032 Our Black-White-Hispanic family!

Wedding Party Pics

One of my favorite parts of our wedding was the party pic corner. Sarabeth was our photographer extraordinaire. And she totally delivered! These photos are better than I ever imagined. I’m going to put them all into a Shutterfly book along with the “real” wedding photos that Niguel took. Here are a few of my faves:

valley-2  valley-3

Words of advice. Wonder what they mean???

valley-17

They took the “party” in party pic seriously.

valley-7   valley-5

Love these people! Our wedding wouldn’t have been as special (or fun) without them.

Wedding ceremony…

Anthony and I wanted a religious ceremony, buy but minus all the “Dearly beloved, we are gathered…”.  We wanted it to be fresh and meaningful to us. Here’s what we ended up with:

Processional
Song: “When the Right One Comes Along”

Opening Prayer
We are gathered here in the presence of God, family and friends to unite Stacey and Anthony in holy matrimony. Marriage is an honorable estate, and is therefore not to be entered into lightly, but reverently, advisedly, soberly and with God’s blessing. Today, they will receive God’s greatest gift; another person to share with, grow with, change with, be joyful with and to stand with as one when trials and tribulations enter their lives. It is fitting, therefore, that we should on this occasion begin by asking for God’s blessing on this marriage. Let us pray.?? Heavenly Father, we gather to celebrate your gift of love, and its presence among us. We rejoice that these two people have chosen to commit themselves to a life of loving faithfulness to one another. We praise you, Lord, for the ways you have touched our lives with loving relationships such as Stacey and Anthony’s, and we give thanks for the special love and friendship you have put in their hearts. Renew within us an affectionate and loving spirit. Enrich our lives with the gracious gift of your love so that we may embrace others with that same love. May our participation in this celebration of love and commitment give to us a new joy and responsiveness to the relationships that we cherish. In your loving arms we pray, Amen.
You may all be seated.

Definition of Commitment
Marriage is a joyous occasion. It is connected in our thoughts with the charm of love, the warmth of home, and with all that is pleasant, as being one of the most important events of our lives. Its sacredness and unity is the most significant and binding covenant known in human relations. Let me remind you, Stacey and Anthony, your home will never be what God intends for it to be if you leave Him out of your relationship. As you are obedient to the Word of God, and allow God to control your relationship, your home will be the place of joy and testimony to the world that God intends.

Stacey and Anthony, let me charge you both to remember that your future happiness is to be in mutual consideration, patience, kindness, confidence and affection. It is the duty of each of you to find your greatest joy in the company of the other; to remember that your love pledged today must remain undivided for a lifetime. ??It is your duty, Anthony, to be to Stacey, a considerate, tender, faithful, and loving husband: to support, guide and cherish her in prosperity and trouble; to thoughtfully and carefully enlarge the place she holds in your life; to constantly show to her the tokens of your affection, to shelter her from danger, and to love her with an unchangeable love.

??It is your duty, Stacey, to be to Anthony, a considerate, tender, faithful, and loving wife; to comfort, guide and cherish him in prosperity and trouble; to give to him the unfailing evidences of your affection; to continue making the place he holds in your heart, broader and deeper; to support him, value him and work with him to make your marriage the very best that it can be.??I call your attention to the seriousness of the decision which you have made and the covenant you are about to declare before God. The vows you are about to take are not to be taken without careful thought, for in them you are committing yourselves exclusively to one another for as long as you both shall live.

Wedding Vows
If you are ready to assume the obligations and duties before God, as I have defined them, you will unite your hands and pledge your love and your lives to each other.?? Anthony, repeat after me.? I Anthony, take you, Stacey, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for as long as we both shall live. For where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. This is my solemn vow.

Now Stacey, please repeat after me.? I Stacey, take you, Anthony, to be my husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, for as long as we both shall live. For where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. This is my solemn vow.

Exchanging of the Rings
You will now exchange rings as a symbol of the lifelong commitment and abiding love which you as husband and wife have promised to each other.??Anthony, as you place this ring, symbol of your commitment in marriage, on the third finger of Stacey’s left hand, repeat after me:

With this ring I wed you and pledge my faithful love.  I take you as my wife and pledge to share my life openly with you, to speak the truth to you in love.  I promise to honor and tenderly care for you, to cherish and encourage your fulfillment as an individual through all the changes of our lives.

Stacey, as you place this ring, symbol of your commitment in marriage, on the third finger of Anthony’s left hand, repeat after me:
With this ring I wed you and pledge my faithful love.  I take you as my husband and pledge to share my life openly with you, to speak the truth to you in love.  I promise to honor and tenderly care for you, to cherish and encourage your fulfillment as an individual through all the changes of our lives.

Prayer
Eternal God, help Stacey and Anthony to fulfill the promises they have made here today and to reflect your steadfast love in their commitment to each other. Give them kindness and patience, affection and understanding, happiness and contentment. May their family and friends continue to support them, so that their love for each other may continue to grow as long as they both shall live.  (In Spanish also.)

Song: “Last First Kiss”

Blessing
As this couple has joined lives here today, it’s important to understand that everyone present has played a part in shaping the characters of Stacey and Anthony, and will play a vital role in their continuing lives. And thus we are here not only to witness their vows to each other, but also to bestow upon them our blessing.
May you find in one another the love for which all men and women yearn.
May you grow in understanding and compassion.
May the home which you establish together be such a place of sanctuary that all who are here today and others through the years will find a haven of peace and joy.
May The Lord bless you and keep you;
May The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
May The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.

Declaration of Marriage
Stacey and Anthony, having witnessed your vows for marriage before God and all who are assembled here, by the power vested in me by the State of Arkansas, the Holy Spirit, and the Lord Jesus Christ, I now pronounce you husband and wife.  You may kiss the bride! Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you for the first time Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Keith Valley and their children…

Now we invite you to stay and celebrate with us. (Music starts “Marry You”)

Rehearsal Dinner (minus the rehearsal) Cake

img_8000 Anthony and I started our wedding celebration the night before with a gathering of friends and family at our house. My cousin Amy provided the entertainment. My parents and cousins Eric and Pam helped with a yummy spread of BBQ and all the fixins. I made a killer chocolate cinnamon cake.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cake

Prepare sheet cake pan, illness greased and floured. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

1 cup water
1/2 cup oil
1 stick butter
4 T. cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk

Bring to a boil the water, oil, butter, and cocoa. Remove from heat and add sugar and flour. Mix in cinnamon, eggs, vanilla, soda, and buttermilk. Pour into greased and floured sheet cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

img_8062Icing:
4 T. cocoa
6 T. milk
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 (1 lb.) box powdered sugar
1 cup pecans

Heat cocoa, milk and butter; beat in vanilla, cinnamon, and powdered sugar. Add pecans and spread on warm cake.