S: I have found the one my heart desires
BC: Your hand in mine, we walk the miles.
FC: And so today my world, it smiles.
1: Sarah + Lane | Cross Pines Ranch Mineola, Texas December 31, 2011
2: A Working Wedding On Tuesday, June 28, 2011, Lane showed up at Sarah's Embassy Suites hotel room door on bended knee with a stunning pearl and diamond engagement ring. Sarah was in Austin for a business meeting, having just been promoted to AAPL's marketing specialist, and Lane saw the opportunity to finally surprise Sarah, who not only hates surprises but fancies herself a grand surprise spoiler. He got her good (with the help of Nancy - who somehow talked the front desk clerk into sharing Sarah's room number with Lane, which is a huge breach of privacy). --- I was shocked, but I said yes. Lane could only stay for a few hours after he proposed before heading back to Gun Barrel City to run a fishing trip at 6 a.m., but we managed to decide on our wedding day within those few short hours - New Year's Eve 2011. Despite a growing list of potential problems and construction concerns, the Save the Date cards were mailed for an outdoor wedding on December 31, 2011, at Cross Pines Ranch near Mineola, Texas. We knew the weather could be a game-day deal breaker and the outdoor kitchen would have to be built in four months, but with Nancy as our official unofficial wedding planner and Dad's schedule clear to officiate the ceremony, we accepted our own challenge ... and began planning our wedding as a gift to our guests who would graciously travel to spend New Year's Eve with us in East Texas. Our priorities were to get married and throw one heck of a party. Along with picking out colors and burlap and flowers and burlap and more burlap, Lane and I hosted out-of-town bachelor and bachelorette parties for our awesome friends. Lane took the guys down to the Gulf of Mexico for a cast and blast weekend at Castaway Lodge in Seadrift, Texas, while I hosted the gals at Lake Geneva, Wis., for a long weekend highlighted by a sunset booze cruise around the lake on the Lake Geneva Cruise Line's Lorelei and dinner and dancing in town at Medusa's and Hogs N' Kisses.
5: Along with the standard ceremony details, we included leaflets in the wedding invitations with helpful information for out-of-town guests, such as where to eat and what to wear. We stamped, wrapped, tied, taped and addressed every invitation by hand. Carol Campbell - a.k.a Mrs. Moon Pie - RSVP'ed on her own stationary and explained that she wanted to keep our RSVP card for future reference in her daughters' weddings. The ultimate compliment! (I should also note here that the Campbell's graciously sponsored our hotel gift bags for overnight guests by shipping about 200 fresh MoonPies for us to give away. They rock.)
7: After months of tea staining, twine tying and burlap gluing, our loads of homemade decorations were ready to transform the ranch for our New Year's Eve celebration. Carter and Nancy worked all week to prepare the property — with tons of help from Nathan and his crew (who built the kitchen and the custom stone altar), and our team welcomed with open arms some extra helping hands along the way when Justen, Jacqueline, the Palmers and the Miles came into town early. We are blessed to have friends with servant hearts! We worked hard, no doubt, but not without treating ourselves to little rewards along the way. The boys carved out time to shell a few ducks at the Gun Club, and Jacqueline and I could not have been happier to do mindless work while blabbing away about did-you-hear this and did-you-know that. What's so amazing is that at the end of each day, when we were tired and probably on each other's last nerve, we all went to bed smiling — or least faking it really well.
8: Bridal Shoot Our photographer Rachel Chaney (from Dad's PCPC youth group and Mom's Bible Study back in the 90s) booked Mineola's abandoned Beckham Hotel for the bridal portraits. John DeFoore, a musician, lives in the hotel with his wife and teaches guitar lessons out of the unkept and untouched guest rooms. John is a bit of a recluse, but because Rachel's father took lessons from him, he allowed us access to the second floor for pictures. The entire place was an absolute mess, and we loved every second of it. Rachel told me - and I believe this to be irrefutably true - "It is worth it to get a tiny bit dirty in your dress." And when Rachel turned over the final shots, I am so glad we trusted her.
