It seems only appropriate that Adam and Angie’s post comes up a day after they’ve started their new life together as teachers in Bogota, so here we go!

Angie and Adam’s June wedding was the first time I’ve been present for so much of the family celebration, and what an awesome celebration it turned out to be. Rich and I arrived in Independence, Iowa the Thursday before the wedding. As we drove into town, we passed corn fields as far as the eye could see, thereby answering Rich’s question about what Iowa is known for. :) Sandy and Frank thoughtfully included us in a great big family dinner party with the Sauers that evening, where we got to meet so many of Angie’s extended family and felt both incredibly welcome and honoured to be there. I lost count of how many times I turned my head to find someone looking at me with a big smile, and saying “I’m so glad you’re here.” We were hosted by Jan, a friend of the bride’s mom, who was caring, compassionate and so unspeakably kind to take in two strangers. Friday saw a shift of location as everyone headed for Cedar Rapids, about an hour away, where the weekend’s festivities would be taking place.

Since Cedar Rapids is slightly larger than my hometown, I was immediately comfortable. Add to that the fact that it has so much going for it, including a great craft brewery and pub scene, a local market, and the National Czech and Slovak Museum (where the wedding was held) – oh! and a wedding day parade! :) – and you’ve got yourself a great little set up for a weekend location. We spent Friday scoping out the town, sorting out details at the museum, and then going to a FABULOUS rehearsal dinner at Cobble Hill, where Rich and I had the good fortune to end up sitting with four of Angie’s former colleagues, who now worked at different international schools. The conversation was as enthralling as the food (which was amazing. Seriously. You need to go.), and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen someone hug their bowl when the wait staff came to enquire  about whether there was a problem with the food (there wasn’t – we were just talk ing too much to eat!). :)

The groom and his best man got ready at the DoubleTree by Hilton, a gorgeous hotel that was so much fun to explore. We laughed our way through Matt’s multiple (home made) bow tie tying attempts and I loved seeing Adam’s face change from strain to triumph as he got his tied. After a a shot of whiskey (seriously – served in a shot glass rather than a lowball) and a few photos in the hotel, I left the boys to their crib game and set off to join the girls, who were doing their prep at the museum. I arrived to a sparkling-wine-in-a-Dixie-cup welcome (my favourite sort of welcome!), and spent the next hour with the girls as they very calmly prepared for the day. Angie’s dress was a beautifully simple fitted sheath gown and her tribute to her mother and grandmother was a head piece that had been handed down through generations. The weather, which has been playing head games with me for the past 24 hrs, decided to be cooperative, so we headed out to the riverfront and the bike path for a few photos. Angie and Adam had decided to do a first look and we staged this along the pathway, which gave us beautiful curves and a deep green backdrop.

The beautifully personal ceremony was performed by Curt, a colleague of Angie and Adam’s at Rivermont Collegiate, under the sparkling chandelier made of Czech crystal. After exchanging rings and vows, the couple made their exit and then personally greeted each and every guest as their way of dismissing them from the ceremony hall. The speeches included Matt’s explanation of how he helped “preserve Adam” (which included much laughter and head shaking from the groom’s dad), and a cover of John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” – retitled in honour of the bride and groom – by the bride’s siblings and cousin. It was obvious that Angie finds joy in her siblings and they in her; one of my favourite images from the day was the prolonged group hug that they shared at the end of the night. The big band providing the music was a clear hit with the crowd and I enjoyed seeing the variety of ages that took to the dancefloor. As well as being in awe of Jim as he twirled his wife, Ramona, and his granddaughters around the dancefloor, I will always remember seeing the joy on each member of the Sauer family’s face while their danced with their spouse; this is a family celebrating 40 years, 10 years, 5 years and their first day of marriage all this year and it’s clear that each is as happy as the next in the partner they chose and in the family they are a part of.

There were so many little spontaneous captures during this wedding – the wedding party photo on the steps outside the museum (with Matt carrying two bouquets); the bouquet, just after it had been dropped on its head; the wink Kari gave the couple during her reading; the cyclist calling out her congratulations as she pedalled past; the discovery that Charlene’s rehearsal dinner shirt would make the perfect background for the ring shot; the flower girl chewing on her mom’s dress ribbon and kicking her shoes off during the ceremony… All of these little moments made this wedding complete for me, and I’m so thrilled that the Sauer and Douglas families allowed me to be there for the big stuff, but also these little things.

Angie and Adam, what a wonderful opportunity you provided for me. Good luck with your new adventures together – may they be many, exciting, and memorable!

Here are your highlights:

Collage 1Collage 2Collage 3Collage 4Collage 5Collage 6Collage 7Collage 8Collage 9Collage 10Collage 11Collage 12Collage 13Collage 14Collage 15Collage 16Collage 17