17: While the entire photo shoot experience was insane, this green room was the show stopper. It wasn't necessarily packed with more junk than some of the other rooms (though the hairbrush and chandelier were interesting finds), but instead, what made our eyes bug out were the windows' leaves. The vines had grown through the loose panes from the tree outside and made themselves at home around the frame. Rachel and West Vita - her second camera man - lit and framed these shots perfectly.
18: Sister Jacqueline stepped in and handled so many details for us at the last minute, seen at left filling in as our lighting technician (nailed it). She saved my butt - literally. Rachel and West wanted me seated in a chair for some close-ups, but, of course, the seat was filthy. Next thing we know, Jac is in the corner taking off her white shirt to place under my rump! Every bride needs a Jacqueline. | And I'll also never forget going to Cutz to get my hair done by Darlene. Jac was a genius and snapped a picture of the salon's back room. Obviously, it was already a smoky, hillbilly mess in there by 9 a.m.
19: Trusting West and Rachel to get all up in my business in order to capture the best shots. (They did.) | Another mother-daughter trip; this adventure took us back in time. | Showing off my mustache socks, a gift from Nauga!
26: Rehearsal + Dinner December 30, 2011 On Friday afternoon the wedding party met up at Cross Pines to go through a quick rehearsal for the wedding day. It was the first time that all of our friends had socialized together so we set the mood with sangria and salty snacks. Dad talked us through the wedding how to's for walking, standing and more walking and, more importantly, reminded us to prepare our hearts for the wedding ceremony and worship service. Our soloist Brandon gave a sneak peak to our hymn and nearly brought the entire ranch to tears with his beautiful voice. Then we popped down the road to Pine Mills Catfish Café for the most perfectly informal rehearsal dinner imaginable.
29: At the rehearsal dinner, Grandma and Grandpa Roden surprised me and Lane with a piece of the Johnson family estate. Back in the 1930s, Great Grandpa Johnson was dating Great Grandma and gave her an aquamarine gem set in white gold, and Grandma Shirley inherited the ring. Grandma had always planned on sharing her mother's heirlooms with the grandchildren and decided that a wedding was a perfect occasion to give such a special present. (Glad I'm the first granddaughter to get married!) I wore the ring on my right hand during the wedding as my something blue. To complete the cliché wedding poem, I wore my mother's veil as my something old, carried a handkerchief from Laura as my something borrowed and, of course, my dress was something new.
30: The Wedding First and foremost - our friends and family must have followed through on our requests to pray for nice weather. We enjoyed a sunny day with a high near 70 degrees and gentle wind. It was almost too perfect; we kept waiting for something to fall apart, but the whole day carried on without a noticeable hiccup. The girls got ready and took pre-ceremony photos at the Cross Pines barn while the boys met up at the clubhouse for pictures.
32: Girls at the Barn
36: The Boots
37: As a gift to my bridesmaids and Gracie - the world's cutest flower girl - Mom and I traveled to Guatemala to purchase custom-made cowboy boots for the wedding. Equipped with tracings of everyone's feet, Mom took me to a little town outside of Antigua where she bought my first pair of custom boots over 10 years ago. Neither of us would have ever imagined those boots would be my wedding heels as well as an excuse to take a whirlwind weekend mother-daughter trip to Central America.
48: Boys at the Clubhouse
58: The Wedding Guests were welcomed to the ranch by our ushers at the parking lawns and directed down the dirt road through the woods to the cabin, where I was hiding from Laner and the crowd. Friends and family were able to wander around the grounds and outdoor kitchen and help themselves to Martha's tortilla soup and the beverage stations. Grace and I couldn't help but peak out of the cabin windows to see everyone arrive while Mom pinned my veil and Jacqueline snapped some of my favorite pictures. When Russell - a.k.a. Treff's Piano Man - began playing Elton John's Tiny Dancer on the piano, our families were seated, Dad took his place in front of the altar, and the boys processed out of the woods toting guns over their shoulders as the guests cheered and clapped for their pageantry. (Lane and Dusty found their way into a fire ant pile and had the little bastards crawling up their legs during the ceremony. Poor guys. Such troopers.) Then the bridesmaids headed down the aisle in pairs followed by Grace and her pail of rose pedals. Since Dad was officiating the ceremony, Jordan and Carter walked me down the aisle. In one picture I am smiling like a maniac; I had just spotted Kelly and Travis Snowden and couldn't hide my excitement to see them. But that just seemed to be the standard for our wedding weekend; everywhere we turned, beauty and joy were there waiting to remind us of how blessed we are.
60: Martha's Tortilla Soup bar that doubled as the cigar bar for the reception and New Year's Eve party | The boys arrive from the clubhouse with boutonnières and guns, smoke rising from Darryl's smoker. | George and Jordan probably talking about the Mavericks or Rangers or any other DFW sports team. | Dad and Laner chatting on the front porch, maybe discussing the wedding, duck hunting or their favorite way to prepare fish. Who knows!
61: Peaking! We just couldn't resist the temptation to see our friends and families arrive. | Grace running back to the cabin after greeting Sundance, who was on site for pony rides for children (and adults!) | My something old. ... Mom's veil, not Mom. | Perfect
62: The Ceremony
65: First Look
67: Blessed Assurance Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O, what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long. Perfect submission, perfect delight, Visions of rapture now burst on my sight; Angels descending bring from above Echoes of mercy, whispers of love. This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long. Perfect submission, all is at rest I in my Savior am happy and blessed, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
68: Ephesians 5:21-33 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Read by Le'Ann Callihan, Sarah's co-worker and best friend at AAPL | Matthew 7:24-27 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Read by Chris Benavente, Lane's friend from TCU
72: Nailed it! After the ceremony, we retreated to the cabin to hide out for a minute until the stage was set for our lineup pictures. Luckily Grace and Jacqueline were on hand to help celebrate with a solid NAILED IT dance party. Trisha and Kate also made their way indoors fortunately. I eventually asked Dish to pin up my dress' train - which involved her getting pretty cozy in my petticoat - and Lozier caught perhaps the day's best shot. Lane's face is priceless. After a few gulps of water, we were off to the woods for our formal portraits.
77: Jordan had one single request for the wedding - an awkward family photo. It happens to be the best picture from the entire weekend, but I don't think Dad and LaLa are going to use it for their Christmas card anytime soon. Unfortunately.
86: At one point, Rachel told me to stop smiling and relax because I was looking waxy. So Lane started poking me to inspire a natural smile. Looks like it worked.
89: Dancing Down on the grassy plot by the stone patio and cliff waterfall, we danced. And I cried. A lot. Up until that point, it had seemed so crucial to maintain composure and suppress heavy tears for the sake of photographs, but once Mom raised a glass and toasted us as Mr. and Mrs. Lane Palmer, the reality of New Year's Eve 2011 overwhelmed my reservations, and my emotions literally poured out. While Lane was lucky to only have a few sniffles dried on his jacket, my dad's 1970s Ahab Bowen vintage tuxedo coat absorbed what felt like liters of tears. And much like a good yawn, it turns out crying is also contagious because there was hardly a dry eye around the ranch. Our pianist Russell described the father-daughter dance as "the most emotional reception I have ever seen; even our drummer was sort of losing it." Lane and I danced to Led Zeppelin's "Thank You." We owe our friendship to music: I introduced myself to Lane at the Pub in Fort Worth, telling him of the striking resemblance he shares with My Morning Jacket front man Jim James. Our shared love of rock 'n roll has always been a source of happiness for our relationship so agreeing on a Led Zeppelin song for our first dance was a cinch. "If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you." For our father-daughter dance, Russell played "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. When Dad was a youth pastor back in Tennessee, he traveled a lot, and one morning before he left for a retreat, we sang Fievel's song together. We've been sharing the lyrics during our times apart - whether physically or emotionally - ever since. "And even though I know how very far apart we are, it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star." It brought the house down. Carter even admitted to distracting himself with his napkin to keep the tears locked inside. Fortunately Lane brought out Paula after the first verse to distract us cry babies.
91: Thank You if the sun refused to shine i would still be loving you when mountains crumble to the sea there will still be you and me kind woman, i give you my all kind woman, nothing more little drops of rain whisper of the pain tears of loves lost in the days gone by my love is strong with you there is no wrong together we shall go until we die my, my, my an inspiration is what you are to me inspiration, look... see and so today, my world it smiles your hand in mine, we walk the miles thanks to you it will be done for you to me are the only one happiness, no more be sad happiness, i'm glad if the sun refused to shine i would still be loving you when mountains crumble to the sea there will still be you and me Led Zeppelin
92: Somewhere Out There somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight someone's thinking of me and loving me tonight somewhere out there someone's saying a prayer that we'll find one another in that big somewhere out there and even though i know how very far apart we are it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star and when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby it helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky somewhere out there if love can see us through then we'll be together somewhere out there out where dreams come true and even though i know how very far apart we are it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star and when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby it helps to think we're sleeping underneath the same big sky somewhere out there if love can see us through then we'll be together somewhere out there out where dreams come true Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram Disney's An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
94: The Desserts Much like every other wedding detail, our wedding cake and groom's "cake" were handmade by family. Aunt Sarah built our four-tier Rice Krispy Treat wedding cake with three different flavors: regular, chocolate and peanut butter. She finished the huge blocks with a fondant icing and incredibly beautiful design detailing - each layer a different pattern. On the top tier, Sarah incorporated the S + L heart monogram on every side. Lane's special request groom's "cake" turned out to be his mom's chocolate pecan pies. Paula served up something like 10 pies, and people lined up just to lick the dishes. Not a single crumb was left on the pie stand. (I'm not even sure Lane got a bite; I didn't!) And just in case we had any diabetics looking for a quick way out, we adorned the cake table with six flavors of cake balls from a gluten-free bakery near Mabank and jars of gum balls. Oh, and did we mention the individually packaged s'mores by the fire pit?
97: The Reception I have no idea where to begin with describing the reception festivities and eats so how about we just say these next few pages are going to be a little picture-heavy with captions sprinkled here and there. Every little detail about our wedding was carefully considered and, in most cases, handmade, and Fancy Nancy and I wanted to capture a snapshot of each special touch. So on top of our two professional photographers, Nancy's dear friend Karen Blanc graciously agreed to fill in as our "details" camera. Between Nancy, Paula, Rachel, West, Karen, Jacqueline and Trisha, I think every square inch of the ranch was photographed. Thank you to our entire camera crew for snapping shots of every burlap rose, every center piece, every dish, every game, every guest, every bottle, every lantern, every everything!
118: Perhaps my favorite all-time movie quote comes from Penny Lane in Almost Famous: "I always tell the girls, never take it seriously. If you never take it seriously, you never get hurt. If you never get hurt, you always have fun. And if you ever get lonely, go down to the record store and visit your friends." Music has always been such a passion for me and Lane so it was almost impossible for us to plan a wedding without lyrical inspiration. As pictured from left: the sparklers for our send off were tagged with matchbook stickers reading, "Come on baby light my fire" (The Doors); the mini flashlights provided for guests to use around the property after dark read, in gold, "Shine on you crazy diamond" (Pink Floyd); our overnight-guest bags (filled with peanuts, waters, fresh MoonPies from the 'Nooga factory and a door hanger) featured two quotes: on the welcome note, "We get by with a little help from our friends," (The Beatles) and on the door hanger, "Please do not disturb. I'm searching for my lost shaker of salt" (Jimmy Buffett).
119: The Send Off Complete with sparklers, cowbells and our bad ass get-away Ford
121: New Year's Eve Really so much of this wedding was designed with one thing in mind ... ok, two things: First, get married; second, make the day a huge party that our friends will truly enjoy. And in Texas, a reception just isn't enough to spoil your friends who traveled out to no-man's-land East Texas for your wedding on a holiday weekend. So after the reception, we encouraged our guests to head back to their hotels to change and rest up for a bit before hitching a ride on our shuttle service back to the ranch for a New Year's Eve party. We served Wisconsin bratwursts (flown down by mom and Rick from the Lake Geneva Meat Market), black eyed pea Texas salsa, lots of chips, cheese balls and more and kept the beer and wine coming. People roasted s'mores, danced, played cornhole (all night, even on the shuttle back to the Best Western when the party was over, even in the Best Western parking lot until 4:30 in the morning), had an impromptu sing-a-long with Brian's guitar by the campfire, smoked cigars and lit up the final sparklers as we rang in the New Year. We so enjoyed providing our friends and family with such a unique NYE experience (especially since it's such an over-hyped evening!).